The Republicans, party of the Elephant, have been trying mightily to ignore the elephant in the room. After the horrific shooting of more than 100 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, they were quick to seize on the assailant’s Muslim affiliation and proclamation of solidarity with the terrorist group ISIS.
Any talk of homophobia or easy access to firearms was quickly shunted aside as conservatives pounced on Omar Mateen’s declaration and the consequent approval leaders of ISIS gave to the heinous act after the fact. Sen. John McCain even went so far as to accuse the Obama administration of being responsible for the shooting because of its policies in the Middle East. (Just when I was feeling a little bit sorry for poor McCain being vilified by his fellow “Republican” Donald Trump for being a loser who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.)
All this despite CIA director John Brennan’s statement that the CIA has seen no sign that Mateen had any contact with any terrorist group.
So instead of trying to have a meaningful conversation about the proliferation of guns in American society and the easy access to them despite warning signs (Mateen was on the FBI’s watch list.), we have Republicans stoking the flames of fear and anti-Muslim sentiment in order to deflect from the real issue.
To their credit, Democrats in the Senate called Republicans out on their hypocrisy with a filibuster in which they demanded action on gun control. Similarly, in the House of Representatives, Rep. Jim Fines was one of many who walked out after the obligatory moment of silence for the Orlando shooting victims, arguing that such moments of silence really represent silence on the issue of guns in America.
You can only ignore the elephant in the room for so long before it just takes up too much space to ignore. My hope is that this is what is finally happening in our government and in our society when it comes to guns.