He walked into a nightclub with hate in his heart. His goal was death, and, aided by a weapon of war, he killed and wounded more than 100 of our brothers and sisters. Now, out of that tragedy, some are trying to score political points by spewing hatred and fear. We cannot and will not let them divide us.
The attacks in Orlando were the deadliest attack on American soil in 15 years, but, sadly, they are only the latest in a series of violent outbursts we’ve seen around the world. From the markets of Syria and Iraq to the cafes of Paris, the train stations and airports of Brussels, and now the nightclubs of Orlando, we have been confronted with the dire consequences of spiraling violence and unconstrained hatred.
In the days and weeks ahead, there will be many policy questions that need answering. How can we get weapons of war off of our streets? How can we confront the violent death cults that target innocent civilians wherever they can kill them? And how can we bring peace and security while remaining true to our values and not sacrificing our civil rights?
But right now, in this moment, what we must do above all is stand together, shoulder to shoulder, in solidarity against hatred and division.
The horrific attack in Orlando was a crime of hate and act of terror. The killer targeted his rage on the LGBT community at a moment when they came together to celebrate with pride. In the hours since the attack, we have unfortunately seen a wave of backlash and outrageous attacks against Muslims, driven by a crass calculation that stoking fear and demonizing others can score political points.
Both of these attacks are an attack on all of us. They are attacks on our values, our community, and our shared belief that we are humans, deserving of dignity, respect, and tolerance. This is not simply a question of political correctness. This is who we are. This is what we are defending when we protect our freedoms. The ability to love whom you choose, worship how you choose, and live your life without fear of attack because of the color of your skin are quite literally what makes America great.
Our strength comes from this solidarity, and now more than ever, we must stand up, shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm, united in rejection of hate, violence, and division. The struggle for peace and security will not be quick. There are no magic words that will heal the wounds torn open in Orlando, or actions that can bring back what we’ve lost. But by coming together – all of us – we can make clear that hatred will never win, violence will never bring peace, and division will never make us stronger.
Thank you for working for peace,
Stephen, Tom, Angela, Amy, and the Win Without War team