[pjw] Analysis: We're asking the wrong questions about Orlando (AFSC 6/15)

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Wed Jun 29 18:27:47 EDT 2016

While this piece by the American Friends Service Committee was posted two 
weeks ago, I only just came across it a few days ago. It does a much 
better job than I could do looking at the massacre in Orlando through the 
lens of what the author calls "structural violence." The author is a 
member of the LGBTQ community which I think adds a layer of credibility to 
the focus on the violent society we're all part of, and those 
institutional structures (war, police violence and the death penalty) that 
PJW stands against.

I also think we'll probably talk a bit at the summer quarterly meeting 
about the culture of violence question-- while I know I personally would 
love to see all guns melted down for plowshares including those of the 
military and police, I'm always cognizant of the fact that the genocide in 
Rwanda was mostly carried out by people wielding machetes...

Anyway, here's the essay, I hope you find it useful.
dan h
peace and justice works

On Orlando: Was this an act of hate, a massive hate crime, or an act of
Acting in Faith  |  By Kay Whitlock, Jun 15, 2016

    It's the wrong question based on a wrong set of assumptions, and it's
    already leading to the wrong responses, responses sure to keep the
    violence flowing: anti-queer violence, anti-Muslim violence, racist
    violence. And it's sucking up all the air in the ether right now.

    I'm on the road in Iowa with my partner and members of her family
    scattering the remains of her parents who both died last year - in an
    order and with timing we didn't expect. So memories and grief and
    powerful love are all in the mix. I've not been on social media much
    and seen literally no TV these few days, so I came later than many of
    you to the news. When the words "Orlando" and "Pulse" entered my
    consciousness, along with an overwhelming surge of shock and anger,
    along came the grief and powerful love and memories. All of it flowing
    from chosen relationships tracing to the outlaw and fantastical gifts
    of queer community and relationships so necessary to my impulse toward
    liberation and creative wholeness.

    How do we understand what took the lives of so many queers, so many
    young queers of color - young queers and transgender/gender
    non-comforming people of color are most likely to be criminalized
    generally in the U.S. - and injured so many others? How do we make
    sense of a man, come of age in a society permeated with suspicion and
    animosity directed toward Muslims, who knew a lot about violence and
    security and weaponry, who somehow felt compelled to enter a gay club
    and start shooting?

    We have to get outside "the hate frame" to have any hope of
    understanding these things in new ways and begin to fashion new, better
    responses. Essentially, the hate frame says: 1) Violence is the
    province of extremists, fanatics, and deranged loners; 2)"Hate
    violence" directed against marginalized groups is unacceptable to and
    not tolerated by decent, respectable people and society; 3)Violence is
    the result of the irrational prejudice - the "hate" - of individuals
    and groups; and 4)Hate is hate; we need not concern ourselves with the
    historical and contemporary specifics of how particular groups are
    targeted for violence. We are told it's possible to address all of its
    manifestations with the same tools, primarily more intensive policing,
    prosecution, and punishment.

    The hate frame, then, not only obscures but erases the foundational
    kinds of violence, fueled by supremacist ideologies and built into the
    major structures of society, that provide the model for
    individual/group expressions of "hate" violence. The colonial/American
    genocide directed against Indigenous peoples, chattel slavery, the
    massive and ongoing violence of all aspects of policing and the prison
    industrial complex, the daily violence of economic exploitation - these
    are the templates. They are not irrational: they seek to consolidate
    white supremacy, patriarchy, profiteering for the few at the expense of
    the many, certain forms of religious hegemony. This consolidation
    ALWAYS advances under the rubric of "safety," "security," and a
    terrible form of competitive claims to victimization.

    The hate frame is a distancing strategy that works to convince people
    that it's always "someone else" who is responsible for great violence.
    It's "them," the dangerous ones. And who is dangerous in the moment
    shapeshifts over time, although the roots in white supremacy,
    patriarchy, and capitalism remain the same. A constant iteration of
    "enemy, enemy, enemy" against which we must defend ourselves becomes
    the central framework of society. And so we help to produce the
    mentality and the means that continue to constrain, control, and kill

    Thirty-odd years of the hate crime template has produced safety for no
    marginalized peoples but has led to competitive claims to the need for
    more policing. It has not helped to ignite serious, ongoing,
    cross-constituency, cross-movement, cross-issue discussion of
    structural violence and the supremacist ideologies (hate is a symptom,
    not the cause) that provide its foundation. And tragically, because
    this is so, the production of violence, and the foundation of supremacy
    from which it arises, continues.

    To dismantle this ideological and structural vortex, we must employ
    radical imagination to think differently, more boldly, about our shared
    humanity - and about what justice could mean in this society, and how
    it arises or flounders on the integrity of social, economic, cultural,
    and religious relationships. Laws and courts alone will never produce
    justice, but will always find ways of leaving structural violence
    intact; we need cultural strategies, too. To create a different
    society, we can no longer support the ideologies and structures that
    demand demons and enemies and wars as the organizing principles for

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