The mass shooting at a Colorado Springs nightclub on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance that killed five people and left dozens clinging to life or permanently disfigured and traumatized, is not a surprise.
Worse, it is entirely predictable. It is the rotten, putrid fruit of MAGA America and all it stands for and aspires to—and yet its rank-and-file seems accidentally or intentionally oblivious.
In the wake of the murders at Club Q, as usual Republican politicians have lined up to once feign disbelief and pretend to care and to dole out phony expressions of abject shock and solidarity—but the truth is, this is what they have made with great intention and care over time.
The violent targeting of the LGBTQ community is not a random aberration they are trying to make sense of, it is more like a GOP campaign promise fulfilled.
When you continually label queer people as predators,
when you repeatedly accuse teachers of being groomers,
when you declare drag shows and gay clubs as societal threats,
when you intentionally target transgender children and their parents,
when you perpetually traffic in irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric designed to generate irrational fear of LGBTQ people—hate crimes like the one in Colorado are the logical progression.
The hollow culture wars that Christian Conservatives have spent the past few decades going all-in on have actually human costs. They are not ideological expressions untethered from life on the ground. They are not just tweets and slogans and disconnected pulpit diatribes devoid of consequences. They are not merely reckless words and irresponsible assassinations of character against people for their gender identity and sexual orientation.
They may begin as those things, but eventually they become young men carrying high-powered weapons of rapid carnage into places of refuge and joy, who indiscriminately fire into crowds of strangers because they have so dehumanized them as to see them as expendable and necessary collateral damage of a righteous holy war.
The tweets and slogans and diatribes eventually become showers of bullets quickly tearing through the flesh of fathers and best friends and loving spouses and favorite aunts and college students and medical professionals. They become gaping wounds too severe and numerous to withstand. They become human beings terminated on dance floors, simply for who they are and who they love.
And these living, breathing, wholly unprecedented, fully original, never to be repeated human beings become victims of two vicious hate crimes: of the person pulling the trigger and of those who made doing so, so easy for them.
There is no mystery here to be solved, no complex code to uncover, no hidden shooter motive we need to follow down endless rabbit trails to discern. This is simple cause-and-affect. It is the grotesque monster Republicans have made, because they have lacked creative ideas or noble impulses or any desire to lead responsible for the common good. By continually chasing the sensational, by relentlessly ratcheting up their rhetoric, by dragging their base to an ever-deepening bottom, and by using LGBTQ people as faceless, nameless political chips—they are nurturing the kind of wasteful violence Colorado Springs is grieving.
Politicians like Lauren Boebert and Ted Cruz, their party and their voting base will continue to pretend they are oblivious to or even outraged by the kind of violence visited on Club Q.
But until the Right reckons with the flesh-and-blood cost of their continual verbal assault on a group of already marginalized people, and until they repent and begin to fight for the rights and humanity of the LGBTQ community, these physical assaults will continue—and they will have that blood on their hands.
Republished with permission from John Pavlovitz.
John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. A 25-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside faith communities. When not actively working for a more compassionate planet, John enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, cooking, and having time in nature. He is the author of A Bigger Table, Hope and Other Superpowers, Low, and Stuff That Needs to Be Said.