One facet of the discussion regarding the Islamic inspired attack on the gay Pulse nightclub in Orlando is the heavy political tribalism that is already shaping the narratives, particularly regarding whether it was an Islamic terrorist attack or an anti-gay hate crime.
Team Blue takes the anti-gay hate crime side of the argument while Team Red takes the Islamic terrorist attack side. What is so frustrating is that it clearly was both. To fail to understand it as both is to abandon your ability to talk about it as it really was, and to fail to respond to the dangers it really represents.
Team Blue doesn't want to talk about it as a terrorist attack for a number of reasons. First they know that Trump's reaction to it as a terrorist attack will be ridiculous and counterproductive. Second, they know that such acts stick to the President, no matter how unfairly. Third, they worry that fear about terrorist attacks accrues more power to Trump and/or Team Red.
Team Red doesn't want to talk about it as an anti-gay hate crime because there are too many strong anti-gay elements in their midst. They don't want to be associated with this kind of massacre. They don't want us to look at how the anti-gay elements of our own culture dovetails nicely with the ideology of Islamic terrorists. They don't want to admit that the rhetoric of many of their allies supports the kind of thinking that makes killing gays in a nightclub seem righteous.
So we chose our sides and cut off half of the analysis.
This attack cannot be properly understood without looking carefully at both.
I won't claim to fully understand the Trump phenomenon. But I will suggest that a large part of his appeal is in speaking aloud truths that we have been neglecting. His stated methods for addressing these problems are foolish. His framing of the problems is misguided. For all his bullshit, he seems to strike a lot of people as being unafraid to talk about certain obvious things that we on the liberal consensus have been papering over for decades. He is dangerous in a case like this not because his solutions for terrorism make sense, but because he won't hide from the fact that it was terrorism. He knows we can't even engage him because we won't call it terrorism. But it is. People know it is. So we will look like lying fools for denying it and he will gain power.
Team Red however wants to frame it wholly as terrorism because they are connected to anti-gay elements that don't seem entirely uncomfortable with the idea of killing a bunch of faggots. I'm afraid I'm too angry at how that all has played out, and more distant than ever from my old Republican connections to adequately address it. But there is a virulent strain of anti-gay sentiment that is well nurtured on the Team Red side, and its kinship to Islamic terrorism ought to give pause.