Hillary Clinton – Credit: Canada 2020/flickr
“I want to say this to all the LGBT people grieving today in Florida and across our country. You have millions of allies who will always have your back.”
–Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a speech today in Cleveland. Clinton had planned to discuss national security and her proposed policies as president, but after yesterday’s attack on an LGBT nightclub in Orlando — which left 50 dead and 53 injured — she focused strongly on Islamic extremism and better gun regulations.
“On Sunday, Americans woke up to a nightmare that’s become mind numbingly familiar,” she said. “Another act of terrorism in a place no one expected. A madman filled with hate, with guns in his hands, and just a horrible sense of vengeance and vindictiveness in his heart, apparently consumed by rage against LGBT Americans, and by extension, the openness and diversity that defines our American way of life.”
Clinton applauded the police, first responders, and the lucky revelers who escaped and “risked their lives to help others.” She touched on those in the religious community — particularly leaders in the Muslim community — who urged their congregants to urge peace and love, donate blood, and offer support to those in need.
“This is a moment when all Americans need to stand together,” Clinton said. “No matter how many times we endure attacks like this, the horror never fades. The murder of innocent people breaks our hearts, tears at our sense of security and makes us furious.”
However, Clinton also used some of her strongest rhetoric of the campaign, specifically targeting “radical jihadists” and the “virus” of hate that had infected Omar Mateen, who used an assault rifle to slaughter dozens of LGBT people.
“The Orlando terrorist may be dead, but the virus that poisoned his mind remains very much alive,” she said, adding, “I have no doubt we can meet this challenge if we meet it together. Whatever we learn about this killer, his motives in the days ahead, we know already the barbarity that we face from radical jihadists is profound.
“In the Middle East, ISIS is attempting a genocide of religious and ethnic minorities. They are slaughtering Muslims who refuse to accept their medieval ways,” she continued. “They are beheading civilians, including executing LGBT people. They are murdering Americans and Europeans, enslaving, torturing and raping women and girls.”
Clinton said the attack in Orlando made it “even more clear” that America “must defeat” ISIS and other extremist groups. She put forward several plans, including forming a team consisting of federal and private groups to identify and stop “lone wolves” like Mateen. Clinton also stressed the importance of building coalitions to dismantle terrorist networks, offering greater support to first responders and law enforcement, and tackling gun violence in America.
“I know a lot of Americans are asking how it was possible that someone already on the FBI’s radar could have still been able to commit an attack like the one in Orlando,” Clinton said. She proposed an intelligence surge to greater predict and prevent such attacks in future, but stressed the importance of stopping potential terrorists from purchasing weaponry in the first place.
“I believe weapons of war have no place on our streets and we may have our disagreements about gun safety regulations, but we should all be able to agree on a few essential things,” Clinton said. “If the FBI is watching you for a suspected terrorist link, you shouldn’t be able to just go buy a gun with no questions asked. And you shouldn’t be able to exploit loopholes and evade criminal background checks by buying online or at a gun show.
“And yes, if you’re too dangerous to get on a plane, you are too dangerous to buy a gun in America.”
Clinton also tackled any potential rise in Islamophobia in the wake of yesterday’s attack. In a veiled attack on Donald Trump, she reiterated the importance of “intensifying contacts in those communities, not scapegoating or isolating them.”
“Inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric and threatening to ban the families and friends of Muslim Americans,” she added, “as well as millions of Muslim business people and tourists from entering our country hurts the vast majority of Muslims who love freedom and hate terror.”
Turning back to the LGBT community, Clinton offered words of support to those still reeling from the shootings.
“The terrorist in Orlando targeted LGBT Americans out of hatred and bigotry. And an attack on any American is an attack on all Americans,” she said. “And I want to say this to all the LGBT people grieving today in Florida and across our country. You have millions of allies who will always have your back.
“And I am one of them.”