Profs: Orlando massacre caused by 'toxic masculinity,' 'extremist discourses'

Three professors have blamed the Orlando mass shooting on “toxic masculinity,” “ultranationalist” discourse, and “wide availability (and fetishization) of weapons.”

Their essays, collected on Ohio State University’s Mujeres Talk blog, appeared in a post titled “Countering Hate with Knowledge, Fury, and Protest: Three Latina/o Studies Scholars Respond to Orlando Massacre.”

“To say ‘We are all Orlando,’ is to risk being thought a queer, a fag, a freak, unnatural,” wrote Mariana Ortega, a philosophy professor at John Carroll University. “It is to lose the honorable shield of hetero-love.”

Professor Ortega described the “Latinx” community’s response to the shooting as one consisting of sorrow, anger, and despair.

“[The anger] sprouts many branches,” she said. “Infusing our breathing with fire when we hear that government employees find it unbearable to see the rainbow flag flying half mast in their building, when hateful followers of some pitiable but horrendous marginal church will desecrate the dead and pierce their loved ones with their hateful speech and their miserable signs and voices, because they all think they are loved by some made-up god of hate.”

Similarly, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, Latina/o Studies Program director at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor declared it has become “self-evident that to be queer and Puerto Rican or Latina/o in the United States is strange and at times profoundly dangerous.”

“What’s worse, these challenges come along with the general risks of life in the U.S., given the prevalence of weapons, profound social inequalities, lack of comprehensive mental health care (and in some cases, basic health care), and the rise in xenophobic, ultranationalist and extremist discourses that we face,” he wrote.

When Campus Reform reached out for comment, La Fountain-Stokes declined to elaborate on the previous statement.

“While love, understanding, and forgiveness are powerful tools that help us to heal and honor our victims and our dead,” continued the professor. “Anger, fury and rage are also useful and at times absolutely necessary emotions that we must tap into to address the profound violence we suffer at the hands of bigoted individuals, antidemocratic governments, and repressive states.”

“Tapping into these emotions means channeling our energies to demand social change: speaking out against racism, homophobia, lesbophobia, and transphobia; demanding stricter gun control laws; addressing the social and economic crisis in Puerto Rico by focusing on the needs of its people and not those of Wall Street vulture funds.”

La Fountain-Stokes declined to comment on what he believed what the role of Islam was in the Orlando shooting.

Professor Marcia Ochoa of UC Santa Cruz’s Feminist Studies department also weighed in with her opinion on the attack.

“The countless killings of Colombian people during this time were part of a conflict about the power of the state rooted in toxic masculinity, impunity, and the wide availability (and fetishization) of weapons,” said Ochoa. “We in the United States are also steeped in this culture of masculinity, militarization, and violence. I trace this back to deep patterns of colonial violence that allow and empower men to terrorize everyone. When 98% of mass shooters are men, we cannot ignore the connections between violence and masculinity.”

“The Orlando Pulse shooting is a manifestation of colonial terror, not the epidermal ‘terrorism’ the US constructs as its Other. For whatever his confusion or motive, Omar Mateen worked in private security. He purchased his assault weapons legally and was licensed to carry them. He chose his target, the nightclub, apparently out of rancor for issues he himself may have been struggling with.”

While Campus Reform also reached out to Ortega and Ochoa for comment, the two professors did not respond in time for publication.

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