President Barack Obama took heat over the weekend for failing to call out radical Islam as the inspiration behind the Orlando massacre.
Obama blamed gun control, and then implied Americans needed to do some soul searching after Omar Mateen killed 50 people and hurt dozens more in a gay nightclub.
Obama wasn’t alone. Consider the crush of comments from stars and starlets alike over the past 24 hours.
Actors, singers and other entertainment figures demanded more gun control following the attack. Some opened fire on the NRA, eager to dig up past grievances with the group. A few attacked Donald Trump for his bizarre, ego-driven Tweet claiming credit for predicting the massacre had terrorist roots.
A good number simply offered a combination of thoughts and prayers to those impacted by the tragedy.
What did they all leave out?
Terror Plain and Simple
Law enforcement quickly determined that the killer was an ISIS sympathizer who had been on the FBI’s radar for some time. So this wasn’t “workplace violence” or another tragic mass shooting.
This was terrorism. Plain as day.
The reason why Mateen went on a savage killing spree isn’t a mystery. And, given what happened on Sept. 11, 2001 and more recent terror attacks on U.S. soil like what happened last year in San Bernardino, it points to a grave danger we all face. It’s one that impacts everyone, regardless of sexuality, creed or religion.
Yet like Obama, celebrities couldn’t bring themselves to condemn Islamic terrorism. Express anger toward it. Or even name check it, for the most part.
Consider these exhaustive roundup features from Breitbart.com, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly and Billboard.com. Each story gathered comments from stars from every segment of the entertainment community.
Film. Music. Television.
No mention of radical Islam. No anger toward radical Islam. No suggestions on how to prevent more attacks from radical Islamists.
Nor did they mention Islam’s problematic stance toward gays.
Ignoring the Obvious
Even many hours after the attack the arts community refused to call out the roots of the terror attack.
The Tony Awards telecast went on as expected Sunday night. And the Orlando terror attack came up right away. Show host James Corden offered this tribute to the fallen.
“Good evening,” the host started. “All around the world, people are trying to come to terms with the horrific events that took place in Orlando this morning. On behalf of the whole theater community and every person in this room, our hearts go out to all of those affected by this atrocity. All we can say is that you’re not on your own right now. Your tragedy is our tragedy. Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality and gender is equal, is embraced, and is loved. Hate will never win. Together we have to make sure of that. Tonight’s show stands as a symbol and a celebration of that principle. This, is the Tony Awards …“
Again, no mention of terrorism, radical Islamic terrorism in particular.
“Hamilton” creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda also addressed the terror attack while accepting a Tony Award for original score.
“Senseless acts of tragedy reminds us that nothing here is promised — not one day … This show is proof that history remembers, we live through times when hate and fear seem stronger, we rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer,”
John Podhoretz took Obama to task for his comments following the terror attack. Mateen told law enforcement he pledged his loyalty to ISIS during the melee. That wasn’t clear enough for our Commander in Chief, as Podhoretz saw it.
He called it “terror,” which it is. But using the word “terror” without a limiting and defining adjective is like a doctor calling a disease “cancer” without making note of the affected area of the body — because if he doesn’t know where the cancer is and what form it takes, he cannot attack it effectively and seek to extirpate it.
Now, we certainly expect more from our president than the folks who sing our favorite songs and star in our favorite films.
Yet shouldn’t someone in Hollywood be brave enough to accurately describe the worst mass shooting on American soil? And, more importantly, the enemy we face in 2016 and beyond?