By Kade Crockford and Chris Ott
Like so many people all over the world, we at the ACLU are reeling from the aftermath of yet another mass shooting, this time at a Latinx LGBTQ event at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Seeing so many lives taken and so many people hurt, yet again, can lead to feelings of powerlessness. We have no easy solutions to the persistent problem of mass slaughter in our nation.
But we know that when our principles are tested, we must reflect on their importance.
The ACLU stands against the cynical exploitation of tragedies, like the attack in Orlando, to promote discriminatory policies that harm civil rights and civil liberties, while at the same time doing nothing to protect public safety.
We cannot abide the demonization of entire groups of people, particularly Muslims, or so-called counter-terrorism efforts that amount to little more than racial and religious profiling.
We cannot abide calls for retaliation against entire communities, particularly from corners that have long opposed equal rights for LGBTQ people and immigrants. While the thoughts, prayers, and condolences from political leaders to the predominately LGBTQ Latinx Orlando victims may indeed be heartfelt, we cannot and will not forget the hundreds of anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant measures that too many of these same leaders have supported for years, and which they continue to promote. Right now across the nation elected officials are campaigning against trans-rights legislation, and even actively advancing policies and legislation that single out LGBTQ and undocumented people for discrimination.
Finally, we cannot abide officials using this attack as an excuse to authorize even more invasive, unconstitutional surveillance of all of us. Dragnet surveillance doesn’t protect public safety, in part because building a bigger and bigger haystack only makes it harder to find and do something about the needles.
The ACLU will continue working to defend the constitutional rights of oppressed people, including immigrants, LGBTQ people, and religious minorities, as we have for nearly one hundred years. Our hearts feel heavy with grief, but our principles remain true.
As the great labor organizer Mother Jones said, we pray for the dead and we will continue to fight like hell for the living.