Back in August, after back-to-back mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, Florida Senate President Bill Galvano announced a project by senators to better understand the causes of such incidents. One factor Galvano wanted to study was white nationalism, to which Galvano attributed not just mass shootings but "other acts of violence we have seen across the country in recent years."
In response, lawmakers from the House and Senate offered resolutions condemning white nationalism and white supremacy.
The Democratic version runs five pages and quotes Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and Ronald Reagan. The Republican resolution, which Albritton backs, is just three paragraphs and cuts quickly to the heart of the matter. Ultimately, though, they share the same goal: to declare, as the Senate version notes, the rejection of "white nationalism and white supremacy as hateful, dangerous and morally corrupt," and to affirm "that such philosophies are contradictory to the values that define the people of Florida."
While the long preamble in the Democratic document is unnecessary, it's good that both resolutions are very similar in their concluding language, which is what matters most. And so we encourage lawmakers to unanimously express their disdain for race-based hatred. It should be one of the easiest calls lawmakers will make next year.
Regrettably, as the Democratic resolution points out, there has been a recent surge in hate crimes, as defined by the FBI. The number of incidents across the nation rose 31% between 2014 and 2017. Yet the good news is that there were fewer total incidents in 2017 (7,175) than were reported 20 years ago, or even 15 years ago.
Officially condemning hate won't make it disappear entirely, but it is useful for us to show that, as a state or even a nation, we will be intolerant of intolerance.
Some progressives have shown a disturbing tendency to conflate incidents, whether actual hate rallies or simple policy disputes with white Republicans, to "white nationalism," or to equate acts of mass violence to hateful white perpetrators when that is not the case. Remarks by Democratic Sen. Cory Booker at CNN's LGBTQ town hall last week illustrate the latter.
At the event, a survivor of the June 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando asked Booker about steps to better protect the LGBTQ community generally and transgender women specifically. Booker replied that this was a "national emergency" and added "the majority of the terrorist attacks in this country since 9/11 had been right-wing extremist groups and the majority of them had been white supremacist and hate groups."
That may be true in the larger sense, but it wasn't true of the Pulse attack. The shooter, Omar Mateen, was a radical Muslim fundamentalist who was born in New York City to Afghani immigrants and who before and during the shooting declared his loyalty to ISIS.
We applaud the Legislature for taking this stand, but we caution against assigning blame based on a perception not backed up by statistics.
REPRINTED FROM THE PANAMA CITY NEWS HERALD
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