Pulse Nightclub Attack Revisited: Through a Close-Up Lens, Part I of III

0
329

Source: By I.W. Quinn, January 28, 2024

By Three AM, June 12, 2016, Muslim jihadi, Omar Mateen, had slaughtered forty-nine club-goers and severely injured fifty-three more.  Where only a short time before, music had vibrated the multi-colored darkened room, and young people at the crowded bar had raised their voices to compete with the cacophony of party people and band.  Now the floor was slippery with blood and eerily quiet with the fallen dead and those pretending to be dead.  It would be another two hours before police would bulldoze the exterior wall and take out the suicidal mass terrorist.

June 12, 2016 changed forever our nondescript little neighborhood.  Although I personally didn’t know the victims, I have been an integral part of this average little Orlando neighborhood for years.  I raised my kids here.  I know all the shops and can greet small business owners by name.  A trip to Publix is as much about running into longtime friends as it is about stocking the pantry.  We wondered if the pall that hung over our neighborhood in the massacre’s aftermath would ever go away.

I wrote the following short piece a couple of days following the unspeakable attack as we were all processing this unprecedented horror:

 6-12-16  PULSE: Ground Zero

June 14th, 2016

“Since I have been taking, strictly for personal enrichment, a number of homeland security and terrorism classes at our local college, I thought I had a pretty realistic outlook as to the probability of a terrorist attack in our area.   There are many reasons for Central Florida to be targeted.  Millions of people a year funnel through Orlando International Airport – thousands a day. The most obvious target, the tourist corridor, attracts an international diversity of millions.   We also know that the cruise ship port and the gas pipeline running up the coast are prime targets.  I’m prepared for all that.   


“What I was not prepared for is the massive, horrific mowing down of a hundred  innocent young lives a few blocks from my kids’ high school and a block from my go to “four corners.”  That’s where I do my grocery shopping and my dry cleaning, pop into my drug store and my post office, and maybe even swing by my little Ace Hardware.  Across the street from PULSE are a couple of shops and mom & pop restaurants. Before the Pulse Nightclub opened, it was Lorenzo’s, a little Italian place with great bread sticks where my kids hung out after school.  The ghost of their footprints is all over that place.  The park where the national news outlets have been staging interviews is a couple of blocks to the east in an older residential section next to the high school.  This is our neighborhood.  There is nothing notable about it.  It is just a normal little neighborhood where normal people go about doing their normal little routines. 


“Our community has forty-nine funerals to go through in the next few days.  FORTY-NINE!  For most of us, if we don’t know someone who was there, we know someone who knows someone.  As a person who works with young people, I have been looking for familiar names on the lists. Thankfully, nothing so far.  But my daughter has three friends who lost someone close.  Friends from church are also supporting others who have suffered multiple losses.  The brother of a young friend had planned to be at PULSE with some buddies that night, but was just too lazy to get dressed.  A near miss can take your breath away.  The unfolding stories of so many lives of productive, energetic and talented young people with so much promise – so much unfulfilled promise – are shattering. 

 

“Living a block from the park with their two young children, close enough to have been awakened by the barrage of warring bullets, are other friends who are now faced with how to make their children feel safe in their own home even as, days later, they continue to be confronted with a swath of detours, squad cars’ flashing lights, barricades at every street corner, and the media invading their park.
 

“Although at the bedrock of my faith is grace and forgiveness, thankfully, it does make allowance for righteous indignation – righteous anger.  That’s a good thing because that’s where I am now.  The endless storm of bullets that Omar Mateen let loose on June 12th is horrific beyond words.  Beyond imagination.  This time it was the gay community. Last time in San Bernardino it was a social service agency.  Next time it will be another unknown target.  ISIS instructs its followers to fight their jihad in place if they cannot travel.  It has never been about who we are.  It is about who they are and their twisted ideology and eschatology.
 

“For the time being, until forty-nine souls are buried, the flashing lights and barricades go away, and all the stories unfold, this is our world.”

 That was who we were seven years ago.  Then it seemed such a one-off for a “Pulse” to even occur.  There was, of course, the occasional “dirty mosque,” breeding the next generation of jihadis against Western Civilization; but with immigration largely tamped down under the Trump administration, the probability of Islamic terror attacks seemed pretty low.

The mosaic of our country is patterned much differently today.  When Biden ill- advisedly took his foot off the Trump immigration brakes, he exponentially accelerated the lack of controls guiding who and what is crossing onto our soil.  According to Customs and Border Protection data, the single year of 2022 saw 2.2 million illegals cross unimpeded.  Those are the ones we know of.  Among them, almost 11,000 originated from the countries of Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran and Syria.  If only one in ten of those is an Islamic jihadist, we have ushered in over one thousand illegals whose goal is to form cells, terrorize our citizens, and destroy our nation and all of western civilization.  It doesn’t take many.  It took a mere handful to take down the Twin Towers.  Today’s failed policy invites scores more Pulse massacres in scores more unremarkable communities.  Pulse will no longer be a one-off.  We need to be prepared for the siege of well-coordinated horrific attacks of terrorism that will, without warning, explode upon on our normal little neighborhoods where normal people go about doing their normal little routines.