Our obsession with identity has robbed the victims of their humanity.
here has been something deeply disturbing in the Western response to the Orlando massacre. There has been an instinct, actually a concerted effort, to estrange the 49 victims from the broader human family, to prevent their being talked about as part of humanity. Across the media, and in gay-rights circles, observers have insisted we refer to them as ‘queers’ first and avoid turning them into ‘disembodied, undifferentiated and abstract “human” lives’, as one academic put it. To talk about these people in the same breath as ‘Western values’, to allow their murder to be ‘generalised’, to refer to their slaughter as ‘an attack on humanity’, is wrong, commentators insist, because doing this erases their specific identities and the specific reason they were killed: their gayness. This is all meant to sound PC, and gay-friendly, an attempt to uphold the truth about what happened in Orlando; but in fact it exposes the profound anti-humanism of identity politics.