Omar Mateen and the Clash of American Dreams

A sane point of view on the Orlando tragedy.

The still-dominant dream is an optimistic can-do narrative about a world that’s getting a little better, freer, and more prosperous all the time. It’s the sort of place where a man can parlay a cheeky cartoon mouse into a massive entertainment empire, and even transform what one architectural critic called ‘a blank slate roughly twice the size of Manhattan’ into one of the world’s most popular resorts. It’s a spirit that believes, as Walt Disney did, that “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” In this dream, hard work, imagination, and guts are rewarded. If you study hard at a place like the University of Central Florida in Orlando, the country’s second-largest university, you can learn a profession, get married, start a family, and buy a home. It’s a world of limitless possibility, where a Black man and soon maybe a woman can grow up to be president; where every citizen has civil rights. Today, this even includes a group of people who two generations ago had to lead furtive lives, who are allowed now to dance and socialise openly and legally—and if they meet someone special, even get married.

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OPEN — Bennett Voyles