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U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaks at the White House Summit on the United State of Women in Washington, D.C., June 14, 2016. Yuri Gripas/AFP/Getty Images
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An Open Letter to Loretta Lynch

Thank you, Attorney General, for announcing the FBI’s omission of references to Islam in the Orlando’s shooter’s official transcript. What’s next for your red pen—the Gettysburg Address?

Liel Leibovitz
June 20, 2016
Yuri Gripas/AFP/Getty Images
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaks at the White House Summit on the United State of Women in Washington, D.C., June 14, 2016. Yuri Gripas/AFP/Getty Images

Dear Attorney General Lynch,

Thank you. Thank you for having the courage to stand up for all that is right and all that is true and all that is so profoundly American. Thank you for announcing that the FBI has deleted all references to radical Islam from the official transcript of Omar Mateen’s calls to 911 during his massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last week.

Sure, transcripts of the calls clearly indicate that Mateen pledged his allegiance to ISIS. Sure, survivors hiding in the bathroom clearly heard Mateen unequivocally explain his motives. But you know best, Loretta. You, like the president, know that all that talk of radical Islam having anything at all to do with any violent attack on innocent civilians anywhere is just a “political distraction,” the kind of drivel only dumb Republicans believe. We’re enlightened. We know better. And we have the power to literally rewrite history.

But let’s not stop there, Loretta. Other transcripts need work, too.

You know that speech Hitler gave in Berlin on January of 1939? The one about the Jews? It’s all just a load of propaganda; we all know that ideology had nothing to do with Hitler’s feelings, and that his actions were motivated instead by his confusion about conforming to traditional gender norms and his frustration about Germany’s income inequality in the wake of World War I. Edit that one too, will ya’?

And while you’re at it, why do we still think of Bin Laden as an adherent of radical Islam? I mean, wasn’t he first sort of fighting with us and then against us? He’s clearly confused, so let’s not give in to this muddle-mindedness that only breeds hate.

But the fault, Loretta, is not only in our enemies. It’s also in ourselves. We, too, are guilty of political distractions aplenty. We too inappropriately wrap ourselves in ideologies that only obfuscate the complex nature of reality. You know that shady speech by Lincoln, for example? The one in Gettysburg? Don’t even get me started on that one. Isn’t saying that “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom” sort of furthering the propaganda of the religious right? Did God really have anything to do with that war, or is it just a convenient excuse xenophobes and racists want to advance to justify their bigoted worldview? Oh, and while you’re at it, take that red pen to that nonsense about people assuming “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.” No need to further proclaim the allegiance of the Founders—slave-owning members of the patriarchy—to an extremist religious ideology.

Thank you, Loretta, for keeping us safe, not from actual terrorist attacks—those are trivial!—but from the far more grave sin of thinking inappropriate thoughts.


Liel Liebovitz

P.S. One last thing, Loretta: As we clearly don’t want to turn tragedy into a spectacle, let’s also not tell people what gun the shooter used. We wouldn’t want this unimportant bit of information to become a political prop, now would we?

Liel Leibovitz is editor at large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One. He is the editor of Zionism: The Tablet Guide.

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