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Orlando Shooting Was an Act of Terrorism



Dustin Berna - sm

Dustin Berna, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Nova Southeastern University

FORT LAUDERDALE/DAVIE, Fla. The Orlando nightclub shooting was an act of terrorism committed by an Islamic extremist. To argue anything to the contrary is lunacy.

Many are making the assumption that he was gay and they are rationalizing his violent act as a consequence of his closeted homosexuality.  This downplays the significance of his act, and if he had walked into a shopping mall, school or an amusement park instead of a gay bar, I suspect their reaction would be different.

The reason why this terrorist was in a gay bar had nothing to do with his sexuality and everything to do with his intolerance.

ISIS has instructed its followers to kill as many Americans as possible and to do this they must assimilate into our culture, and when our guard is down, they attack, maximizing our casualties. This terrorist attack was not only against the LGBT community but against all Americans, our democracy and the foundations of our free and open society.

ISIS has welcomed and encouraged Sunni Muslims from around the globe to join their caliphate and participate in jihad against the United States.  Their followers wholeheartedly believe their intolerance and violence is sanctioned by God.  ISIS is attempting to return their caliphate back to the day Mohammed died. The easiest way to understand this is to imagine our society returning to the day Jesus died and in doing so, we would legalize slavery, child-rape, crucifixions, beheadings, public stoning, eliminate democracy, and sanction the mass-murder of anyone who disagrees or attempts to slow down our societal transformation.  To do this requires a global network of fighters and supporters; the Orlando terrorist was one of them.  Like most westerners who support ISIS, he felt alienated and did not understand his faith and he turned to manipulative, self-serving clerics who taught him their perverted, intolerant, and violent interpretation of Islam and in doing so, he became an anti-American terrorist.

Tolerance is taught to children by parents, teachers, and religious leaders and someone fell significantly short with his upbringing.  ISIS hates and slaughters gays but they also hate and slaughter Shia, Christians, Jews, uncovered women, and anyone who questions or challenges their autocratic and incoherent views.

His intolerance toward gays was taught to him in the United States and reinforced throughout his childhood. His intolerance toward the United States was taught to him by radical clerics who took advantage of his ignorance.  According to his logic, gays are blasphemous abominations and all Americans are evil, so to kill gay Americans would elevate his standing in Heaven.

This shows us that hate, intolerance, homophobia, and rationalizing and justifying the persecution of gays in the name of God, links many aspects of our society with that of ISIS. ISIS sees no difference between conservatives and liberals, Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics, democrats and republicans, or evangelicals and gays they only see American and they want each one of us eradicated.  ISIS is right, we are all Americans and equal in the eyes of God.  Maybe this horrific tragedy will help us become a more unified and tolerant people.


ATTN MEDIA: This guest editorial/op-ed by an NSU Subject Matter Expert is available to be published for your readers, with proper credit given to the author and institution.


Nova Southeastern University fully supports an individual’s right to express their viewpoint and opinions. The views expressed in this guest editorial are that of Dustin Berna, Ph.D. in Nova Southeastern University’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and are not necessarily those of NSU, its President or Board of Trustees.


Dustin Berna, Ph.D.
Nova Southeastern University


 About the Author
Dr. Berna is an assistant professor of Conflict Resolution and Political Science at Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. He is also the director of Assessment and Planning for the college.

His research specializations include Middle Eastern politics, Islamic fundamentalism, religious extremism, social movements, terrorism and political institutions. He has taught classes on the Iraq War, Islamic politics, Middle Eastern politics, terrorism, political violence, international relations, U.S. foreign policy, the politics of developing states, revolutions, international negotiation and violence prevention.

Dr. Berna has written numerous articles on topics that range from terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism to Iranian political institutions and Islamic democracy. He has recently finished a book on ISIS titled Ignorance, Isis, and Indoctrination: The World of Islamic Fundamentalism. His book is currently under review at Duke University Press and is expected to be published in 2016.

Dr. Berna earned his doctorate from the University of New Orleans in 2008. His two major fields of study were Middle Eastern politics and international relations. American political institutions were third and minor field. His dissertation was a quantitative study that evaluated the causes and electoral success of Islamic fundamentalist movements. Berna has collected and coded every Islamic fundamentalist group that is, or has been, in operation in the Islamic world since 1970.



About Nova Southeastern University (NSU): Located in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a dynamic research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and first-professional degree levels. A private, not-for-profit institution with more than 26,000 students, NSU has campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Tampa, Florida, as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico, while maintaining a presence online globally. For more than 50 years, NSU has been awarding degrees in a wide range of fields, while fostering groundbreaking research and an impactful commitment to community. Classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is 1 of only 50 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification, and is also the largest private, not-for-profit institution in the United States that meets the U.S. Department of Education’s criteria as a Hispanic-serving Institution. Please visit for more information about NSU and for more information on the largest fundraising campaign in NSU history.