THE tragic massacre in Orlando, Florida, is rightly condemned for being the barbarous act that it undoubtedly was. No cause can justify the deliberate, cold-blooded murder of civilians.
In this case, the target — a nightclub for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual people — was almost certainly related to the cause claimed by the perpetrator.
It appears certain that Omar Mateen was a supporter of Islamic State (Isis), the terrorist death cult which seeks to provoke war between its own perversion of Islam and every other religious or secular outlook.
Wherever it has succeeded in establishing its rule in the Middle East and north Africa, Isis has imposed a cruel regime of brute force.
In particular, its enslavement and licensed rape of captured women and its mass executions of opponents and “heretics” of every kind reflect a self-serving interpretation of Islam rejected by every civilised Muslim.
In the struggle to counter, marginalise and defeat Isis ideologically and militarily, it is vital not play into the hands of these fanatics by treating them as though they are somehow representative of the Muslim world. They are the enemies of Islam, just as they are the enemies of humanity as a whole.
Yet there are also widespread reactionary views on issues of gender and sexuality which provide part of the breeding ground for fanatacism of different kinds, whether religious or political.
Thus the challenge cannot be ducked of explaining why equality for women and LGBT people, and why respect and tolerance for different ethnic and religious communities, are essential hallmarks of a fair and civilised society.
Reluctance in some circles to listen to and abide by that message should be the cue for greater and better effort, not the excuse for forsaking it.
Solidarity with women and our LGBT communities should be the battle cry of us all.
The Orlando massacre also confirms that it will never be possible to protect every potential target from the kind of deranged killer who carried it out.
This, too, must not be an excuse for doing nothing to miminise the potential for such outrages to occur.
The surveillance of legitimate suspects within the law, the strictest controls on gun ownership and the disruption of supportive terrorist networks are all necessary activities.
But they are no substitute for fighting and winning the battle for hearts and minds. It is here that US, British, Nato and EU policies are failing so dismally.
The demonisation of Muslims, immigrants and refugees alienates vital would-be allies in the struggle against the likes of Isis.
That reality, along with the damage Nigel Farage does to the anti-EU cause every time he opens his mouth, is a good reson why a period of silence from the Ukip leader between now and June 23 would be most welcome.
The terrible mistakes made by Western interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and elsewhere have made many already disaffected youth at home and abroad susceptible to recruitment by Isis, al-Qaida and other fundamentalist groups. Western, Saudi and Israeli state terrorism feeds Islamist terrorism.
Nothing demonstrates Western hypocrisy, double standards and callousness more than the utter failure to secure national rights for the Palestinian people, even after 70 years of oppression.
Britain and the US also have to face up to the fact that the authoritarian regime of President Recep Erdogan in Turkey has been supporting Isis, while the West’s Saudi and Gulf State allies continue to sponsor their own fanatics of choice.
Isis will be crushed. But terrorism will be with us until we end the injustices that sustain it.