As Rahm Emanuel famously said, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.”
In the immediate aftermath of the Orlando nightclub massacre, a narrative quickly emerged among liberal and media elites that “anti-gay” GOP lawmakers, white Christians, and the National Rifle Association were as much to blame for the attack as the shooter, Omar Mateen, and ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the attack.
That would certainly serve the partisan interests of the Left. And if Mateen wasn’t targeting gay people at all, that would really throw a wrench in the works.
Zack Ford got right to the point over at ThinkProgress: “Conservatives Try To Scapegoat Islam To Avoid Responsibility For Perpetuating Anti-LGBT Violence.” A headline at The Daily Beast sputtered, “GOP Homophobes Suddenly Find A Use For Gays.” Glenn Greenwald ranted, “Stop Exploiting LGBT Issues to Demonize Islam and Justify Anti-Muslim Policies.”
CNN’s Sally Kohn wasted no time comparing right-wing Christians to radical Muslims, tweeting, “Hey right wing Christians desperately trying to point out that right wing Muslims are more anti-gay than you are: Your guilt is showing!” And: “Last I checked, it’s not Muslim religious extremists shooting up abortion clinics and killing abortion doctors.”
“Here’s what the Christian right’s got to wrestle with: They’re only a few points behind the Orlando shooter on the same political spectrum,” tweeted Sarah Jones of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
More abstractly, “toxic masculinity” was also to blame. “Overcompensation Nation: It’s time to admit that toxic masculinity drives gun violence,” declared a headline at Salon. Another at ThinkProgress announced “The Role Of Toxic Masculinity In Mass Shootings.”
It wasn’t just the fault of Christians and masculinity. Guns and gun rights groups were also to blame. Hollywood luminaries Seth MacFarlane and Susan Sarandon, showing how little they know about firearms, incoherently called for a ban on “automatic weapons.” Even The New York Times’ Roger Cohen got in on the action, musing that “Mateen demonstrated again just how potent the mix of ISIS and National Rifle Association ideology is.”
Mateen Said Nothing About Punishing Gay People
But what if Mateen didn’t specifically target a gay nightclub? What if the choice of the club and the victims were incidental to the killer’s intent? What if Mateen simply hated America, loved ISIS, considered himself an Islamist, and wanted to kill as many infidels as possible?
Why else would Mateen have scouted out other locations like Walt Disney World? Could it be that this, too, is a place where large numbers of people gather and where Mateen could have launched a surprise attack against unsuspecting civilians? Mateen’s wife, Noor Sahi Salman, reportedly told People that recently he had been “scouting Downtown Disney and Pulse [nightclub] for attacks.” Downtown Disney, reports People, doesn’t have a security and bag check at the entrance, unlike the other four Disney World theme parks.
If Mateen’s specific purpose had been to target not just Americans, but gay Americans, why did he never mention this in his 911 call? According to multiple law enforcement sources, Mateen called 911 about 30 minutes after launching his attack and pledged allegiance to ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
But that’s not all he said. Mateen claimed he was doing this in solidarity with Boston marathon bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha, the first U.S. citizen to carry out a suicide attack in Syria. He also said he was protesting “the U.S. bombing in Syria and Iraq and the killing of women and children.”
No mention of carrying out an Islamic punishment for homosexuality, no mention of gay or lesbian Americans, no mention of his victims at all. Of course, it’s no secret that Islam condemns homosexuality, and that ISIS has executed gay men by throwing them from rooftops in Mosul. So it’s possible that Mateen decided to attack Pulse, a well-known gay nightclub, to carry out a punishment he believed Islam demands for homosexuality.
But in light of the going media narrative, that Mateen specifically targeted a gay nightclub because of his hatred of homosexuality, it seems a rather significant omission on his part. It would also undermine a plot that the Left and the mainstream media want desperately to advance. If the Orlando massacre turns out to be just another terrorist attack by a radical Muslim who hates the West and loves ISIS, what use would it be as a domestic political weapon?