Orlando Massacre as Anti-Gay Hate Crime

The Orlando massacre was primarily a hate crime against gays, aided by lax gun laws, rather than a terror strike by an ISIS acolyte — and thus the media/political analysis is wide of the mark, writes Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

Though it seems to fit the political agendas of both Republicans and Democrats, the assertion that the shooter responsible for the Orlando massacre was motivated by the Islamic State (ISIS) is certainly wrong, a conclusion supported by the recent testimony of CIA Chief John Brennan before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Brennan said the CIA has found no connection between Omar Mateen, the man who gunned down over a hundred people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 13, and any terrorist group. Thus, it makes more sense that this was a hate crime against gay people facilitated by gun laws that are demonstrably not in the interest of the citizens of the United States.

Omar Mateen, identified as the shooter in the massacre of some 49 people at a dance club in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016.

Omar Mateen, identified as the shooter in the massacre of some 49 people at a dance club in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016.

If this is so, why would Mateen claim on a 911 call, and later on a call to a television station, that he was slaughtering all these people in the name of ISIS? Can we take him literally on this? I don’t think so. Just ask yourself, Why would an alleged ISIS-inspired radical “Islamist” shoot up a gay nightclub full of Puerto Ricans?

Here is my theory to explain those phone calls and the ISIS claim. In Mateen’s mind, connecting his slaughter to ISIS was emotionally satisfying. He could convince himself that this political rationale would bring him praise rather than shame within the small and violent “Muslim” subculture with which he seemed to identify.

But his target belies this claim. It is far-fetched that ISIS would select a gay nightclub in a middle-sized Florida city as a target. No, this was a personal act on Mateen’s part, motivated by a hatred of gay people, perhaps stemming from his own conflicted sexual feelings.

However, if he explained his actions as an act against gays, later investigation might discover those conflicted feelings, and that would certainly lead to shame in the sight of that same subculture. So he identified the whole thing with ISIS as a kind of false trail – a cover-up, if you will – to delude himself and others.

There are at least two other unnamed accomplices in this slaughter. One is the Christian Right who have long sought to promote an anti-gay climate across the nation. As ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio noted soon after the massacre, “the Christian Right has introduced 200 anti-LGBT bills in the last six months.”  He concluded that it was not Islam, but rather “Christian homophobia” that contributed to the Orlando tragedy.

A second accomplice is even more culpable, and that accomplice is the nation’s criminally inadequate gun laws. Mateen had easy access to a weapon that could do maximum damage in the crowded, confined space of the Orlando nightclub. This easy access to guns is the common denominator that places Mateen’s action squarely in line with the hundreds of other gun deaths, singular and multiple, that have occurred in the U.S. in recent years.

Awful Responses

The politicized responses to Mateen’s awful act have themselves been awful.

Donald Trump unashamedly used the tragedy for political profit. “We’ve got problems,” he said and then identified these with Muslims both at home and abroad. He repeated his demand that Muslims be banned from entering the U.S. He also implicitly blamed the Muslim community now living in the country for recent acts of violence by individual Muslims.

Billionaire businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Billionaire businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Trump made this charge based on the assumption that the American Muslim community is not turning in the alleged terrorists in their midst. Actually, when it comes to the Orlando incident, this is not true. The authorities had been alerted about Omar Mateen multiple times, both from Muslim and non-Muslim sources, but at that time the authorities did not judge him enough of a threat to warrant arrest.

Trump made no reference to this fact. One might also wonder how far Mr. Trump wants to take this proposed community responsibility. Does he expect the American Christian community to start taking responsibility for shooters coming from their ranks? After all, they account for most of these kinds of slaughters.

In any case, Trump’s reaction was selective at best. The presumptive Republican candidate simply ignored the possibility that the Orlando massacre could have been a hate crime against gays. He certainly made no mention of the need for much stricter gun control.

It should be noted that Trump’s position melds with that of the more fanatical U.S. Islamophobes, a good number of whom are, unfortunately, also fanatical Zionists.

Take for instance the words of Daniel Pipes: “Omar Mateen’s obvious motives are almost ignored. … It’s time for the authorities to focus on Islamism as the problem, rather than bizarrely insisting Islam has nothing to do with it.”

This is just a typical distortion on Pipes’s part. What is truly bizarre is the attempt to conflate Mateen’s insanity with the entire religion of 1.6 billion mostly law-abiding Muslims.

Pipes was joined in his distortion by none other than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who proclaimed, “We are all shocked by the terrible massacre in Orlando,” adding, “Islamic terror threatens the entire world and all enlightened nations need to unite in order to fight against it.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

It goes without saying that he ignored his own country’s brand of terrorism.

And then there was the response of Hillary Clinton. Most of her remarks right after the massacre were not that different from Trump’s. She concentrated on the need to destroy ISIS even though its leaders were certainly more in the dark about Mateen’s violent potential than were local authorities in Florida.

Like Trump, Clinton was maneuvering for political advantage here. She too seems uninterested in the fact that the vast number of these murder sprees in the U.S. over the last couple of decades have been carried out not Muslims, but by white Christian males. In addition, it was only after much talk about “jihadists” that she threw in a brief reference to a truly relevant topic – public access to assault rifles.

The only reason that U.S. politicians can get away with pinning the violence in Orlando on Muslims is because they and their constituents live in ignorance and denial. The truth is that most Americans rely for their news and opinions on media sources which are at best shallow and at worse are manipulative and propagandizing. Often, these media sources are bereft of logical thinking as well.

Unfortunately, your average media editors and reporters do not know much more than their audiences when it comes to non-local affairs. They get their information from the government, politicized “talking heads,” biased think-tanks, and news or “wire” service sources. This leaves all of us open to unwarranted exaggeration and fear, as well as the deemphasizing of selective topics deemed too politically or socially “sensitive.”

We should always keep in mind that the United States is not a democracy of individual citizens. It is a democracy of competing interest groups which use lobbies to pressure government (local, state and federal) as well as media to substitute their parochial interests for community or national interests.

Presently, fear and distortion generated by neoconservative, Zionist and Islamophobe interest groups are influencing the storyline, the “spin,” on the sort of violence we have seen in Orlando. The National Rifle Association – that is, the gun lobby – is successfully pushing to minimize the issue of inadequate gun control.

And there you have it. If these interest groups prevail, the proper and needed steps to deal with the violence epidemic in the U.S. will not be taken. That means more carnage is in America’s future no matter who ends up in the White House.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

17 comments for “Orlando Massacre as Anti-Gay Hate Crime

  1. Silly Me
    June 23, 2016 at 06:00

    I am still waiting for evidence that it actually happened, because everything, except the mainstream narrative, suggests the opposite.

  2. June 22, 2016 at 22:41

    Straight Men who demonize Gay Men have penises and anuses on their minds. This is intolerable to them. Thus, they want all Gay Men dead.

  3. Patrick Penick
    June 21, 2016 at 21:38

    I am very disappointed with all the liberal reporters pushing for more gun control. Please see Hillary’s answer to George Stephanopoulos in recent weeks regarding 2nd amendment rights–when she dodged the question, he told her she had dodged the question and again asked it; she dodged it again. Point is, there are a lot of people who would like to get rid of firearms completely. Sure background checks would be a good idea–if they would stop at that. But they will not stop there. It is a slippery slope. And I guarantee this: when you give your rights away, you do not get them back. The government will not give back what it has taken. Lastly, this was not the biggest massacre in American history, or even recent history–the ATF stormed the Waco compound and ended up killing 70 people–when they could have picked up David Koresh at the local Dairy Queen where he went for his daily ice cream. I absolutely do not trust the government, and you are a fool if you do. What will society look like in 100 years? With the wealth concentration at the top increasing, and the middle class shrinking, I would not want to be getting rid of any of my rights. Too much ignorance out there, especially in the media. How is it that our media is reportedly owned by only a few corporations (I keep hearing the number “seven” used) which seem to push a corporate agenda, but so many individual reporters are calling for gun control? I don’t get it. Perhaps the insulated college educations and career tracks they are on shield them and give them an unbalanced perspective.

    • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
      June 22, 2016 at 14:35

      They have strict gun laws in Canada, Europe, and Australia, and those countries are not in danger of losing their civil liberties. I have said this before, that is the “slippery slope” fallacy.

      Not only that, you bring up the “colleges are liberal propaganda” and the fact that many reporters advocate gun control is because they are centrist, as Robert Parry pointed out, not because they are liberal or are controlled by corporations.

  4. Christene
    June 21, 2016 at 07:24

    Recently, there was a story about a woman who deliberately ran down her boyfriend with her car when she found out he was HIV positive. It got me thinking. Clearly, we have a problem. Each DAY, 92 people die at the hands of someone who possesses a car. That is over 32,000 deaths per year. Compare that to guns, which only claim 13,000 lives per year, and I think we see where the clear and present danger TRULY lies. So I have a few proposals;
    Before anyone is given the priviledge of purchasing a two ton potential killing machine and sent off to go barreling down the road at 70, or 80, or 100 m.p.h., the following laws should be implemented;
    1. All vehicles, new or used, shall only be sold by a licensed dealer. All private sales of cars shall be made illegal, unless said seller registers as a licensed dealer. FB, Craigslist, the For Sale ads in local newspapers, and every bulletin board in the front of every grocery store shall be monitored for illicit activity, not to mention local car shows.
    2. A thorough background check shall be done on anyone seeking to buy a new or used vehicle. Anyone who is found to be on any list of any kind shall be barred from purchasing any vehicle. Of special concern are those seeking to purchase “Dukes of Hazzard” type vehicles, which have a strong correlation to Confederate flags and will heretofore be categorized as “hate cars”. They shall be immediately deemed a security threat and be barred from interacting with society, period.
    3. Any person who has been diagnosed with a mental condition that requires mind altering drugs to control, shall be barred from purchasing a vehicle due to the danger of being “under the influence” of said drugs at any given time. Besides, crazy people just shouldn’t drive. Especially women who have been diagnosed with PMS and have recently broken up with a cheating boyfriend/husband.
    4. Anyone with any type of misdemeanor or felony shall be prohibited from purchasing a vehicle. Ever. Just because.
    5. All car manufacturers shall be held liable for deaths that were committed by their vehicles during the commission of a crime. Also, they shall be held liable for deaths that happened as a result of people driving cars that were designed for professional drivers on the NASCAR circuit, but marketed to men with “compensation issues”.
    6. And last, but certainly not least, CHRISTIANS shall be prohibited from owning or operating any type of motor vehicle due to the overwhelming evidence that the aforementioned NASCAR circuit is supported almost exclusively by white, southern, confederate flag waving, Dukes of Hazard loving, right-wing, Christian nuts, and men with “compensation issues”.

    I think I’ve covered all the bases and I should have clearly addressed the problem of vehicular slaughters taking place on American roadways each day. Thoughts??

    • Zachary Smith
      June 21, 2016 at 08:32

      Fascinating nonsense. I’ll leave it to others to decide if this is an example of “Snow Job”, “Straw Man”, or another one.

      http://utminers.utep.edu/omwilliamson/ENGL1311/fallacies.htm

    • David Smith
      June 21, 2016 at 08:54

      Bravo. Absolutely hilarious. However, vulnerable communities in America will not be safe until we pass sweeping legislation with mandatory prison time for uttering ‘Hate-Car Speech”.

    • bobzz
      June 21, 2016 at 12:15

      The purpose of a car, stripped of status projections, need for speed, etc., is to transport people from A to B—alive, in one piece.
      The purpose of an assault rifle is to separate B from B (breath from body)—to destroy life.
      I make no comment on the gun issue generally, only the car/gun analogy: it is just plain silly.

  5. Zachary Smith
    June 21, 2016 at 00:31

    On the subject of Florida, stupidity, and a GOP candidate, there is this from Google News.

    June 20 at 11:50 PM

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Republican candidate for Congress in Florida has launched a contest on his Facebook campaign page to give away a semi-automatic rifle on Independence Day.

    Greg Evers announced the giveaway barely a week after a shooting at a gay nightclub killed 49 people in Orlando, which is about five hours drive from the Florida Panhandle congressional district Evers seeks to represent.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/florida-gop-candidate-to-give-away-semi-automatic-rifle/2016/06/20/4f163f02-3762-11e6-af02-1df55f0c77ff_story.html

    A glance at his photograph told me the fellow was just another old fart whose gray matter was getting mighty scarce. Surprise! His wiki says he’s 61.

    That this man has been in the Florida Legislature for so many years confirms a long-held suspicion of mine about Florida voters. That he’s pulling this stunt tells me that if “dumb was dirt”, Mr. Evers could easily provide a football field enough for natural grass.

  6. Dwight
    June 21, 2016 at 00:30

    It is sad to see people speculating based on unauthenticated evidence. Dozens of murdered people, various claims by or through the untrustworthy government and media, and supposedly progressive people are saying it was this or that, even though they have absolutely no basis for saying either. Consortium News does good work, but I don’t think they will do good work on this case. Perhaps they should just shut up on cases they are not willing to pursue.

    • Zachary Smith
      June 21, 2016 at 00:33

      Is this some version of “Sandy Hook” denial? Or were you just careless with words?

  7. Zachary Smith
    June 20, 2016 at 23:01

    Holy Israel instantly swung into gear after the Orlando murders. The link has a disgusting list of things the murderous thieves are saying, but this one took the cake.

    Meanwhile, Shurat HaDin, the lawfare group linked to Israel’s spy agency Mossad, sought to implicate Palestinians in the Orlando attack.

    In a message on its Facebook page, Shurat HaDin claimed that the Orlando massacre “is part of a series of attacks planned by the Hamas leadership together with ISIS to be executed in the month of Ramadan.”

    Never let a good crisis or disaster go to waste.

    https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israel-spin-doctors-move-exploit-orlando-massacre

  8. Abbybwood
    June 20, 2016 at 20:47

    Based on the transcripts of the calls he made during the massacre and his record of having attended a mosque regularly for his entire life and also based on the fact that he made it clear this was being done to “stop the U.S. from bombing Syria and Iraq, the home of the new Caliphate, it seems this was clearly an act of terrorism inspired by ISIS/Daesh (whether or not he was contacted or had others personally involved with him).

    The fact that he chose a gay club to do the crime suggests he also had an issue with gays either because he was gay himself or because of the anti-gay teachings he grew up with or both.

    So, it appears it was both an act of terrorism and a hate crime.

    • Mistaron
      June 21, 2016 at 12:55

      I’ve been going from site to site about this homophobic thing, and nowhere has anyone asked: Why, if this was a hate crime, specifically against gays, has it been widely reported that Mateen had previously cased Disneyland but decided against it because it was too open. Where is the gay motive in Disneyland? Nah. This guy was familiar with the club and simply chose it as an easier target. This paradoxical contradiction seems to have slipped past the storytellers.

    • John
      June 21, 2016 at 18:51

      Aren’t hate crimes, by definition, acts of terror?

  9. Joe Tedesky
    June 20, 2016 at 17:59

    I’m not sure what Omar Mateen was all about, but I do know what is evolving out of his insane act of terror. Let’s start with Hillary’s call for an ‘intelligence surge’ (god those DC politicians love that word surge), which denotes more cracking down on Americans civil liberties. Trump should count to 20 every time before he opens his huge mouth. If Trump by bringing up Obama’s reluctance to say ‘Radical Islamic’ is connected to our country’s evolvement with ISIS groups in Syria, then he may have come off somewhat coherent, but instead Trump once again convinced us how unhinged he is, as the media referred to this Trump on Obama attack as a birther issue related thing. Trump makes Hillary look like the reasonable one. It is rather amazing how quick the 51 State Department clowns were to release their critique of President Obama’s Syrian policy so near this tragic shooting in Orlando. It’s disgusting to see how these presumptive presidential nominees along with state diplomats try to capitalize on such a horrendous violation of human life, and do it all in the name of Liberty, and Justice for all.

    • Joe Tedesky
      June 20, 2016 at 23:26

      Here is something from Thierry Meyssan of voltairnet.org

      “In 2011, when the war in Syria was just beginning , a blog appeared under the name of «Gay Girl in Damascus». The author wrote of her life as a free woman in the Syrian capital, and criticised the «Bachar régime». In December, a message was posted on the blog by one of her cousins affirming that the young woman had just been arrested by the «Mukhabarat» (Special Branch). Western gay associations – who know nothing about Syria – mobilised against the «dictatorship ». We learned later that the young woman had never existed. The blog was in reality managed for propaganda purposes by Tom MacMaster from Edinburgh University, probably for MI6.”

      You may read the whole religion vs homosexuality enlightened article here;

      http://www.voltairenet.org/article192427.html

      Meyssan gives a very good briefing on homosexuality and Syria, plus more. I recommend this as a must read.

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