In a Wednesday editorial, The New York Times editorial board argued that the Republican Party is to blame for the murder of 49 people in an Orlando gay club by a radical jihadist who swore allegiance to ISIS.
Yes, seriously. Here’s but a small excerpt:
Omar Mateen shattered the tenuous, hard-fought sense of personal safety that many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have begun to feel as the movement for equality has made significant gains in recent years. His bullets and the blood he left behind that early morning were a reminder that in many corners of the country, gay and transgender people are still regarded as sinners and second-class citizens who should be scorned.
While the precise motivation for the rampage remains unclear, it is evident that Mr. Mateen was driven by hatred toward gays and lesbians. Hate crimes don’t happen in a vacuum. They occur where bigotry is allowed to fester, where minorities are vilified and where people are scapegoated for political gain. Tragically, this is the state of American politics, driven too often by Republican politicians who see prejudice as something to exploit, not extinguish.
Where to start? “The precise motivation for the rampage remains unclear” only to those who desperately want his motivation to remain unclear. Mateen called into 911 and a local news station and told them that he was doing it for ISIS. No less than President Barack Obama himself gave a national speech and said that Mateen was self-radicalized and declared allegiance to ISIS.
There’s no great mystery here: the man was a radical who followed a twisted version of Islam and pledged service to a foreign terrorist organization. The only open question is whether that was the full extent of his motivation, or whether his radical ideology’s conflict with his own closeted sexuality added fuel to the fire.
Not that the Times would ever tell you that. There is no mention of ISIS in the op-ed, no mentioned of Islam (radical or otherwise), no hints of Mateen’s faith or ideology at all. Were it not for his traditionally Arabic name, it’s not an exaggeration to say that one gets the impression from the Times piece that the shooter must have been an ultraconservative Christian nut.
While the Times is willfully blind to the evidence of Mateen’s motivation, they are more than happy to simply assume that he must have been inspired by rhetoric from conservatives and Republicans. The Times presents no evidence that was the case because such evidence of course does not exist. On the contrary, the only evidence of his pre-radical political leanings is that Mateen was a registered Democrat.
Conservatives are used to this by now. We all remember when Sarah Palin and the Tea Party was denounced not just by the Times, but the entire media for the attempted murder of Gabby Giffords. For nearly a month, the airwaves and papers were chock-full of insinuations and outright accusations that Giffords murderer was inspired by Palin’s rhetoric, despite there being quite literally zero evidence to suggest that was the case. “Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ blood is on Sarah Palin’s hands,” op-eds blared across the country.
There was no other way to describe it than mass hysteria. The Tea Party had just won a major victory, most in the media establishment didn’t care for that, and when the flimsiest excuse to denounce a major Tea Party leader presented itself they seized it. There was zero accountability or apology from the propagandists and willful liars five years ago; don’t expect any this time either.
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This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.