What pisses me off about the ongoing fallout from the massacre in Orlando is this: non-Muslims who hate LBGT folks are pretending that their homophobia and its presence in the entire social system in the US is somehow not responsible for these murders and/or is somehow different from the homophobia of the killer because he has a Muslim name. Tangential to this is the ongoing effort by the mainstream media and the two presumptive presidential candidates to paint the massacre as an anti-American attack by a jihadist who hates our freedoms. I don’t know about you, but the first response most people I know had to first hearing the news was that the crime was an attack by a murderous homophobe. Indeed, many folks probably first thought that the murderer was a right-wing homophobe who considered himself Christian. I know I did.
What will prove interesting in the next few days is how the Trump campaign and its right-wing supporters rewrite the narrative. Despite the fact that the essential element of this murder spree was the killer’s hatred of LBGT human beings, one can be fairly certain that the right wing will find a way to deny that element. After all, doing so would not only bring into question their ongoing campaign against LBGT rights, but also raise questions as to their true motivations for the campaign. In other words, is the right wing fundamentalist Christian demographic in the Republican Party actively working to create a climate where gay, lesbian, and transgendered people can be considered legitimate targets by gunmen looking for humans to kill? Does its campaign against these US residents actively seek to instigate brutality against LBGT members of US society? Are political and church leaders in the anti-gay movement intentionally laying the groundwork for more such murders in the future? Objectively, my answer would have to be yes, they are.
I remember reading Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story–a 2009 history of US involvement that discusses the arming of the mujahedin in Afghanistan during the late 1970s and into the 1980s. According to this and other histories, the CIA knew it was choosing to arm some of the most socially reactionary elements of Afghan society. The misogyny and homophobia of its leadership was well known to CIA Director William Casey and was (according to the authors of this history) not much different than the views held by Casey himself, a very conservative Roman Catholic known for his misogynistic and homophobic views. In other words, Casey and his agents did not oppose the subjugation of women or the treatment of openly gay Afghans by the warlords the CIA was training and arming in its battle. One can almost believe he wished that he could still get away with such behavior in 1980s USA. It seems there are Americans living today who are trying their damnedest to bring such a world back to these shores.
There is a clear danger in the United States. It is not the Islamic State or those who conveniently pledge their selves to it before carrying out mass murder. It is a danger that has always been present in the United States; a danger that manifests itself in daily acts of hate and discrimination and infrequent acts of horrendous violence. It is a danger fostered by a history of racial, ethnic, religious and sexual intolerance and enforced by religious and political reactionaries on one level and by law enforcement on another. There’s a reason that many folks upon hearing of the massacre at the Orlando club thought the perpetrator was a Christian homophobe. After all, it is those Americans who are leading today’s charge against the lives of those who do not fit their constricted view of humanity.