Published with permission from Media Matters for America.
Right-wing media personalities — each with their own records of anti-LGBT smears — used the June 12 Orlando massacre, in which a gunman wielding an assault weapon killed 49 people and injured 53 others at a gay nightclub, to lecture the LGBT community. The conservative media figures told them not to “focus on the gay community instead of the American community” and urged them to “come back home to the Republican Party.”
Numerous government officials and media outlets have identified the shooting as a hate crime. NBC News reported it was “both the deadliest terror attack inside the U.S. since 9/11 — and the deadliest hate crime against a gay target in American history.” CNN’s New Day devoted a segment to elevating LGBT voices in the wake of the massacre, where it was described as a hate crime. Both President Barack Obama and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton referred to the massacre as “an act of hate” against the LGBT community. Obama explained the significance that the attack occurred at a gay nightclub, calling it “a place of solidarity and empowerment,” while Clinton said, “We will keep fighting for your right to live freely, openly and without fear.”
Many right-wing media pundits, however, responded instead by lecturing members of the LGBT community about how they should react.
On Fox News’ Fox & Friends Sunday, Newt Gingrich — network contributor and favorite for Donald Trump’s potential vice-presidential pick — used the tragedy to say he hoped “the gay rights movement will come to realize that Islamic Supremacy is their mortal enemy.” In the past, Gingrich has chided the movement as “gay and secular fascism” wanting to “impose its will on the rest of us.”
Also on Fox & Friends Sunday, former Fox contributor and failed GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson exhorted gay people to avoid being too “ideologically driven” in order to start looking “very carefully” at “radical elements … for their own survival.” Carson has a history of bigoted remarks against LGBT people, which include comparing the gay community with practitioners of bestiality, saying marriage equality could destroy America like “the fall of the Roman Empire,” and asserting that sexual orientation is a choice because “a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight and when they come out, they’re gay.”
Fox’s Todd Starnes wrote June 13 that the attack was not about “the LGBT community,” but “the American community,” and denied that the president was “affirming and announcing solidarity with the LGBT community.” Starnes has appeared on anti-gay hate group media and has frequently included comments from the hate group Family Research Council in his own Fox reporting. In 2011, Starnes warned that proponents of marriage equality may try to make “traditional marriage” a hate crime, and he espoused several disparaging commentsabout LGBT people in his 2012 book Dispatches From Bitter America.
On his website, anti-LGBT Fox contributor Erick Erickson criticized “the way the media chose to report on the event … [as] a tragedy in the gay community.” Calling it “an unnecessary dividing line,” Erickson claimed that “the divisions and focus on the gay community instead of the American community” would reduce the tragedy’s impact on American anti-terror policy. Erickson concluded (emphasis added), “The chain of events that led a terrorist to an arsenal then to a nightclub without the FBI noticing is far more relevant and important right now than the agendas of various activists.”
Erickson has repeatedly compared the LGBT community to “terrorists,” including ” in a 2015 blog post titled “The Line Between Islamic Extremists and Gay Rights Extremists” that asserted “the divide between Islamic extremists and gay rights extremists is at death. They meet on the line of destruction.” In the wake of the June 17, 2015, mass shooting in a Charleston, S.C. church, Erickson claimed that Americans can no longer distinguish “normal from crazy and evil from good,” citing society’s acceptance of transgender people like Caitlyn Jenner.
The Resurgent’s Steve Berman wrote that “the LGBT community does deserve our special protection … against Muslims who follow an evil ideology sprung from their holy books.” While admitting that he “certainly do[es] not” agree with “the LGBT political agenda,” Berman concluded by threatening LGBT Americans: “I would gladly stand guard, AR-15 in hand, at any gay bar to protect these Americans, with whom I disagree, but will defend with my life. I do this because I love them like Jesus loves them. When the time comes for choosing enemies, I pray that LGBT Americans would choose very carefully.”
Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza tweeted, “Maybe gay activists will start to realize that playing with snakes — which is to say, coddling Islamic radicals — can be quite dangerous.”
Maybe gay activists will start to realize that playing with snakes–which is to say, coddling Islamic radicals–can be quite dangerous
— Dinesh D’Souza (@DineshDSouza) June 13, 2016
D’Souza publicly outed gay classmates during his time at Dartmouth College in the early 1980s and in 2008 penned an op-ed contrasting gay rights and democracy. D’Souza wrote, “Gays do have the right to marry. They have the right to marry adult members of the opposite sex! What gay activists want is something else: the right to marry members of the same sex.”
Conservative blogger Jim Hoft, who in the past hurled anti-gay smears against openly gay Obama administration appointee Kevin Jennings, used the massacre in a June 13 Breitbart News piece to urge gay people to vote for Donald Trump, writing:
I’ve been a conservative activist for years. But today I’m coming out as a conservative gay activist.
In the past few years I’ve built one of the most prominent conservative websites in America. I created The Gateway Pundit because I wanted to speak the truth. I wanted to expose the wickedness of the left. I was raised to love my country. Today I serve my country by defending her from the socialist onslaught.
I can no longer remain silent as my gay brothers and sisters are being slaughtered at dance clubs.
There is only one man who can lead this nation and protect all gays and all Americans. His name is Donald Trump.
I pray that gays will come back home to the Republican Party – no more death.
Striking a different tone, the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD), an organization that works to support LGBT Muslims, stressed that the tragedy “cannot be neatly categorized as a fight between the LGBT community and the Muslim community.” In its statement, MASGD called on Americans “to resist the forces of division and hatred, and to stand against homophobia as well as against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry.” From the June 12 statement:
This tragedy cannot be neatly categorized as a fight between the LGBTQ community and the Muslim community. As LGBTQ Muslims, we know that there are many of us who are living at the intersections of LGBTQ identities and Islam. At moments like this, we are doubly affected. We reject attempts to perpetuate hatred against our LGBTQ communities as well as our Muslim communities. We ask all Americans to resist the forces of division and hatred, and to stand against homophobia as well as against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry. Let us remember that the actions of a single individual cannot speak for all Muslims. Let us also remember that there are many straight Muslims who have been strong allies to the Muslim LGBTQ community. We see the beauty in our cultures and our faith traditions, and we have experienced love, acceptance and support from many in our Muslim communities.
Photo: Dinesh D’Souza via Facebook.