"But the Orlando massacre was certainly a hate crime, a bias-motivated attack aimed directly at the LGBTQ community for whom Pulse was a safe home and place of celebration," said MSNBC after the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in an article titled "Why calling the Orlando shooting a hate crime matters: analysis".
A narrative was being spread throughout mainstream media like wildfire.
"Was Orlando shooting terror or homophobia? Yes.", claimed a CNN headline.
"ISIL or not, Orlando shooting was hate crime against LGBT people," chirped another by USA Today.
"Orlando nightclub gunman remembered as abusive, homophobic and racist," added another header from the LA Times.
The Daily Beast published a story with the header and sub-header, "Omar Mateen Committed LGBT Mass Murder. We Must Confront That. - The media and politicians are in retreat from calling Omar Mateen’s massacre an act of anti-LGBT hate. Especially in Pride month, this erasure must not happen."
"ORLANDO SHOOTING: HATE CRIME BY A LONE WOLF RATHER THAN ISIS-LED ATTACK," blared Newsweek.
"Orlando Attack Roils Gay Community, Painfully Accustomed to Violence," added the New York Times.
"Call the Orlando massacre a hate crime: This was an attack on the LGBT community—and that matters," said Salon.
"The Orlando Shootings Were Homophobic Terrorism, Whether You Like to Admit That or Not," added the Huffington Post.
This narrative handed a perfect talking point to the Republicans, who hastened to paint Trump as a protector of the LGBT community while Crooked Hillary tries to let more gay-killing Muslims into the country.
"Thank you to the LGBT community!" Trump tweeted shortly after the shooting. "I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs."
"Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist," Trump said during the Republican National Convention. "This time, the terrorist targeted our LGBT community. As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology."
This hand-gifted counter-narrative against accusations of homophobia culminated in a widely-circulated photo op a week before the election featuring Trump posing with an upside-down rainbow flag handed to him by a conveniently placed audience member with "LGBTs for TRUMP" written on it in sharpie.
The far left jumped in to counter these Islamophobic takes with its own arguments imploring everyone to focus on homophobia and not Muslim violence in the wake of the attack, with everywhere from SocialistWorker.org to Green Left Weekly getting in on the action with headlines like "Letter from the US: Homophobia behind Orlando killings, not 'Islamic terrorism'" and "Don't turn homophobia into Islamophobia".
So who was right?
None of them were. It was all pure bullshit.
A recent Intercept report by Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain documents how there was never any real evidence that Omar Mateen was motivated by homophobia to kill 50 people at a gay nightclub on June 12, 2016, and how new evidence in the trial of Mateen's wife has emerged which almost certainly disproves that narrative. Though to this day that remains a widespread belief about his motives, Mateen had no idea Pulse was a gay nightclub, did not select it as a target for that reason, and had never expressed homophobic sentiments to people who knew him.
What actually motivated Mateen? Same thing that motivates most Muslim terrorists: western warmongering. Which he himself said at the time.
“Because you have to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq. They are killing a lot of innocent people,” Mateen said during a call to 911. "What am I to do here when my people are getting killed over there. … You need to stop the U.S. airstrikes. They need to stop the U.S. airstrikes, OK? . … This went down, a lot of innocent women and children are getting killed in Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan, OK?"
But US media didn't want anyone to focus on that as Mateen's motive for the attack. They wanted everyone to focus on homophobia instead.
Demonstrations against hate crimes targeting the LGBT community took place around the world, and gay pride colors lit landmarks everywhere from the Eiffel Tower to the One World Trade Center spire to the Tel Aviv City Hall to the Gateshead Millennium Bridge as public attention was conveniently paced away from yet another reminder that the "war on terror" creates more terrorists than it kills as people in Muslim majority countries watch their mothers, fathers, sons and daughters ripped to pieces by explosives dropped from the sky. Obama condemned the attack as "an act of hate" while continuing the unprecedented drone warfare campaign which actually caused it.
This is everything that is sick about western culture in general and the US in particular. It doesn't matter that my government is filling the skies of sovereign nations on the other side of the planet with flying death machines, because I have a rainbow flag bumper sticker on my car. I don't care that Trump is continuing and expanding on all of Bush and Obama's most bloodthirsty agendas, I care that he said "shit hole countries". Cluster bomb whomever you please, western war machine, just as long as you are careful to call them all by their preferred gender pronouns.
Of course it was reasonable for there to be an outpouring of support for the LGBT community following an attack on a gay nightclub, just as it would be for any tragedy that impacted members of any other disadvantaged group. But to deliberately paint the attack as a hate crime committed by a homophobic Muslim who wanted to kill gay people despite there being no solid evidence for that narrative from day one was wrong, and to do it to distract from his obvious actual motives was downright evil.
The so-called "war on terror" goes completely unquestioned by the establishment propaganda machine because it is a foundational element of the empire it serves. By securing the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists after September 11, the empire has been able to legally expand the presence of the US war machine into any region it wants by simply flooding the area with terrorists. All it took was the destabilization caused by Bush's wars to create a chaotic environment ripe for exploitation and manipulation by operations from the CIA, Mossad, and other allied intelligence agencies, and now any disobedient leader in the region like Gaddafi or Assad can be attacked by western-backed terrorist forces with the assistance of NATO troops.
The empire's most revolutionary military innovation in recent years hasn't come in the form of a new kind of bomb or helicopter, but in the vastly increased ability to use extremist factions in conjunction with psyops and propaganda to destroy and destabilize entire regions in a very targeted way. That combined with America's AUMF and drone program has served as the perfect workaround for the increasing discomfort the US public has been having with flag-draped coffins being carted out of airplanes in the name of spreading freedom and democracy. Replace the US troops with terrorists and flying death robots, and the only people getting killed are poor brown-skinned strangers you never have to think about in countries you'll never visit.
The "war on terror" has never been about fighting terrorism, it has been about creating and inflicting terrorism.
Remember, the most powerful among us will have the most advanced and well-funded manipulations, and the best manipulators will dress savagery and psychopathy up as high-minded social justice issues and enlightened progressive values. It will never come out and say "Evil is great! Let's go kill people," it will make a great big show of defending oppressed minorities and opposing bigotry while slyly having you sign off on acts of murder and mayhem hidden in the small print. The smiling face of establishment politics would distract you with a feel-good self-righteous rainbow flag-waving orgy to keep you from thinking about how your government is creating and inflicting terrorism upon the world in order to advance geopolitical agendas in strategic regions. But feeling good is a very different thing from being good.
May the world focus less on feeling good and more on being good, less on fake virtue signaling demonstrations and more on actually fighting the powerful for the benefit of the defenseless, less on appearing politically correct and more on ripping apart the oppression machine itself. May we act less in a way which does not even inconvenience the elites who rule over us, and more in a way that worries them. Please and thank you.
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