The unspeakably tragic 2016 mass shooting at The Pulse, a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, represented a unique challenge for those who make their living in the Professional Grievance Industry. Last week, the Narrative that they hoped would stick evaporated before their very eyes. That’s probably why you haven’t heard anything about it.
Ironically, the revelation came from the ill-fated attempt to prosecute the shooter (Omar Mateen’s) widow. She was exonerated last week on charges of lending material support to her husband’s crimes. But in the process, we learned a lot more about what motivated Mr. Mateen. And it had little to do with what was being openly speculated while the blood at the crime scene was still coagulating.
Melissa Jeltsen wrote a summation for the Huffington Post.
Salman’s trial cast doubt on everything we thought we knew about Mateen. There was no evidence he was a closeted gay man, no evidence that he was ever on Grindr. He looked at porn involving older women, but investigators who scoured Mateen’s electronic devices couldn’t find any internet history related to homosexuality. (There were daily, obsessive searches about ISIS, however.) Mateen had extramarital affairs with women, two of whom testified during the trial about his duplicitous ways.
And just like that, the narrative that Mateen was a frustrated and closeted gay man who was filled with self-loathing was summarily eviscerated. Also evaporated was the theory that Christian-fueled bigotry created a fertile climate for a deadly act of homophobia.
But that’s not the only thing the trial revealed. It also showed that the Pulse was targeted for one reason and one reason alone. No good guys with guns.
As far as investigators could tell, Mateen had never been to Pulse before, whether as a patron or to case the nightclub. Even prosecutors acknowledged in their closing statement that Pulse was not his original target; it was the Disney Springs shopping and entertainment complex. They presented evidence demonstrating that Mateen chose Pulse randomly less than an hour before the attack. It is not clear he even knew it was a gay bar. A security guard recalled Mateen asking where all the women were, apparently in earnest, in the minutes before he began his slaughter.
So it was the presence of armed security that disabused Mateen’s original intent to kill lots of people at Disney Springs. Wow. This throws shade on a LOT of assumptions that were forced down our collective throats by mainstream media outlets during the summer of 2016.
If you recall, during his Press Conference the day after the shooting, former President Obama reluctantly admitted that this was indeed an “act of terror.” But he also made sure to remind us that there was no definitive word on the motivations of the killer. This, of course, was after we had learned that Mateen had made a call to 911 to swear allegiance to ISIS while gunning down 49 people. That wasn’t QUITE enough for the President to pin down the motive. Neither was the fact that ISIS immediately claimed responsibility for the massacre. Nope. According to the President, the motive was elusive.
In the immediate aftermath, purveyors of The Narrative© tried desperately to control the discussion. The attack suddenly became about homophobia and the need for Gun Control. A two-for-one deal! The ridiculous push to prevent people on the No Fly List from purchasing guns was renewed. Fortunately, cooler and more Constitutional heads prevailed.
The zest to control The Narrative© slipped into the sublime in the days after the shooting. You’ll recall the Department of Justice released a heavily-redacted and partial transcript of Mateen’s 911 call. It came a day after Attorney General Loretta Lynch promised to release a partial transcript that would eliminate references to the groups to whom Omar Mateen was pledging allegiance. If someone had released a parody, I don’t know how it would be any different than the way this actually played out. When reality gets in the way of your narrative, redact or omit it.
The FBI had a legendarily stupid reason as to why they released such pablum. “We’re trying to prevent future acts from happening.” As though if they remove the words “Allah” and “ISIS” existence, no one would *ever* know what happened. Do you think, for one millisecond, that if a White Fundamentalist Christian that had shot up a gay nightclub that the Obama Administration would have redacted references to “Jesus” in the 911 calls?
While the leader of the Free World did his best to distance this act from it’s obvious motivations, the leading newspaper in the Free World did him one better. The New York Times published an editorial making it clear that Republicans were to blame. David French shared a particularly telling passage today in National Review.
…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.
This opinion is remarkable in it’s absolute incorrectness. Mateen could not have been clearer about his motive if he had purchased a prime-time infomercial on all three major networks and played an endless audio loop of his 911 call where he swore allegiance to ISIS. But the Times, and a number of other traditional media outlets, saw a chance to demonize a political party and roughly half of the nation’s electorate—evidence be damned.
There will be no apology, of course. This was an editorial and the Times and others like them are free to express it. I would have it no other way.
But I would like to think that if I had offered an opinion that turned out to be so COMPLETELY destroyed—an opinion that blamed an untold number of people as being de facto co-conspirators in one of the worst tragedies in modern US history—I would like to think I would have the common decency to issue a mea culpa. Something along the lines of “Hey! Sorry I said you inspired a major terrorist act. My bad. We cool?”
No, I am NOT holding my breath.