In the wake of the brutal terrorist attack by Omar Mateen that killed 49 members of the LGBT community and wounded 53 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando, communities held vigils across the country to express solidarity with the victims. In marked contrast to the love and support shown by people around the world, haters voiced anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT sentiment and promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in the aftermath of the event.
Not surprisingly, bigots and extremists used the massacre in Orlando to demonize Muslims and Jews and to assert that the LGBT community got what it deserved because of their lifestyle. The sentiments they expressed demonstrate that these haters will exploit any tragedy to promote their ideology.
Over the past year, anti-Muslim activism has been on the rise across the United States. The Orlando attack has provided a boost to such hateful sentiment and bigoted rhetoric.
- Anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller commented on the Orlando attack on her blog on June 12: “The media is calling it a hate crime. So it’s safe to assume Islam is a hate ideology.”
- Robert Spencer, director of the anti-Muslim website Jihad Watch, wrote an article on the site about the terrorist who carried out the Orlando attack: “He was a devout adherent of a religion that mandates death for homosexuals, and the son of a man who supports a group that puts gays to death (even as homosexual behavior is rampant in Afghanistan).”
- A self-claimed ex-terrorist who is now a Christian convert and an extremist anti-Muslim activist, Walid Shoebat, used the Orlando attack as an opportunity to renew his support for calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. He wrote on his official website on June 12, “First of all it is 100% impossible to screen Muslims to weed out the terrorists.... Anyone who thinks that the U.S. or Europe are properly vetting or can vet these terrorists [is] dreaming. They cannot even monitor a few terrorists.” He concluded his statement: “What more can we do? In a nutshell, all you westerners, unless you completely ban Islam, your’e [sic] screwed.”
- Over social media platforms, some have cheered what they considered proof that previous calls to ban Muslim immigration to the U.S. were wise and “spot-on,” attacking at the same time what they described as a policy to “import more Muslims.” Other anti-Muslim statements over social media recycled old claims about the inherently violent nature of Islam, and the threat of not using the words “radical Islamic terrorism” in the context of describing such terrorist attacks.
While the LGBT and Muslim communities banded together to promote tolerance over hatred, extremists, including two pastors who are close associates, promoted a virulent strain of homophobia. Neo-Nazis also expressed contempt for the LGBT community, with some celebrating the terrorist attack.
- Steven Anderson, a pastor in Tempe, Arizona, who is known for his hatred of the LGBT community as well as Jews, gave a sermon celebrating the murder of gay people. He said: “The good news is that there’s 50 less pedophiles in this world, because, you know, these homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts and pedophiles.” He asserted that “they should have been killed through the proper channels as in they should have been executed by a righteous government that would have tried them, convicted them, and saw them executed.”
- Roger Jimenez, a pastor of a church in Sacramento, California and an associate of Anderson’s, voiced similar sentiments. He posed the rhetorical question, “Hey, are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today?” He answered, “Um, no. I think that’s great. I think that helps society.” He added that “The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is—I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job.” He continued, “I wish the government would round them all up, put them against a firing wall, put a firing squad in front of them, and blow their brains out.”
- On his neo-Nazi website Infostormer, Lee Rogers wrote, “I find your diseased lifestyles disgusting and toxic to the body politic.” He added that if the LGBT community “choses to follow The Don [a reference to Donald Trump]… we will not openly attack you or slaughter you. Your rights to defile our marriage ceremonies and push your agenda will of course be rescinded, and there will no longer be pride parades featuring massive dildos on American streets.”
- In an early response to the shooting, a poster on the neo-Nazi forum Vanguard News Network said that Mateen “offed 20 of the most degenerate pieces of excrement on the face of the earth, and if he gets virgins in paradise, as far as I’m concerned, he earned them.”
- Others on social media, in particular Twitter, used the pejorative term “homocaust” to describe the massacre in Orlando.
Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories
Fringe anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists rarely miss an opportunity to exploit tragedies to promote their hatred of Jews, as they did blaming Jews for events ranging from coordinated terror attacks across Paris in November 2015 to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December 2012 to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
- In this latest round of blaming Jews for all that is wrong with the world, David Duke, the former Klan leader, posted a video on YouTube titled “The Orlando Terror and the Dark Side of Diversity.” In this video, Duke invokes anti-Semitic theories about Jewish control and supposedly evil Jewish intentions stating, “…the powerful Jewish organizations have led the push for open borders.” He added, “…the takeover of American elite media, politics, and banking has directly led to the policies of ethnic cleansing in the country our forefathers created and they literally brag about this.” Duke blames the Jews and others for what he describes as the “the ethnic cleansing of America, Europe, and every Western Nation” and calls on “every white nation” to “rise up and defend Western Christian civilization.”
- Additionally, Veterans Today, a U.S.-based website that presents anti-Semitic conspiracy theories as news, published a number of articles blaming Israel or Jews for the Orlando shooting:
--In an article titled “MK-Ultra Triple Play in Orlando,” Veterans Today columnist Preston James tries to place the Orlando shooting into a larger Jewish conspiracy. He wrote, “[I]t is reasonable to view this Orlando shooting as a possible joint Mossad/CIA Gladio-style, inside-job, false-flag “triple-play” op designed to help motivate the American masses to collect the guns, accept political correctness and homosexuality as the preferred norm, and to further motivate Americans to support deploying our war machine to fight more wars for Israel and the KM (Rothschild Zionist Banksters).”
--In “Orlando Shooting: Why Israel Availed the Vicious Circle of Terrorism?” Sajjad Shaukat claims that Israel is behind a number of attacks in cooperation with “the Zionist-Israeli-led America” in order to stir up hatred against Muslims. Shaukat writes: “And most probably…Mossad might have arranged this massive shooting…to divert the attention of American public from internal problems, prolonged war on terror etc., and especially to avoid the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian issue.”
--Kevin Barrett, an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist and frequent contributor to Iran’s English language propaganda news network, Press TV, wrote a Veterans Today article titled “Orlando Nighclub Shooting Another False Flag?” In this article, Barrett places Israel at the center of “the long list of false flags that created [the Orlando shooting], claiming that “Zionists have been panicking, fearing that Obama is going to…officially establish the State of Palestine…The usual suspects may have responded with a massive publicity student in Orlando designed to make us forget Muhammad Ali [who Barrett describes as a positive Muslim role model] and make it much harder, if not impossible, for Obama to force the Israelis to withdraw from the territory they stole in 1967.”
- Some social media users responded by posting vehemently anti-Semitic messages on Twitter, making accusations similar to those of Duke or Veterans Today, either blaming Jews themselves for perpetrating the attacks or Jewish control of a number of sectors in the U.S. for inspiring the attacks.