While the rest of the country, and the rest of the world stood with Orlando in grief and solidarity, right-wingers tried to outdo each other with awful reactions.
In the late hours of Saturday night, a gunman, who allegiance to ISIS, walked in to The Pulse — a popular LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where he was a regular himself — armed with an AR–15 automatic rifle. He killed 49 people and wounded 53, called 911 and a local television station to declare his allegiance to ISIS, and held several remaining club patrons hostage, until police broke through a wall in the club and shot him to death.
On Sunday morning, Americans awoke to news of the worst mass shooting in the nation’s history, so far. As more details were revealed, it became clear that this was no ordinary act of terrorism, but also a hate crime directed against a minority populations, and committed by a deeply conflicted man who may have been torn between his own identity and the teachings of his own faith. The club’s “Latin Night” drew a number of Latinos, who made up a majority of the fatalities. It was an act of terror and an act of hate, that took place at the intersection of many issues the country is struggling with today.
Needless to say, America’s wingnut brigade didn’t handle it well. Here are the worst right-wing responses and reactions to
- Can’t Say, “Gay.” From the moment the news broke of a mass shooting in an LGBT club in Orlando — which happened in the middle of the month when LGBT communities across the country celebrate Pride — conservatives tried to erase LGBT people from the story.
- The Republican National Committee initially issued a statement on Sunday denouncing, “Violence against any group of people simply for their lifestyle or orientation.” The use of the term “lifestyle” left something to be desired, but for Republicans this was a step forward. By Monday, however, the entire sentence was stricken, and revised to refer to “a terrorist attack against any American.”
- Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) even went so far as to deny that Pulse was an LGBT club, and then blocked a bill that would have protected LGBT people from discrimination.
- Florida governor Rick Scott repeatedly failed to mention for several days that the Orlando victims were targeted for their LGBT identities.
- Former US senator Scott Brown said in an interview with Boston Herald Radio, that while it was “deeply unfortunate” that most if not all of the Orlando victims were members of the LGBT community, he did not consider them to be “from a particular class of people.”
- San Antonio radio host Jack Riccardi said that calling the Orlando attack a hate crime would be a “huge victory for Isis,” because some of the victims were straight.
- Florida radio host Joyce Kaufman claimed that the 49 victims in Orlando were killed because the gunman knew they were would be unarmed, not because they were LGBT. “I don’t look at them as gay patrons, they are the patrons, they are fellow human beings,” Kaufman said, effectively erasing a significant fact that the victims were either LGBT or straight allies.
Ignoring that Pulse was an LGBT bar ignores why the 49 dead and 53 wounded were there in the first place. It ignored the significance of the space, and the impact the shooting has on members the LGBT community who seek safety and community in spaces like Pulse. It ignores that persecution and violence agains the LGBT community still persist.
- Gays Had It Coming. The only thing worse than the conservatives who wanted to erase LGBT people from the story in Orlando were those who were quick to declare that the victims who died at Pulse got what they deserved.
- Hours after the shooting in Orlando, Texas Lt. governor Dan Patrick tweeted, “Do no be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows,” from his personal Twitter account. The post was immediately deleted, and Patrick’s office claimed is was pre-scheduled, and denied that is was in any way related to the Orlando attack.
- Pat Robertson told “700 Club” viewers that LGBT people and Islamists are allies, so conservatives should just “sit on the sidelines and let them kill themselves.”
- Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones claimed that the LGBT community is to blame for the attack, and accused LGBT and radical Islamic leaders of working together because, “they want access to our kids.”
- Right-wing activist Dave “Coach” Daubenmire said on his “Pass the Salt” show on Monday that the victims murdered in Orlando were killed because “the devil is willing to sacrifice some of his own team in order to get our big players,” and warned that gun control will lead to the killing of conservative Christians.
- Baptist minister Roger Jimenez, of Sacramento, California, told his flock on Sunday morning that the 49 victims in Orlando, “deserve what they got.” Jimenez asked his congregation, “Are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today?” Jimenez later double down on his sermon, telling ABC 10 News that the government should be executing LGBT people. “That’s what they would do if we lived in a righteous nation,” he said.
- It’s Obama’s Fault. President Obama was miles away from Orlando on Saturday night. Nonetheless, right-wingers proceeded to blame him for the Orlando attack. Never mind that president Obama has seen over 30 mass shootings occur on during his term in office, including several of the deadliest in our history. Never mind that the president has spoken out for stronger gun control after every shooting. Never mind that Republicans have even blocked legislation prohibiting people on the FBI’s terrorist watch list from purchasing
- Fox commentator Sebastian Gorka blamed President Obama for the Orlando massacre, because he “allowed political correctness into the threat assessment.”
- Fox News wrongly reported that President Obama wants to ban the armored helmet that save a police officer’s life in Orlando. Neither the helmet or the vehicle used to punch through the wall of the club are on the list of prohibited police equipment created in May of 2015.
- Sen. John. McCain (R-Ariz.) jumped on the “blame Obama” train, telling the Washington Post, “Barack Obama is directly responsible for [Orlando], because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaeda went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures
- Guns, guns, guns. As usual, right-wingers fell back on the tired old talking point, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Right, and people armed with gun that can shoot hundreds of rounds in minutes, with high accuracy, kill a lot more people a lot faster than someone armed with just a knife.
- One day after Orlando, Republican Tennessee state Rep. Andy Holt stood by his decision to give away an AR–15 rifle, similar to the gun used in the Orlando massacre, as a door prize at a campaign fundraiser. Holt was a co-sponsor of the state’s failed anti-transgender “bathroom bill,” and introduced a bill to allow guns on the state’s college campuses.
- Fox news “expert” Gorka was back again, saying that it was pointless to prevent terrorists from getting gun permits, because they’d just use Ford F–150 trucks as weapons.
- Alex Jones also claimed that gun owners were the real victims of the Orlando massacre, because the attack was a “false flag” set up by the government “so they can then take our freedoms away.” Andy by “freedoms” he means guns.
- Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera claimed that the Orlando victims died because they were unarmed, and didn’t fight for their lives.
- Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said doubled down full gun rights for terror suspects like the Orlando gunman. On an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, King claimed that barring terror suspects from buying guns would be “denying them their right to defend themselves too.”
- It’s All The Muslims. As usual, right-wingers were quick to blame all Muslims for the actions of one.
- Radio host Rick Wiles declared “What we need is Muslim control.” Wiles had a lot more to say: “You’re not going to solve this problem until you round up the Muslims and ship them out of this country. End of discussion. Outlaw Islam. Make it an illegal religion. Don’t tell me it can’t be done. Pass a constitutional amendment that says we’re a Christian nation and Islam is illegal. Done. Get rid of it. Stamp it out before it destroys civilization.”
- Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) claimed during an appearance on the “Matt & Aunie” radio show that, “the Muslim community, which, if it had its way, would kill every homosexual in the United States of America.”
- Trump surrogate Roger Stone climbed that top Clinton aide Huma Abedin is may be a “terrorist agent” and is “handling Hillary for the Saudis.
- NRA-ILA head Chris Cox and Fox News host Sean Hannity agreed that Muslims and Democrats — not guns — are to blame for mass shootings.
Not all the responses on the right were horrible. Utah’s Republican Lt. governor Spencer Cox delivered a moving speech at a vigil in honor of the 49 victims, in which he apologized for his past political stance against the LGBT community.
“Over the intervening years, my heart has changed. It has changed because of you,” Cox said, his voice quavering. “It has changed because I have gotten to know many of you.”
“You have been patient with me,” Cox said, directly addressing the LGBTQ community. “You helped me learn the right letters of the alphabet in the right order even though you keep adding new ones,” Cox, an outspoken supporter of Utah’s 2015 law prohibiting housing and employment discrimination against LGBTQ people, said. “You have been kind to me.”