Did the targeting of a gay-friendly nightclub by a radical Islamic terrorist amount to just a coincidence? At first, the theory that the motive behind the massacre that killed 49 innocent people was in part homophobic panic eclipsed the terrorist’s declared allegiance to ISIS while carrying out the attack. A month later, though, the Washington Post’s Adam Goldman reports that the FBI has found no evidence that Omar Mateen targeted the LGBT community specifically, nor much evidence that he was a closeted gay man himself:
The FBI has found no evidence so far that Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people and wounded more than 53 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, chose the popular establishment because of its gay clientele, said U.S law enforcement officials.
“While there can be no denying the significant impact on the gay community, the investigation hasn’t revealed that he targeted pulse because it was a gay club,” a U.S. law enforcement official said.
Soon after the shooting in the early morning of June 12, top U.S officials such as the FBI director and U.S. attorney general described it as both a hate crime and an act of Islamic terrorism.
Not to quibble, but isn’t an act of Islamic terrorism a hate crime in the literal sense? Radical Islamists hate the West and the US (as well as France, clearly). These terrorists make that abundantly clear in their manifestos and declarations. In essence, the “hate crime” appellation is a stupid and futile distinction — and in this case, a premature one as well.
This story merely updates what has already been known since the shooting, which is that there was little evidence to support jumping to that conclusion. A week afterward, Attorney General Loretta Lynch had to admit that Mateen never mentioned anything about LGBT issues in conversations with law enforcement that night, but the DoJ certainly tried to edit out Mateen’s professions of radical Islamism out of the call transcripts. Less than a week after that, the FBI already knew it had little evidence of Mateen’s supposed double life as a gay man. Weeks later, they still haven’t gotten any.
No matter — the conclusion-jumping did its job. The media ran with the “hate crime” narrative, leading to this cringeworthy performance by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. They and the Obama administration also rode the gun-control bandwagon for all it was worth, with a few moments to blame Republicans for the attack on that basis.
That kept the Obama administration from having to answer tough questions about its counter-terror operations at home and abroad. It’s the YouTube video and Benghazi all over again. A month later, the revelation that the only real narrative in play was that a radicalized ISIS supporter managed to pull off a terrorist attack even after having once been on a terror watch list won’t have nearly the same kind of impact. Mission accomplished.