The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
The Motives for the Pulse Terrorist Attack
Glenn Greenwald has what strikes me as a pretty thorough discussion; if others have a contrary view, I'd of course be glad to link to it as well. An excerpt:
On the fifth anniversary of the PULSE nightclub massacre in Orlando, numerous senators, politicians and activist groups commemorated that tragic event by propagating an absolute falsehood: namely, that the shooter, Omar Mateen, was motivated by anti-LGBT animus. The evidence is definitive and conclusive that this is false—Mateen, like so many others who committed similar acts of violence, was motivated by rage over President Obama's bombing campaigns in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and chose PULSE at random without even knowing it was a gay club—yet this media-consecrated lie continues to fester.
On Saturday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) falsely described the massacre as an "unspeakable act of hate toward the LGBTQ+ community." Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) went even further, claiming "the LGBTQ+ community was targeted and killed—all because they dared to live their lives." Her fellow Illinois Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin, claimed forty-nine lives were lost due to "anti-LGBTQ hate" (he forgot the +)….
But … there never was any evidence that supported the storyline that [Mateen] was driven by hatred for LGBTs. The evidence that was available suggested the opposite.
On June 12, 2016, Mateen spent just over three hours in PULSE from the time he began slaughtering innocent people at roughly 2:00 a.m. until he was killed by a SWAT team at roughly 5:00 a.m. During that time, he repeatedly spoke to his captives about his motive, did the same with the police with whom he was negotiating, and discussed his cause with local media which he had called from inside the club. Mateen was remarkably consistent in what he said about his motivation. Over and over, he emphasized that his attack at PULSE was in retaliation for U.S. bombing campaigns in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan….
In the hours he spent surrounded by the gay people he was murdering, he never once uttered a homophobic syllable, instead always emphasizing his geo-political motive. Not a single survivor reported him saying anything derogatory about LGBTs or even anything that suggested he knew he was in a gay club. All said he spoke extensively about his vengeance on behalf of ISIS against U.S. bombing of innocent Muslims.
Mateen's postings on Facebook leading up to his attack all reflected the same motive. They were filled with rage about and vows of retaliation against U.S. bombing. Not a single post contained any references to LGBTs let alone anger or violence toward them. "You kill innocent women and children by doing U.S. airstrikes," Mateen wrote on Facebook in one of his last posts before attacking PULSE, adding: "Now taste the Islamic state vengeance."
It was of course nonetheless possible that he secretly harbored hatred for LGBTs and hid his real motive, but that never made sense: the whole point of terrorism is to publicize, not conceal, the grievances driving the violence. And again, good journalism requires evidence before ratifying claims. There never was any to support the story that Mateen's attack was driven by anti-LGBT hatred, and all the available evidence early on negated that suspicion and pointed to a radically different motive….
Reporter Melissa Jeltsen covered [Mateen's wife's] trial for The Huffington Post and — writing under the headline "Everyone Got The Pulse Massacre Story Completely Wrong" — explained:
Mateen may very well have been homophobic. He supported ISIS, after all, and his father, an FBI informant currently under criminal investigation, told NBC that his son once got angry after seeing two men kissing. But whatever his personal feelings, the overwhelming evidence suggests his attack was not motivated by it….
There is much more in Greenwald's article; thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.