This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published June 19, 2016 by The Washington Times.
In the year 64 AD, much of Rome was destroyed by a massive fire. An outraged populace blamed the Emperor Nero, who had wanted to rebuild the city his way. The historian Tacitus tells us what happened next:
“Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called ‘Christians’ by the populace.
“Accordingly an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths.” The Christians were especially hated for not bowing to the rainbow flag, I mean, the Emperor.
Suffice to say, Nero set the standard for shifting blame.
Which brings us to the reaction by much of the media and progressives following the June 5 terrorist attack in Orlando that left 49 dead and 53 wounded.
If you didn’t know better, you might think that it was Christians, Republicans and the National Rifle Association that had engineered the massacre. Islam, we are told over and over, has nothing to do with it. Not even radical Islam.
Although it was crystal clear that gunman Omar Mateen had operated in the name of the Islamic State, pausing during the killing to call 911 and announce his motive, President Obama pronounced it “an act of terror and an act of hate” without clear motive. At least he didn’t call it “workplace violence,” the official term for the jihadist massacre of soldiers at Fort Hood.
Some commentators blamed conservatives’ lack of support for gun control and the homosexual political agenda, and Donald Trump’s call for halting Muslim immigration. They warned darkly that what we should fear is not more terrorism but a rise in Islamophobia and homophobia.
On last Tuesday’s “Evening News,” CBS strongly suggested that conservative Christian activists were to blame.
Correspondent Mireya Villarreal featured Lorri Jean, CEO of the LGBT Center in Los Angeles, saying, “Politicians who slander LGBT people, who say we should be driven out of public life, that we’re not fit to raise children, that we are a threat to the moral fabric of our society — that kind of rhetoric promotes the kind of violence that happened yesterday.”
Instead of a clip of a prominent Christian leader, say, Franklin Graham or Tony Evans, Ms. Villarreal then featured an obscure Sacramento pastor saying that Orlando is now safer and, “the tragedy is that more of them didn’t die.”
“Both ISIS and their stance on homosexuals was never brought up, nor how the terrorist organization murders them,” Newsbusters.org reported. “The only religion mentioned in the report was Christianity.”
That’s a pretty neat trick, considering the mountain of evidence pointing to radical Islam.
By the way, neither CBS, NBC nor ABC bothered to mention Chick-fil-A’s emergency opening in Orlando on a Sunday to provide food to people who gave blood for the shooting victims, according to the Media Research Center. That would spoil the narrative of company officials as “haters” for supporting natural marriage.
Not to be outdone, The New York Times’ Jeremy Peters and Lizette Alvarez dismissed any prayers and words of sympathy from conservatives, citing “anger from Democrats and supporters of gay causes, who are insisting that no amount of warm words or reassuring Twitter posts change the fact that Republicans continue to pursue policies that would limit legal protections for gays and lesbians.”
The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement reiterating its stance on open immigration, with no mention of radical Islam’s role in the mass murder. “We believe that no one faith group should ever be targeted for pernicious immigration practices or surveillance,” the group said.
This suggests that all faith groups are equally likely to produce terrorists, putting Mother Teresa in the same league as Osama bin Laden. Meanwhile, day after day, the media ignore horrible atrocities in countries like Egypt, where a Muslim mob incited by rumors of a forbidden marriage burned the homes of seven Coptic Christians and stripped a 70-year-old Christian woman, parading her naked through the streets. The only bright spot here was that it wasn’t one of the gruesome incidents of mass murder that are committed daily somewhere in the name of Allah.
Despite the media’s best efforts to underplay the ongoing violence against non-Muslims and moderate Muslims, the news is getting through in bits and pieces. Americans who have nothing against peaceful Muslim neighbors are nonetheless wary of creating insular communities that breed monsters like Mateen, who was born in New York City of Afghan immigrant parents and raised in Florida, or the Tsarnaev brothers, who blew up the Boston Marathon.
On June 3, nine days before the Orlando massacre, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius took the cake in the blame game, drawing on British counterradicalization expert David Kenning.
“Kenning argues that the best way to defeat the Islamic State’s strategy is for the Trumps of the world to shut up,” Mr. Ignatius wrote. “If they do that, the caliphate would quickly run out of steam.”