SUNY-Buffalo Associate Professor of Visual Studies Jonathan Katz wants you to know that all this discussion of ISIS, terrorism and radicalization with regards to the massacre in Orlando is a “deliberate misdirection.”
The real culprit, he says, is the “long history of violent political rhetoric and homophobic policies by Republican officials and their conservative allies.”
Katz is one of the first in the country to be tenured in gay and lesbian studies and is founder of the Harvey Milk Institute. He says, “This was an American killing Americans because they were queer and that has not been forcefully articulated.”
“The ISIS thing is a distraction and it allows this tragedy to be reconfigured into a political argument against terror instead of looking at the long legacy of anti-gay violence in this country that has itself been stoked and promoted by the Christian right.”
Katz highlights the fact that this was hardly the first act of mass homophobic murder in America. What happened in Orlando was simply part of the pattern.
“We are still a profoundly divided nation and there is a large cohort in this country that does not see the death of gay people as a national tragedy,” he says. “The discussion of ISIS is a deliberate misdirection and an attempt by the Right to make the unpalatable defense of gay people more to their liking by rewriting it in patriotic terms.”
The conversation should shift away from terrorism and ISIS, and toward this country’s long history of anti-gay violence, as well as the need for gun control, he says.
“We need to look at why we are allowing American citizens to legally purchase assault weapons. Trans-people are killed in this country on a regular basis just because of their mere existence,” Katz says. “What happened in Orlando is part of the pattern of anti-gay violence in the U.S. We cannot allow this tragedy to be used by our enemies in ways that obscure its cause. We have a homophobia problem in this country and that should be the focus.”
Interestingly, until the Orlando tragedy the deadliest attack against gay individuals took place at a New Orleans club in 1973, and the main suspect was … a gay man.