In a jaw-dropping example of government imposing woke mythology on an individual citizen, a Florida judge recently ordered a man who defaced an LGBT mural to write a 25-page essay centered on a thoroughly false premise—that the 2016 massacre at the gay Pulse nightclub in Orlando deliberately targeted the LGBT community.
Though that baseless narrative is still embraced by opportunistic activists, pandering politicians, lazy journalists and those they’ve misled, it’s been well-established since 2018 that self-described “Islamic soldier” Omar Mateen chose the club at random and that he viewed his attack purely as retaliation for civilian casualties caused by US military interventions in the Middle East.
Coming a day after the chilling announcement that the Department of Homeland Security has established a “Disinformation Governance Board,” the judge’s use of coerced false speech as a form of rehabilitation added a bizarre twist to what had already been an Orwellian week in America.
It’s safe to say Florida circuit judge Scott Suskauer has no idea he’s compelling false speech by 20-year-old Alexander Jerich, who pleaded guilty to criminal mischief and reckless driving after using his truck to do a burnout on a Pride flag-themed mural spanning an intersection in Delray Beach.
Video of Jerich’s Burnout Was Posted to Social Media
Like countless others, Suskauer has likely been misled by relentless repetition of the false Pulse narrative across both traditional and social media. Whatever his good intentions, Suskauer’s directive puts Jerich in an awkward position. His assignment is due June 8—the same day Suskauer will hand down his final sentence.
Though Jerich has already paid $2,000 to repair the mural, the president of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council urged Suskauer to imprison Jerich for a year. Prosecutors are seeking a 30-day jail sentence and five years of probation.
Jerich is thus under intense pressure to express ideas about the Pulse attack that match the judge’s profoundly flawed understanding of it. (Jerich’s attorney, Robert Pasch, did not respond to a request for comment.) In addition to instructing Jerich to research the 49 people killed in the Pulse attack, Suskauer said, “I want your own brief summary of why people are so hateful and why people lash out against the gay community.”
Even double-spaced, 25 pages equates to a very hefty 7,000 words or so—all centered on the false premise that Omar Mateen killed those 49 people because they were part of the LGBT community.
Pulse Nightclub Chosen at Last Minute
Omar Mateen’s attack on Pulse was undeniably horrific, and stands behind the 2017 Las Vegas massacre as the second-deadliest mass shooting in US history.
However, while it was a tragedy for Orlando’s LGBT community, Mateen didn’t target that community. Indeed, this wasn’t a hate crime of any sort; it was a terrorist attack on a nightclub chosen at random and without knowledge of its gay clientele.
How it started for 20yo Palm Beach County Trump supporter Alexander Jerich…
— SFDB (@sfdb) June 17, 2021
That’s been abundantly clear since the 2018 federal trial against Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman. Charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization, she was found not guilty on all counts after prosecutors failed to prove she knew what her husband was planning.
Some good did come from the trial: It exposed a wealth of details about the attack—details that starkly contradict the perception that Pulse was targeted because of its gay clientele. As it turns out, Pulse wasn’t Mateen’s first or even second target. He’d initially intended to attack the Disney Springs retail, dining and entertainment complex, but was apparently deterred by the security there.
Tellingly, as he looked for a new target, he searched the internet for “downtown Orlando nightclubs;” he didn’t include any LGBT terms in his searches. He first started driving toward an Orlando nightclub called EVE before settling on Pulse only about 30 minutes before attacking.
In Salman’s trial, prosecutors acknowledged the complete lack of evidence that Mateen knew Pulse was a gay nightclub. Indeed, Mateen seemed confused by what he found at Pulse: According to a security guard at the club, before opening fire, Mateen asked where all the women were.
Mateen’s murderous stay at Pulse spanned approximately three hours. Over that time, not a single witness heard him say anything about homosexuals or Western culture. The 17-page transcript of Mateen’s conversations with 911 operators and police negotiators that night is particularly illuminating.
Mateen said nothing about gay people or the nightclub. Rather, he proclaimed his allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS), repeatedly condemned US airstrikes in the Middle East and portrayed his rampage as an act of retaliation:
“What’s going on is that I feel the pain of the people getting killed in Syria and Iraq and all over the Muslim (unidentified word).”
“They need to stop the U.S. airstrikes. You have to tell the U.S. government to stop bombing. They are killing too many children, they are killing too many women, okay?”
“You have to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq. They are killing a lot of innocent people. What am I to do here when my people are getting killed over there? You get what I’m saying?”
“Even though it’s not fucking airstrikes, it’s fucking strikes here, okay?”
“You see, now you feel, now you feel how it is.”
“My homeboy Tamerlan Tsarnaev did his thing on the Boston Marathon…okay, so now it’s my turn, okay?”
“The airstrike that killed Abu Wahid (the “military emir” of ISIS in Iraq’s Anbar province) a few weeks ago…that’s what triggered it, okay?”
Mateen’s social media posts tell the same story—he rails against U.S. military actions in the Middle East and says nothing at all about gay people. Shortly before his attack, he wrote, “You kill innocent women and children by doing U.S. airstrikes…now taste the Islamic State vengeance.” Significantly, the Pulse attack is nowhere to be found in the 2016 report on hate crimes published by the Florida attorney general’s office.
Finally, those journalists who’ve most closely studied the case overwhelmingly reject the anti-LGBT theory of the attack, including those at liberal outlets like Huffington Post (Everyone Got the Pulse Massacre Story Completely Wrong), Vox (New Evidence Shows Pulse Nightclub Shooting Wasn’t About Anti-LGBTQ Hate) and NBC (What Really Happened That Night at Pulse).
In the face of all that, proponents of the anti-LGBT theory of the Pulse attack can only cling to the baseless assumption that Mateen concealed his true motivation. However, as Glenn Greenwald wrote in his comprehensive dismantling of the Pulse mythology, “That never made sense: The whole point of terrorism is to publicize, not conceal, the grievances driving the violence.”
In a culture where perceived victimhood is now a source of political power and leverage, the Pulse mythology is too valuable for many to surrender. However, whatever benefit that accrues to the LGBT community from the counterfeit characterization of the event has a cost that goes beyond stoking excessive fear among and on behalf of LGBT people. Chief among those costs: Falsely proclaiming the Pulse massacre an act of anti-gay bias buries the truth that it was a terrorist attack perpetrated on random Americans and precipitated by U.S. interventionism abroad.
Of course, hiding the horrific domestic consequences of America’s regime change addiction serves the interest of the government, which helps explains why the FBI fought to keep Mateen’s phone call transcript—and his explanation of his actual motivation—under wraps. After all, whether it’s Pulse, 9/11 or other attacks, the less Americans realize terrorism on U.S. soil is a bloody byproduct of an interventionist foreign policy, the better for the national security establishment and defense contractors that champion and benefit from it.
For everyday Americans, however, the false narrative about the Pulse terrorist attack helps perpetuate the policies that led to it—and, in so doing, increases the likelihood that such horrors will continue to be visited upon random American innocents again and again.