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Caroline Farrow: Orlando horror demonstrates that radical Islam and LGBT rights are diametrically opposed

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It’s worth watching the Sky News paper review with the Left’s favourite media darling Owen Jones and the Tory-leaning broadcaster Julie Hartley-Brewer, if you have not already done so.

The reaction of Jones is particularly telling. Unable to cope with the narrative – i.e. that the slaughter of some 50 people in a gay nightclub in Florida may be more than simple homophobia, he storms out of the studio in a huff.

What Owen Jones was attempting to do was present this as being solely about an attack on the LGBT community and indicative of the prejudice that they face, with all other factors – Omar Mateen’s potential mental illness, history as a wife-beater, reported use of steroids and stated allegience to so-called Islamic State (ISIS) – being totally irrelevant.

When Mark Longhurst, the presenter, attempted to point out that the people killed were not merely a political label, but were real human beings, Owen became increasingly angry and tried to claim ownership of the issue, saying that unless you were gay then you couldn’t possibly begin to understand. By noting that the victims were human beings, Longhurst committed the modern-day speech crime of not foregrounding sexual identity. Pointing out that a gay, lesbian or transgender person is a human being, is, it would seem, homophobic.

The fact is that you don’t have to be lesbian, gay or transgender to understand that this was a senseless attack upon human life and liberty. The victims were no different to those gunned down in the Bataclan nightclub in Paris last November. The attack was homophobic in as much as it targeted the LGBT community, but it is unclear whether or not they were targeted thanks to mental illness, drug use, Islamic extremism or a combination of all three. Though at the time of writing ISIS seems to be admitting responsibility for the attack and claiming Omar Mateen as one of its own. Islamic state radio has said that he was one of the soldiers of the caliphate in America.

What nobody seems to be allowed to say, is that if Islamic extremism is involved, then it is not just the LGBT community who is at particular risk, but anyone participating in everyday life in the West who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The reason that a rock concert and a gay nightclub were targeted is because they are both symbols of Western decadence to the disgruntled religious extremist.

Even more infuriating is the way the attacks are being used as political capital to attack predominantly Christians who have ever expressed disagreement with any element of the LGBT political agenda. It’s people like me who argued against gay marriage, who have apparently validated this man’s hatred and fuelled his murderous rage. Any Christian who has ever exercised their religious conscience and refused to bake a cake must share in the responsibility, hang their heads in shame and never express anything but fulsome approval for same-sex relationships, otherwise people will die and your prayers and condolences are a synthetic sham. Though when was the last time you ever heard of a Catholic or any other Christian denomination (the Church supports the decriminalisation of homosexuality) support the judicial punishment of throwing gays and lesbians from high buildings?

It’s entirely possible to have sympathy for innocent people gunned down for the crime of enjoying a night out with their friends, without either blaming them (which some biblical fundamentalists have attempted to do) or validating any of their lifestyle or relationship choices. You don’t necessarily need to approve of everything a person does in order to exercise compassion and mercy for them. And everybody has the right to freedom of association and to enjoy their leisure time as they see fit.

But angrily to frame it as only a homophobic attack or hate crime with no other contributing factors does nothing to address the underlying issues and is as facile as Trump’s attacks upon the wider Muslim community. America’s cultural woes cannot be easily reduced to single issues, such as gun control, homophobia or Islamic extremism.

It is not offensive to draw the parallels between the attacks in Paris and Orlando and neither is it helpful to present the Orlando carnage as being solely an LGBT hate crime, as Owen Jones was so keen to do. Nobody denies that the attack was homophobic, but what seems increasingly likely is that it was an act of religious terrorism – one which has far broader implications than the impact upon the LGBT community, who were the targets this time, but next, there will be another, as there was in Paris and Brussels.

It’s not clear what Owen Jones was quite so outraged about – had someone attempted to deny that homophobia was not involved, then his anger would be understandable, although one has to question the professionalism and ability of a media spokesman who stormed off because the going got too tough. Another time, he would do better to keep his emotions in check, not attempt to marginalise a complex issue and remember what matters is that 50 innocent people were gunned down in a senseless attack on human life.

My theory is that he lost his cool because as a liberal leftie progressive sort who espouses identity politics, he couldn’t cope with the implications of what happens when one minority begins hating upon another. At some point, liberals are going to wake up and realise that while Christianity is happy to tolerate the existence and thriving of gay men and lesbian women, even if they do not want to facilitate the LGBT movements, radical Islam and LGBT culture are not compatible with each other. Maybe that’s really what got Owen so hot under the collar?

(Image: Matt Buck)

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Caroline Farrow
Caroline Farrow
Columnist for the Catholic Universe

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