The recent shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando Florida have already begun to be submerged by the news cycle. Shock at the worst mass-shooting in American history -- which saw the death of forty-nine people and the wounding of even more, fifty-three -- has been further dulled by various distractions in the debate. This time, these have included a debate on America's gun laws and speculation around the sexuality of the gunman.
All of these matters have been fought backwards and forwards and should certainly be components of any argument. But the part of the debate that has been the most important and -- as usual -- the most covered over, has been the religious motivation of the gunman. This, and the response it has entailed, is worth dwelling on: it reveals a concerted effort not to learn from events.
Just as it is inevitable that those obsessed with gun legislation should wish to make the debate about gun legislation, so it is inevitable that those with any other over-riding political agenda should wish to pin responsibility for the shooting on whatever is their particular obsession. It seems inevitable, for instance, that "Black Lives Matter" would blame the shooting on "the four threats of white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, and militarism."
But why would government and the community which had been attacked try to pretend that the gunman's religion had absolutely nothing to do with the shooting? One could understand why the most ardent proselytiser for Islam or the most sensitive Muslim believer might like to downplay the Islamic element of a Muslim going into a gay nightclub and gunning down gays. But why would so many others be at such pains to erase this aspect of the story?
To say that the U.S. government has done so is simply a statement of fact. Consider the partial transcripts of the 911 calls of the gunman, Omar Mateen, on the night in question, released by the FBI. There are two especially notable aspects to these transcripts. The first is that where the gunman refers to "Allah," the FBI transcript has changed "Allah" to "God'. This cannot be in order to translate from the Arabic and thus make Mateen's sense clearer to any American who did not know what "Allah" meant (which is itself highly unlikely after all these years). Most of the call is in English. There is no reason for the FBI to use an English-speaker's use of the word "Allah" and turn it into "God" -- other than to cover over an important aspect of the call.
The second is that the FBI chose to redact those portions of the call which refer to ISIS. Where Mateen had said in his call that he was doing what he was doing in Orlando in the name of ISIS, no version of the group's name was originally included. Instead, the FBI transcript related that Mateen said: "I pledge allegiance to [omitted]." Of course, the Obama administration has tried to refrain from referring to ISIS in any of its forms other than the cutesy Arabic term, "Daesh" (which means the same thing as ISIS but avoids any variant of the "I" word reaching tender American ears). Since the outcry in response to the FBI's redactions, it has released a full, unedited transcript of Mateen's call. In this the shooter says, among other things, "My name is I pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State.'
Perhaps it is inevitable that this administration in Washington would try to cover over the Islamist nature of this attack. It is administration policy to do so -- a policy they are unlikely now to reverse, however many more Orlandos are to come.
The most confused and confusing motive of all, however, is that of organised sections of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Immediately after the massacre in Orlando, the gay press was full of articles that adamantly refused to admit the reality of Islamic homophobia. The same organisations that obsess over which bakeries in the U.S. and Europe will or will not bake wedding cakes for gay couples, and rightly have no trouble berating homophobic Christian pastors, seemed wholly uninterested in the motivations of the Pulse nightclub killer. Instead, these papers and websites were filled with articles, petitions and joint letters enjoining people not to notice the Islamic element. Or, as one open letter published in one of the major Scottish papers put it, "Don't use Orlando shootings to demonise Islamic communities', say prominent LGBTI Scots." This exemplar of the problem stated:
"Prominent Scots are among signatories to an open letter published in The National today condemning the use of the Orlando massacre by figures such as Donald Trump to stoke Islamophobia."
There may be forty-nine dead gay people, but these activists knew where they were going to put the blame.
Among other things the letter's contents said:
"In the wake of this atrocity, it has been additionally distressing to see various far-right commentators attempt to equate the killings with Islam, and in doing so fan the flames of Islamophobia.
"We want to emphasise that this is not happening in any way in solidarity with the LGBT+ community, and wholeheartedly reject any attempts to use the Orlando killings as a tool to demonise entire communities on the basis of the actions of one individual."
A number of tricks are pulled here. Not least of them is the denigration of the few people (of all political persuasions) who express concern about Islamist violence as "far-right." The other is to claim that such people -- even when they are gay -- do not represent LGBT people, whereas this group of noticeably under-qualified "far-leftists" do. If one imagined that any genuinely unified expression of LGBT opinion must surely encompass some centre-right or conservative voices, these signatories would disagree.
This tiny morsel of activism in fact demonstrates a far greater problem. Just as the Obama administration cannot face up to -- or even name -- the problem, because doing so would run wholly counter to its seven-year old policy, so "far-left" LGBT activists who dominate LGBT politics have to downplay or "disappear" the Islamist nature of such events, while accusing others who do not of "Islamophobia." As with the Obama administration, this decision is a political stand. These gay activists have a vision of the world just as much as the "Black Lives Matter" and other such campaign groups do. This vision includes a world where only "patriarchal" white males of Jewish or Christian heritage can cause the world's problems.
It is high time that this was more widely pointed out. A small minority of extremely vocal far-left activists are now using their LGBT status as a smokescreen not to advance gay rights but to advance far-left politics. Gay rights are in fact a casualty of their politics -- but a casualty they are willing to accept. It is unlikely that this political wing of the gay community, who have formed such a smokescreen around radical Islam, will become aware of their mistake anytime soon. Forty-nine dead bodies were not enough, so there is no reason to imagine that hundreds more would be. But it is to be hoped that the wider public remember that those who would deny this problem come from all walks of society -- from the top of the U.S. government all the way down to the most unknown but fervent signatories of identity politics.
Douglas Murray is a current events analyst and commentator based in London.