The federal government is clear on identity: “Managers, supervisors, and coworkers should use the name and pronouns appropriate to the gender the employee is now presenting at work.”
The New York Times style guide demands that reporters, “Use the name and pronouns (he, his, she, her, hers) preferred by the transgender person.”
The Associated Press agrees: “Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals.”
So why did reporters across the media, as well as the head of the Department of Justice, spend so much energy questioning the “preferred” and “appropriate” identity of that coward in Orlando?
The shooter called 911 the night he murdered 49 people at a gay club in Orlando to identify as a killer for the Islamic State carrying out its leader’s will. He also called a television station that night, once again identifying as a killer for the Islamic State carrying out its leader’s will.
“I did it for ISIS. I did it for the Islamic State,” he told the station.
“I pledge my alliance to [Islamic State leader] abu bakr al Baghdadi ..may Allah accept me,” he wrote on Facebook as the shooting went on.
And yet, his choice to identify as a terrorist was given less credence than if he’d, say, declared himself a woman.
“What motivated a killer?” CNN asked one day after the shooting. The article took 19 paragraphs to mention ISIS, has no mention of “Muslim,” and only includes the word “Islam” once– as part of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which called the attacks “a hate crime.”
Two days after the shooting, AP reported that Orlando was mourning “as possible motives emerge for club gunman.”
“Despite Mateen’s pledge of support to the Islamic State,” the article goes, “other possible explanations emerged.”
“While the precise motivation for the rampage remains unclear, it is evident that Mr. Mateen was driven by hatred toward gays and lesbians,” The New York Times editorial board opined three days after the shooting. “Hate crimes don’t happen in a vacuum. They occur where bigotry is allowed to fester, where minorities are vilified and where people are scapegoated for political gain.”
The editorial does not use the words “Islam,” “Muslim,” or even “ISIS,” but blames Republicans and Donald Trump four and two times, respectively, for contributing to apparently negative discourse.
Four days after the shooting, in an article entitled, “Toxic Masculinity and Murder: Can we talk about men,” a writer at The Atlantic opined that, “The Orlando murderer appears to have been a violent bro who, in the moments before his death, bizarrely identified with the Boston Marathon murderers, with whom he had nothing apparent in common but a violent quest for self-actualization.”
That same day, a frightened luminary at Vox wrote, “I don’t believe we can blame the Orlando shooting on ‘radical Islam,'” instead choosing to ponder the shooter as “a product of America’s hypermasculine, police-worshiping society that screamed at him from all directions to stay in the closet, to hide any sort of mental illness, or risk not being a ‘real man.'”
“Islamist ideology … [is] almost like an afterthought,” a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center is quoted under a Miami Herald headline that asks, “What motivated Orlando killer?” The article was published five days after the shooting.
“We know that he apparently had some concerns or issues with the LGBT community,” Attorney General Lorretta Lynch said one week after the shooting. “It was also Latin night at the club. So again, we’re very concerned about the motivations that led him to that particular club at that particular place.”
“It’s really too early to talk about other individuals in the investigation,” she later added, “except to say that we are talking to everyone who had a connection to this killer.”
“We do want to be as transparent as possible in this investigation so people can see not only what he was thinking, what he was doing,” Lynch said Sunday, “but also the kind of information that we’re looking at.”
The very next day, the FBI released a transcript that redacted the killer’s identity and motivation declarations.
I suppose we’ll never really know who he was, and what motivated these murders.
There is a stark double-standard in left-wing identity politics, and not the kind that triggers young people, but the kind that squeezes the trigger and shoots them dead. Because if the shooter had called 911 or any television station to announce that he identified as a woman, acknowledging his identity would be mandatory.
If this thought tires anyone out, don’t panic: The mental gymnastics required to identify reality based solely on how a subject feels are exhausting, even before one person who identifies as an Islamic extremist guns down 49 people in a gay club on Latin night.
Four months after a “homegrown violent extremist” killed four Marines and one sailor at a Marine Corps recruitment center in Chattanooga, Tenn., FBI Director James Comey told reporters, “We’re still trying to make sure we understand Abdulazeez, his motivations and associations, in a really good way.”
Perhaps in Orlando, as at Fort Hood, Chattanooga and San Bernardino, we will never know the truth.
“We don’t,” Mr. Comey makes clear, “want to smear people.”