Orlando: The Truth Will Set Us Free

Note: Our colleague Mary Jo Anderson, who lives in Orlando, reminds us today why it’s important to speak the truth about the terror threat – important in the secular world but also essential that bishops and even the pope state the full truth clearly. I hope this insightful essay also reminds you why you should support The Catholic Thing. Many readers write to say, along with their donations, that they appreciate the content, not least because it reassures them they’re not alone. One just wrote poignantly, “You give hope to those of us who think the game is almost over.” Another really surprised me yesterday with a message saying that he would give, if we accepted lower amounts than the ones I usually mention in this space. We do, of course, gratefully – and also larger amounts. Remember: Your donations are always tax–deductible and, you may be sure, always carefully put to good use. – Robert Royal

Sunday, before dawn, the skies here, over Orlando, throbbed with the incessant whup, whup, WHUP of helicopters. A few miles away an unthinkable horror unfolded: A lone Muslim gunman had opened fire in a gay nightclub. Swat teams were attempting a hostage rescue.

By 5 AM, news agencies began reporting that the Orlando, Florida killing rampage had surpassed any domestic shooting incident in U.S. History – even Fort Hood Texas – forty-nine defenseless young Americans died and fifty-three more were injured.

Orlando is home to Disney World, Sea World, Universal Studios, and the Orlando Magic basketball team. It’s my home. Many of us have felt that, eventually, jihad had to surface here. And it will come calling on any town, your town, any day now, unless we summon the collective courage to face our true enemy.

The “home of the free” is under attack, as is, indeed, the whole world. America cannot defend herself – her children, her workers, her gay people, her athletes, her religious people, or her domestic and international visitors – with false pretenses. Nor can France or Belgium or any nation, as long as our leaders bow to political correctness and refuse to admit that Islamic jihad has declared war on Western Civilization.

Instead, we’re being fed with false pretenses that are not only of no help, they compound the problem. For instance, Guardian columnist Owen Jones angrily walked off camera on Sky News Sunday in the United Kingdom the other day, because a fellow panelist, discussing the Orlando massacre, said that the gay community has “no ownership of horror,” that gay persons must resist the temptation to make Orlando about them. For the hard truth is that everyone is a target. Owen angrily insisted that gays were intentionally targeted.

In a way, of course, they were. Just as children were “intentionally targeted” by Islamic separatists when 186 of them were cut down at Beslan, Russia in 2004. Or white-collar professionals were targeted when Islamic partisans flew two planes into the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001. Or music lovers and diners were targeted when Islamic terrorists hurled homemade bombs at concertgoers in Paris in November 2015. Or travelers were targeted when an Islamic cell murdered 32 and injured 300 more at the Brussels airport in March.

The prevailing false pretense is that “religious fanatics” or “hatred” or “extremists” are the cause of increased assaults. But these are ways of speaking that deliberately avoid identifying the root problem. And this desire not to face the truth will only add to our grief.


Some imagine that calling Islamic jihad, a bid for world domination, by its name will incite greater carnage. The evidence confirms the opposite: Failure to identify the ideology of Islamic jihad as the enemy is understood by ISIL as our flight from truth.  It has only emboldened the enemy.

The Obama administration and the hundreds of politically correct NGOs, think tanks, and lobbyists who believe they are helping by supporting every trendy identity group, refuse to accept ISIL’s self proclaimed identity. Unless we wake from this pipe dream, we will have none to blame but ourselves for what follows.

The club-goers were not the victims of “senseless hatred” as even Pope Francis described the horror. These attacks make very good sense – strategic sense – to the jihadi movement, ISIL, and its legions of secret sympathizers. To attack a “soft target” rather than a military or tactical one is cleverly designed to keep the Western world in chaos by spreading fear of sports events, concerts, and popular venues. Where that occurs, jihad triumphs. When international travel becomes death roulette, economies will plunge, and jihad triumphs. It makes perfect sense for Islamic jihad.

St. Petersburg Bishop Robert Lynch further confused matters with a senseless mea culpa: “Sadly it is religion, including our own, which targets, mostly verbally, and also often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people. . . .Attacks today on LGBT men and women often plant the seed of contempt, then hatred, which can ultimately lead to violence.” Can a Catholic bishop in America really believe that Church teaching on homosexuality had anything to do with what happened at The Pulse nightclub? There’s a sadly self-absorbed element to such claims.

Portions of the gay community promote an extremist view of their chosen lifestyle, and are quite intolerant towards entities like the Catholic Church. Yet they don’t slaughter those here or around the world with whom they disagree. Extremist ecologists don’t slaughter consumers. Omar Mateen didn’t slaughter gays because he held extremist anti-homosexual views – that is too narrow of a view of his motives. He identified with jihad, which opposes the freedoms characteristic of Western Civilization.

Yes, in Orlando, the victims were mostly young, gay, Hispanic. But they were murdered by Omar Mateen who dreamed of “the caliphate in America.” Mateen, who had been a frequent patron at the nightclub, identified his allegiance to ISIL in a 911 call after he arrived at the club.

Within an hour of the tragedy, commentators had twisted that truth into a crime committed by a “religious fanatic.” To adopt a prejudiced view of religion based on Mateen or hundreds of other Islamic terrorists is to perpetuate injustice toward people of faith. It’s also a deadly lie that is certain to provoke more carnage.

Political correctness insists on recasting jihad against the West into a fuzzy “hatred” or “extremism.”  Why? I would suggest that “extremist” sounds manageable. The truth is more daunting and harder to face: This is a civilizational war, one that we cannot fight without a massive engagement at all levels of our culture – military, political, educational, technical and social.

Pontification by political cowards – who demand that we pretend Islamic jihad isn’t our enemy – is killing us. It is killing all of us, not just a few favored groups, because they want to continue separating our own culture into factions rather than unify against our deadly foe.


Mary Jo Anderson is a Catholic journalist and public speaker. She has been a frequent guest on “Abundant Life” on EWTN TV, and her “Global Watch” program is heard on EWTN radio affiliates nationwide. This is her first column for The Catholic Thing.