[Content Note: violence against LGBTQ folks, discussion of lynching and racism]
Yesterday, Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, expressed sympathy for the victims of the horrific shooting at Orlando’s Pulse Night Club:
I am deeply saddened by the brutal murder of so many young men in Orlando, Florida . . . Although radical Islamic terror groups claim victory while dispensing death and mayhem, we know the truth. Eternal life comes only by faith in and obedience to the one true God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
As John 13:34 tells us, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
What should be done to the pervert who was using mirrors to watch women and girls in their stalls? If you are a dad, I pray you will protect your little girls from men who walk in unannounced, unzip their pants and urinate in front of them. If this had happened 100 years ago, someone might have been shot. Where is today’s manhood? God help us!
Both of Dobson’s posts reveal the racial undertones of white conservative opposition to LGBTQ people.
Last week, Dobson advocated for a return to the days of lynching, in order to protect women and girls from the “Other.” In this case, the “Other” refers to transgender girls–to little children in school bathrooms. He wrongly calls these these young girls grown men, to make them seem more dangerous and worthy of death.
Dobson would doubtless claim he does not discriminate between races when it comes to his hatred of transgender girls and women. Others have pointed out however, the connections between Jim Crow laws and anti-trans bathroom bills. Additionally, black women are the most likely to be harmed by anti-trans thinking. From racist cartoons trying to drum up anti-trans hatred toward Michelle Obama, to the black transgender women who are far more likely to face deadly violence than white transgender women. There is no doubt that anti-trans hatred disproportionately effects women of color–especially black women.
In light of this knowledge, it’s hard to pretend there is no racial element in Dobson’s call to return to the “good old days” days of lynching. Days where black children were wrongly accused of being grown men, and were then killed for even glancing at a white girls. Days where (white) manhood meant murdering black children and adults for simply existing near white women and white girls. Days that (despite Dobson’s claims) are not truly over.
Now, barely a week after calling for people to “man-up” and murder transgender children, Dobson is claiming to be “deeply saddened” by someone who decided he wasn’t going to just sit around and talk about murdering LGBTQ people.
This has racist undertones as well, which is evidenced clearly in Dobson’s statement. He makes no mention of the fact that the people murdered in Orlando were part of the LGBTQ community. Neither does he mention the fact that the shooting happened on Latin night.
Instead, Dobson uses false sympathy for a group that he wanted to lynch last week in order to promote prejudice against Muslims. He calls out “radical Islamic terror groups” as being the ones who are “dispensing death and mayhem,” even though Dobson asked people to murder transgender girls just days ago.
His “answer” to such violence throws both Muslims and LGBTQ people (many of whom are Muslim) under the bus. “Eternal life comes only by faith in and obedience to the one true God and His Son, Jesus Christ” By saying this, he is both suggesting that only Muslims who convert to Christianity are non-violent, he is also subtly reminding us that he believes the victims of the Orlando shooting are currently burning in hell (since according to him, they were not practicing “obedience” to God).
If his hypocrisy wasn’t thick enough already, he then co-opts the language of love that LGBTQ people have often claimed. Suddenly, Dobson is all about love, quoting John 13:34: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Dobson isn’t unique here. I’ve already seen several false, hypocritical expressions of sympathy from people who wanted LGBTQ folks dead merely days ago. I’m not sure what the end game is for these people.
Are they trying to use a group they hate (LGBTQ people, Latinx people) as a weapon against a group they hate slightly more (Muslim people)?
Are they hoping to turn non-Muslim LGBTQ people against the Muslim community, hoping we’ll just destroy each other?
Are they realizing for the first time that their hateful rhetoric has real-life violent consequences, and quickly trying to distance themselves from that rhetoric, using Muslims as a scape-goat?
I’m not sure, but I do know this: I don’t trust this sudden change-of-heart. I don’t have any faith that it will mean good things for the LGBTQ community, let alone for Muslim communities.
Don’t trust the white-washed tombs “which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead.”