After the Oklahoma City bombing, the New York Times (4/24/95) reported surprise at the existence of right-wing terror-gangs: “New Images of Terror… A suspect, a white drifter, evokes new fear.” But right-wing terror is hardly surprising to those who’ve been on the receiving end of it over the years; nor would the pale image of the suspect have been “new” to mainstream readers if media had been doing their job covering hate crimes.
There were 2,064 homophobia-motivated acts of violence in nine U.S. cities last year; according to New York’s Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, anti-gay hate crimes are the fastest-growing kind (New York Times, 3/7/91). But when a disabled man and an out lesbian were murdered in a firebomb attack on their home during Oregon’s Ballot Measure 9 campaign, mainstream reporters hardly covered it at all.
In 1994, when the U.S. attorney general had to send federal agents to Mississippi to protect the women of Camp Sister Spirit from armed mobs, media outlets from AP to Oprah churned out stories about small town bigotry; few researched the mainstream context out of which the mobsters sprang.
Even when reporters finally scrambled to report on right-wing militias, the homophobia that is a central part of the radical right’s agenda has escaped serious scrutiny. This isn’t just an expression of bias; it’s bad reporting.
Unlike mainstream media professionals, former KKK leader Tom Metzger, leader of the White Aryan Resistance, is clear about the interconnection of racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny and homophobia: “Almost all abortion doctors are Jews,” he ranted (Covert Action Quarterly, Spring/95).
And Metzger is clear about the “need” for violence: “Jews must be punished for this holocaust and murder of white children along with their perverted lesbian nurses.”
Samuel Sherwood of the United States Militia Association warns (Scott Nakagawa op-ed, 5/9/95) that Bill Clinton
Violence-friendly homophobia isn’t restricted to militiamen; the rhetoric of gay-hate has been central to mainstream efforts to legislate discrimination. George Matousek, the leader of Michigan’s anti-gay ballot measure, plays to fears of the New World Order in an effort to stir support: “Where sodomy is acceptable, the nation declines…. The homosexual movement will destroy the military.” Says Matousek: “Clinton, or whoever’s in office, will turn all our troops over to the United Nations.”
Matousek’s plan? “Step one, stop the homos” (Nakagawa op-ed, 5/9/95).