After last week’s horrific murder of 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, I knew that it would only be a matter of time before someone in the Religious Right said something offensive about the mass shooting. Sure enough, Bryan Fischer, a radio host for the American Family Association, didn’t disappoint.
“I hate Islam,” Fischer said on Friday. “I hate Islam because it is a danger to everything that is important to me: My faith, my country, my liberty, Christianity, civil rights. Everything that you and I treasure is threatened by Islam.”
He then added that while shooting Muslims “is the wrong way to go about it,” the alleged killer in New Zealand, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, was “correct only in that Islam is something that does need to be stopped.” (Thanks to Right Wing Watch for the audio.)
Fischer then started rambling about how if the government won’t protect people from Islam, naturally some individuals will decide to take matters into their own hands and this leads to “vigilante justice,” which, he said, “I think we saw a case of that today in New Zealand.”
Vigilante justice? Actually, it was cold-blooded murder. To imply that Tarrant, who is accused of murdering 50 men, women and children because he is a hate-filled white supremacist, was applying any kind of “justice” (vigilante or otherwise) is disgusting and does nothing more than excuse his appalling behavior.
Let’s be clear about what happened here: Innocent people worshipping in peace were slaughtered for no other reason than their religious beliefs. (Among them was a 3-year-old boy who, in the confusion of the moment, tragically ended up running toward the gunman.) Fischer hates Islam so much that he’s bending over backward to excuse a maniacal extremist who shot a bunch of that faith’s adherents. In all of his blathering, there is not one word of sympathy for the dead or their families.
I have been following Fischer’s career for a long time – and I’m not the only one. Fischer's mind is simultaneously dull and hate-filled – yet, unfortunately, the man has an audience. He has been an invited speaker at major Religious Right conferences. Far-right adherents lap up his assertions that governments can ban Islam; that Adolf Hilter invented separation of church and state; that marriage equality would lead to the end of the American republic; that women are not capable of holding high office; and even that an orca at Sea World that killed a trainer should be stoned to death because the Bible says so.
All of that was bad enough – and it just scratches the surface of his reckless career – but making excuses for a mass murderer is a new low even for Fischer. Why is this man still on the air?
Photo: Bryan Fischer (right) broadcasting from the Values Voter Summit in 2014.