Bryan Fischer, who last week called on religious-righters to rally around Texas Gov. Rick Perry in 2016 if Mitt Romney loses the presidential election this November, is promoting wild claims about the murdered U.S. ambassador to Libya. Here is a post on his Twitter account Monday:
“Ambassador to Libya was gay, Hillary knew it, sent him anyway. Gang-raped by Muslims before killed.” The post then links to an article from the right-wing Washington Examiner with these unsubstantiated claims. The Examiner story runs under the headline “Did Hillary Clinton send a gay ambassador to Libya as intentional provocation?” The story attributes the claim that Ambassador Chris Stevens was gay to unnamed “Serbian diplomat.”
Fischer is a spokesman for the American Family Association, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as an anti-gay hate group. Gov. Perry asked the AFA to organize his Houston prayer extravaganza in August 2011, just before the governor officially announced his failed campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
At least one prominent right-wing activist in Texas is also circulating an email about the Examiner story, suggesting that the Obama administration is to blame for the ambassador’s murder.
The claim that the ambassador was raped appears to have been traced to a Lebanese news website that attributed the information to the news agency AFP. But AFP says the claim that it reported any such thing is false. The Examiner (and Fischer) ran with it anyway.
Moreover, the New York Times reported Sunday about an amateur video made when Libyans were trying to rescue the ambassador. Reports say the ambassador died of smoke inhalation while locked in a safe room, although it seems that the Libyans who found him thought he was still alive. The New York Times published a partial transcription from the video:
In the video, none say anything that shows ill will.
“I swear, he’s dead,” one Libyan says, peering in.
“Bring him out, man! Bring him out,” another says.
“The man is alive. Move out of the way,” others shout. “Just bring him out, man.”
“Move, move, he is still alive!”
“Alive, Alive! God is great,” the crowd erupts, while someone calls to bring Mr. Stevens to a car.
The Associated Press is also reporting that Libyans tried to save Stevens’ life. Neither story suggests that Stevens was raped, as right-wingers are claiming, or that his sexual orientation (whatever it may have been) provoked the attack Salon.com also reports on the rumor-mongering here.
It’s important to understand that the full details of what happened in Libya are still unclear. But one thing seems increasingly clear: the right-wing blogosphere and hate-mongers like Bryan Fischer and certain far-right activists in Texas aren’t waiting for confirmation of details. They have decided to traffic in the wildest rumors in an attempt to further inflame passions and politicize a terrible and horrifying tragedy.