When it comes to the issue of gun violence, Geraldo Rivera is about as progressive as they come on Fox News.
Following the brutal massacre at gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning, the longtime commentator for the network tweeted his outrage over the fact that the shooter, known to the FBI for having radical jihadist links, was able to legally purchase an AR-15 assault rifle. “Refusal to see gaping loophole that allowed erratic #IslamicState Terrorist to purchase a legal arsenal shows how 2d amendment sick we are,” he wrote in disgust.
Yet, when Rivera appeared on Fox & Friends live from Orlando on Monday morning, that was not the point he chose to highlight for viewers.
Instead, he shamed the dozens of terrorist Omar Mateen’s unarmed victims for failing to “fight back.”
“When you’re in that situation and you have no weapons, you have two choices,” Rivera said of the men and women caught by surprise on a dark dancefloor late into the night. “If you can’t hide and you can’t run, there are two choices. You stay and die, or you fight. For God’s sakes, fight back. Fight back,” he urged in the clip first spotted by Media Matters.
“There’s a hundred people that he murdered with one weapon that he reloaded,” Rivera continued, inflating the death toll from a reported 49. “When he reloaded, they must—people must—America must understand, we are at war with Islamic terror, with these terrorists. We’ve got to stop them in Raqqa, we’ve got to stop them in Mosul, and we’ve got to stop them in the Pulse in Orlando.”
With those words, Rivera was equating the battlefields of the Middle East with public spaces in the U.S. like the Pulse nightclub, whose patrons had no reasonable expectation of violence nor the training or capability to “fight back” against a shooter armed with a rifle capable of firing dozens of rounds in a matter of seconds. And because he used an AR-15 using 30-round-capacity clips—which the shooter reportedly taped together to make reloading more efficient—victims would have had scant opportunity to intervene.
The suggestion that the victims were partially at fault for their own demise recalled former GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson’s bizarre reaction to the mass shooting at an Oregon community college last October. “I would not just stand there and let him shoot me,” Carson insisted at the time. “I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.’”
Even Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade seemed to recognize the absurdity of Rivera’s argument, pointing out near the end of the segment that “gutless terrorists” like the Orlando gunman “don’t want to fight our guys that are trained to fight them, they want to fight the people that are just living their lives.”
According to Rivera, it seems the victims “just living their lives” inside the Pulse gay nightclub this past weekend didn’t do enough to stay alive.