Fox News host Geraldo Rivera shamed the 49 victims killed in Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando, implying they did not adequately “fight back” against the attacker.
“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,” Rivera said on Fox News.
Rivera also said the attack by an Islamic-State affiliated gunman represented the war between the U.S. and “Islamic terror.”
“There’s a hundred people that he murdered with one weapon that he reloaded,” he said, doubling the death toll. “When he reloaded, they must — America must understand, we are at war with Islamic terror, with these terrorists.”
The Jewish talk show host made the remarks in reference to a survivor’s description of the bloody attack at a gay nightclub.
“Everything that was moving he was shooting at,” Chris Ortiz told Rivera Sunday, breaking into tears as he recounted his friend dying in the carnage.
Past remarks by Rivera hint at a fight-or-die attitude that can lead to victim blaming.
“If they come again for the Jews, I will clench my fist and say, here is a tough Jew,” he said, referring to a 1974 attack in which Palestinian terrorists killed 22 Israeli children, according to the Jewish Week. After reporting on the attack, Rivera got a Star of David tattooed on his left fist.
In 2012, Rivera drew strong criticism after he seemed to partially blame Trayvon Martin, a black teenager who was shot by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, for his own death because he had worn a hoodie.
“I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was,” Rivera said, according to Politico, although he later apologized to Martin’s parents for his remarks.
The hoodie became a symbol of resistance following Martin’s death, and protestors took to the streets wearing the garment in protest of racial profiling.
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Josefin Dolsten is a news fellow at the Forward. She writes about politics and culture, and edits the Sisterhood blog. She received an MA in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Government from Cornell University. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @josefindolsten .