Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has little patience for the "surprise" from conservative politicians and media after a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs.
Buttigieg said they must be held responsible for fostering an environment making attacks against the LGBTQ+ community more commonplace.
Buttigieg called out conservative politicians and media figures whose anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric—which includes accusations LGBTQ+ people are "groomers" and drag queens are sexualizing and targeting young children—created an environment for "the LGBTQ community to be hated and feared."
Buttigieg pointed out this hatred and fear is "not because any of us ever harmed you but because you find it useful," adding these same people should not "dare act surprised when this kind of violence follows."
"Don't you dare act surprised."
Several conservatives—particularly Colorado Republican Representative Lauren Boebert—offered "thoughts and prayers" and appeared to express shock and horror following the shooting.
However, Boebert herself is one of the more virulently anti-LGBTQ+ members of Congress, previously making headlines for homophobic attacks against Buttigieg, for backing Florida's controversial "Don't Say Gay" law, and for suggesting that children would be much safer in churches than at drag shows, despite the fact that the Catholic Church has been mired in a decades-long scandal involving the sexual abuse of young children.
At a time when the LGBTQ+ community has been scapegoated and used as political capital, many appreciated Buttigieg for speaking out.
Many also joined him in criticizing the Republican Party for its rhetoric.
The alleged shooter was charged with ten felony counts—five counts of murder and five counts of committing a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury. Five people died during the attack and at least 25 others were injured, most of them by gunfire.
News outlets reported this week that he is the grandson of outgoing California Republican State Assemblymember Randy Voepel, the former mayor of Santee, California who once compared the January 6 insurrection to the Revolutionary War.
This information has only amplified concerns about far-right radicalization and how being raised in an environment where hate and political violence are tolerated can lead people to commit horrific acts like mass murder.