On Friday, as news spread of the ghastly terror attacks in Norway, U.S. cable news outlets jumped to the conclusion that Muslims must have done it. Many talking heads were stunned to learn that the confessed killer was a blond, blue-eyed Christian terrorist, as Danny Schechter reports. By Danny Schechter
Move over Osama bin Laden — even as I know you already have in the physical sense — because you now have an emulator who borrows your tactics and inverts your ideology.
Anders Behring Breivik is Norway’s candidate for the new world’s top living evil-doer and terror supremo having admitted to killing at least 76 people, many of them at a youth summer camp, and blowing up buildings in Oslo.
While bin Laden castigated Western Crusaders, Breivik salutes these Christian warriors in a 1,518-page manifesto of madness. And his lawyer has rationalized his murder spree in a way similar to how some justified Al Qaeda’s actions as defending Islam.
The two are almost carbon copies. The Norwegian posted videos on YouTube while bin Laden relied on TV communiqués.
One was killing in the name of Islam, the other in the name of Christianity.
Foreign Policy reports, ”Breivik’s lawyer said that his client admitted to the killings, but rejected ‘criminal responsibility.’ He described Breivik as being motivated to carry out the attacks by a desire to force radical change on Norwegian society.
” ‘He has said that he believed the actions were atrocious, but that in his head they were necessary,’ the lawyer said.”
And now he’s pled not guilty, Of course!
Brievik has taken Islamphobia to a new level of violence and killing hoping to spark an uprising in Europe. He quotes from American websites that view all Muslims as jihadists, and even the tract of the Unabomber.
The “Made in USA” stamp is all over this despicable act.
We can see how easily hate mongers abandon argument for agitation and vow death for all perceived enemies.
We can also see how quickly major media outlets jumped to the assumption that the perpetrators were Muslims, Al Qaeda killers or worse. All the “terror” experts did what was done before after the Oklahoma City bombings — blame the “other.”
Fox News led the rush to judgment with predictable Muslim bashing.
CNN’s Ton Lister was not far behind, speculating early on, “You’ve only got to look at the target — prime minister’s office, the headquarters of the major newspaper group next door. Why would that be relevant? Because the Norwegian newspapers republished the cartoons of Prophet Mohammad that caused such offense in the Muslim world. … That is an issue that still rankles amongst Islamist militants the world over.”
A resort to violence escalates when underlying prejudice is legitimated and is recycled. Recently members of Congress condemned a “Ground Zero Mosque” that was neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero. Demagogues whipped up anti-Islamic passions and promulgated stereotyping.
Protests against the protesters went largely unreported. Today, one-time pizza company executive, Herman Cain, a Republican presidential candidate, spews disdain of all Muslims.
Anwaar Hussain, a Pakistani by birth and blogger by vocation, offers a perspective worth contemplating. May I quote him at length?
“Condolences, Norway. Our hearts ache for you in this time of incredible sadness and shock. As more than 90 of your families bury their dead, we stand with you in solemn sorrow.
“And welcome to the world of right wing zombies.
“These are words written by the citizen of a country that continues to reel from the onslaught of these androids. We understand your grief and your disbelief.
“But please understand that these human low-lifes go by many different names i.e. fundamentalists, jihadists, radicals, extremists etc. – yet they all claim to get their instructions straight from their god.
“Afterward, they go out to slaughter some children in the name of that god. We are sorry that you had to taste firsthand what we’ve been living through for the past twenty years. We were taken there, we have seen it all, we are still there.
“From the Oslo carnage, three facts emerge as usual.
“Firstly, these cowards always turn on their own first, attacking the most defenseless of the society for starters. It may be called the terror stage.
“Secondly, the victims always refuse to believe that killer/s could be one/s of their own. In Pakistan, for a long time people said, ‘these killers can’t be Muslims.’ And in Norway now when the killer is even confirmed as a blond, blue-eyed, indigenous Norwegian white right-wing extremist, their very own Anders Breivik Bin Laden, people are saying, ‘he can’t be a Christian.’
“Let us call it the denial stage which may linger on, as is in Pakistan, for decades before the victims can differentiate between their Messiahs and killers.
“Thirdly, extremists come in every hue. What they have in common is extreme views and the conviction that they know what’s good for the rest of us.”
And here we are at a time of financial collapse and political stalemate when so many want simple explanations and symbolic enemies to go after.
As our politics polarize in the USA, so does the world’s.
It’s shocking but all too predictable.
It’s time to take a stand for tolerance and mutual respect, and reject the simplistic attacks on multiculturalism that stir prejudice and reinforce racism by pandering politicians who play to the public’s fears.
It is a time to call a fascist a fascist and condemn this outbreak of violence that stains a great nation and troubles the world.
May our artists and politicians speak out before there are more copycat incidents?
May our educators stop their lesson plans and focus on the lessons of this dastardly deed against the youth of the county that gives us the Nobel Prize and helps poorer countries while the more affluent countries stand by and do nothing.
We can’t let this “incident” pass without a global media-led teach-in to turn the madness around. This happened in Norway but the extremists are everywhere and will be emboldened unless a universal chorus of condemnation arises.
It will happen again and again until the teachers of hate are challenged and stopped. Journalists have a responsibility to take on the machinations of extremist views and groups and expose them for what they are.
Only then can we say that those young people at a Norwegian summer camp did not die in vain.
How many more of these “templars” in their fantasy costumes armed to the teeth and ready to destroy what democratic societies remain. With their fertilizer they make bombs out of bullshit.
One warning: Incidents like this invite armed overreactions as 9/11 did with military establishments the beneficiary even as the threat is not a military one in the end.
We are all Norwegians now. Their loss must become our own. The duty to respond belongs to every person of conscience. Show some solidarity.
Speak now or forever say goodbye to peace and justice.
News Dissector Danny Schechter writes the News Dissector.com blog. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org