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In response to Norway attacks, right-wing bloggers suddenly demand nuance

26 July 2011 General 9 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
Anders Breivik

Anders Breivik

American anti-Islam bloggers aren’t to blame for the Norway Massacre. But their response to the attacks is nonetheless revealing, in that they are now demanding the kind of nuanced analysis of the Norway shootings that they’ve always failed to offer when implicating jihadism or all Muslims for terror attacks.

As the news of terrorist attacks in Oslo broke on Friday, the conservative media were quick to place the blame on al Qaeda even though the details weren’t fully known. Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin wrote that the attacks were “a sobering reminder for those who think it’s too expensive to wage a war against jihadists.”

At first, it wasn’t unreasonable to reach that conclusion. Given the way the attacks unfolded — multiple targets being hit within a short time period — it was reasonable to assume that Islamic extremists were responsible, rather than anti-Muslim extremist Anders Behring Breivik.

When the truth became known, Rubin, like many others on the right, tried to downplay the right-wing anti-Muslim ideology driving the alleged shooter. She was suddenly far more generic in how she describedBreivik’s motive, referring to it as “undiluted evil.”

What’s notable about the response by conservatives to the attack is that their primary worry was that the anti-Islam cause might be tarnished. Bruce Bawer, writing in the Wall Street Journal, was beside himself that “this murderous madman has become the poster boy for the criticism of Islam.” He then casts Breivik’s concerns, if not his actions, as defensible, describing “the way he moves from a legitimate concern about genuine problems to an unspeakably evil `solution.’”

It would be hard to imagine a conservative showing such empathy for Hamas, concluding that while terrorism is evil, they are nevertheless acting out of legitimate concerns about Palestinian suffering. What’s pathetic is not so much their reasoning, but the knowledge that their arguments would be the same in substance, if more enthusiastic, had Muslim extremists been responsible.

The most telling reaction was from the anti-Muslim bloggers Breivik cited by name in his manifesto.

Pamela Geller, who along with Professional Islamophobe Robert Spencer has been active in opposing the construction of mosques in the U.S., wrote: “This is just a sinister attempt to tar all anti-jihadists with responsibility for this man’s heinous actions.” Spencer, for his part,wrote: “as if killing a lot of children aids the defense against the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, or has anything remotely to do with anything we have ever advocated.”

Most of Geller and Spencer’s blogging consists of attempts to tar all Muslims with the responsibility for terrorism. At CPAC last year, Geller and Spencer drew a large crowd for their documentary referring to the proposed community center near Ground Zero as “the second wave of the 9/11 attacks.” Yet they’re now pleading for the world not to do what they’ve spent their careers doing — assigning collective blame for an act of terror through guilt-by-association. What’s clear is that they understand that the principle of collective responsibility is a monstrous wrong in the abstract, or at least when it’s applied to them. They are now begging for the kind of tolerance and understanding they cheerfully refuse to grant to American Muslims.

These bloggers are not directly responsible for the actions of Anders Behring Breivik. But make no mistake: Their school of analysis, which puts the blame on all Muslims for acts of terrorism perpetrated by Islamic extremists, has been fully discredited — by their own reaction to the Oslo attacks. While it’s obvious that few if any of them will take this lesson to heart, the rest of us should — terrorist acts are committed by individuals, and it is those individuals who should be held responsible.

Original post: In response to Norway attacks, right-wing bloggers suddenly demand nuance


  1. Are these people Aliens? Honestly… I’m ashamed to even have any relation to these imbeciles, posing as Hominids. Either represent an objective opinion, based on fact… Or get the F out of the Media. These people, don’t deserve to be representatives of public information. I’d rather have a monkey give me my news reports… at least then, it would be funny. ;O

  2. Some people are just double-faced hypocrites, they would jump on any opportunity to describe a criminal as a terrorist if he’s Muslim, but otherwise he’s a madman that needs help!! Simply idiots..

  3. This incident resonates strongly with the bias here against Muslims and Hispanics. When a US Representative compares ‘shooting feral hogs’ to hunting illegal immigrants, and mosques are vandalized and Muslims are attacked in the press and in person with impunity, we shouldn’t feel so removed from a Norwegian hate crime.

  4. There is absolutely no justification for any terrorist act. It is just as depraved when it is committed by a Norwegian punk or an American white power extremist. The fact that al Qaeda was immediately held responsible is because they have made themselves so easy to blame, and because the bloggers in question were not doing any discernable critical thinking. Al Qaeda is the primary cause of global Islamophobia. Hamas is not far behind. The extremists within Islam continue to harm Muslim people everywhere. The rest of the world never sees the vast majority of peaceful Muslims in the news, only the evil of Islamic extremists. They must be eliminated for the good of everyone.

  5. I disagree with the thought that al Qaeda is to blame for Islamophobia.. Each individual who collectively condemns all Muslim is responsible for their own faulty thought patterns and no one else. If one listens to Fox News all day long then naturally they are only going to absorb the Fox News point of view. The same goes to one who listen to any extreme view point or reads the same philosophy day in and day out. We have become a very lazy nation and have forgotten how to think for ourselves. Now a day we let radio, tv and the computer do our mind forming and we do not make a practice of discerning what we read and hear. We have become followers instead of leaders of our own thinking. What a terrible state of affairs.

  6. Might not a series of wars fought against Muslim nations for about two decades have something to do with some Muslims hatred for the West? Not to mention the constant drones falling from the skies of Pakistan killing so many innocent victims.

    When so many politicians, newspapers, TV stations and right wing bloggers blame the decline of the US on immigration, especially from Africa and the Muslim nations, violent attacks can be expected. The more violent the verbal attack, the more violent the physical attack. The fact is politicians like to deflect the failings of their own policies on vulnerable groups, whenever they feel the need, is particularly nauseating
    at these moments.

    Of course right wing bloggers can be blamed for inciting race-hate crime, and terrorist acts. They should be. That’s what they do. Anders Breivik read right wing blogs and press articles, and it would be naive to believe he was not influenced by what he read. If giving publicity to your cause or product didn’t work, McDonald’s has wasted millions of dollars on advertising hamburgers.

    The US is a nation of immigrants. It was founded on massive immigration out of Europe. Many were fleeing religious and political persecution to make new lives for themselves in a land of liberty. Where’s that all gone?
    What does that whopping green statue, holding a torch, and famous throughout the world, mean if it doesn’t mean welcome.

    “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
    With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    Emma Lazarus, 1883

  7. In the history of civilization, prior to this week, how many people have been killed by Norwegian terrorists? Hmm?

    How many bodies have been piled up on account of Muslim terrorists?

    You didn’t see the Norwegians dancing in the streets like Muslims sometimes do – did you?

    It’s not really phobia. It’s well justified mistrust, and it’s calling Islam out for what it is… the most dangerous and violent religion on earth.

  8. OctaviusMaximus, the analogy still wouldn’t hold if “Muslim” were a country, but the reasoning would be internally consistent at least. Christianity has centuries on Islam and does world history at least as proud in terms of violence and danger. Most US domestic terrorism is still committed by Christian extremists, and primarily aimed at women.

    You can justify “mistrust” of billions of individuals you don’t know personally in many ways, but reason is not among them. Irrational mistrust results from hatred, phobia or paranoia. The latter two are illnesses and not choices, but hatred is an active decision. I urge you to choose differently.

  9. Octavius Maximus is a bastard

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