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

Anders Breivik

Anders Breivik

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

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.

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  • Aasim

    Don’t find it ironic that Robert Spencer and any other Islamophobes hate to be held accountable for a Terrorist whom was inspired by they claims about Islam and yet they have no problems blaming a Radical Cleric for influencing a Terrorist or the Mosque that both the Terrorist or the Radical Cleric goes to?

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  • Mark

    I favour dealing with hatemongering websites and forums etc. by going onto them and inundating them with reasonable and measured comments that expose the many logical inconsistencies and hypocrisies they display.

  • Proto Pat

    @Lena Rose

    He didn’t. Emperor cross-posted the article.

    As for the reaction, I couldn’t believe the nerve of the wingnuts when I read comments sections of different blogs and news sites regarding this issue. The right-wingers accuse liberals and progressives of this double-standard of being nuanced when they themselves are scrambling to wash their hands of this incident. Right-wing outlets like Fox News immediately jumped on the al-Qaeda/Islamic extremism bandwagon as soon as the story broke about the massacre. But, when the true perpetrator was brought into light, it’s suddenly the left that is rushing to judgment even when the facts (such as the Norwegian authorities’ confirmation and the 1500-page manifesto which is conveniently being ignored) are heavily apparent. How many people on the left denied that the Fort Hood shooter was Muslim? How many people on the left denied that Osama Bin Laden was Muslim? Why is it that people like Bill O’Reilly have the privilege to deny that Anders Breivik was a Christian while if a Muslim perpetrated these acts, it’s undisputed? At least the “liberal media” had the courtesy to label Breivik as a “Christian fundamentalist”. Would it be better if they weren’t politically correct?

  • Lena Rose

    “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…”

    Emperor, did you really write that? How on earth did you come to that conclusion? I thought the whole point is that it’s never reasonable to assume a certain kind of people are responsible for a crime without any evidence.

  • FnD

    ” Rouhs also said that Pro-Deutschland made the decision to hold a vigil in front of the Norwegian Embassy on Friday evening before it became clear who the perpetrator was. “Like everyone, we thought it was an organized group like al-Qaida,” he said.
    Had that turned out to have been correct, the figure on their signs on Monday, one is tempted to assume, [b]would likely have been wearing a burka rather than a balaclava[/b].”
    -http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,776752,00.html
    -European Right Under Pressure in Wake of Attacks

    I like that quote.

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