Anders Behring Breivik
Most journalists would never correlate terrorism with Islam for fear of being criticized as Islamophobic, but now they are relishing in the opportunity to connect Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik to Christianity using a fairly weak link.
Breivik, who published a manifesto hours before his shooting spree, discussed his cultural connection to Christianity only as a vehicle by which he could accomplish his goal of a pure Nordic race. He even wrote, "I'm not going to pretend I'm a very religious person, as that would be a lie." Nevertheless, Breivik's supposedly radical Christian beliefs are making the headlines, instead of his truly radical belief of eliminating Muslims through modern eugenics.
Throughout his tenure, there have been several facets in which President Obama has been demonstrably weak on leadership, with the debt debate coming to the forefront in recent months. Now however, lost in that news cycle has been another failure of leadership for the President – his own request to tone down violent rhetoric in this country. For it was mere months ago that Obama stood in front of a crowd in Tucson that had anxiously sought leadership amidst the chaos of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting; a teachable moment that had The Guardian gushing about how the President had delivered “calm amid the toxic rhetoric.”
That moment of calm has long since dissipated. Where once the President had denounced discourse that places “the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do”, we hear Republicans blamed for holding the American people hostage to their economic policies. Where once we were urged to talk “with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds”, we now hear Tea Party members being denounced as terrorists.
Make no mistake, this ratcheting up of terrorism and hostage-taking discourse directly coincides with recent events in Norway. The instant that Oslo terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik, was labeled as a ‘right-wing Christian’, liberals finally had their moment to seize upon - not just a chance to label conservatives as extreme ideologues but a chance to label them as violent ideologues. This message has been a coordinated and vicious attack amongst the media, the Democrats, and most assuredly, the President.
Think of Anders Behring Breivik, the man who bombed a government building in Norway before proceeding to coldbloodedly massacre scores of defenseless young people on a secluded island several miles away, as an Adolf Hitler of one. The first Adolf Hitler was a Hitler to millions. He captured an entire nation and terrified the world for years.
One imagines that the two, if ever they could have a quiet talk together, would have much to agree on. Both were meticulous planners, though I dare say Breivik was Hitler's superior. He would not delay an invasion of Russia. Both harbored grudges against threats to their culture from the foreign-born and what Breivik called the "cultural Marxists." I can well imagine the Führer admiring Breivik's taste in uniforms, his Aryan features and his longing for his viking past. Both were mama's boys.
On Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams proclaimed that Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik "seemed to be heavily influenced by some people in this country who write and blog about the perceived threat from Islam."
In the report that followed, correspondent Michael Isikoff noted how writings of Robert Spencer, the associate director of Stop the Islamization of America, were cited several times in Breivik's 1,500-page manifesto and declared that "some analysts say words can be weapons themselves." A sound bite was featured of Heidi Beirich of the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center: "When you push the demonization of populations, you often end up with violence."
With a post entitled "When Christianity becomes lethal," liberal theologian and Center for American Progress senior fellow Susan Brooks Thislethwaite took to the Washington Post's "On Faith" blog yesterday to indict conservative Christian theology as a catalyst for the terror espoused by Norwegian bomber/shooter Anders Behring Breivik:
New York Times international columnist Roger Cohen smeared Sarah Palin and Republicans in general in a politically opportunistic hit piece, ostensibly about the massacre in Norway, posted to nytimes.com on Monday, “Breivik and His Enablers.”
On one level Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian responsible for the biggest massacre by a single gunman in modern times, is just a particularly murderous psychotic loner: the 32-year-old mama’s boy with no contact with his father, obsessed by video games (Dragon Age II) as he preens himself (“There was a relatively hot girl on [sic] the restaurant today checking me out”) and dedicates his time in asexual isolation to the cultivation of hatred and the assembly of a bomb from crushed aspirin and fertilizer.
No doubt, that is how Islamophobic right-wingers in Europe and the United States who share his views but not his methods will seek to portray Breivik.
We’ve seen the movie. When Jared Loughner shot Representative Gabrielle Giffords this year in Tuscon [sic], Arizona -- after Sarah Palin placed rifle sights over Giffords’ constituency and Giffords herself predicted that “there are consequences to that” -- the right went into overdrive to portray Loughner as a schizophrenic loner whose crazed universe owed nothing to those fanning hatred under the slogan of “Take America Back.” (That non-specific taking-back would of course be from Muslims and the likes of the liberal and Jewish Giffords.)
As more details about Norwegian mass murder suspect Anders Behring Breivik emerged over the weekend, some prominent voices who warn about the dangers Islamist extremism poses to the West found themselves under fire.
Breivik has confessed to killing 93 people, mostly children, in Friday’s bombing and shooting rampage. He was described by a top Norwegian police officer as a “Christian fundamentalist.” He also has been identified as a freemason, and in online writings, he identified himself as a “Justiciar Knight Commander for Knights Templar Europe,” a reference to a medieval Catholic military order.
The three major networks trumpeted the news this weekend that the man behind a mass shooting spree in Norway is also a Christian, highlighting the fact in eight different programs from Saturday through Monday.
The July 25 New York Times used page one to declare, "As Horrors Emerge, Norway Charges Christian Extremist." Yet, these same journalistic outlets were far more reticent to identify the religion of past Islamic killers.
On Saturday's Good morning America, Miguel Marquez trumpeted, "Police have identified the shooter as a 32-year-old Norwegian and Christian fundamentalist." He made sure to note Anders Breivik's "right-wing" and "anti-Muslim" views.
Sunday’s front-page, over-the-fold New York Times headline on the massacre in Norway (over a story by Scott Shane and Steven Erlanger) was blunt: “As Horrors Emerge, Norway Charges Christian Extremist – Manifesto Shows Plan of Attack, Fear of Islam.”
But while the Times showed no reluctance to identify Anders Behring Breivik, the lone gunman in the Norway attacks, as a “Christian extremist” in a front-page headline and hinted at more danger from "right-wing extremists" in Europe (photo credit Jon-Are Berg-Jacobsen/Agence France-Presse) the paper previously showed a clear reluctance to identify Islam after the last major terrorist attack on Europe, the deadly July 7, 2005 attacks by Muslim terrorists on subways and buses in London that killed 52. Instead the Times treated the attacks as British Prime Minister Tony Blair's "bitter harvest" for following President George W. Bush into Iraq.
It didn't take long for American media to blame this weekend's tragic shootings in Oslo, Norway, on our nation's conservatives.
The New York Times splashed it across its front page Monday with the headline "Killings Spotlight Anti-Muslim Thought in U.S.":