Thursday, July 28, 2011

Terrorism is terrorism - no matter the terrorist

Last week, Anders Behring Breivik set off an explosion in downtown Oslo near the offices of the governing Norwegian Labour Party. He then went to nearby Utøya Island, where he opened fire on participants in a Norwegian Labour Party youth event using automatic weapons. In all, he ruthlessly murdered 76 people. One of the few pieces of good news in all of this is that the death toll is about 15 fewer than originally believed. The dead include the step-brother of Norway's Crown Princess and, according to reports, the children of several senior Labour Party figures.

It was interesting, as the story developed, to see the rush to judgement by the mainstream corporate media, who proclaimed it an al Qaeda attack based on nothing but speculation. Of course, Ander Behring Breivik isn't an Islamic terrorist. In fact, it appears he hates Muslims almost as much as he hates Norwegian children who don't share his odious political views.

Let's be really clear about this. A rightwing extremist orchestrated a series of violent attacks on people based on their political views.

What was even more interesting was to watch the corporate media reaction when it turned out their preferred narrative wasn't operative. Almost immediately, the perpetrator was no longer a "terrorist," but rather a "gunman" or an "assailant." I say "almost immediately" because Faux News continued to say it was al Quaeda for several hours after Norwegian police had indicated otherwise.

Now, the Oxford English Dictionary defines "terrorism" as:

the unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

"Terrorist" is defined as:

a person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims.

So, by any sort of logical standard, last week's acts of mass murder constituted terrorism and Anders Behring Breivik is a terrorist, even if he isn't an Arab and a Muslim.

Next came that rather curious sight of assorted rightwing blowhards trying to pretend that the toxic rhetoric they spew had nothing to do with what happened in Oslo. Of course, these are the same rightwing blowhards who call for legal sanctions against any Arab or Muslim who has ever said anything that might even tangentially be tied to Islamic terrorism. The sauce, it seems, is only for the goose.

Then there was the curious "it was really the Muslims' fault anyway" meme, which blamed the attack on the mere existence of Arab and Muslim immigrants in Norway - even though the rates of Arab and Muslim immigration to Norway are among the lowest in Europe.

Finally came the most disgusting aspect of all. Two of the most odious and most disgusting of all the rightwing blowhards, Glenn Beck and Michael Coren, actually launched online narratives to justify the murder of dozens of children.

No, seriously.

I'm not going to link you. This blog has a firm policy of not linking to hatemongering and extremist filth.

With the bodies of dozens of dead children barely cold, Michael Coren was accusing the dead of anti-semitism because (apparently) the youth camp had held a discussion session where Israel's policy towards Palestinians was criticized. In the hate-addled dystopia of the North American far right, no one is ever allowed to criticize any Israeli policy. And now, it seems, if you do, you deserve to die.

It seems, however, that the wingnut right were having a contest to see who could be the most disgusting. And the winner is the hatemonger's hatemonger Glenn Beck who went all Godwin and compared the youth wing of Norway's social democratic governing party to - you guessed it - the Hitler Youth. The little bastards deserved to die because they were Nazis, don't you see.

Terrorism is terrorism, no matter the terrorist.

And the friends of terrorism - including Glenn Beck and Michael Coren - are every bit as odious as the terrorist who plants the bomb and pulls the trigger.

Despite the nearly complete failure of the corporate media, and despite the revolting behaviour of the usual suspects of the extreme right, there have been moments of grace in all this. I leave you with the words of Norwegian Labour Party Leader and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg:

“We are still horrified over what happened. But we will never give up our values. Our answer is more democracy, more openness and more humanity but never naivety.”


Anonymous said...

Norway should separate church and state. It's not progressive to have a national religion.

Malcolm+ said...

I'm inclined to agree with you about having an established religion - although I'm not sure of the relevance to this post.

Kate said...

Father Joe died this week (Felix Hominum blog). Thought you'd want to know.