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Meeting Breivik Halfway


“When the smoke cleared from [Anders] Breivik's terrorist rampage across Norway,” writes journalist Max Blumenthal, “American Islamophobes went into intellectual contortions, condemning his acts while carefully avoiding any criticism of his views.”


Indeed, while much of the discourse in the early hours of Breivik’s attacks pivoted around the assignment of blame — with prominent neoconservatives and Islamophobes, along with many in the mainstream media, erroneously divining “jihadist” origins in the attacks — subsequent developments have revealed far more profound malignancies than mere prejudice or journalistic laziness. Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto explicating his anti-Islamic proclivities — along with his passionate support for the state of Israel and his hatred for multiculturalism, or “cultural Marxism” — offers considerable praise to prominent American Islamophobes like Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Daniel Pipes, and Frank Gaffney, among many others. Commenting on the irrevocably American provenance of these influencers, Right Web contributor Jack Ross situates these actors within a broader mode of paranoid American politics. “There is no denying that Breivik’s manifesto and beliefs are rooted in a distinctly post-9/11 ideology of anti-Islamism,” he writes. “This relatively new ideology of anti-Islamism reveals much about the deeper pathologies in current U.S. politics.”


To discover that the assailant was a right-wing extremist who had so thoroughly and approvingly referenced their own work (or that of their fellow travelers) was undoubtedly an uncomfortable moment for those pundits who had so eagerly pinned the blame on European Muslims. Some, like the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin or Red State’s Erick Erickson, issued half-retractions, more or less admitting their error but explaining their prior assumptions on the grounds that Muslims are somehow more prone to violence than Christians or “blond Norwegians.”


But if these figures have merely affirmed their right to their own prejudices, others have all but endorsed the rationale for Breivik’s attacks, either by signifying their agreement with Breivik’s political views or else casting aspersions on the victims of his shooting spree at Utoya. MSNBC contributor and former GOP presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, for example — if not a militarist on all matters of foreign policy, then certainly an Islamophobe with a history of making racist remarks — speculated that “Breivik may be right” about “a climactic conflict between a once-Christian West and an Islamic world.”


Piling on, commentator Glenn Beck likened the Labor Party youth retreat where Breivik killed 68 people to a Hitler Youthcamp. Daniel Greenfield, writing for David Horowitz’s deeply anti-Islamic FrontPageMag, disagreed slightly. Beck, he writes,“was close, but not entirely right. The roots of the Workers Youth League are actually Communist. ... The Utoya camp literally was a Communist youth camp.” He adds that, like the Germans of the 1930s, today’s “Norwegians are encouraged to blame their problems on the Jews.”


This last remark is certainly puzzling, but it may be a bizarre allusion to the suggestion by Norway’s ambassador to Israel that Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories may influence the occurrence of Palestinian terrorism, a suggestion that incensed many on the right. Similarly, some Utoya campers were photographed prior to the shooting demonstrating support for the anti-occupation BDS movement and the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.


This last revelation caused Pamela Geller, founder of the blog Atlas Shrugs and a leading anti-Islamic crusader in the United States, to intone that “the jihad-loving media never told us what antisemitic war games [the campers] were playing on that island. Utoya Island is a Communist/Socialist campground, and they clearly had a pro-Islamic agenda.” She says the camp was “not Islamist,” but determines that it was nonetheless something “not much more wholesome.” While ostensibly condemning the attack, she adds that there is “no justification for Norway's antisemitism and demonization of Israel,” and that Beck “was not far off when he compared [the camp]” to the Hitler Youth. More troublingly, Think Progress’ Lee Fang notes that in a now-removed caption to a photo of the campers, Geller said to “Note the faces which are more MIddle Eastern [sic] or mixed than pure Norwegian,” injecting an unabashed racial element to her critique.


These writers have not called for a Breivik-style assault on Muslims or members of the Western left. But the militarist intonation of such Islamophobia is hard to miss. “They [prefer],” writes Blumenthal, “the ‘shock and awe’ brand of state terror perfected by Western armies against the brown hordes threatening to impose Sharia law on the people in Peoria.” Nonetheless, their subsequent endorsements of Breivik’s “clash of civilizations” worldview and their screeds against the campers at Utoya suggest that they are discreetly celebrating his choice of target, even as they are condemning his methods.


U.S. Islamophobes are meeting Breivik halfway, issuing statements that are perilously close to Breivik’s own assessment of his actions: “atrocious, but necessary.


-- Peter Certo

Resources - Right Web Profiles

Center for Security Policy

The Center for Security Policy, a prominent member of the neoconservative advocacy community led by Frank Gaffney, has promoted extravagant weapons programs and an expansive “war on terror.”

Clarion Project

A controversial activist group closely connected to anti-Islamic and “pro-Israel” political factions, the Clarion Project has released films and publications that attack “Radical Islam” and call into question the trustworthiness of Muslims.

Gaffney, Frank

Frank Gaffney, director of the hardline neoconservative Center for Security Policy, is a longtime advocate of aggressive U.S. foreign policies, bloated military budgets, and confrontation with the Islamic world.

Horowitz, David

David Horowtiz, an erstwhile leftwing activist notorious for his vitriolic attacks on former comrades, has turned the demonization of Muslims into a lucrative enterprise.

Meleagrou-Hitchens, Alexander

Meleagrou-Hitchens, a terrorism scholar based at London’s International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, thinks that even “soft” Islamism can lead to terrorism.

Pipes, Daniel

Founder of the Middle East Forum, Daniel Pipes is an influential advocate of militarist U.S. policies in the Middle East and a controversial critic of “lawful Islamism” in the West.

Tancredo, Tom

Tom Tancredo, the former House Republican notorious for his anti-immigrant activism, has become a leading promoter of Islamophobic rhetoric in the United States.

Resources - Right Web Articles

Critics Condemn Islam Hearings as Witch Hunts

Inter Press Service On the eve of a controversial hearing by lawmakers on extremist Islam in the United States, civil…

The Great Sharia Conspiracy

  Inter Press Service A new report denouncing the threat to the U.S. from sharia, or Islamic law—which was repeated…

The Paranoid Style of Anti-Islamism

The mass killings in Norway have caused recriminations on both sides of the U.S. ideological divide. Some observers have highlighted…

Standard Operating Procedures: How the Neocons Are Co-opting the Tea Party

Many have hailed the midterm elections as a victory for the Tea Party. The dramatic Republican Party gains in the…

US Islamophobes Distance Themselves from Norway Killings

Inter Press Service As Norway mourns the loss of at least 76 of its citizens in the July 22 bombing…

Additional Resources

Eli Clifton, Islamophobe Robert Spencer Continues To Spout Rhetoric That Influenced Oslo Terrorist, Think Progress, August 3, 2011
Less than two weeks after the attacks in Norway, Robert Spencer -- whose own anti-Islamic work was heavily quoted by Anders Breivik -- appeared on the 700 Club with Pat Robertson to denounce Islamism and America’s “hard left” media.


Scott Keyes, Gaffney Wonders If Norwegian Terrorist’s Manifesto Was A ‘False Flag Operation’ Intended To ‘Suppress Criticism’ Of Sharia, Think Progress, August 3, 2011
Asked whether his own views may have influenced Breivik, veteran conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney says that the Norwegian may have been carrying out a “false flag” operation designed to insulate Sharia law from criticms.


Max Blumenthal, Meet the Right-Wing Hatemongers Who Inspired the Norway Killer, AlterNet, August 2, 2011
“One of the most remarkable aspects of [Breivik’s] manifesto,” writes Blumenthal, “ is the extent to which its European author quoted from the writings of figures from the American conservative movement.”


Paul Mutter, Pamela Geller slanders the Utoya victims (elitist anti-Semites, Hitler youth, oh and race-mixers), Mondoweiss, August 2, 2011
More choice selections from Geller’s condemnation of the Utoya campers.


Brian Tashman, Anti-Muslim Bloggers Smear Victims Of Norway Attack, Right Wing Watch, August 1, 2011
Right Wing Watchoffers further quotes from Daniel Greenfield and Pamela Geller discussing the “Communist” Utoya campers.

Scott Shane, Killings in Norway Spotlight Anti-Muslim Thought in U.S., New York Times, July 24, 2011
“[T]he mass killings in Norway,” according to the Times, “with their echo of the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City by an antigovernment militant, have focused new attention around the world on the subculture of anti-Muslim bloggers and right-wing activists and renewed a debate over the focus of counterterrorism efforts.”

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