30 July 2011

Christian Terrorism

According to the liberal New York Times, terrorism applies only to acts committed by Muslims. As JackinStL over at Daily Kos noted:
Put this one in the "terrorism-is-for-brown-people" file:
Initial reports focused on the possibility of Islamic militants, in particular Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or Helpers of the Global Jihad, cited by some analysts as claiming responsibility for the attacks... Still, there was ample reason for concern that terrorists might be responsible. In 2004 and again in 2008, the No. 2 leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, who took over after the death of Osama bin Laden, threatened Norway because of its support of the American-led NATO military operation in Afghanistan.
Did you see that? How they said that once we eliminated the Arabic terrorists and found our right-wing Christian perp, he's suddenly not a "terrorist?" There's more.
Terrorism specialists said that even if the authorities ultimately ruled out terrorism as the cause of Friday’s assaults, other kinds of groups or individuals were mimicking Al Qaeda’s signature brutality and multiple attacks.
Greenwald covered the same ground in his usually thorough manner, underlining the fact that most of the media blamed Muslims early on and how reluctant to retract what they wrote once it became clear that a conservative Christian and race purity nut was to be blamed for these terrorist acts. He then quotes Silverstein who was the first to catch the NYT use of the term exclusively for Muslims:
How's that again? Are the only terrorists in the world Muslim? If so, what do we call a right-wing nationalist capable of planting major bombs and mowing down scores of people for the sake of the greater glory of his cause? If even a liberal newspaper like the Times can't call this guy a terrorist, what does that say about the mindset of the western world?
Greenwald answers that:
 What it says is what we've seen repeatedly: that Terrorism has no objective meaning and, at least in American political discourse, has come functionally to mean: violence committed by Muslims whom the West dislikes, no matter the cause or the target.  Indeed, in many (though not all) media circles, discussion of the Oslo attack quickly morphed from this is Terrorism (when it was believed Muslims did it) to no, this isn't Terrorism, just extremism (once it became likely that Muslims didn't).
I should add that none of this surprises me. The creation of an "other" was in full swing for some time and it will continue unabated. It was created originally to replace the other boogeyman (the Soviet Union) as vested interests were not very happy with a reduction of military spending at the end of the Cold War. A new enemy was needed and Bin Ladin provided the justification and the rest is history.

What I find worrisome is this: I believe we are going through a very tumultuous period, the kind that reminds me of the latter days of the Weimar Republic, only on a global scale. European economies are extremely vulnerable and they will not withstand a prolonged crisis. American economy seems to have less fundamental problems but the US is even more incapable of solving them than the 27-headed hydra that is EU.

Parallel to these severe crises, social safety nets are being dismantled everywhere and unnecessary and crippling austerity measures are being implemented.  When that kind of widespread economic disruption takes place, the consensus discourses that reproduce societies may stop to fulfill their function. Social and political polarization may become too deep to allow regular governance.

If and when that happens (and if these processes are not stopped it will happen) I expect to see a radical transformation of open and democratic societies. Anti-Muslim hatred will provide an easy justification for these changes and we already see clear examples in the US. As the goal will be to keep deeply unequal societies from exploding, I worry that these authoritarian structures will use their dolchstosslegende to undertake some nasty distraction moves.

Let's hope that I am wrong.


There is a very interesting post by Justin Raimondo where he examines the money trail that allowed the Norwegian terrorist to plan his operation for nine years without having to work. He also quotes an anonymous Norwegian nutcase who explained to Pam Geller, the anti-Muslim crusader, that the Norwegian immigration will end up in bloodshed.

I have to add that I am not surprised that Norwegian authorities quickly declared that Breivik was acting alone and his boasts about other Knights Templar should not be taken seriously. To my knowledge, just like terrorism is associated with Islam, extremism is associated with left wing politics. Right wing extremism has always enjoyed police sympathy and tacit covert support in every country I know.

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