Thursday, July 28, 2011

Breivik Does Not Speak For Us

I have been absent recently with a sojourn to the mountains and now a recovery from a one-way conversation with an oral surgeon, so allow me to catch up with an excellent piece from last Monday by Ron Radosh of Pajamas Media, which takes to task the New York Times and its characteristic and anticipated analysis of the mass murder in Norway by Anders Breivik, specifically in an editorial masquerading as a news article written by Scott Shane.  Shane launches immediately into his genesis for the atrocity: “The man accused of the killing spree in Norway was deeply influenced by a small group of American bloggers and writers who have warned for years about the threat from Islam, lacing his 1,500-page manifesto with quotations from them, as well as copying multiple passages from the tract of the Unabomber.”

Shane’s article continues in the same vein, holding forth with the notion that Breivik was somehow driven to this act as if mesmerised by the controlling influence of those who have correctly pointed out the pervasive political impact of Islamisation on the accommodating left-wing political parties of Europe.  Radosh explains:
Shane singles out – by virtue of Breivik having cited his writing 64 times in his manifesto – the writings of Robert Spencer at the website Jihad Watch, part of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, as well the work of “other Western writers who shared his view that Muslim immigrants pose a grave danger to Western culture.”
That sentence says it all: Unassimilated Muslim immigrants in Europe, people who do not accept the laws and standards of the nations to which they have immigrated and who consider themselves proponents of both jihad and sharia law, are not a danger.  Instead, the danger comes from those who point out the uncomfortable truths that many dare not face.
The Times article is part and parcel with the opinions that sprang forth immediately after the shooting of Rep. Giffords last January by Jared Loughner.  The New York Times, Paul Krugman, Keith Olbermann and others promptly cited the ‘climate of hate’ generated by talk radio, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, et al as the focus of Loughner’s murderous rage.  When it was discovered that Loughner was mostly apolitical, or even favoured left-wing ideas, they became silent, though never acknowledged their . . . hmm, error.

But now there comes an opportunity to drag out the canard that Breivik was somehow driven to a heinous crime that he otherwise wouldn’t have committed, but for the fact that he was “deeply influenced” to do so by the usual suspects.
So, Shane continues, authorities and others now “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.”  We should be looking not at radical Islam . . .  but at its opponents, all “right-wing activists” who, as we all know, are the only real enemies out there.
And of course Shane points out that “critics have asserted that the intense spotlight on the threat from Islamic militants has unfairly vilified Muslim Americans while dangerously playing down the threat of attacks from other domestic radicals.”  In fact, Muslim Americans have never been vilified.  What those critics have actually said – the responsible ones and not those like the crazed publicity-seeking pastor in Florida – is that there are real dangers of jihad from some advocates of radical Islam.
Does Shane not remember that had not a street vendor noticed a truck parked in the Times Square area, an American jihadist would have caused a catastrophe as deadly as the one in Norway?  Does he not know of the acclaimed Muslim businessman who owned a TV station in upstate New York who beheaded his wife for offending him according to Sharia law?  This man was interviewed as an example of a moderate American Muslim and an example of how Muslims in America have acculturated and played a positive role in our society.  And what about the radical Sami al-Arian, who pleaded guilty to support of terrorism, and whom many American academics defended as a victim of a witch-hunt when he was removed from his teaching job in Florida?
Not to mention, among others, the Somali-born immigrant raised in Oregon that tried to blow up Pioneer Square in Portland during a Christmas-tree lighting celebration.

Radosh includes arguments in the Wall Street Journal op-ed by Bruce Bawer, “Surveys show that an unsettling percentage of Muslims in Europe reject Western values, despise the countries they live in, support the execution of homosexuals, and want to replace democracy with Shariah law.”  Radosh goes on to draw comparisons to the days of Joe McCarthy and the actual presence of Communists in the government; the press treatment of the ‘Reverend’ Jim Jones and Charles Manson; and quotes from an actual op-ed (labeled as such) by Ross Douhat in the Times, which makes the point that Breivik is in fact a right-winger, but:
. . . [T]his doesn’t mean that conservatives need to surrender their convictions.  The horror in Norway no more discredits [German Chancellor] Merkel’s views on Muslim assimilation [along with Britain’s Cameron, and France’s Sarkozy] than Ted Kaczynski’s bombs discredited Al Gore’s views on the dark side of industrialization.  On the big picture, Europe’s cultural conservatives are right: Mass immigration really has left the Continent more divided than enriched, Islam and liberal democracy have not yet proven natural bedfellows and the dream of a post-national, post-patriotic European Union governed by a benevolent ruling elite looks more like a folly every day. . . .
Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic have an obligation to acknowledge that Anders Behring Breivik is a distinctively right-wing kind of monster.  But they also have an obligation to the realities that this monster’s terrible atrocity threatens to obscure.
There are strong and legitimate concerns about the growing influence of a culture that is inimical to western values and refuses to be assimilated into the society of the countries where they live and from whence they draw such benefits.  The same applies to those harsh critics of whatever background, of the culture here in the US (I have often said in riposte: “America!  Even the people who hate it still want to live here!”)  We should not be side-lined from the discussion in fear of being shouted down by those who want to paint us with the broad brush of lunatics like Breivik.  Radosh and others here have done a good job of setting the right tone.

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