Today's post is entirely inspired by a simple and thought-provoking facebook status posted by my good friend, Kristin O'Brien. I give her full credit for planting this seed, which I will now nurture into a wild, gangly mess that will surely overrun the garden and choke the life out of the very Earth that sustains it.
Here's the story. There was a terror attack. In this attack, a lone terrorist attacked a densely populated public place. These attacks were carried out by an extremist. A religious and political ideologue who wanted to send a message through his act of terrorism that those who did not agree with his views needed to be eliminated from the face of the Earth. His attack killed 93 people, many of whom were children and young adults. This terrorist released a statement to accompany his attacks in which he blamed political policies and conflicting religious ideologies for creating an environment he could no longer ignore. His attack was meant to send a message to the world, that the policies of those who provoked his act of violence would no longer be tolerated. That their religious views would no longer be accepted. That anyone who agrees with, or sympathizes with these people should be viewed as an enemy and dealt with accordingly. He intended his attack as a call to arms for others who share his views, to rise up and strike by any means necessary at those who seek to destroy the way of life they hold sacred. He claimed to have had the support of at least 2 "cells" to help him carry out this attack, leaving the possibility of other terrorists lying in wait to lead another similar attack in the future.
Within minutes of this attack, analysts, reporters and terrorism experts were on all the news outlets discussing the affiliations and motivations of the terrorist who carried out this act of violence and killed 93 innocent people.
On CNN, Tom Lister went on record, saying "It could be a whole range of groups. But the point is that Al-Qaeda is not so much an organization now. It's more a spirit for these people. It's a mobilizing factor."
He went on to add, "You've only got to look at the target - prime minister's office, the headquarters of the major newspaper group next door. Why would that be relevant? Because [...] newspapers republished the cartoons of Prophet Mohammad that caused such offense in the Muslim world [....] That is an issue that still rankles amongst Islamist militants the world over."
CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said that the target of this attack "Had been in Al Quaeda's crosshairs for some time" He added that the bombing "bears all the hallmarks of the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization at the moment,"
On the Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, occasional fill-in host Laura Ingram declared that the deadly terror attacks "appear(s) to be the work, once again, of Muslim extremists."
Earlier that day, on Fox News, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton said "The odds of [these attacks] coming from someone [foreign] are extremely high" While he admitted there was no conclusive evidence yet, he stated, confidently, "It sure looks like Islamic terrorism."
A Wall Street Journal editorial piece discussed "Explanations furnished by jihadist groups to justify their periodic slaughters." before concluding that, due to the policies of the country who was targeted to promote tolerance and freedom that they "have now been made to pay a terrible price."
Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin called the violence "a sobering reminder for those who think it's too expensive to wage a war against jihadists".
Thomas Jocelyn of The Weekly Standard asserted that "in all likelihood the attack was launched by part of the jihadist hydra"
These attacks, unprovoked and horrible, demanded a response. Looking back to the terror attacks of 9/11, when the United States responded to an unprovoked, devastating attack on our soil, carried out by religious extremists, driven by an agenda to wipe out anyone who held our beliefs from the face of the Earth, by declaring full-scale war on the group responsible, the nation's who harbor them and any who offer them sanctuary - the question has to be asked, should the victims of this attack respond the same way?
Should the people who were the victims of this unprovoked attack on their way of life seek out the nation with the largest population of people who shared the terrorists religious and political ideology? Should they declare war on anyone from that group, because they are all jointly liable for the actions of their extremist fringe, if they don't immediately denounce these actions and do everything they can to aid that country in bringing the perpetrators to justice?
And what of this terrorist, the "cells" who he claims supported him and the agenda he sought to carry out? What kind of sick, twisted, extremist terror group could motivate a man to kill 93 innocent people, most of whom were children and teenagers? A group like that, willing to carry out such despicable acts upon innocent children, surely they are capable of anything and will stop at nothing to spread their diseased ideology across the world. What should be done about that? Should another "War on Terror" be declared? Where would be battlefield be? Should they take the fight right to the heart of the country where this ideology is most prevalent? Where the beliefs held by this terrorist are the beliefs of nearly 3/4ths of the population? Where the political ideology of the terrorist are held, to at least some degree, by nearly half of that country's population?
I mean, that is what the United States did after 9/11, right? We went after not only the group who claimed direct responsibility for the attacks, but everyone who offered them safe harbor, everyone who supported their beliefs, everyone who shared their ideology. Eventually, that led to profiling an entire group of people based on their nationality and religious preference. It led to demonizing their beliefs and their politics and denouncing them all as "extremists" or "sympathizers".
So, it seems only logical that the same action be taken in response to this, similarly shocking, unprovoked and evil terror attack, doesn't it?
If you haven't already figured it out by now, the attacks I'm talking about are the bombing and shootings in Oslo, Norway, carried out on July 22nd, by a man named Anders Behring Breivik, a native Norwegian. His political views have been described as "extreme far-right wing" and his religion, according to his facebook profile, is "Christian". According to his manifesto and statement to authorities, his actions were motivated by strong cultural conservatism, right-wing populism, anti-Islamic prejudice, far-right Zionism and a hatred for the illegal Muslim immigrants who he felt were taking over his country, ruining their economy and way of life and forcing the people of Europe to assimilate to their beliefs and ideals.
What political group, in America, espouses cultural conservatism, right-wing populism, anti-Islamic prejudice, Zionism and blames immigrants for destroying our economy and our way of life? Here's a hint: It rhymes with "Tea Party".
So, here's a guy who is basically the Northern European equivalent of a mentally unstable Tea Partier. He's essentially a Norwegian Jared Lee Loughner - a disturbed, unstable individual with a twisted, rambling manifesto and a gun. In this case, Breivik also had explosives, but the similarities remain. He was an extremist in a group full of extremists. He was on the fringe of a fringe ideology. He was the far-right of the far-right. Not unlike the anti-abortionists who go too far and murder abortion doctors, Breivik made the choice to commit unspeakable acts of terror in the name of his perverted ideological beliefs. However, what is the difference between Breivik and those who share his beliefs but don't kill people?
Well, what is the difference between Al Qaeda and those who sympathize with them but don't kill people either?
If you try to board a plane in America right now, wearing a shirt that says "I LOVE AL QAEDA!" you would be detained and most likely placed on a no-fly list. However, if you boarded a plane wearing a shirt that says "BUILD THE DAMN FENCE!" or "AMERICA IS A CHRISTIAN NATION!" you would be allowed on without any issue at all. Does this mean America supports extremist terrorists like Anders Breivik? Does this mean America is giving safe harbor to those who sympathize with those who seek to commit these extreme acts to promote their agenda?
And what of those news organizations, who were so quick to play the "Al Qaeda" card within minutes of hearing about the attacks, only to be proven completely wrong when the facts began to trickle out?
Well, Glenn Beck has chosen to compare the "youth camp" where most of the teenagers and children were murdered to a "Hitler Youth" recruitment center. Inexplicably, his reaction to finding out an extremist, far-right, Christian terrorist committed a horrible act of mass murder on teens and children was to demonize the victims by equating them with Nazis...
What would America's response be to a media figure going on the air to demonize the victims of 9/11? How would we respond to someone in a position of influence taking to the airwaves to blame us for the attacks, to insinuate that we had done something to deserve that attack? Well, ask Saddam Hussein... Oh wait, you can't, because we declared war on his country, arrested him and handed him over to be executed for it.
The spin is in. The back-pedaling has begun. All the Murdoch-owned news outlets who immediately cried "Al Qaeda!" and "Islamic extremists!" are now trying to spin their way out of it by connecting imaginary dots, making incredible leaps of logic and stretching any piece of information they can like it was a pound of hamburger two weeks before payday in order to somehow tie these attacks, not to the very obvious right-wing, Christian, anti-immigrant ideology that fueled Breivik's actions and is evident throughout his manifesto, but to an attempt to "copycat" Al Qaeda. Even when the guy comes right out and says "I am a Christian, I am a cultural conservative, I support right-wing ideals, I am anti-immigrant and anti-Islam and I am a Zionist", the spin machine still insists on portraying this guy as a closet Al Qaeda fanboi. It would be unbelievable if it wasn't so believable.
Anders Breivik has said, with no minced words, that he did what he did specifically because of his own religious and political beliefs, and yet the conservative propaganda machine - in an effort to both cover their own asses and defend their shared ideology - is basically saying "Don't tell us why you did it, we'll tell you why you did it!"
So, there you go. A horrible terror attack, nearly 100 innocent lives lost. Children, teenagers, murdered. The perpetrator taking responsibility and citing his far-right, conservative, anti-immigrant and fundamentalist Christian beliefs as the motivation for his actions and an entire group of people, led by a national media organization, defending those beliefs, deflecting blame to the victims of the attack and implicitly refusing to affix any blame a all to the ideologies that motivated this attack, for the simple reason that they mirror the very ideologies espoused on their television and radio networks and through their print media every day.
Al Jazeera, anyone? How much was that network demonized for showing the other side of the War on Terror? How many dots were connected between that network and Al Qaeda by guys like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly on Fox News? How much were Muslim sympathizers portrayed as enemies of the state and a threat to our national security? When Muslims want to build Mosques, we have groups of far-right, Christian protesters trying to stop them.
At what point should Norway build a coalition of the willing to declare war on the fundamentalist, extremist, far-right Christian terrorists who attacked them on 7/22? At what point can we expect a coalition force to invade and occupy our country? Build bases in our nation's capital? Execute our president and install their own puppet regime? At what point can we expect the EU's version of Blackwater to start rolling in SUV's down our streets, invading our homes without probable cause, killing innocent people in the street and taking over our energy production resources to ship back to their country?
I mean, that is the appropriate way to respond to a terror attack, committed on your soil, by an enemy sympathetic to an extremist ideology, shared by a large group of sympathizers in a foreign country, is it not?
Terror doesn't have a face, because terror isn't a person, it's a tactic. You can't wage a war on terror, because terror isn't a physical being, it's an act, a strategy. Declaring war on terror is like declaring war on stabbing people or shootings or pushing people down a flight of stairs. Terrorism is a means to an end, it's a methodology. Terrorism is an act of violence. You can't declare war on an act, because you can never eliminate the potential for a person to commit that act. If you declared war on masturbation, the only way to win it would be to remove the genitalia from every man, woman and child on the planet. Otherwise, someone, somewhere, would masturbate. If you declared war on giving people the finger, the only way to win it would be to cut off the middle fingers of every man, woman and child on the planet. Otherwise, someone, somewhere, would give the finger. So, the only way to win the war on terror is to kill every man, woman and child who is capable of killing another person in the name of their beliefs... and unfortunately, every man, woman and child is capable of doing that, whether they act on it or not, the potential is there, and can we really afford to take that risk?
See how stupid this all sounds?
Thanks again, Kristin, you're way smarter than you give yourself credit for.