Like many yesterday, I read and watched media speculation about al-Qa'eda's responsibility for the Oslo bombing and shooting that has resulted in over 90 innocent civilians dead, most of whom are children. Even al-Jazeera Arabic last night circulated the same al-Qa'eda storyline. However, it appears to be something much more troubling since the Norwegian Government has confirmed that it was not an international terror attack by al-Qa'eda or its affiliates but a domestic terrorism attack committed by right-wing blogger, political activist, and Christian militant, Anders Breivik, against the politically liberal Labor Party of Norway. The distorted logic at work here is that both Muslims and liberals are ruining the country and world, and so killing either or both is basically the same. This is reminiscent of comparable right-wing Christian militia plots here in the US, such as the Hutaree, which mirrors the spike in right-wing, conservative anti-government plots during the Clinton era. The US has been aware of this since a 2009 Homeland Security report, and yet there appears to be little political traction in taking up this issue.
If a terrorist ideology grounded in Islam has been problematic enough for the US government to spend billions in international outreach to combat ideologies of violence, hold congressional hearings, and conduct massive intelligence and counter-terrorism operations, then should the US not allocate similar resources against these right-wing ideologues and their group affiliations in terms of monitoring and intercepting financial donations, communications, organizational and political activities in order to idenitfy the size and scope of such groups in the attempt to undercut any who might decide to take comparable actions as Breijik since the ideology has proven to be a resource for terrorism?
On another note, this issue also raises major problems for media narratives that rely more on pre-fabbed speculation than journalistic source triangulation. See the following excerpt from an article on salon.com:
That Terrorism means nothing more than violence committed by Muslims whom the West dislikes has been proven repeatedly. When an airplane was flown into an IRS building in Austin, Texas, it was immediately proclaimed to be Terrorism, until it was revealed that the attacker was a white, non-Muslim, American anti-tax advocate with a series of domestic political grievances. The U.S. and its allies can, by definition, never commit Terrorism even when it is beyond question that the purpose of their violence is to terrorize civilian populations into submission. Conversely, Muslims who attack purely military targets -- even if the target is an invading army in their own countries -- are, by definition, Terrorists. That is why, as NYU's Remi Brulin has extensively documented, Terrorism is the most meaningless, and therefore the most manipulated, word in the English language. Yesterday provided yet another sterling example.
One last question: if, as preliminary evidence suggests, it turns out that Breivik was "inspired" by the extremist hatemongering rantings of Geller, Pipes and friends, will their groups be deemed Terrorist organizations such that any involvement with them could constitute the criminal offense of material support to Terrorism? Will those extremist polemicists inspiring Terrorist violence receive the Anwar Awlaki treatment of being put on an assassination hit list without due process? Will tall, blond, Nordic-looking males now receive extra scrutiny at airports and other locales, and will those having any involvement with those right-wing, Muslim-hating groups be secretly placed on no-fly lists? Or are those oppressive, extremist, lawless measures -- like the word Terrorism -- also reserved exclusively for Muslims?
But this probloem runs deeper than media bias, it cuts through our political mindset and forces upon us the burden of reassessing not only our prejudicial blind spots but, more importantly, requires that we treat white, conservative terrorist threats with the same, if not more, urgency as Muslim ones. Perhaps the US gov't should focus less on the Muslim threat since not a single civilian has died in the US from a Muslim terrorist attack since 9/11. Moreover, a recent US government-funded Rand report has shown that terrorism is actually lower in the 21st century than it was in the 1970s, and that the whole Muslim terrorist threat is overblown in respect to the actual data. However, numerous "terrorism and counter-terrorism" experts have little interest in focusing on statistically higher threats because 9/11 and Muslim terrorism is what their speaking engagements, media appearances, governmental consulting, and security contracts rely on.