Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Permitted thoughts

What a contrast in the tone of reactions to the Norwegian slaughter once the suspect turned out to be not an Ay-rab but an Ar-yan and a specimen out of a Warner Bros war movie to boot. Remarkably, some news organs promptly decided that ‘terrorism’ was therefore not involved since apparently only officially-designated enemies can engage in such acts. Merely executing dozens of teenagers out of ideological zeal does not qualify.

The New York Times didn’t even bother to apologize for rushing to trumpet that an al-Qaeda-like entity had committed the massacre, saying ‘initial reports’ from ‘some analysts’ had steered them wrong. ‘There was ample reason for concern that terrorists might be responsible’, whined the Times in its own defense. That’s extraordinary. If Arabs did it, it’s terrorism; if a white guy goes nuts with guns, it’s not.

Terrorism is therefore not what you do; it’s who you are.

Note also the howls of indignant outrage from immigrant-bashers that anyone could dare to suggest their steady demonization of dark people could possibly have ANYTHING to do with the lone-wacko-gone-crazy. Why, it’s ‘blood libel’ to suggest anything of the sort, as Sarah Palin would say, and Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips, quoted approvingly by the assassin in his mega-screed, actually referred to the rising ‘blood lust’ against her in the blogosphere. Eighty kids get lined up and shot, and right-wing pundits promptly declare themselves to be the suffering victims.

The Jerusalem Post editorialized that, while the tactics employed are heinous, terrible, etc., etc., Mr Breivik’s overall position on the topic is, well, more or less correct. It added that ‘discontent with multiculturalism’s failure must not be delegitimized’ especially since other right-wing murderers might be waiting in the wings. So the liberal zionist position is something like this: Breivik’s tactics are somewhat inappropriate, but given how crazy people are out there, we should do what he says and keep out Arabs.

Contrast these reactions with the thought control exercised after 9/11 in which we were told exactly what to think and exactly what to feel for weeks afterward and furthermore were warned that to dissent in the slightest way was essentially treasonous. We were then forced to line up behind the demented conquest of Iraq as a result, based on the ‘mushroom cloud’ scaremongering of Condi Rice et al. Instead, today we are not even permitted to wonder out loud if perhaps-maybe-possibly all the immigrant-bashing rhetoric from raving bigots might have played a role in the deaths of Norway’s children given that the guy who did it quotes them at length.

It took Glenn Beck about ten minutes to decide that the dead were, in fact, like Nazis because they liked to gather in the woods and think political thoughts. Good for Juan Cole for campaigning for the man to be refused air space for all eternity—even though it won’t happen. (I’ll happily join Cole’s call for a boycott and plan to send hand-written notes to all Beck’s advertisers one by one, a far more meaningful act, may I add, than cyber-signing the half-dozen online petitions I’m sent daily.)

Breivik’s act does indeed remind us of Europe’s fascist demons and occurs, not incidentally, exactly as the European unity project is wobbling dangerously and threatening to spin out of control. The Greek debt crisis has been politically unmanageable precisely because nationalist sentiments, not least in Germany, have trumped the European spirit. Fiscal union and a single European treasury has never seemed more far-fetched, and dismemberment of the Eurozone remains a plausible outcome.

Norway's mass response to this heinous crime has been inspiring--sober, dignified and resolute. But storm-clouds are gathering on humanity’s horizon.

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