Saturday, July 23, 2011

You See? I Told You

Damn! I should have spent more time on yesterday's post.

It turns out that US media have reacted to the revelation that the Oslo attacks were apparently the work, not of al-Qaeda, but a right-wing Christian fundamentalist Nordic farmer, by continuing to claim that al-Qaeda did it, or Muslims in general.

Before the dust had cleared, the Only President We've Got agreed (via), though cautiously as is his wont:

“I wanted to personally extend my condolences to the people of Norway,” Obama said at the White House after meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. “It’s a reminder that the entire international community holds a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring. We have to work cooperatively together both on intelligence and in terms of prevention of these kinds of horrible attacks.
"This kind of terror" doesn't explicitly mention Muslims, but who else could be implied in his references to "the international community" and the cooperative gathering of "intelligence"? Unless Obama already knew about the suspect's international ties to right-wing anti-Muslim circles in the US, but I think we can safely doubt that.

From the same article, a reminder that it's about us, always and only about us.

The State Department issued a similar statement and said it had no reports that any Americans were hurt in either attack.

Anyway, what I neglected to write about yesterday was something I noticed but didn't bother to look for again and quote, namely this bit from the New York Times report:
There was ample reason for concern that terrorists might be responsible.
Blogger Richard Silverstein noticed and wrote about this, in the same post that showed the suspect's role as a guest blogger on an American anti-Muslim site. According to Glenn Greenwald, earlier versions of the Times article put "Islamic" in front of "terrorists," but the implication remains the same: "terrorism" is violence perpetrated by Muslims who aren't in the pay of the US. Any other violence isn't terrorism, by definition.
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.
Another of my Facebook friends recovered quickly: "Whaddaya know - a Christian fundamentalist. No surprise - in the next decade, I expect them to become the new Islamic fundamentalists - including on US soil. You listen to some of their rhetoric and it's not much different from what's coming from Al Qaida..." And: "It surprises me that the Phelps haven't become domestic terrorists... I guess they're too high-profile?" His friends agreed: "There's a reason Markos Moulitsas has consistently referred to the Christian Right in the U.S. as the 'American Taliban.' Different religions, same crazy-ass bullshit."

Of course Christian terrorism has a long respectable history in the US, there's nothing "new" about it. And wholesale secular state violence based in the political center has killed far more innocent people than retail religious-based terror, whether Christian-fundamentalist or Islamic-fundamentalist. For that matter, I don't see much -- well, any difference between the reactions of the people I'm quoting here (and I could add many more) and the hysterical kill-all-ragheads response of many Americans to the September 11 attacks, by people who expect to cheer from the sidelines as the bad guys are executed publicly.

Speaking of which, RWA1 linked on Facebook to an op-ed in the right-wing Economist which declares confidently that Ch├ívismo is dying, like the man himself, and that the Brazilian collaborationist model of "Brazil’s Lula, a fellow-leftist but a democratic one," is the wave of the future. (Remember that in this discourse "democratic" means "rule by multinational corporations, enforced by the American military.") The op-ed itself is oversimple and dishonest: it may be more or less right about Venezuela's problems, but overhopeful about the failure of Latin American resistance to US domination, since "leftists" there continue to win elections. But it's RWA1's comment that is relevant here: "May he meet his reward quickly, and let some sanity return to Venezuela." ("Sanity," of course, means "democracy," as previously glossed: a dictatorship, military if necessary, on the multinational corporate payroll.) One of RWA1's friends chimed in in comments: "By 'reward' I hope you mean the circle of hell reserved for socialist dictators. And by 'quickly' I hope you mean 'suddenly and painfully.'" As with RWA1's earlier hope for "trouble and turmoil" in Venezuela, the human fellow-feeling these guys express is touching.

P.S. As to why "There was ample reason for concern that terrorists might be responsible," Richard Seymour at Lenin's Tomb writes:
I don't mind telling you that I think this was wish fulfilment. That is, I think that these pundits and their employers largely would have liked nothing better than for it to be an Islamist attack, because then they have a set of responses that they can energetically put into motion, and a pre-determined narrative around which they can cohere those responses. Far right racists murdering young leftists, on the other hand, is not a subject on which they can rapidly form plausible responses.
The BBC post I linked to yesterday is a good example of the "pre-determined narrative" Seymour had in mind, I think. I wonder if RWA1 will find any useful links related to the attacks. ("Useful" for me, that is.)