Friday, July 22, 2011

This Man Must Be a Prophet

It's going to be a while before it's certain who carried out today's terror attacks in Norway, but some of the response already has been revealing.

Apparently a "jihadi" group claimed responsibility for the bombing, which the New York Times and some other papers promptly reported:

The response to this report was predictable, as shown by the comments to this MSNBC piece: Kill the ragheads! This shows that the Muslims hate our freedoms! Nuke Mecca! Glenn Greenwald pointed to part of the New York Times article which declared "the attacks appeared to be part of a coordinated assault on the ordinarily peaceful Scandinavian nation." As Greenwald noted, "This is simply inaccurate. Norway is a nation at war -- in more than just one country", namely Libya and Afghanistan. (What the Times probably meant, though, was that things are normally peaceful in Norway, not that it doesn't wage war elsewhere; much as news reports of quiet in the Middle East usually mean that although many Arabs have been killed or wounded, no Israelis have been hurt.)

For pointing this out, Greenwald was immediately smeared by some of his hostile commenters, for (so they imagined) claiming that the attacks were justified. That's only to be expected, of course, because Americans who leap to advocate violence against foreign civilians (when they're forced to notice it) naturally assume that anyone who is critical of American violence must therefore welcome violence against America.

The creepiest thing I've seen so far about the attacks is by a BBC commentator, who suggests sadly that the Oslo attack will mean "the end of innocence" in Norway.

To the outside world, the lives lived by Norway's people, both the elite and ordinary folk, may seem naive.

Though up to now they have not seen any reason to protect themselves.

Like Sweden before the murder of Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986, the Norwegian people have collectively resisted any calls for greater home security.

To them, living in an open society has been not just a privilege, but also a statement to the rest of the world; a display of how it is possible to live together in peace. ...

Norway's attitude to risk might now change, quickly and dramatically, as private individuals withdraw and as central authorities bolster security.

If so, a possible goal of the attackers may well have been achieved, in that they have robbed Norway of its innocence.

This is concern trolling at its most shameless. There has not so far been any indication that Norwegians are rushing to follow the US and UK by converting their country into a locked-down security state; the writer simply wants them to, as the crocodile tears course down his cheeks.

Soon afterward, though, it emerged that the gunman "dressed as a police officer" who attacked a Labor Party youth camp, and appears to be connected to the bombing, is a Norwegian. Those who are old enough to remember the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995 will recall that there were initial reports of a swarthy Arab-looking guy fleeing from the scene, which inspired a similar flurry of anti-Muslim frenzy -- until the suspect turned out to be a blond American veteran of the first Gulf War. Similarly, the attempt by white supremacists to bomb a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane earlier this year excited very little interest in the corporate media. Greenwald remarked in an update to his post:
... if indeed it turns out to be a domestic rather than "terrorist" (i.e., Muslim) attack: American interest in these attacks and the desire to be seen publicly denouncing them will quickly diminish -- almost to the point of non-existence -- if the perpetrators are not Muslim.
In his Twitter feed, Greenwald also quoted a tweet from MazMHussain:
Reports terrorists are Norwegian; but let me say any planned racism/ethnic profiling of white Nordic men is UNACCEPTABLE
Hear, hear!