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Ron Radosh

How the New York Times Spins the Norway Horror

July 25th, 2011 - 5:17 pm

Leave it to the New York Times to run a front-page story about the murders perpetrated by crazed right-wing fanatic Anders Behring Breivik that is more accurately described as a not-so veiled editorial. Written by Scott Shane, the article begins by proclaiming that Breivik “was deeply influenced by a small group of American bloggers and writers who have warned for years about the threat from Islam, lacing his 1,500-page manifesto with quotations from them, as well as copying multiple passages from the tract of the Unabomber.”

The implication that he develops is that Breivik’s actions can be attributed to those who for years have been trying to educate the public in the West about the threat posted to our values and way of life by the forces of radical Islam. Shane singles out — by virtue of Breivik having cited his writing 64 times in his manifesto — the writings of Robert Spencer at the website Jihad Watch, part of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, as well the work of “other Western writers who shared his view that Muslim immigrants pose a grave danger to Western culture.”

That sentence says it all: Unassimilated Muslim immigrants in Europe, people who do not accept the laws and standards of the nations to which they have immigrated and who consider themselves proponents of both jihad and sharia law, are not a danger. Instead, the danger comes from those who point out the uncomfortable truths that many dare not face.

So, Shane continues, authorities and others now “have focused new attention around the world on the subculture of anti-Muslim bloggers and right-wing activists and renewed a debate over the focus of counterterrorism efforts.” We should be looking not at radical Islam, as Rep. Peter King vows to continue to do with his congressional hearings, but at its opponents, all “right-wing activists” who, as we all know, are the only real enemies out there.

And of course Shane points out that  “critics have asserted that the intense spotlight on the threat from Islamic militants has unfairly vilified Muslim Americans while dangerously playing down the threat of attacks from other domestic radicals.” In fact, Muslim Americans have never been vilified. What those critics have actually said — the responsible ones and not those like the crazed publicity-seeking pastor in Florida — is that there are real dangers of jihad from some advocates of radical Islam.

Does Shane not remember that had not a street vendor noticed a truck parked in the Times Square area, an American jihadist would have caused a catastrophe as deadly as the one in Norway? Does he not know of the acclaimed Muslim businessman who owned a TV station in upstate New York who beheaded his wife for offending him according to Sharia law? This man was interviewed as an example of a moderate American Muslim and an example of how Muslims in America have acculturated and played a positive role in our society. And what about the radical Sami Al-Arian, who pleaded guilty to support of terrorism, and whom many American academics defended as a victim of a witch-hunt when he was removed from his teaching job in Florida?

Shane’ s report also implies that the 2009 Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism was unfairly withdrawn, “after criticism from conservatives repeated on Sunday [by former CIA officer Marc Sageman’s] claim that the department had tilted too heavily toward the threat from Islamic militants.” Shane also quotes former Homeland Security official Daryl Johnson, who argued that an equal threat came from the right-wing extremists and criticized Homeland Security for its actions and for having more analysts work on Islamic extremism than on the domestic right wing. Johnson cited the Hutaree as proof of his contention, arguing that they had a larger domestic arsenal than any Muslim extremists. As the article notes, however, the FBI had successfully infiltrated this domestic group of self-proclaimed Christian extremists, and thereby prevented any terrorist action from taking place.

As PJMedia writer Bruce Bawer points out on this website and in the Wall Street Journal, Norway stands out as a nation singularly afraid of confronting any of the real dangers posed by Islamic radicalism. That lack of action is the kind of thing that obviously helps fuel the anger of someone like the crazed fanatic, who seems to believe that killing children whose parents are members of Norway’s governing political party is a fight against Islamic fascism. As Bawer writes, “Norwegian television journalists who in the first hours of the crisis were palpably uncomfortable about the prospect of having to talk about Islamic terrorism are now eagerly discussing the dangers of ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘conservative ideology’ and are drawing connections between the madness and fanaticism of Breivik and the platform of the Progress Party. “

As Bawer puts in in his Journal piece, it was “the failure of mainstream political leaders to responsibly  address the attendant challenges” that resulted in “the emergence of” an extremist such as Breivik. The killer, who evidently believes that he can “wake up the masses” by using terror against regular citizens, is not only mad, but more in tune with anarchist ideas than those of critics of Islamofascism.

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