The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

July 25, 2011

thump and bunch

striking out in all directions i will punch the enemies of god
i will violate them and crush them utterly
they are useless fodder thump bmps thump pngs .obj and .mtl files

they are furious distortions

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2011 20:59:10
From: Portside Moderator <moderator@PORTSIDE.ORG>
Subject: Seeing 'Islamic Terror' in Norway Learning no lessons from Oklahoma
     City mistakes

Seeing 'Islamic Terror' in Norway Learning no lessons
from Oklahoma City mistakes

FAIR [Fairness in Accuracy and Reporting]

7/25/11 Media Advisory

Right-wing terror suspect Anders Behring Breivik
reportedly killed 76 people in Norway on Friday, by all
accounts driven by far-right anti-immigrant politics
and fervent Islamophobia. But many early media accounts
assumed that the perpetrator of the attacks was Muslim.

On news of the first round of attacks--the bombs in
Oslo--CNN's Tom Lister (7/22/11) didn't know who did
it, but knew they were Muslims: "It could be a whole
range of groups. But the point is that Al-Qaeda is not
so much an organization now. It's more a spirit for
these people. It's a mobilizing factor." And he
speculated confidently about their motives: You've only
got to look at the target--prime minister's office, the
headquarters of the major newspaper group next door.
Why would that be relevant? Because the Norwegian
newspapers republished the cartoons of Prophet Mohammad
that caused such offense in the Muslim world.... That
is an issue that still rankles amongst Islamist
militants the world over.

CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank (7/22/11) took
to the airwaves to declare that "Norway has been in
Al-Qaeda's crosshairs for quite some time." He added
that the bombing "bears all the hallmarks of the
Al-Qaeda terrorist organization at the moment," before
adding, almost as an afterthought, that "we don't know
at this point who was responsible."

On Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor (7/22/11), guest
host Laura Ingraham declared, "Deadly terror attacks in
Norway, in what appears to be the work, once again, of
Muslim extremists." Even after Norwegian authorities
arrested Breivik, former Bush administration U.N.
Ambassador John Bolton was in disbelief. "There is a
kind of political correctness that comes up when these
tragic events occur," he explained on Fox's On the
Record (7/22/11). "This kind of behavior is very
un-Norwegian. The speculation that it is part of
right-wing extremism, I think that has less of a
foundation at this point than the concern that there's
a broader political threat here."

Earlier in the day on Fox (7/22/11), Bolton had
explained that "the odds of it coming from someone
other than a native Norwegian are extremely high."
While he admitted there was no evidence, Bolton
concluded that "it sure looks like Islamic terrorism,"
adding that "there is a substantial immigrant
population from the Middle East in particular in

An early Wall Street Journal editorial (7/22/11)
dwelled on the "explanations furnished by jihadist
groups to justify their periodic slaughters," before
concluding that because of Norway's commitment to
tolerance and freedom, "Norwegians have now been made
to pay a terrible price."

Once the alleged perpetrator's identity did not conform
to the Journal's prejudice, the editorial was modified,
but it continued to argue that Al-Qaeda was an
inspiration: "Coordinated terrorist attacks are an
Al-Qaeda signature. But copycats with different agendas
are surely capable of duplicating its methods."

Many pundits and outlets had to scramble to justify
their ideological presumptions in the wake of the
unexpected suspect. Washington Post blogger Jennifer
Rubin (7/22/11) had called the Norwegian violence "a
sobering reminder for those who think it's too
expensive to wage a war against jihadists," citing
Thomas Joscelyn of the Weekly Standard's assertion that
"in all likelihood the attack was launched by part of
the jihadist hydra." In a follow-up post (7/23/11),
Rubin insisted that even though she was wrong, she was
right, because "there are many more jihadists than
blond Norwegians out to kill Americans, and we should
keep our eye on the systemic and far more potent
threats that stem from an ideological war with the

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat (7/25/11)
likewise argued that we should respond to the horror in
Norway by paying more attention to the alleged
perpetrator's point of view:

On the big picture, Europe's cultural conservatives are
right: Mass immigration really has left the Continent
more divided than enriched, Islam and liberal democracy
have not yet proven natural bedfellows and the dream of
a postnational, postpatriotic European Union governed
by a benevolent ruling elite looks more like a folly
every day.... Conservatives on both sides of the
Atlantic have an obligation to acknowledge that Anders
Behring Breivik is a distinctively right-wing kind of
monster. But they also have an obligation to the
realities that this monster's terrible atrocity
threatens to obscure.

The New York Times' July 23 report explained that while
early speculation about Muslim terrorists was

there was ample reason for concern that terrorists
might be responsible. In 2004 and again in 2008, the
No. 2 leader of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, who took
over after the death of Osama bin Laden, threatened
Norway because of its support of the American-led NATO
military operation in Afghanistan.

Of course, anyone who kills scores of civilians for
political motives is a "terrorist"; the language of the
Times, though, suggested that a "terrorist" would have
to be Islamic.

The Times went on:

Terrorism specialists said that even if the authorities
ultimately ruled out Islamic terrorism as the cause of
Friday's assaults, other kinds of groups or individuals
were mimicking Al-Qaeda's brutality and multiple

"If it does turn out to be someone with more political
motivations, it shows these groups are learning from
what they see from Al-Qaeda," said Brian Fishman, a
counterterrorism researcher at the New America
Foundation in Washington.

It is unclear why any of Breivik's actions would be
considered connected in any way to terrorist groups
like Al-Qaeda, which certainly did not invent the idea
of brutal mass murder. But the Times was able to turn
up another expert the following day who saw an Islamist
inspiration for Islamophobic terrorism (7/24/11):

Thomas Hegghammer, a terrorism specialist at the
Norwegian Defense Research Establishment, said the
manifesto bears an eerie resemblance to those of Osama
bin Laden and other Al-Qaeda leaders, though from a
Christian rather than a Muslim point of view. Like Mr.
Breivik's manuscript, the major Qaeda declarations have
detailed accounts of the Crusades, a pronounced sense
of historical grievance and calls for apocalyptic
warfare to defeat the religious and cultural enemy.

"It seems to be an attempt to mirror Al-Qaeda, exactly
in reverse," Mr. Hegghammer said.

To the paper's credit, the Times' Scott Shane wrote a
strong second-day piece (7/25/11) documenting the
influence of Islamophobic bloggers on Breivik's

His manifesto, which denounced Norwegian politicians as
failing to defend the country from Islamic influence,
quoted Robert Spencer, who operates the Jihad Watch
website, 64 times, and cited other Western writers who
shared his view that Muslim immigrants pose a grave
danger to Western culture.... Mr. Breivik frequently
cited another blog, Atlas Shrugs, and recommended the
Gates of Vienna among websites.

(Spencer was one of the anti-Muslim pundits profiled in
FAIR's 2008 report, "Meet the Smearcasters:
Islamophobia's Dirty Dozen.")

Shane's piece noted that the document, rather than
being an Al-Qaeda "mirror," actually copied large
sections of Ted Kaczynski's 1995 Unabomber manifesto,
"in which the Norwegian substituted 'multiculturalists'
or 'cultural Marxists' for Mr. Kaczynski's 'leftists'
and made other small wording changes."

It is not new for media to jump to the conclusion that
Muslims are responsible for any given terrorist attack;
the same thing was widespread after the 1995 Oklahoma
City bombings (Extra!, 7-8/95). "It has every single
earmark of the Islamic car-bombers of the Middle East,"
syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer (Chicago
Tribune, 4/21/95) asserted. "Whatever we are doing to
destroy Mideast terrorism, the chief terrorist threat
against Americans, has not been working," wrote New
York Times columnist A.M. Rosenthal (4/21/95). "Knowing
that the car bomb indicates Middle Eastern terrorists
at work, it's safe to assume that their goal is to
promote free-floating fear," editorialized the New York
Post (4/20/95). It is unfortunate that so many outlets
have failed to learn any practical lessons from such
mistakes--or question the beliefs that drive them.


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