Sunday, July 24, 2011

NY Times Profiles Norwegian Suspect: Right-Wing, Gun-Loving Fundamentalist Christian

Also in the New York Times today: Steven Erlanger and Scott Shane profile the Norway terrorist suspect Anders Behring Breivik, and Nicholas Kulish situates his heinous acts in the context of the rise of Christianist anti-immigrant and anti-Islamist right-wing movements in Europe.  Erlanger and Shane write:

The police identified him as a right-wing fundamentalist Christian, while acquaintances described him as a gun-loving Norwegian obsessed with what he saw as the threats of multiculturalism and Muslim immigration

They also cite political scientist Marcus Buck of the University of Tromso, who thinks that the Norwegian government has been too focused on threats of violence from Islamic groups, when it should also have been concentrating on the far more potent threats of right-wing violence from within its own nation.  Buck states,

"This is the Norwegian equivalent to Timothy McVeigh.  This is right-wing domestic terrorism, and the big question is to what extent Norwegian agencies have diverted their attention from what they knew decades ago was the biggest threat" to focus instead on Islamic militants. 

As I suggested yesterday, what we now know about the identity of this terrorist and the ideological roots from which his terrorism springs is in sharp contrast to the initial profile that many gun-toting, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim right-wing American Christians wanted to see when the news of the Norwegian atrocities broke.  And, though some folks are suggesting that it's improper to ask critical political questions after these horrific acts--questions about why we persistently see Islamic threats lurking around every corner when there are right-wing loonies galore in Christian cultures--I continue to think this incident needs to be a teachable moment for us.

We need to look at our own propensity for violence for a change, and stop projecting all possibilities for violence over there, to the Islamic sector of the world.  It strikes me as highly significant that Breivik is turning out to look a whole lot like the very folks who wanted to point the finger right away at Muslims, when news of the bombing and shootings flashed across television and internet screens.  

We need to take a good look in this mirror and learn from what we see there.

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