The most recent news out of Oslo, Norway is that at least 92 people are dead following the explosion of a bomb packed into a panel truck outside the building that houses the prime minister’s office in Oslo and the shooting massacre on a near-by island. A nation mourns its dead
Once again, a quick assumption that Muslims were at fault, an assumption that now follows every bombing, shooting, or plane crash in this country and one that appeared in the New York Times, the BBC, the Washington Post and elsewhere soon after the horrific deaths in Norway, proved to be wrong. The admitted bomber and shooter is a 32-year-old right-wing Christian who railed against multiculturalism and Muslim immigration. His name is Anders Behring Breivik, and he is a native Norwegian. He was not on any watch list or a military deck of cards, and little was known about him at the time of his arrest. As the investigation proceeds, more information about him has become available:
He had ties to a right-leaning political party, he posted on Christian fundamentalist websites, and he rented a farm where police found 9,000-11,000 pounds (4,000-5,000 kilograms) of fertilizer.
Can any one say Timothy McVey?
Not long after beginning her tenure as Secretary of the Department Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano was lambasted for the April 7, 2009 report titled “Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” that warned against the possibility of violence by unnamed “right-wing extremists” concerned about increasing federal power, restrictions on firearms, illegal immigration, and abortion. “No!” cried the right-wing extremists/Christian fundamentalists, “this is a lie, it is Islamic extremists we must fear. They are everywhere, and there are gunning for us. They want to destroy the US.” This became the constant refrain of right-wing fear mongers, and as America’s Islamophobia grew, the right-wing sought to ratchet up the fear of Muslims, Islam, outsiders, anyone who looked like they might be from the middle east.
That fear has blinded many Americans to the threats from within our own borders, just as it has distracted many Europeans from the extremism rising on their soil. As Glenn Greenwald writes in Salon, “Al Qaeda is always to blame, even when it isn’t, even when it’s allegedly the work of a Nordic, Muslim-hating, right-wing European nationalist.” Greenwald notes that terrorist and terrorism have become synonymous with Muslim and Islam (recall when the airplane was flown into an IRS building in Austin, Texas) just as “illegal alien” has come to mean Mexican. I urge you to read Greenwald’s article in full for examples of how terrorism has come to mean “nothing more than violence committed by Muslims whom the West dislikes.”
Upon further reflection of the response to the Oslo massacres, Greenwald writes in the “Letters” Section
Last night at the midnight showing of BBC World News a Norwegian expert on terrorism pointed out that had everyone not been so obsessed with finding a Muslim under every car bombing more attention might have been paid to the rise of the virulent Neo-Nazi and/or extreme right in Norway and Europe.
He continues: “Islamophobia is deadly; it is taking us to increasingly terrible places and it is the solution to nothing. It does not end terrorism; it becomes it…”
Greenwald makes excellent points here, and it is time, too, for America to recognize the threats Islamophobia blinds us to: right-wing extremists, Christian fundamentalists, teabaggers, white supremists and the like. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to argue that the TeaParty and the far right’s refusal to agree to anything that doesn’t fit their extremist ideology is a threat to this country. That ideology is derived from a belief in the biblical end of days, Armageddon, when demons take control of entire cities, and they, as Christian warriors, will fight to conquer those demons. These folks are dangerous, and they are armed. If you think I’m exaggerating, take at look at Kyle Mantyla’s report on the theology of the “Seven Mountains.” The “Seven Mountains” are “the seven forces that shape and control our culture: (1) Business; (2) Government; (3) Media; (4) Arts and Entertainment; (5) Education; (6) Family; and (7) Religion.” Believers seek control of these entities in order to “have a ‘virtual theocracy’ overseen by ‘true apostles’ who will fight Satan and his Antichrist agenda.” Bankrupting the US is one step in that process. Or check out Texas Govenror Rick Perry’s Day of Prayer and Fasting. He’s calling it “The Response,” and some of the most dangerous men in the US will be speaking at the event. These men believe that political activism is part of their divine mission.
The April 2009 Homeland Security report was right. The threats to our democracy come from within, and our country must recognize these threats before there is little left to fight for.