This is a collection of blog posts about the recent Norway terrorist attacks, which focus on the political aspects. I’m mainly trying to describe, at a 30,000 foot level, the objective situation, and not so much “What is to Be Done”.
- There is an international terrorist movement fueled by Islamophobia. The movement functions on both a propaganda level, and a military level.
- How organized is the military part of this movement? It appears to be a decentralized “lone wolf” type of movement, which gets material and political support from a much broader movement. In the US the anti-abortion movement illustrates this.
- This movement overlaps with/ intersects with other reactionary movements, such as the US anti-immigration movement, anti-abortion movement, anti-gay movement etc It is not clear that these movements are distinct politically.
- A part of this movement holds state power in Israel via the Likud Party: as such it is able to carry out acts of state terror against Palestinians.
- This movement does not hold state power in the US, but elements of it are represented in the dominant hegemonic bloc in the US.
- The US, like Israel, commits acts of state terror around the world, which objectively allies the US with the islamophobic terrorist movement. But the ideological basis of the US’s acts of terrorism is different.
- there was an organized body of Neo-cons who conspired to get the US to invade Iraq
- the “impunity” of US torturers and war criminals reflects the strength and role of reactionaries in the US state apparatus
- On a global level the US carries out far more acts of state terror than any other country, reflecting its dominant global position
- There are ethnic groups in the US that provide a mass base for terrorism, and whose dominant leadership supports, with varying degrees of openness, such terrorism.
- Elements of the Cuban-American community have engaged in actual terrorism (anti-Communist, rather than Islamophobic) both inside and outside the US, and the currently dominant leadership appears to provide a conducive political environment
- It does appear that younger Cuban-Americans are not into the rabid anti-Communism
- Dominant leadership elements in the Jewish community support an “Israel right or wrong” politics, and thus with varying degrees of overtness, support Islamophobic terror by the Israeli state.
- Israeli settlers who are US citizens have carried out acts of terror against Palestinians
- AIPAC, ADL and ZOA are especially hard-line Israel supporters
- Most of the “middle forces” in the Jewish community acquiesce in the leadership of hard-line elements, do not publicly oppose it, discuss it, or think about it critically
- A lot of the younger Jewish community is somewhat disaffected from Israel.
from Mondoweiss by Adam Horowitz
From Ali Abunimah’s Al Jazeera English article “Islamophobia, Zionism and the Norway massacre“:
Foxman’s claim that Breivik’s support for Israel is “bizarre” is a brazen attempt to deflect attention from the alliance that Foxman and leading Israeli politicians have made with the most racist Islamophobes – ones Foxman accurately likens to anti-Semites.
To be clear, Israel and Zionism have always been racist toward Palestinians and other non-Jews, otherwise how else could they justify the expulsion and exclusion of millions of Palestinians solely on the grounds that they are not Jews? It is the virulent, specifically anti-Muslim trend that has been particularly pronounced since 2001.
But the rot has already gone too far. As a recent article in Der Spiegel underscores, Europe’s far-right anti-Muslim demagogues have found many allies and admirers in Israel, particularly within the upper echelons of the ruling Likud and Yisrael Beitenu parties.
And the feeling is mutual: European ultra-nationalists, such as Dutch Islamophobe Geert Wilders, have put support for Israel’s right-wing government at the centre of their politics.
Islamophobia welcome in Israel
While the world was united in horror at Breivik’s massacre, several commentators in Israel’s mainstream media were much more understanding of his motives, if not for his actions. An oped on Ynet, the website of Israel’s mass circulation Yediot Aharonot, stated that “the youth movement of the ruling Labour Party” – of which many of the youths murdered on Utoya island were members – “is an organisation of anti-Israeli hate mongers”.
An editorial in The Jerusalem Post offered sympathy for Breivik’s anti-Muslim ideology and called on Norway to act on the concerns expressed in his manifesto, while an op-ed published by the same papersaid that the youth camp Breivik attacked had been engaged in “a pro-terrorist program”.
Meanwhile, an article in the American Jewish newspaper The Forward noted that on many mainstream internet forums, Israelis expressed satisfaction with Breivik’s massacre and thought that Norway got what it deserved.
Clear warning signs
Foxman cannot claim he didn’t see any of this coming. Back in 2003, I interviewed him for an article about the inclusion of Yisrael Beitenu and other parties in Israel’s governing coalition, parties that openly advocated the expulsion of Palestinians. Foxman’s attitude was as indulgent toward those racists and would-be ethnic cleansers as he was to Hagee’s hate-mongering a few years later, and it is those same Israeli parties that have forged the closest ties with European and American anti-Muslim extremists.
The continued lurch towards extremism in Israel, and among many of its supporters, underscores the truth that anyone who wants to dissociate from ultranationalism, racism and Islamophobia, also has to repudiate Israel’s state ideology, Zionism. Universal rights and equality for all human beings are concepts that are anathema to both.
Read the whole article here.
Jack Ross at Right Web has a fine piece on the extent to which the widespread hatred of Islam has been fed by an ideology of “Americanism,” which draws on the “paranoid style” in American politics, and the complicity of the media, and has a cousin in the Ku Klux Klan’s sacred-ground beliefs:
There is no denying that Breivik’s manifesto and beliefs are rooted in a distinctly post-9/11 ideology of anti-Islamism. This relatively new ideology of anti-Islamism reveals much about the deeper pathologies in current U.S. politics…
The episode that revealed the new anti-Islamism in all its ugliness was last year’s chorus of opposition to the construction of a Muslim community center two blocks from the World Trade Center site. Notorious right-winger Pamela Geller’s crusade against the center was a clarion call for anti-Islamism—indeed, Geller pervasively influenced Anders Breivik’s screeds. Opponents of the proposed Muslim center claimed the site is “sacred ground,” revealing again the paranoid style of anti-Islamism. This is a direct analogy to the Klan’s priestly vestments—“Ground Zero” is the holiest site in [David] Gelernter’s [Americanism] “fourth great western religion,” which non-believers are not fit to desecrate by their presence.
More broadly, this belief in “Americanism”—or, as it is most often called by the right today, “American exceptionalism”—is the militant worldview composed of pathologies its adherents have projected on to their Muslim “enemies” for the last decade. [Richard] Hofstadter would have recognized all too clearly the paranoid style animating the belief that the better part of the Islamic world does not hold legitimate grievances against the United States over its foreign policies, but rather that “they hate us for our freedom.” Thus the basis of the utterly preposterous belief that there is a threat of the imposition of “sharia law” on Western societies or that the non-violent activism of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood poses a more dangerous threat than al-Qaeda. Indeed, Hofstadter wrote:
“Since the enemy is thought of as being totally evil and totally unappeasable, he must be totally eliminated—if not from the world, at least from the theater of operations to which the paranoid directs his attention. This demand for total triumph leads to the formulation of hopelessly unrealistic goals, and since these goals are not even remotely attainable, failure constantly heightens the paranoid’s sense of frustration.”
For media liberals and others to smugly ascribe this paranoid style as the province of the nationalist right is therefore dubious at best, and arguably a deliberate avoidance of the more disturbing questions it raises. The U.S. media is complicit in the belief that “the world” is “at war” with some kind of global Islamist conspiracy against all that is right and true. Coverage of the Norway attacks proved the media’s inherent bias—witness the conflation of the word “terrorism” with an Islamic conspiracy.
Probably no author has more elaborately theorized a great cosmic struggle straight out of Hofstadter’s Paranoid Style between the enlightened West and “Islamofascism” than the self-styled “democrat of the left” Paul Berman. Berman, most recently in the news because of his obsession with the Oxford-based Muslim philosopher Tariq Ramadan, expressed his thesis in The Flight of the Intellectuals, a rambling treatise…
from Mondoweiss by Paul Mutter
Pamela Geller, founder of Atlas Shrugs, delayed a full response to the shootings in Norway (by her own admission). Her ideological associates, in the meantime, had been issuing statements condemning the violence – as well as the victims’ politics. And now, Atlas Shrugs has finally joined this argument: this past Sunday, Geller published an analysis of the victims titled “Summer Camp? Antisemitic Indoctrination Training Center“:
But the jihad-loving media never told us what antisemitic war games they were playing on that island. Utoya Island is a Communist/Socialist campground, and they clearly had a pro-Islamic agenda.
Only the malevolent media could use the euphemism summer camp and get away with it.
The slaughter was horrific. What these kids were being taught and instructed to do was a different kind of grotesque. There is no justification for Breivik’s actions whatsoever. There is also no justification for Norway’s antisemitism and demonization of Israel.
Even Geller knows these statement will be construed by the “Genocidal Leftists” as an endorsement of violence, but insists that it necessary to put the shootings in a larger context – the context of the global struggle against Islam:
. . . . Utoya camp was not Islamist but it WAS something not much more wholesome (by our standards, at any rate).
It was a summer indoctrination camp run by Norway’s ruling Labor Party for up-and-coming children of the ruling elite.
Glen Beck [sic] was not far off when he compared it to the Hitlerjugend or Young Pioneers.”
Think Progress caught on to the fact that an earlier version of this post referred to “race mixing” among the Norwegian youth at the camp. Specifically, a now-removed picture caption read “Note the faces which are more MIddle Eastern [sic] or mixed than pure Norwegian.” Even some favorable commenters on the post called Ms. Geller out on this caption. Perhaps the intent of this statement was to demonstrate that there were Muslims present at the summer camp and that their presence was (of course) related to the youth organization’s “anti-Semitic” and “pro-Palestinian” agenda?
The statement was probably removed, though, because it could be taken to suggest that a non-Caucasian life (especially one mixed in with Muslim blood) is somehow “worth less” than a non-Caucasian (or part-Caucasian) one. While Geller did not come out and say that, the notion is far from the fringes of respectability in “journalistic” debate.
Geller also approvingly quotes an argument for moral relativism vis a vis Palestinians and Israelis in relation to the shootings:
“For them it is unacceptable for Breivik to murder Norwegian children, because his ideology is wrong. But it is acceptable for Palestinians to murder Israeli children, because their ideology is right.”
Given the intensely pro-Zionist feelings among the anti-Islamic right, it is sadly inevitable that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be used to “contextualize” a terorrist attack on “socialist” “pro-Islamic” “aristocrats” (all terms she uses to describe the camp attendees). The spleen is practically audible.
Is the anti-Islamic right suggesting that the Islamocommunist children of Norway’s ruling party were asking for trouble by engaging in behavior such as displaying signs that say “Opphev Blokkaden Av Gaza” (Oppose the Blockade of Gaza) and signing onto the BDS Movement? Geller and her cohorts suggested, soon after the identity of the shooter became known, that “If anyone incited him to violence, it was Islamic supremacists. If anything incited him to violence, it was the Euro-Med policy.”
Such statements now even more eerily echo Breivik’s own manifesto in that he lumped together his specific targets with the larger anti-Semitic Islamocommunist alliance that, according to the anti-Islamic right, holds Norway (and the EU in general) in its grip. Such sentiments have long been present in the discourse, but to hear such assertions articulated more forcefully now after what has happened is even more disturbing. “We are witnesssing the complete breakdown of rational society,” Geller opined in response to hate mail she has recieved since the attacks.
Geller has no idea how right she is!
from Tikun Olam-תקון עולם: Make the World a Better Place by Richard Silverstein
Little Green Footballs reports that Pam Geller published an e-mail from an unnamed Norwegian anti- jihadi in 2007, which indicated he was planning a major terror attack to dramatize his cause. Geller was so shocked by what he wrote that she called it “devastating in its matter of factness.” She also deliberately concealed the identity of the author in order to protect him from the Norwegian authorities.
Charles Johnson correctly noted the troubling nature of what Geller had done, including a lame attempt to edit out the most offensive portion of the message which reads:
“From Israel the hordes clawing at the walls of Jerusalem proclaim cheerfully that next year there will be no more Israel, and I know Israel shrugs this off as do I, and will mount a strike during the summer against all of its enemies in the middle east. This will make the muslims worldwide go into a frenzy, attacking everyone around them.
We are stockpiling and aching weapons, ammunition and equipment.
I have read several hundred pages of the Breivik manifesto and this language, especially it’s readiness to engage in extreme violence on behalf of nation and race, echoes Breivik’s document.
Add to that the fact that Geller has attempted to erase the evidence, and you have a very suspicious set of circumstances in which it’s reasonable to assume this message was from Breivik himself. Geller has in fact denied that her correspondent was Breivik.
What no one, as far as I know has written about this, is that the fact Geller received a message from someone publicly outlining his plans for mass murder and she concealed both the plans and his identity from the authorities. That makes her an accessory after the fact if he in fact acted. In fact, if I were the FBI I’d be beating down a path to her door and at the very least demanding the original version of the e-mail containing the author’s name.
Most of us know that Geller is a batshit crazy ideologue, but this takes her into an entirely different realm. She concealed evidence that might’ve allowed Norwegian authorities to begin monitoring his activities as early as 2007. That’s potentially criminal conduct.
On a slightly different note, the blog Unbossed notes that Jeffrey Goldberg’s first post about the Oslo attack was entitled, Muba Comes to Norway. In which he joined the anti-Muslim herd in blaming the attack on Muslims. When he discovered how wrong he was he edited the post to make it appear that it had made provision for the fact that the killer might’ve had different ideological motives. Goldberg has refused to acknowledge his original error, nor has The Atlantic felt any need to correct the record or apologize.
This is entirely in character with Goldberg’s previous journalistic sloppiness and predilection for seeing the world through pro- Israel rose-colored glasses.
from Mondoweiss by Philip Weiss
This is funny. Flapola nails Jeffrey Goldberg, and then Goldberg amends his post w/o saying as much, and then… well, it’s too complicated for me, but apparently Glenn Greenwald is after Goldberg, and some folks are going after Jim Fallows for assailing Jennifer Rubin for the same thing– wrongly blaming Norway on Muslims without any evidence– and not going after his colleague Goldberg. (Bear in mind, Goldberg’s bad reports from Kurdistan in the New Yorker, suggesting that Saddam was getting WMDs, helped paved the way to the Iraq war)… Flapola:
On Friday July 22, Jeffrey Goldberg posted “Mumbai Comes to Norway”. The link is to a cache of the original version of the post. The text reads:
“I’m following news of the Norway attacks like the rest of you, and am curious to see, among other things, Norway’s response. I hope it is not to pull troops out of Afghanistan; this would only breed more attacks. So, why Norway? It doesn’t seem likely, on the surface. There are many countries with more troops in Afghanistan than Norway; and there are several countries whose newspapers have printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. My first reaction is two-fold: 1) Jihadists did this in Norway because they could. Norway is pretty well-known among homeland-security types for being among the softer, less-defended countries of the West, and 2) Norway is making moves to expel a jihadist called Mullah Krekar, who is one of the founders of Ansar al-Islam, the al Qaeda-affiliated group that operated in Iraqi Kurdistan with some help from Saddam’s intelligence services. This could be a message about his coming deportation.”
When events demonstrated how reckless he’d been, Goldberg added a third paragraph raising the possibility of right-wing terrorism. By not labeling this as an update, he left readers to conclude that he was just exploring multiple theories rather than using the massacre to make a bold pronouncement about the worldwide jihadist danger. Later that evening, beginning around 8 PM, Goldberg began adding 4 further paragraphs on stray thoughts, each of which he did carefully label as an “UPDATE”. At the same time he also added “(UPDATED)” to the title. So he was capable of noting updates when there was nothing to be gained from not doing so.
On Saturday, Goldberg posted a roundabout defense of his decision to rush to judgment, “On Suspecting al Qaeda in the Norway Attacks.” It is characteristically disingenuous, particularly about what he had written in “Mumbai”.
On Monday, when he learned (via James Fallows) that I had found cached evidence that he’d made those unacknowledged changes to “Mumbai”, Goldberg hurriedly added another update to the post. This was the aforementioned bizarre explanation for not having labeled the first revision as an ‘update’. It is so ridiculous it really needs to be seen to be believed.
I’ve been afraid to go too hard after mass-murderer Anders Breivik for citing Islamophobic blogger Pamela Geller because people will respond that Osama bin Laden has cited Jimmy Carter and Walt and Mearsheimer. Steve Walt deals with this question in a great post on Breivik. On the intellectual culpability issue, he says that OBL did what he did without reading Walt and Mearsheimer, while the same cannot likely be said about Breivik/Geller:
As you’d expect, some of [Robert Spencer and Pam Geller's] defenders have pointed out that the late Osama bin Laden also cited some writers favorably, including Noam Chomsky, Michael Scheuer, and yours truly. Bin Laden also mentioned John Perkins (author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man) and Jimmy Carter’s Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. The defenders suggest that these two situations are identical and accuse those who see a link between Breivik and his Islamophobic inspirations of a double standard.
This line of defense is pretty silly because it completely ignores conventional notions of causality. Osama bin Laden began his terrorist career over a decade before the authors he cited had even started the books to which he subsequently referred. He didn’t need to read Chomsky, Perkins, Scheuer, or me in order to develop his violently fundamentalist outlook; it was firmly in place long before I wrote one word and wholly at odds with the central views of the people to whom he referred. Indeed, I doubt he ever read my work; if he had, I wonder what he made of our defense of Israel’s right to exist, our condemnation of terrorism in general and al Qaeda in particular, and our explicit denunciations of anti-Semitism?
By contrast, it is clear from Breivik’s own statements that his thinking was shaped by the various Islamophobic writers whose work he cites (and whose websites he patronized and posted on). He wasn’t dreaming up terrorist plots 20 years ago and then citing these writers after the fact to justify it; on the contrary, these works apparently helped convince him that radical violence was necessary in part because there was a looming danger to “the West.” Geller, Spencer, and their ilk are not responsible for his specific decisions and actions, of course, but they do bear some responsibility for creating and promoting a vision of cultural conflict that makes such extreme responses more likely.
I’d say the distinction Walt makes extends to the bizarre ideas that neocons came up with, that George W. Bush then deployed in Iraq. And I’d add this: Breivik might actually be called an intellectual, if a twisted one; his manifesto is very articulate about repulsive ideas. Ideas that Geller and Spencer share. And I bet that if you had shown his arguments about “cultural Marxism” and political correctness and Islam’s threat to Geller a couple of weeks ago, she’d have agreed with them wholeheartedly. I wonder what in his manifesto she’d disagree with!
from Tikun Olam-תקון עולם: Make the World a Better Place by Richard Silverstein
When an Israeli reader sent this story to me I couldn’t believe the headline summarized above. Further, in this day and age of Norwegian neo-Nazi, anti-jihadi attacks which wrap themselves in the Israeli flag, this story is simply mind-blowing.
It begins with a visit from a Russian neo-Nazi delegation to Israel. Under the auspices of Tuvia Lerner, editor of the Russian edition of Arutz 7, the media voice of the settler movement, they inveigled themselves an invitation to meet with far-right MKs Aryeh Eldad and Ayoob Kara. They also toured Yad VaShem without telling anyone there that they were Holocaust deniers. Like I told you, this story has to be read to be believed. The two Russians have been photographed giving Nazi salutes, celebrating Der Fuhrer’s birthday, and they published songs of praise to Adoph Hitler on their website.
Naturally, when they met with the MKs the ideas they espoused were quite different. One of the neo-Nazis told Israeli TV that the concept of Israel “excites me,” because it involves “an ancient people who took upon itself a pioneer project to revive a modern state and nation.” The TV reporter tartly asked how the neo-Nazi of yesterday suddenly became a Zionist. How they did it, is by finding a common enemy: Islam (sound familiar?). The second neo-Nazi tells the interviewer:
“We’re talking about radical Islam which is the enemy of humanity, enemy of democracy, enemy of progress and of any sane society.
With friends like this does Israel need enemies? Does it wish to lie down with dogs who kill Chechens and Africans for sport only to rise up with fleas? Who assassinate human rights activists and lawyers? Who dream of a master race following its destiny? Is Israel so desperate that it needs such friends in order to battle the common Muslim enemy? Have we not learned a single thing from Anders Breivik?
Lerner attempts to defend his efforts to ingratiate the Russian fascist movement into the good graces of Israeli society by claiming that the two neo-Nazis told him they regretted the anti-Semitic statements they’d made fifteen years ago. But can the leopard changes its spots?? The reporter notes that in just the past year the group wrote that the Holocaust was “a myth.” Then he asks whether the apology was sincere and whether such figures belonged in a place in which the elected representatives of the nation gathered.
The report also features an interview with Eldad in which he feigns an intelligence he clearly lacks, when he says that he knew from the outset that something “didn’t smell right.” And that he met them for only a few minutes (when the TV screen fills with images of him shaking hands and laughing jovially with the Russian delegation).
Anyone reading this blog knows my views about settler extremists, but how can Israel countenance such shocking, disgraceful acts from Arutz 7 and these disgusting representatives of the Israeli people elected to the Knesset? Is anyone using their brains there? Or has everyone lost their senses? Regaling neo-Nazis with anti-jihadi jokes in the halls of the Knesset? Defiling Yad VaShem with unreconstructed Holocaust deniers? Please someone explain this to me (if you can).
The other day DailyKos accused me of anti-Semitism and I hit back hard. Since then I’ve reflected on how damaging a charge of anti-Semitism can be. And it’s a lot worse for non-Jews than for me– I’m somewhat insulated against the charge cuz I’m Jewish. I believe that Steve Walt and John Mearsheimer refused to debate Alan Dershowitz because he’d called them anti-Semites, and I now fully understand their refusal to grant a platform to the person who makes such a charge.
Back in 2002 or so a bunch of Harvard and MIT professors signed on to a divest-from Israel initiative, and then-Harvard president Larry Summers said the initiative was anti-Semitic in effect if not intent; and his statement crushed the initiative. I remember interviewing a couple of the professors at the time. They were terrified. They didn’t want their names used. They had basically crawled under their desks, afraid of what the charge could do to their careers.
As Jefferson Morley wrote recently, it doesn’t matter that he married a Jew; because he supports boycott of Israel, “I am by the current norms of the nation’s capital, a borderline anti-Semite whose views have no place in respectable debates in Washington.”
You’ll remember that venerable Helen Thomas paid a dear price, her career, for saying that Jews should leave Israel. Later Thomas further angered Jewish organizations by making comments about Jewish influence in Washington, on policymaking and on media institutions.
That didn’t stop the Arab-American National Museum in Dearborn from unveiling a bust of her.
The bust is interesting. It demonstrates that notwithstanding the fearful orthodoxy around even talking about Jewish power, we have one conversation in shadow and one conversation in the light. People want to talk about these issues, because they’re obviously important. But an open debate is not allowed. There’s fear of a backlash of persecution of Jews if people talked publicly about stuff they’re already talking about privately.
Rick Sanchez got fired from CNN last year after accusing Jon Stewart of bigotry during a radio interview and then scoffing at his interviewer’s suggestion that Jews are a powerless minority– saying that Jews are all over the media. Steve Sailer gets off a quip about Jewish powerlessness, and adds:
Less than ten months later, Sanchez has now gotten a part-time job. Well, it’s not actually a job, since he isn’t getting paid to do it. Mediaite reported on July 27:
According to the Miami Herald, ex-CNN anchor Rick Sanchez will be back this fall–on the radio in South Florida–calling football games for the FIU Golden Panthers. … Sanchez says he’s taking the gig to “give something back” to a school he’s close to: “I’m extremely excited to be volunteering my time to Florida International…”
Rick Sanchez has been in agony for the last year, and he’s been penitent. (I always liked his coverage of Israel and Palestine.) I wonder if Stewart has ever had Sanchez on to his show. I’m sure Sanchez would apologize for calling Stewart a bigot; and maybe they could have a real conversation?
from Glenn Greenwald by Glenn Greenwald
Over the last decade, virtually every Terrorist plot aimed at the U.S. — whether successful or failed — has provoked greater security and surveillance measures. Within a matter of mere weeks, the 9/11 attacks infamously spawned a vast new surveillance statute (the Patriot Act), a secretly implemented warrantless eavesdropping program in violation of the law, an explosion of domestic surveillance contracts, a vastly fortified secrecy regime, and endless wars in multiple countries. As it turned out, that massive over-reaction was not a crisis-driven anomaly but rather the template for future actions.
The failed Christmas Day bombing over Detroit led to an erosion of Miranda rights and judge-free detentions as well as a due-process free assassination program aimed at an Muslim American preacher whose message allegedly “inspired” the attacker. The failed Times Square bombing was repeatedly cited to justify reform-free extension of the Patriot Act along with a slew of measures to maximize government scrutiny of the Internet. That failed plot, along with Nidal Hasan’s shooting at Fort Hood, provoked McCarthyite Congressional hearings into American Muslims and helped sustain a shockingly broad interpretation of “material support for Terrorism” that criminalizes free speech. In sum, every Terrorist plot is immediately exploited as a pretext for expanding America’s Security State; the response to every plot: we need to sacrifice more liberties, increase secrecy, and further empower the government.
The reaction to the heinous Oslo attack by Norway’s political class has been exactly the opposite: a steadfast refusal to succumb to hysteria and a security-über-alles mentality. The day after the attack — one which, per capita, was as significant for Norway as 9/11 was for the U.S. — Oslo Mayor Fabian Stang, when asked whether greater security measures were needed, sternly rejected that notion: “I don’t think security can solve problems. We need to teach greater respect.” It is simply inconceivable that any significant U.S. politician — the day after an attack of that magnitude — would publicly reject calls for greater security measures. Similarly inconceivable for American political discourse is the equally brave response of the country’s Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, whose office was the target of the bomb and whose Labour Party was the sponsor of the camp where dozens of teenagers were shot:
He called on his country to react by more tightly embracing, rather than abandoning, the culture of tolerance that Anders Behring Breivik said he was trying to destroy.
“The Norwegian response to violence is more democracy, more openness and greater political participation,” Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg insisted at a news conference. . . .
Stoltenberg strongly defended the right to speak freely — even if it includes extremist views such as Breivik’s.
“We have to be very clear to distinguish between extreme views, opinions — that’s completely legal, legitimate to have. What is not legitimate is to try to implement those extreme views by using violence,” he said in English.
Stoltenberg’s promise in the face of twin attacks signaled a contrast to the U.S. response after the 9/11 attacks, when Washington gave more leeway to perform wiretaps and search records.
It reflects the difference between the two countries’ approaches to terrorism. The U.S. has been frustrated by what it considers Scandinavia’s lack of aggressive investigation and arrests.
Since the attacks, Stoltenberg and members of Norway’s royal family have underlined the country’s openness by making public appearances with little visible security.
Norway’s government understandably intends to investigate what happened and correct any needed gaps in security, such as slow police response; but what it refuses to do is transform itself into a closed, secret surveillance state. About all of this, The New York Times today says that “Norway’s policy on public security  seemed defined by a belief that bad things happen elsewhere.” No: it is defined by a belief that there are other values besides security that matter a great deal and that pursuing security above all other values, in a quest for absolute safety, is both self-destructive and futile.
This realization was once not only common in the American political ethos, but its defining feature. Patrick Henry’s decree – give me liberty or give me death – resonated for generations precisely because it underscored that Americans were willing to subordinate physical security to other values (such as freedom and privacy). The American Revolutionaries were long revered in our political culture because — by risking everything, including their lives, to wage war against the most powerful empire on Earth — they chose liberty and freedom from state intrusion over personal security.
Multiple provisions of the U.S. Constitution reflect this same prioritization of values. The Fourth Amendment bars the police from entering our homes without search warrants and probable cause even though that restriction means that some of the most heinous and dangerous of criminals — from mass murderers to child rapists — will remain un-apprehended. The Fifth Amendment bars imprisonment without due process and the Bill of Rights imposes a slew of restrictions on the state’s power to convict accused criminals even though it means that those same horrific criminals may sometimes go free, able to commit their crimes again. This subordination of security to other values was long the defining attribute of the American political identity, because we didn’t want to live in a Singapore-like Security State or an East-German-like Surveillance State.
All of this has given way — among the political class in the U.S. — to a supreme fixation on safety at the expense of every other value: a fixation that is in equal measures cowardly, authoritarian and exploitative. Patrick Henry’s long celebrated tribute to courage has been turned on its head by the degraded cowardice of GOP tough-guy leaders — such as Pat Roberts, John Cornyn, and Rush Limbaugh – shrieking that civil liberties are worthless if you’re dead: i.e., that safety is the paramount goal. Meanwhile, as virtually every other country that suffers a horrendous Terrorist attack puts the accused perpetrators on trial in their real court system in the city where the attack occurred — the subway bombers in London, the train bombers in Madrid, the shooters in Mumbai, the Bali nightclub bombers in Indonesia – it is only the U.S., the self-proclaimed Home of the Brave, that is too frightened to do so, instead concocting military tribunals and sticking accused terrorists in cages on a Caribbean island, as members of both parties spew base fear-mongering to bar trials on American soil.
Just to highlight how extreme is the fear-based American repudiation of openness and transparency, consider the responses to the efforts of two Democratic Senators, Sens. Wyden and Udall, to force the Obama administration to explain what Wyden previously called the Secret Patriot Act:
The Obama administration continued Wednesday to resist the efforts of two Democratic senators to learn more about the government’s interpretation of domestic surveillance law, stating that “it is not reasonably possible” to identify the number of Americans whose communications may have been monitored under the statute. . . .
“Every time the American public finds out that laws have been rewritten in secret or the administration can’t give a basic answer, it erodes public confidence and makes it harder for intelligence agencies to do their jobs,” said Wyden, who for the past two years has decried what he calls a de facto “secret law” governing domestic surveillance.
So drowning in secrecy is the National Security State that the Obama administration refuses even to explain how it interprets and applies surveillance powers enacted by Congress. Even more perverse, the article describes how the Obama administration has been touting its commitment to openness by hailing the declassification of a 200-year-old document on cryptography: one that has been publicly available for years in Europe. As a new ACLU report documents — one co-authored by former FBI agent Mike German — “We are now living in an age of government secrecy run amok.”
What’s most striking, and ironic, is that the Norwegian response to the Oslo attack is so glaringly un-American even though its core premise — a brave refusal to sacrifice liberty and transparency in the name of fear and security — was once the political value Americans boasted of exhibiting most. What we now have instead is the instinctive exploitation by political elites of every threat — real and imagined — as a means of eroding liberties, privacy and openness, based in part on fear and in part on an opportunistic desire for greater power. That’s why Norway’s courageous, principled response seems so foreign to American eyes and ears.
UPDATE: Several commenters argue that Norway would have been less restrained had the attack been perpetrated by foreign Muslims rather than a domestic Terrorist; some similarly claim that the U.S. did not implement new security laws when attacked by domestic Terrorists such as Timothy McVeigh. Leaving aside the fact that many of the above-referenced increased U.S. Security State measures were “justified” by acts by American citizens (Nidal Hasan, Faisal Shazad, Anwar Awlaki), this argument is misguided for several reasons.
Norway has long faced serious tensions over the alleged Islamic threat – both because of their active participation in Western wars in Muslim countries and a growing Muslim immigration population (which is what motivated the attacker) – and yet, as the articles linked above from the Post and the NYT demonstrate, the Norwegians have long resisted pressure from the U.S. to implement the type of surveillance and monitoring programs now so pervasive in the West to monitor Islamic extremists. The courageous restraint exhibited by the Norwegians in the wake of the Oslo attack is perfectly consistent with how they’ve responded to the alleged threat of Terrorism from radical Muslims as well.
Conversely, the U.S. Government most certainly did pursue vastly increased security powers in the name of McVeigh’s attack: the Clinton administration, citing the Oklahoma City attack, demanded a full-scale prohibition on all computer encryption that the Government could not access, as well as significantly increased domestic eavesdropping powers, while Congress — by an overwhelming majority — enacted the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 that severely infringed due process rights, created new Terrorism crimes, and vested the government with a litany of vast new prosecutorial powers — all galvanized by the McVeigh attack (read more from The New York Times‘ Linda Greenhouse on how both parties exploited the Oklahoma City bombing to significantly increase the government’s surveillance and police powers).
Obviously, the McVeigh attack was not of the same magnitude as the 9/11 attack (which was bolstered by the subsequent anthrax attack), so it did not generate the same degree of Security State extremism. But the disparate reactions evident here reflect the radically different approaches Norway and the U.S. take — in general — with regard to thinking about and responding to security threats and whether liberty and privacy should be sacrificed.
from Glenn Greenwald by Glenn Greenwald
The Washington Post today has the latest leak-based boasting about how the U.S. is on the verge of “defeating” Al Qaeda, yet — lest you think this can allow a reduction of the National Security State and posture of Endless War on which it feeds — the article warns that “al-Qaeda’s offshoot in Yemen is now seen as a greater counterterrorism challenge than the organization’s traditional base” and that this new threat, as Sen. Saxby Chambliss puts it, “is nowhere near defeat.” Predictably, the Post‘s warnings about the danger from Yemen feature the U.S. Government’s due-process-free attempts to kill U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, widely believed to be in Yemen and now routinely (and absurdly) depicted as The New Osama bin Laden.
The Post says Awlaki is “known for his fiery sermons” (undoubtedly the prime — and blatantly unconstitutional – motive for his being targeted for killing). But what is so bizarre about Awlaki’s now being cast in this role is that, for years, he was deemed by the very same U.S. Government to be the face of moderate Islam. Indeed, shortly after 9/11, the Pentagon invited Awlaki to a “luncheon  meant to ease tensions with Muslim-Americans.” But even more striking was something I accidentally found today while searching for something else. In November, 2001, the very same Washington Post hosted one of those benign, non-controversial online chats about religion that it likes to organize; this one was intended to discuss “the meaning of Ramadan”. It was hosted by none other than . . . “Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki.”
More extraordinary than the fact that the Post hosted The New Osama bin Laden in such a banal role a mere ten years ago was what Imam Awlaki said during the Q-and-A exchange with readers. He repudiated the 9/11 attackers. He denounced the Taliban for putting women in burqas, explaining that the practice has no precedent in Islam and that “education is mandatory on every Muslim male and female.” He chatted about the “inter-faith services held in our mosque and around the greater DC area and in all over the country” and proclaimed: “We definitely need more mutual understanding.” While explaining his opposition to the war in Afghanistan, he proudly invoked what he thought (mistakenly, as it turns out) was his right of free speech as an American: “Even though this is a dissenting view nowadays[,] as an American I do have the right to have a contrary opinion.” And he announced that “the greatest sin in Islam after associating other gods besides Allah is killing an innocent soul.”
Does that sound like the New Osama bin Laden to you? One could call him the opposite of bin Laden. And yet, a mere nine years later, there was Awlaki, in an Al Jazeera interview, pronouncing his opinion that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempt to blow up a civilian jet over Detroit was justified (while saying “it would have been better if the plane was a military one or if it was a US military target”), and urging “revenge for all Muslims across the globe” against the U.S. What changed over the last decade that caused such a profound transformation in Awlaki? Does that question even need to be asked? Awlaki unwittingly provided the answer ten years ago when explaining his opposition to the war in Afghanistan in his 2001 Post chat:
Also our government could have dealt with the terrorist attacks as a crime against America rather than a war against America. So the guilty would be tried and only them would be punished rather than bombing an already destroyed country. I do not restrict myself to US media. I check out Aljazeerah and European media such as the BBC. I am seeing something that you are not seeing because of the one-sidedness of the US media. I see the carnage of Afghanistan. I see the innocent civilian deaths. That is why my opinion is different.
Keep in mind that I have no sympathy for whoever committed the crimes of Sep 11th. But that doesn’t mean that I would approve the killing of my Muslim brothers and sisters in Afghanistan.
And in his Al Jazeera interview nine years later, he explained why he now endorses violence against Americans, especially American military targets:
I support what Umar Farouk has done after I have been seeing my brothers being killed in Palestine for more than 60 years, and others being killed in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And in my tribe too, US missiles have killed 17 women and 23 children, so do not ask me if al-Qaeda has killed or blown up a US civil jet after all this. The 300 Americans are nothing comparing to the thousands of Muslims who have been killed.
A full decade of literally constant (and still-escalating) American killing of civilians in multiple Muslim countries has radically transformed Awlaki — and countless other Muslims — from a voice of pro-American moderation into supporters of violence against the U.S. and, in Awlaki’s case, the prime pretext for the continuation of the War on Terror. As this blogger put it in response to my noting the 2001 Awlaki chat: “it’s interesting to think about how many other people followed that same path, that we don’t know about it.” In other words, the very U.S. policies justified in name of combating Terrorism have done more to spawn — and continue to spawn — anti-American Terrorism than anything bin Laden could have ever conceived. The transformation of Awlaki, and many others like him, provides vivid insight into how that occurs.
* * * * *
It’s equally instructive to note that if the Post were to give Awlaki a venue to express his opinions now — or if the Pentagon were to invite him to a luncheon — those institutions would likely be guilty of the felony of providing material support to Terrorism as applied by the Obama DOJ and upheld by the Supreme Court.
from Glenn Greenwald by Glenn Greenwald
(updated below – Update II)
For much of the day yesterday, the featured headline on The New York Times online front page strongly suggested that Muslims were responsible for the attacks on Oslo; that led to definitive statements on the BBC and elsewhere that Muslims were the culprits. The Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin wrote a whole column based on the assertion that Muslims were responsible, one that, as James Fallows notes, remains at the Post with no corrections or updates. The morning statement issued by President Obama – “It’s a reminder that the entire international community holds a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring” and “we have to work cooperatively together both on intelligence and in terms of prevention of these kinds of horrible attacks” — appeared to assume, though (to its credit) did not overtly state, that the perpetrator was an international terrorist group.
But now it turns out that the alleged perpetrator wasn’t from an international Muslim extremist group at all, but was rather a right-wing Norwegian nationalist with a history of anti-Muslim commentary and an affection for Muslim-hating blogs such as Pam Geller’s Atlas Shrugged, Daniel Pipes, and Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch. Despite that, The New York Times is still working hard to pin some form of blame, even ultimate blame, on Muslim radicals (h/t sysprog):
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 attacks.
“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.
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. Of course, before Al Qaeda, nobody ever thought to detonate bombs in government buildings or go on indiscriminate, politically motivated shooting rampages. The NYT speculates that amonium nitrate fertilizer may have been used to make the bomb because the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, owned a farming-related business and thus could have access to that material; of course nobody would have ever thought of using that substance to make a massive bomb had it not been for Al Qaeda. So all this proves once again what a menacing threat radical Islam is.
Then there’s this extraordinarily revealing passage from the NYT – first noticed by Richard Silverstein – explaining why the paper originally reported what it did:
Initial reports focused on the possibility of Islamic militants, in particular Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or Helpers of the Global Jihad, cited by some analysts as claiming responsibility for the attacks. American officials said the group was previously unknown and might not even exist.
There was ample reason for concern that terrorists might be responsible.
In other words, now that we know the alleged perpetrator is not Muslim, we know – by definition – that Terrorists are not responsible; conversely, when we thought Muslims were responsible, that meant — also by definition — that it was an act of Terrorism. As Silverstein put it:
How’s that again? Are the only terrorists in the world Muslim? If so, what do we call a right-wing nationalist capable of planting major bombs and mowing down scores of people for the sake of the greater glory of his cause? If even a liberal newspaper like the Times can’t call this guy a terrorist, what does that say about the mindset of the western world?
What it says is what we’ve seen repeatedly: that Terrorism has no objective meaning and, at least in American political discourse, has come functionally to mean: violence committed by Muslims whom the West dislikes, no matter the cause or the target. Indeed, in many (though not all) media circles, discussion of the Oslo attack quickly morphed from this is Terrorism (when it was believed Muslims did it) to no, this isn’t Terrorism, just extremism (once it became likely that Muslims didn’t). As Maz Hussain — whose lengthy Twitter commentary on this event yesterday was superb and well worth reading – put it:
That Terrorism means nothing more than violence committed by Muslims whom the West dislikes has been proven repeatedly. When an airplane was flown into an IRS building in Austin, Texas, it was immediately proclaimed to be Terrorism, until it was revealed that the attacker was a white, non-Muslim, American anti-tax advocate with a series of domestic political grievances. The U.S. and its allies can, by definition, never commit Terrorism even when it is beyond question that the purpose of their violence is to terrorize civilian populations into submission. Conversely, Muslims who attack purely military targets — even if the target is an invading army in their own countries – are, by definition, Terrorists. That is why, as NYU’s Remi Brulin has extensively documented, Terrorism is the most meaningless, and therefore the most manipulated, word in the English language. Yesterday provided yet another sterling example.
One last question: if, as preliminary evidence suggests, it turns out that Breivik was “inspired” by the extremist hatemongering rantings of Geller, Pipes and friends, will their groups be deemed Terrorist organizations such that any involvement with them could constitute the criminal offense of material support to Terrorism? Will those extremist polemicists inspiring Terrorist violence receive the Anwar Awlaki treatment of being put on an assassination hit list without due process? Will tall, blond, Nordic-looking males now receive extra scrutiny at airports and other locales, and will those having any involvement with those right-wing, Muslim-hating groups be secretly placed on no-fly lists? Or are those oppressive, extremist, lawless measures — like the word Terrorism — also reserved exclusively for Muslims?
UPDATE: The original version of the NYT article was even worse in this regard. As several people noted, here is what the article originally said (papers that carry NYT articles still have the original version):
Terrorism specialists said that even if the authorities ultimately ruled out terrorism as the cause of Friday’s assaults, other kinds of groups or individuals were mimicking al-Qaida’s signature brutality and multiple attacks.
“If it does turn out to be someone with more political motivations, it shows these groups are learning from what they see from al-Qaida,” said Brian Fishman, a counterterrorism researcher at the New America Foundation in Washington.
Thus: if it turns out that the perpetrators weren’t Muslim (but rather “someone with more political motivations” — whatever that means: it presumably rests on the inane notion that Islamic radicals are motivated by religion, not political grievances), then it means that Terrorism, by definition, would be “ruled out” (one might think that the more politically-motivated an act of violence is, the more deserving it is of the Terrorism label, but this just proves that the defining feature of the word Terrorism is Muslim violence). The final version of the NYT article inserted the word “Islamic” before “terrorism” (“even if the authorities ultimately ruled out Islamic terrorism as the cause”), but — as demonstrated above — still preserved the necessary inference that only Muslims can be Terrorists. Meanwhile, in the world of reality, of 294 Terrorist attacks attempted or executed on European soil in 2009 as counted by the EU, a grand total of one — 1 out of 294 — was perpetrated by “Islamists.”
UPDATE II: This article expertly traces and sets forth exactly how the “Muslims-did-it” myth was manufactured and then disseminated yesterday to the worldwide media, which predictably repeated it with little skepticism. What makes the article so valuable is that it names names: it points to the incestuous, self-regarding network of self-proclaimed U.S. Terrorism and foreign policy “experts” — what the article accurately describes as “almost always white men and very often with military or government backgrounds,” in this instance driven by “a case of an elite fanboy wanting to be the first to pass on leaked gadget specs” — who so often shape these media stories and are uncritically presented as experts, even though they’re drowning in bias, nationalism, ignorance, and shallow credentialism.
Thinktank backed by Bronfman and Saban promotes claim that Muslims will force Jews from Europe and rape uncovered women
The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies sent out an email blast today that is all about the Iranian “terrorist hydra” and that approvingly quotes Mark Steyn issuing the bigoted statements about Muslims in my headline. I’d remind you that this is the Foundation that, as Eli Clifton reported a couple weeks back, wants war with Iran and has been backed by leading conservative figures in the Jewish community, including Haim Saban, Bernard Marcus (of Home Depot), Charles and Edgar Bronfman, and Michael Steinhardt (author/financier and backer of Jewish day school in New York, the New Republic, and Makor, a social center aimed at promoting Jewish inmarriage). From FDD:
Mark Steyn writes that by 2050
a majority of Austrians under 15 will be Muslim. 2050 isn’t that far away. …
A world that becomes more Muslim becomes less everything else: First it’s Jews, already fleeing Malmo in Sweden. Then it’s homosexuals, already under siege from gay-bashing in Amsterdam, “the most tolerant city in Europe”. Then it’s uncovered women, already targeted for rape in Oslo and other Continental cities. And, if you don’t any longer have any Jews or (officially) any gays or (increasingly) uncovered women, there are always just Christians in general, from Egypt to Pakistan.
Observing the discrimination against Palestinians gives me flashbacks to the ‘Whites Only’ signs in my youth in Mississippi
from Mondoweiss by Gloria Brown
Interfaith Peace Builders sent an African-American team to Israel and Palestine last month. And on July 27, Gloria Brown filed this report (at the link among others):
Seeing dimensions of discrimination and oppression in Israel/Palestine (e.g., walls, murder scenes, unequal funding for education, class/race separation, hiring practices, gender inequity, etc.) has caused me to have major flashbacks about growing up and teaching in the state of Mississippi where “White” was right. As it relates to Israel/Palestine, Jews are “right.” Despite Biblical references to Jews being a chosen people, I know that is not how God works and I still cannot understand how Jews believe they have the right to oppress others who are attempting to remain on the land they ought to be able to rightfully claim.
I see the walls constricting Palestinians here and am reminded of the “White Only” signs of my youth – just knowing there were places I could not go. One specific example is the underpinning of why I never learned to swim. The White children in my Mississippi community had access to a beautiful swimming pool that African American children could only experience in passing. In order for me to learn to swim, it would have been necessary for me to brave the murky waters in concert with water moccasins, black runners, rattle snakes, and “you name the snake.” As much as I wanted to learn to swim, I did not want to be the main course that assorted reptiles would enjoy for dinner.
Another example of a wall in Mississippi was when I was among 22 African American teachers selected to deliver instruction in an all-White school during court-ordered desegregation. The experience was horrific; two weeks of non-violent attempts to enter the school passed before we could walk through the doors of the all-white DeKalb High School. Day after day, we arrived and were turned back by the KKK in full regalia, mounted on horses, with shotguns drawn. With the help of civil rights lawyers, I was able to file affidavits almost daily to report the wrong-doings in this school (i.e., whites-only bells to change classes, whites-only bells for lunch, white faculty meetings, no faculty meetings for African Americans, and having to teach only African American children, among others).
I loved the African American children for many of them were my cousins or neighbors. The pain in my soul had to do with the fact that illegal makeshift solutions were emerging in the name of integration of schools in compliance with the recent court order to desegregate within 48 hours.
I heard several Palestinians talk about bloodshed and profiling. Those acts reminded me of the civil rights workers who were killed in Mississippi just a few miles from my home. I was reminded of a young man who went to the “Bottom” (a nightclub) on a Saturday night. He had an altercation with a police officer in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and was killed. No one was ever charged for his murder. I am also reminded of my uncles coming home from Cleveland, New York, and other places. They knew that at some point, they would be ticketed for having the wrong “paint job” (black skin/driving a decent car.)
Finally, despite all the pain and suffering of the Palestinian people, they are extremely friendly and giving. At every Palestinian door, I am welcomed with open arms. I want the Palestinian people to know that our struggles are similar. Treatment of African Americans in Mississippi is much better today. Many African Americans are attorneys, engineers, hold political offices, are educators held in high esteem, and are distinguished citizens.
I urge the Palestinians to keep up the non-violent fight, for I believe a brighter day is just on the horizon.