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Jul 25, 2011

Into the abyss of the Norway massacre

The Oslo massacre was turning out to be an abyss, the sadistic mass murder of the young -- but there its resemblance to a high school massacre ended.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


When police are caught off guard by a massacre, it is usually for good reasons — the society is so unused to them that there is no contingency plan, no automatic reaction. Thus, it took Oslo’s SWAT team more than an hour to get to Utoeya island where Anders Behring Breivik was allegedly slaughtering teenagers attending a Social Democratic/Labour party youth camp; they had no helicopter at their disposal; indeed, it took them 20  minutes to find a boat.

The global right-wing commentariat were not so slow off the mark. Barely had the news of a bombing and a massacre hit the wires, than they responded with due caution, diligence, and seriousness — by blaming Muslims. Though they had absolutely nothing to go on, and though the mass-shooting profile did not fit the model of European Islamist terror in the slightest, the theme was irresistible to them — peaceful country in leftish Scandinavia, largely staying out of Western military adventures, hit equally by the “global war”, etc, etc. How could it not be?

Our own Andrew Bolt was one of the first off the mark, noting ominously:

“Once the identity of the attackers becomes known, the consequences for Norway’s immigration policies could be profound”:

A BOMBING and a separate shooting in Oslo, which appear to have targeted Norway’s prime minister and have left at least 11 people dead, are believed to be linked, police say.

While also close to home, another News Ltd blogger reported a claim of responsibility, later shown to be spurious, to announce that a group opposed to the publication of Mohammed cartoons was “suspected” to be the culprits.

They weren’t and they never had been — Anders Breivik had been captured alive on the island, and phone-ins from this or that group are a dime a dozen in such situations.

Later, an update:

UPDATE. The murderer is a solitary psycho Norwegian:

A lone political extremist bombed the government center here on Friday, killing 7 people, the police said, before heading to an island summer camp for young members of the governing Labor Party and killing at least 80 people.

The police arrested a 32-year-old Norwegian man in connection with both attacks, the deadliest on Norwegian soil since World War II.

Apologies for no earlier update. Flying today.

UPDATE II. Leftsts in comments take offence at reports, sourced from the Guardian, that Islamic terrorists may have been responsible for a murderous attack on civilians. On reflection, they’re right. The very idea is laughable.

Updates didn’t stop US bloggers, even when the gunman’s ethnicity and right-wing politics had become known. Here’s Frontpage magazine:

Simultaneous attacks like these are the staple of the Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, but the arrest of Breivik is leading authorities to downplay an Islamist connection. One anonymous police official told the Associated Press that “it seems like that this is not linked to any international terrorist organisations at all” and “is probably more Norway’s Oklahoma City than it is Norway’s World Trade Centre”. However, there are “no known domestic militant groups in Norway with the capability to stage large car bomb attacks”. The fact that Breivik did not choose to become a “martyr” does indicate a non-Islamist motivation. A key question will be how Breivik obtained the expertise and materials for the attacks, and whether Islamic extremists played some role despite their ideological differences.

Suspicion immediately fell on Mullah Krekar, who lives in Norway and is the founder of Ansar al-Islam …

Meanwhile the Bolter jumped in on the global jihad angle:

Already the unconfirmed reports suggest our immediate suspicions are correct (UPDATE: No, they aren’t), although the shooter’s appearance tells us to still be cautious about our conclusions:

Abu Suleiman al-Nasser, an Islamist with links to Al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremist groups, has claimed responsibility for today’s bomb in Oslo.

Bolt then ran an “Even so, the history of Islamic violence in Scandinavia…” line, despite the new information.

He later deleted the reference, writing:

(UPDATE: i’ve removed here an excerpt from the first report I linked to spelling out the earlier Islamic threats and attacks that led many, including the Guardian and New York Times, to initially suspect an Islamic attack. I had left it up so as to explain the context of my original reaction, and so not to seem I was trying to cover up my original suspicions. Now I find that leaving it up is being interpreted as my insisting on a gratuitous point instead.)

Meanwhile, in the US National Review, Andrew McCarthy noted that:

In point of fact, if one of what appears to be several conspirators is neither a Muslim nor from an Islamic country, that does cut against the likelihood that this is another episode of Islamic terrorism. On the other hand, there are facts and circumstances that cut in the other direction — including that a jihadist organisation has already claimed responsibility; that most terrorism is carried out by Islamists …

Got that? Even if it was an attack on a left-wing party carried out by an ethnic Norwegian in a country with a persistent racist hard-right, it still might have been Muslims because, in one 10-year period, they were responsible for the majority of terror in Europe. Stunning reasoning.

By Sunday, this sort of reasoning was looking not merely threadbare, but intellectually dishonest. The Oslo massacre was turning out to be an abyss, the sadistic mass murder of the young — but there its resemblance to a high school massacre ended. It was clearly a conscious political act by an apparently articulate member of a mainstream right-wing Norwegian political party, who confessed immediately to the massacre and the bombings — and was willing to explain them in political terms.

Though his act was cold-bloodedly ruthless beyond description, he was not psychotically deranged as Arizona killer Jared Loughner was. Indeed in refusing to label himself as “guilty” he made clear that he understood the nature of his actions — as an extreme atrocity required to halt “cultural Marxism” in its tracks.

Ah, where have we heard this before? From the hysterical right, for the past decade — in their fear that Europe is being extinguished by multiculturalism, immigration, blah blah blah. From Mark Steyn to the current guest speaker of the CIS, Thilo Sarrazin, author of Germany Abolishes Itself, this absurd and racist discourse has been ramped up and up and up, to create an atmosphere of crisis. They have turned a blind eye to the murderous propensities of European racism, and the violent history of the past century.

They would be well-advised to practise a little self-reflection. They seem to imagine that European terror has been either a left or an Islamic affair exclusively — forgetting perhaps the “black fascist” terror attacks of Italy in the ’70s (such as the Bologna railway bomb of the ’80s), Ulster-group terror, Croatian Ustashe groups and others — and of course the font of modern terror itself, Nazism, in which the state’s only purpose became terror.

Perhaps it’s time that those who wish to claim that there is a reasonable way to talk about race, culture and immigration might want to start talking back to some of their followers, many of whom seem to make an appearance in their comments strings. Islamist terror has been on the wane for years, though far from over — meanwhile, it is highly possible that Breivik will be no isolated author of atrocity, but the start of a new period in which terror once more comes from the Right.

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54 thoughts on “Into the abyss of the Norway massacre

  1. pk_x

    So many right-wingers were perfectly happy to condemn the association that was made between Loughner and Sarah Palin’s violent rhetoric and militaristic slogans. And yet they jump at the chance to condemn Islamic terrorism when it’s completely untrue.

    Andrew Bolt, ‘Loughner and the Rorschach reporting of the Left’:
    “It also shows how easily media reporting of events like this can be nothing more than the response to a Rorschach test, with journalists imposing on an event a narrative shaped by their prejudices and not by any evidence. ”
    It’s a pity he didn’t heed his own sanctimonious advice.

  2. nuytsia

    Mostly a good commentary Guy, although I think that an initial assumption that the attack was Islamist on the basis that an Islamist group had claimed responsibility, is probably reasonable. If journalists were not free to make that sort of interim assumption, we would never receive any news until a full police investigation and court hearing. The error was in not immediately and fully correcting the reasonable but wrong assumption as soon as the facts became clear.

  3. Allison

    “meanwhile, it is highly possible that Breivik will be no isolated author of atrocity, but the start of a new period in which terror once more comes from the Right”… how utterly chilling a thought. Please no.

  4. Ben Aveling

    According to Europol, there were 249 terrorist attacks in Europe in 2010, of which Muslims launched three.

    Source:, Section 4.1

  5. Pamela

    Surely time our own aussie crazies were reigned in. This constant drum beat – Labor government only one death from falling rhetoric etc etc is unhelpful in keeping the lid on the right wingnuts.
    A reading of blog responses to refugee and asylum seekers issues is positively frightening.
    Do we really share this country with people wanting to Shoot/Drown/slaughter human beings arriving by boat?
    Time our politrical leaders pulled their heads in and close their loose lips.
    This is not censorship – it is common sense and good manners not to engage in hatemongering.

  6. mikeb

    First thought (I must confess) was that it was islamic terrorism but, as in the case of Port Arthur, the truth is much more difficult to understand. Just waiting now for the conspiracy theories to come out as happened after Port Arthur, 9/11, etc etc.

  7. Delerious

    I woke up in the morning reading the ABC and knowing that 2 bombs had exploded and a man was shooting on an island but, thank god for ABC, no suppusitions on who was responsible. Even then I guessed it was an US style home-grown terrorist but I was willing to wait to hear more. Then they started saying he was a right wing Christian conservative. Well there you go.

  8. Liz45

    @NUYTSUA – What is wrong with a ‘journalist'(I use that term advisedly, as Bolt is certainly not one) stating, that we do not know what was/is behind the attacks/murderers/assaults/bombings etc? Better that then shooting their mouth off, only to look like fools!

  9. klewso

    Anyone here tried reading “political correspondent Blott’s” political correspondence with a copy of the Limited News “Professional Conduct Policy” open nearby? To get some sort of grasp of his (and those that employ him), real “regard” for such “piffle” – beyond the empty motherhood rhetoric?
    Like Howard’s “Ministerial Code of Conduct”.

  10. JoolianP

    Guy, you are spot on.

    Not only in the mainstream media but also on social media there was instant blame of Muslims.

    And even now, the media is having a hard time calling him a “Christian Fundamentalist” when “Muslim Fundamentalist” trips so easily off their tongues.

    Weirdly the ABC yesterday ran an item “Should violent video games be banned in Australia because of what happened in Norway?” Hmmmm… maybe but what about Christians or guns first?

    This isn’t the start of anything, Timothy McFjord or whatever his name, is just a mentalist. His mentalist ideas will be as interesting and worthy of discussion as a blocked toilet.

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