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”:
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
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:
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.