It’s been less than 2 weeks since the tragic terrorist attacks in Norway carried out by anti-Muslim extremist Anders Behring Breivik, and already far-right commentators have started justifying them. The most recent and egregious example is a blog post from Pamela Geller — the conservative commentator who started the false “Ground Zero mosque” rumor last year — which implies that Breivik was justified in murdering teenagers at summer camp because they were not white.
On Monday, Geller posted a picture of the summer campers murdered by Breivik, along with this caption: “Note the faces that are more Middle Eastern or mixed than pure Norwegian.” The rest of the post pointed out that the teenagers were interested in politics and members of a political youth organization, “Arbeidernes Ungdomsfylking,” similar to the “College Republicans” and “College Democrats” organizations in the United States.
Geller later edited out the racist line, but retained the information about the campers’ politics. Geller’s insinuation that the teenagers were a legitimate target because they supported a political party she dislikes has been a common refrain on the far-right. Last Thursday, former Fox News host Glenn Beck compared the terrorist victims to “the Hitler youth,” since they were politically active.
Geller may be blaming the victims to distract from her links to Breivik. Reports have emerged that someone — possibly Breivik — left comments on Geller’s site saying he was “stockpiling and caching weapons, ammunition and equipment.” Geller prominently featured these comments, while keeping their author’s identity anonymous. Breivik was certainly familiar with Geller’s site, and cited her approvingly numerous times in his manifesto.
Meanwhile, other ultra-conservatives took to the opinion pages to defend Breivik’s views. Bruce Bawer, the author of such Islamophobic books “While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within” and “Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom” was also referenced approvingly in Breivik’s manifesto. After the attacks, he wrote a piece published in Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal that seemed less concerned with the victims of Breivik’s rampage than with the damage it could do to Islamophobic movements in Europe. Bawer says that once he learned one of his fans — rather than Al Qaeda — committed the attacks, “it was immediately clear to me that his violence will deal a heavy blow to an urgent cause.”
That cause, of course, is religious discrimination against Muslims in Western Europe. Bawer admits that the attack by an anti-Muslim terrorist on a government he felt was not discriminating against Muslims enough has made him fearful — of the government. “It will, I fear, be a great deal more difficult to broach these issues now that this murderous madman has become the poster boy for the criticism of Islam,” he concludes.
Pat Buchanan, the former Republican presidential candidate best known for his Holocaust denial and hardline views on immigration, wrote an op-ed for the conservative website World News Daily. In the piece, Buchanan argues that “Breivik may be right.” Buchanan condemns Breivik’s violence, but argues that he was right to prepare for a religious war in Europe on the scale of the Crusades, “a climactic conflict between a once-Christian West and an Islamic world that is growing in numbers and advancing inexorably into Europe for the third time in 14 centuries.”
Buchanan also seems to approve of Breivik’s choice of targets, noting that he “chose as his targets not Muslims whose presence he detests, but the Labor Party leaders who let them into the country, and their children, the future leaders of that party.” Like Beck and Geller, he frames the campers killed in Utoya as dangerous political operatives, rather than innocent teenagers.