The Terror of Inherited Racism: Blaming Muslims for Norway
Here are a few hypothetical terror questions that I’d like you to answer:
If a hijacked plane crashes into a building, who do you believe were the hijackers?
If a bomb explodes in a major city, what kind of people do you think were responsible?
If the words Muslims, Al-Qaeda, or jihadists came to mind, it’s not entirely your fault. Americans have been conditioned by an impulsive, fear-driven press to think that any attack on a democracy is linked to Islam. After Friday’s attack in Norway—before the evidence was gathered, before the dust had even settled—myriad American journalists (and news agencies around the globe) impetuously jumped to report on the bombing and shooting spree that resulted in the death of at least 76 people.
Paul Cruickshank, one of CNN’s terrorism analysts, linked Muslims to the attack by concluding early on that “Norway has been in Al-Qaeda’s crosshairs for quite some time.”
Shortly after the attacks, Reuters didn’t shy away from posting a “Factbox” on their Website, which was titled “Islamist Militant Attacks in Europe.” It listed past incidents when terrorists attacking the continent were Muslim.
Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin also fell in line with the idiocy, claiming that these attacks served as “a sobering reminder for those who think it’s too expensive to wage a war against jihadists.”
The New York Times recklessly stoked the rancor, too:
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.
And, true to form, the Murdoch machine fueled the animosity from every angle. The Sun’s Saturday headline read “Norway’s 9/11: Al-Qaeda Massacre.” Fox News reporter Laura Ingraham, who guest-hosted the O’Reilly Factor, said that the attack “appears to be the work, once again, of Muslim extremists…” Fox’s terrorism analyst, Neil Livingstone, wrongly stated, “Without all the facts in, the finger of suspicion would suggest that this is probably Middle Eastern in its origin.” The Wall Street Journal, in a Friday op-ed, called the attack “jihadist.”
But guessing Muslim was quickly quashed when police arrested Anders Behring Breivik—a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Norwegian nationalist, who confessed to the murders, which he deemed a “necessary” part of his European Christian conservative revolution to combat what he considered the increasing threat of Muslim domination in Europe.
The media’s unsound reporting was fodder for comedians like Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report; though sadly, his humor seems as though it will herald the press’s response to future attacks. In advance of the next terror attack, Colbert has prepared the headline “Bad Things Happened Someplace: Muslims Involved.”
We live in a country where freedom of the press was established to keep governments in check and people informed. But reporters have diverted from that solemn duty. It is irresponsible when news organizations rely on yellow journalism and fear-mongering to compete. It is inimical when a Muslim mass murderer is a “terrorist,” but when the man turns out to be white and Christian, newspapers transform him into a “Christian extremist.” It is malfeasant when, in the back rooms of publications and stations, news is omitted, while trivial matters are emphasized so that words align with the hidden bias or agenda of the organization. And it is pure turpitude when a group of people is made into scapegoats because the press has become imprudent and lazy in their role.
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