Ahlan wa Sahlan!
So by now you've all probably heard about the tragedy that hit in Oslo less than a week ago on July 22nd. 68 people were killed through the shooting spree at a Labor Party youth camp on the norwegian island of Utoeya by terrorist Anders Behring Breivik. He is also allegedly involved in the bomb attack that ripped through Oslo's government district resulting in the death of 7 people.
Whats interesting about this particular incident is the actual media storm that ensued. Even though initial reports coming out of norway's TV2 indicated that a "blonde, nordic man" had been arrested in connection to the attacks, the reaction of most news outlets was to simply presume that he must have been a convert to Islam hence a connection to Al Qaeda. So eager was the news media to involve muslims in the attacks that they jumped on even the least credible information source possible. Thus emerged reports that a group called "The Helpers of the Global Jihad" had claimed responsiblity for the attacks. Source? From a (now deleted) discussion thread on an obscure arabic militant forum website called "Shmukh", where the quote of responsibility was diligently copy/pasted (in arabic) by one Will McCant, a blogger at www.jihadica.com. This was immediately picked up and published by The New York Times.
My first reaction was......"That doesn't even make sense. Why would islamic extremists attack Norway of all places?" My bewilderment did not cease despite answers that perhaps it was because of Norway's involvement with NATO. So they were compelled to attack Norway but not Denmark from which the cartoons of The Prophet (pbuh) originated from? It just didn't add up.
My skepticism was redeemed by Norway's official police report when it soon became apparently clear that the perpetrator of the attacks was not muslim nor had any ties to Al Qaeda, but was a radical right-wing christian fundamentalist from Norway.
But wait, it gets even better.
The 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik held anti-Muslim, anti-government and anti-immigration views, undoubtedly a hallmark of right-wing neo-conservatives in the USA and right-wing anti-immigration movements like the English Defence League (EDL) in Europe. This became no more obvious when it was discovered that Breivik had in fact written a 1,500-page manifesto entitled "2083: A European Declaration of Independence" espousing the same views that many if not all right-wing neo-cons enshrine on a daily basis. He goes on to cite the works of such infamous islamophobes as Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, and Pamela Geller as "required reading", all of whom have amusingly tried to distance themselves from Breivik and his criminal actions.
As soon as the US media caught up to the fact that the terrorist acts were carried out by a blue-eyed blonde-haired radical right-wing christian, they immediately dropped the "terrorist" label opting for more benign terms as "madman" and "lunatic". Bill O' Reilly of Fox News even went so far as saying that Breivik was not a christian fundamentalist.
This ridiculous double standard is not just insulting to its viewers but is also an indication of a severe lack of objective journalistic practice. Given that journalistic integrity in the US is almost nearly non-existent these days, you'd still think they'd be able to call a spade a spade even if its staring at you straight in the face. Well.....apparently not.
Stephen Colbert does a great job of lampooning this sad state of affairs in his segment of The Colbert Report.