Post Norway: Conservatives are on the defensive

In the wake of the horrific attacks in Norway by an extremist right-wing ‘Christian’ and a warrior against Islam, many American conservatives are on the defensive.

Religious and political conservatives have for some years sought to connect Islam to violence, and the premature portrayal of the terror attacks as the work of Muslims has left some conservatives ‘red-faced.’

Mark Juergensmeyer, author “Terror in the Mind of God,” noted close parallels between the 32-year-old Norwegian man, Anders Behring Breivik, who killed at least 76 people in coordinated attacks on government buildings in Oslo and a youth rally at a nearby island, and Timothy McVeigh, the anti-government radical behind the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

“If [Osama] bin Laden is a Muslim terrorist, Breivik and McVeigh are surely Christian ones,” Juergensmeyer, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, wrote on the blog Religion Dispatches.

Perhaps the best lesson – for conservatives and everyone else looking for obvious culprits and easy answers – came from a Norwegian woman who visited the devastation in Oslo.

“If Islamic people do something bad, you think, ‘Oh, it’s Muslims’?” Sigrid Skeie Tjensvoll told The Washington Post. “But if a white Protestant does something bad, you just think he’s mad. That’s something we need to think about.”

In his manifesto, written just hours before the killings, Breivik quoted Sydney Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell as a source of his ‘Christian’ motivation.

Quoting a speech Pell gave post September 11, Breivik wrote, “in the relationship between the Islamic and non-Islamic world, the normal thing is a situation of tension if not war, or outright hostility”.


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News category: World.

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