By Michelle Chen
On one hand, the lone-wolf theory is refreshing in that it recognizes individuals can commit acts of terror even without the direction of an established group. But it also affords mainstream Americans a mental safe zone that detaches “the crazies” from more acceptable right-wing and racist currents in the public discourse. The failure to grasp the continuum of extremism creates self-enforcing ignorance, as seen in Homeland Security’s attempts to downplay the threat of militant right-wing groups amid pressure from conservatives.
True, extreme ideologies can’t be solely to blame for extreme violence. But curiously, that principle just doesn’t seem to apply to Muslim community leaders, constantly pressured to formally denounce every act that carries any suspicion of Islamic radicalism. The “lone wolf” concept doesn’t buffer European and American Muslims against the collective guilt that so many right-wingers gleefully impose on their religious identity.
Salon’s Glenn Greenwald dissected the media’s conflation of religion, politics and terror in the coverage of Norway on corporate outlets:
The response to the Norway attacks shows that the world "terrorism" has no meaning--aside from when it's used to bash Muslims.
By Amy Goodman
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, that’s one of the interesting things, is you would think that—you would think that in response to this attack, we would end up doing things like, for example, profiling Nordic males or tall, blond Americans, tall, blond, Nordic-looking people at airports, or would start to, for example, engage in surveillance on the communications of people who belong to right-wing groups in Europe, or you look at the people who inspire these attacks, people like Robert Spencer or Pamela Geller, people who engage in this sort of strident anti-Muslim commentary who inspired this individual. You know, we look at Islamic radicals who we allege inspire violence, such as Anwar al-Awlaki, and we target them for assassination—due-process-free killing—even though they’re American citizens. Of course, none of these measures are going to be invoked against right-wing ideologues who are anti-Muslim in nature. And you would expect that Peter King’s hearings, if he were really interested in the threat of violence or terrorism, would be expanded to include what we now know is a very real threat, and yet it isn’t, which simply underscores that those hearings, like so many of these measures done in the name of terrorism, is really just a vehicle for demonizing Muslims, restricting their rights, subjecting them to increased scrutiny. It’s about Islamophobia and not about terrorism.
GOODMAN: Finally, the lack of coverage over the weekend in the United States was stunning, from Friday night, Saturday, Sunday, this story where so many young people were killed, massive terror attack, hugest terror attack in Norway in its history. Yet in this country, when you go to the networks, cable networks, known for covering a story for many hours at a time, this one almost fell from all the networks except the occasional headline.
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, that was completely predictable. I mean, on Friday, when the attack actually took place, there was quite substantial and intense interest in what had taken place. Everybody was talking about it. There were complaints that—on Friday, that CNN wasn’t running continuous coverage. But in general, there was a lot of media interest, because at the time people thought, based on what the New York Timesand other media outlets had said, based on nothing, that this was the work of an Islamic—a radical Islamic group. And at the time, I wrote, when I wrote about the unfolding story, that if it turns out to be something other than an Islamic group that was responsible, especially if it turns out to be a right-wing nationalist who’s anti-Muslim in his views, that interest in this story was going to evaporate to virtual non-existence.
And what’s really amazing is, you know, every time there’s an act of violence undertaken by someone who’s Muslim, the commentary across the spectrum links his Muslim religion or political beliefs to the violence and tries to draw meaning from it, broader meaning. And yet, the minute that it turned out that the perpetrator wasn’t Muslim, but instead was this right-wing figure, the exact opposite view arose, which is, "Oh, his views and associations aren’t relevant. It’s not fair to attribute or to blame people who share his views or who inspired him with these acts." And it got depicted as being this sort of individual crazy person with no broader political meaning, and media interest disappeared. It’s exactly the opposite of how it’s treated when violence is undertaken by someone who’s Muslim.
What Christian jihadists want
Norwegian killer hates women
Norwegian killer hates multiculturalism
For more on terrorism in general, see:
Indigenous resistance = "terrorism"?
Indians, terrorists = US enemies
How people get labeled "terrorists"
Below: Some of our own Konservative Kristian Killers.