White Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism in Norway

That the horrible terrorist attacks in Oslo on Friday that left some 90 persons or more dead– a bombing of the prime minister’s office and shootings at a Labor Party youth camp– were allegedly committed by a blonde, far right wing Norwegian fundamentalist Christian rather than by a radical Muslim group is being treated as a matter of surprise in some quarters. But if those journalists and analysts had been paying attention, they would not be surprised at all.

And in fact, kudos to Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store (a Labor Party member), who refused to speculate about who was behind the attacks before some evidence was gathered: “We’ve seen in Europe in recent years that politicians have been jumping to conclusions about suspects before investigations have been conducted, and we will not commit that error.” Give that man a medal!

Europol reports have long made it clear that the biggest threat of terrorism in Europe comes from separatist movements, then from the fringe left, then from the far right. In 2008, only one terrorist attack out of hundreds in Europe was committed by radical Muslims. In 2010, according to Europol [pdf], 7 persons were killed in terrorist attacks. Some 160 of these attacks that year were carried out by separatists. The number launched by people of Muslim heritage? 3. It would be silly to maintain that Muslim radicals do not pose a threat of terrorism; indeed, many plots were broken up by European police. But as an actually-existing phenomenon, terrorism in Europe is mainly the work of Christian-heritage people. For more on the Norwegian far right, see Firstpost.com.

Bill Maher and other public figures often say that while few Muslims are terrorists, terrorists are disproportionately Muslim. But this way of putting the matter is extremely misleading.

The suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, is anti-multiculturalist and believes that the Qur’an commands Muslims to be extremists. His attack on the Labour Party appears to have derived in part from its insufficient hate of people of other cultures. Breivik’s discourse, about Islam and the Qur’an being *essentially* evil, is part of the Islamophobia promoted by some right wing forces in the west; and his actions show where that kind of thinking can lead. I wrote in 2006:

“The hatemongers are well known. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Cable News, Rush Limbaugh’s radio program and its many clones, telebimbos like Ann Coulter, Evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham, Congressmen like Tom Tancredo, and a slew of far rightwing Zionists who would vote for Netanyahu (or Kach) if they lived in Israel– Frank Gaffney, Daniel Pipes, Michael Rubin, David Horowitz, etc., etc.”

As anyone who studies the Old South in the US will tell you, turning some people into exemplars of the N-word requires that you punish in various ways the N-lovers.

Foreign Minister Store said it well (h/t CNN), defending liberty of belief and association against the Far Right attacks on them:

‘ “Today, free government was attacked, freedom of association was attacked, the spirit of youth was attacked. But we will kick back and say that these are values that are dear to us, and we intend to defend them and Norway will be recognizable tomorrow as the Norway our friends and partners around the world have known so far.”

Aljazeera English has a video report on the attacks:

The proponents of racial profiling who want to target some Orientalist imagination of the Muslim are extremely dangerous to our security, since they want to let European separatists, far leftists, and neo-Nazis off the hook while targeting Muslims, who commit little terrorism in Europe.

Today’s events remind us that we cannot profile evil and that terrorists come in all sizes, heritages, shapes and skin colors.

Posted in Uncategorized | 64 Responses | Print |

64 Responses

  1. Terrorism is the manifestation of political ideology that cannot earn its policy option selections through traditional systemic channels, and it’s usually reactionary, aka Right Wing. Al Qaeda, White Supremacists, Fascists, Tim McVeigh, are all Right Wing Political Minorities. The Left tends to use non-violent passive resistance, like with Gandhi and MLK, Jr. The Political Spectrum is of course a circle, and Revolutionaries and Reactionaries do meet, but it seems The Right has violence as part of its DNA, and terror is when you can’t muster 5% of the vote or adopt your policies.

    Nice to read you again Juan, I was a regular on The Poorman.net for a long time, cheers!

    • “The Left tends to use non-violent passive resistance, like with Gandhi and MLK, Jr.”

      Your above-cited quote is a good case of historical amnesia, deliberate or otherwise, Mr. Kennedy. You apparently have never heard of (or don’t want to acknowledge) the Weathermen, the Black Panthers, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and others in the U.S.; not to mention the Bolsheviks in Russia, Mao Zhe Dong in China, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Kim Jong Il in North Korea, the FARC in Colombia, the Sendero Luminoso in Peru, The MIR in Chile, and other Leftist movements throughout the world that have used terrorism as a tactic. I think an objective tally would prove that both the Left and the Right are equal opportunity terrorists.

      • Yah, it’s all in the definitions and the mental assignments of “entities” to particular “categories.”

        When advising others to refer to “history” to bolstger your conclusion that “both left and right are equal opportunity terrorists,” it seems to me you might also reflect on the history of what gets categorized as “terrorist activity” and maybe note that a very large disproportion of the many individual acts of violence originates from disaffected and maybe what one might call “deranged and anomic” persons. There’s no light emitted by that fake Left-Right dichotomy, only blood heat and excuses for more of the same.

        You want to label Mao as a “leftist?” Why, because he and his cadres made some totally fraudulent noise about “Marxism and Leninism” on the way to establishing their dictatorships? Is “collectivization” and “authoritarian central control and planning” the touchstone for political polarity? Gee, how hard is it to find examples hidden behind both simplistic labels? The basic drive is to domination and feudalism from any orientation.

        How about maybe looking at a little more of the actual functions and actions of “leftists” and “rightists?” Or do people who have “studied history” just need to protect their biases and explanations and world views?

        As Professor Cole points out, most “terrorist plots” are forestalled by POLICE ACTIVITY, plain old gumshoeing. That says a lot about the nature of the beast. But armchair geopoliticians have got to have their categories, now don’t they? Keeps the money flowing in the “right” direction…

        We are ruined as a species, because of the way we are wired. We are burning the planet, ALL of us, and pretensions to rectitude and invocation of the “forces of history” that come from whichever set of kleptocrats you happen to prefer, to sucker the rest of us into “following their lead,” are just that, pretensions and shell games.

      • I feel like the entire argument in this comments section about left and right wing terrorists is stemming from a huge desire to not be painted as “that side that breeds terrorists”. Everyone’s bantering about whose body count is bigger or whether both sides are equally murderous and it feels like an extension of Goldberg’s arguing, when he tried to lay the blame for all of recent history’s worst tragedies on the political left and attempted to exonerate the right for all wrong doing. It’s like that, except both sides are doing it, forgetting that left and right are just perspectives and that the ideas the are associated with either term can end up switching sides at any time. American liberals are similar to European conservatives and vice versa if I remember right.
        When Mao and Stalin and Kim took power they were left-authoritarian because they demanded a centralized power structure dedicated to changing the status quo- “revolutionary china, guarding the revolution etc”.
        When Hitler and Mussolini and various south american dictators took power, they were right-authoritarian because they demanded a centralized power structure devoted to maintaining the status quo.
        Dont ever forget that the difference between left and right is the type of ideas they endorse, and that they can switch sides at any time- and that if you get angry enough about them you can be driven to violence regardless of the stereotypes associated with each spectrum label.

      • You are only partly right, when it comes to the past.
        But nowadays, the far right is much more dangerous than the left fringe which won’t target crowds indiscriminately. Left fringe and environmental activists have targeted buildings or other material goods at the utmost, aka physical symbols of the powers they are fighting against.
        Meanwhile, the far right has targeted immigrants and refugees centers and innocent crowds.
        Also, you can’t compare dictators inebriated by their power with the actual left in the EU, even with the more radicals. And you can’t ignore the fact that the glorification of force is more intimately connected with the right wing ideology, while

    • “Tends” is a good choice given the Left’s equally violent past blowing things up.

      • In the United States, the terrorist acts of the radical right outnumber those of the left by about 10 to 1 and the killings probably by about 100 to 1. Many acts of the left, essentially “sabotage,” attacks on property and machinery, are falsely claimed to be “terrorism” by the radical right, in its relentless quest to replace truth with fiction. The murders and atrocities of the Klan and other right wing groups against minorities, unionists, and leftists of all kinds will not be forgotten by history, even if the Amerikkkan right is successful in changing the textbooks to suit their lies.

  2. Who are the far left terrorists today who target humans for violence? Sorry, I’m drawing a blank. Does SLPC know about them? Just want to make sure one of my heroes isn’t accidentally succumbing to false-dichotomy both-sides” criticism.

    By the way, I jumped to a conclusion the second I read that the Labour youth camp was attacked. It was obvious. The same with Oklahoma City, especially after “Arabs” were instantly said to be to blame.

    Thanks for your tireless excellent work, as always.

      • Apparently, what the imperialist police agency Europol is giving here as its main example of “left-wing” or “anarchist” “terrorism” isn’t “terrorism” at all, but an attack, in which nobody was injured, on the repressive apparatus — in this case, courts — of the capitalist state. In other words, it was, if not a false-flag operation, an act of urban guerrilla warfare, as was the killing in 1975 of Richard Welch, an official of a genuine terrorist organization, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, and the attempted attack on the U.S. Embassy in Athens in 2007.

      • Once you resort to violence you have completed the political spectrum circle where the right intersects with the left. It has nothing to do with the brand, Christians can be like MLK, II or the KKK or The NAZIs, the Stalinists were fascists by another brand name, The Chinese are Fascists, they claim to be Communists, but they don’t even have universal health care, that is salesmanship, label propaganda. The “Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea is neither Democratic, the People’s or a Republic, judge people and groups by what they do, not what they say. This is fundamental to understanding political ideology to separate the stage craft from the actions and the means to implement policy option selections and what those selections are.

      • If you read that report you will find that they are grasping at straws. For example, an “arson attempt” at a job market coordinating facility in Vienna is listed, with 4 suspects arrested (out of 30). This incident is reported as a farce at best and police overreach at worst, even by the conservative media in Austria.

        (a police special unit has tracked, shadowed, and searched the flats of a couple of art students and tried rather unsuccessfully to link them to garbage bins set aflame that did some damage to the building.)

        Conversely, there were no right wing terrorism incidents in 2010 in Europe (according to the EUROPOL report). Yes, really, none. It all makes sense when you allow for cynical definitions:

        Apparently when poor immigrants get stabbed this is a hate crime but not terrorism (but could induce “counter terrorism” from left wing activists – that would then be politically motivated, ergo terrorist, I kid you not, it’s in the report…)

        The bigger threat is posed animal rights activists, you see, who take on targets that matter, be they business or state institutions…

        [and, no, I have not condoned any violence in this post, but thank you for asking, if you did…]

  3. Dear Todd, have you ever heard about -for example- ETA, GRAPO (Spain), Brigate Rosse(Italia), FARC (Colombia), Sendero Luminoso (Peru), RAF (Germany, and IRA (Ireland)?

    • Again, groups will claim ideology that is popular sounding, but they are to be judged by their actions not how they brand themselves. The KKK is not Martin Luther, even though they both claim Christianity. Most groups that claim Communism are really Fascists, like China which is corporate and doesn’t share anything, because the concept is popular in the region.

      The IRA is pretty Conservative, they are on the Right on Social Issues, but this is a good point to make, the Moderates found a way to curb the violence in Ireland when they transcended labels and got down to actions and appreciated that they all had the same fundamental goals, health, jobs, peace, progression, most groups want the same ends, but have different paths, the violent have different means and a different end, that’s why they are unsuccessful in the political realm. Politics is war by other means, terrorism is a method to scare people into adopting your political goals because you can’t win an election. This is Fascist. The real political dichotomy in the world is Totalitarianism/Fascism and democracy, and not just voting democracy, but the full panoply of democracy, the rights of the minority, a bill of rights, redress of grievance, etc. Everything else is propaganda. Actions not words. The KKK had some rationalizations for their terrorism, they claimed biblical rationale, but their ends were totalitarian, “you will do what I want or I will kill you.” Instead of, I will bring my ideas to a free market of ideas and if I lose an election I will accept the results and continue in the process. Everything else is BS. And when people get caught up in the labels and the claims by the groups it makes the reality of the political calculation fuzzy, and it only benefits non-democratic republican/parliamentarian forces pleased. To me Communists are Fascists, there is an absence of comprehensive democracy and that makes it no different then Nationalistic Fascism, it’s Pepsi or Coca-Cola.

      • Well, that’s a perfect piece of circular reasoning. There is no left-wing terrorism, because any group that calls itself and/or is generally considered leftwing but uses terror isn’t *really* leftwing.

        Also known as the “No true Scotsman” phallacy: link to en.wikipedia.org

        • So “phallacy” has got to be a truly wonderful pun, right? As in “No True Scotsman wears anything under his kilt”? So his “phallacy” can breathe free?

          Still waiting for a listing of “left wing terrorist” groups, and it ain’t circular, far as I am concerned, it’s recognition that people who cross the boundaries of the taboo on murder have more in common with each other than with any particular ideology or religion.

          Maybe people who point to the “Weathermen” as violent leftists might recall that when those “hippies” ended up confronting a bunch of construction workers in Manhattan, they got their “elitist” butts kicked by the people who are closest to the real violent soul of our species. Beer muscles and bar fights don’t come from “left” or “right,” they come from human nature. And assigning otherness to one set of violent antisocial cretins as a way to prove the superiority of a category one has affinity for or allegiance to just destroys the ability to parse the reality and see if there’s any way around the likely end game we are heading for. In my very humble opinion, of course.

        • By the way, for those of you who haven’t tried it, violence is FUN, it’s EXCITING, there’s not much in the way of feeling really human to compare with pulling off a totally effective ambush, or dropping various kinds of ordnance on people who don’t know it’s coming.

          The best part about terror, and I hope some of the Drone Drivers will ultimately expose this aspect of that enormous institutionalized act of terror, is when you can do the murder remotely, from far away, and without consequences. Go check the popularity of “drone strike Hellfire insurgent” actual combat videos in YouTube, or the mass participation, with gusto, in “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft” and the like. The US Army uses a “combat simulation” as a gateway drug in its recruitment web site (and also spends hundreds of millions of your tax dollars getting “product placement” presence in NASCAR events.)

          I speak as a guy who spent a year in a place called Vietnam, 1967-68. Yak about violence and who’s Left and Right — what you got is plain old exemplars of human behavior, with a thin veneer of nominal attachment to some Larger Category to “legitimize” it in the minds of the killers. And a bunch of members of our human set of “tribes with flags” to either deplore it when “others” do it, or cheer the behavior when “their team” sweeps the field.

        • No sir, it is a correction of the false narrative of the nature of the dichotomy of left and right, the dichotomy is comprehensive democracy vs. totalitarianism/violence, regardless of the propaganda the agent uses, it is their actions that betray their ideology. Just as those who claim to be “Independents” have a very clear set of policy option selections and voting trends. If I call myself a pacifist and bomb a bank, then I’m not a pacifist. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, is not that which it claims to be. Left vs. Right is not about economics it is about belief in a democratic process with minority rights, accepting results, a bill of rights, or killing people until you get what you want. The political spectrum is a circle, not a line. That which actors claim does not define them, their actions define them. Left means you are a small “d” democratic republican or democratic parliamentarian, it means you prefer systems by which peoples with commonwealth determine how to allocate and utilized their resources with a process that includes voting, free speech, right to assemble, rights to and from religion, etc., all that is outlined in Thomas Paine’s ‘The Rights of Man’. There are increments on the circular political spectrum to the left and to the right and at two points they meet. Mostly in the United States Republicans and Democrats utilize their democratic republic to solve policy option alternatives. It is when there are undemocratic outside influences, like corporations that you shift right, away from democracy and towards Monarchy/Philosopher Kingdoms/Elitism/Fascism/Totalitarianism. But it’s incremental, most of these words have lost their utility because they lack nuance.

          1. Political Actors and Groups are what they DO not what they SAY.

          2. The Dichotomy between Left and Right is comprehensive democracy or lack there of.

          3. There is nuance and increments in the political spectrum, that is a circle, not a line.

          4. democracy isn’t popularity, it’s creating an environment for a free market place of ideas and sustaining the market by accepting outcomes so long as they don’t destroy the market.

      • One quick response Todd. You state that the IRA “is pretty Conservative, they are on the Right on Social Issues”. That simply wasn’t the case. The IRA’s development from around 1916 was steeped in Socialism to the extent that by the 1960s the they were clearly Marxist in outlook. The Provisional IRA took control (the Provos as they were known – and the group who are commonly referred to when we say IRA nowadays). They were still Socialist in orientation and this distinction in political outlook has always been significant difference between Irish Republican and British Loyalists such as the UVF and the UDA. The current political wing of certain dissident Republican groups is the IRSP – the Irish Republican Socialist Party.

    • Most of the groups mentioned used violence primarily against the state or states they were in conflict with. In most cases, those states were overtly or covertly far more violent than these groups were.

      In most places in the world, state violence, whether by the local state apparatus or by imperialist attackers and occupiers, is far greater than anti-state violence.

      • Amen to that! …if you’ll excuse the religious sounding exclamation from an agnostic pagan.

      • Wait – by the standards Interpol seems to be applying to Europe, isn’t almost all current “terrorism” in Egypt and Syria being carried out by pro-democracy protestors? Since pro-democracy advocates do (like, say, Mediterranean anarchists) sometimes throw rocks and damage, and even occasionally set fire to, buildings, and since by the standards Interpol applies, no action carried out by police or other security forces, no matter how arbitrarily violent, can ever be defined as “terrorism.” So the only “terrorists” by their definition would seem to be the protestors – or, perhaps, units of the Syrian army who defect to help protect them.

        It seems to me before we can say that “left-wingers” carry out more acts of terrorism than “right-wingers” we might want to consider what these actions are. When was the last time a European left-winger massacred dozens of people like that? Like, ever? I am not sure I can think of any examples even of someone killed by intentional violent acts by a left-winger in recent years (by “intentional violent acts” I mean “acts of violence intended to kill someone”) in Europe. Last year three people died in Athens when some protestors set fire to what they thought was an empty bank – but it turned out they were employees who’d been locked in an upper room so they couldn’t join the protest. Afterwards, there were barely any protests at all for months, and certainly no attacks on banks, despite the economic crisis because everyone felt so terrible about the death of innocents. Anarchists and other leftists in Greece do regularly engage in pitched battles with police, but I am not aware of attacks intended to kill, maim, or terrorize civilians – which is the usual definition of terrorism.

        Anyway it seems odd to apply standards that make it sound like leftists are blowing up bombs on crowded street corners or crowded office buildings and opening fire on vacationing children when in fact nothing of the kind seems ever to take place. And even more odd to uncritically site figures that, if applied to the Middle East, would make it sound like Syrian democracy advocates were that country’s only terrorists.

    • Those groups are nomore active since tens of years. Plus they never targeted a crowd indiscriminately. It was later discovered that the bombing of Bologna which was falsely attributed to the Brigate Rosse, was in fact set up by the far right in order to accuse the left.

  4. How often haven’t Muslims been vilified as a group when the “Holy Western Civilisation” has been under threat? They have been disenfranchised, marginalised, and some even radicalised by this. And now when a fundamentalist Christian white supremacist has gone on a rampage, when a spawn of our own so civilised society has committed the atrocity, will that then open up the self-scrutiny or will it be just another opportunity to explain it away in convenient psycho-babble?

  5. “Separatists” and “Christian-heritage” people are not the equivalent of Christian. Do separatists and Christian-heritage people committ terrorism in the name of Christianity? Do they kill people under the banner of Christianity?

    Very few do. Christian terrorism, terrorism committed in the name of Christianity, is extremely rare in modern times. All deeply religious Christians condemn it in the same way that all deeply religious Muslims condemn terrorism committed in the name of Islam. Profoundly faithful people are not terrorists.

    Don’t misunderstand me. I am not a Christian but I am outraged to read the unmitigated hatred that some on the fringe left have for Christianity and Christians. It is despicable bigotry. It’s language and expression is equal to the hatred that white supremacists have for people of color.

    I agree that some Christians are misguided in their attempts to impose their religious values on others who have different faiths or no faith at all. Separation of church and state, personal freedom, responsibility and accountability must be preserved for everyone. Christians, or for that matter any one of any faith, or no faith at all, must he held to these standards.

    • All violent extremists are rare, because they are political minorities, by definition. There are just as many Christian branded terrorists as any other brand, the Militia Groups, McVeigh, the the Norwegian actor, the White Supremacists that are active in much of Europe and the Americas, the people who attack abortion clinics, but that doesn’t matter. Just because they claim to be Christian, their actions show opposite. Just as Al-Q’s actions show them to be non-Muslim. There are Buddhist brand terrorists, there are Sikh brand terrorists, there are Green Environmentalist terrorists, it doesn’t matter what they claim, as soon as they try to terrorize the society to gain political goals, they are all Totalitarian and Fascists to me, because they have absconded the democratic republican system or what ever form of access they have. In nations where there is no comprehensive democracy, like the US Colonies under King George, what do we call them then? Revolutionary Freedom fighters, people fighting for their natural rights. If their is no system for redress of grievance, no market to take your political ideas for fair trade the best action is passive resistance, like in India, Egypt, Syria, The South during the Civil Rights Movement. Masses of peaceful people passively gumming up the works, absorbing violence, as long as it is relentless and the aims are to create a free democratic market of ideas with a bill of rights, is LIBERAL and Progressive. An idea that didn’t exist in the colonies of King George, but liberalism progressed over time to find a better way to become unlamented from natural rights. If the aims are democratic, if the masses are consistent and relentless, they receive the sympathy of outside actors, people of other nations, and if they are right, and comprehensive democratic systems that restore the people’s relationship with their natural rights, are correct, they usually win. The Right can only win low turnout elections, The Left can only win high turnout elections…there is a reason for this. If you can’t win fairly, then you need to use propaganda, lies, violence, money, to steal the rights of man. Forget the labels, they are red herrings, follow the actions, the means, and the ends.

      • Passive resistance in Egypt, for instance, was made possible large by the brave and violent resistance that cleared and protected the space for them to gather. We can’t pretend it was all Twitter and Facebook and forget the decades of organization by organized labor and other groups working for change and willing to fight back.

    • What about the successful terrorist campaign by the anti-abortion movement to kill, injure and harass doctors until it is nearly impossible to get an abortion in some states despite it being legal? The media refuses to admit that the terrorists have won, because they’re Christian terrorists. And the ones who commit the violence get wink-wink-nudge-nudge support from the ones who spit on women going to clinics, who in turn get open support from the Palins and Bachmanns and Tea Party, who now run the GOP. So there are tens of millions of Christians who pretend that their dollars and their organizations might be helping shield and legally defend the killers. We are certainly talking about “normal” Christians by now. And since this Christianity has gained so much political power and voter strength in the last 30 years, it is stained by all the other right-wing criminals that it has helped put in office, and we have a right to regard it as a threat to our very lives.

      They think the ends justify the means. That’s not unusual in religious thought. But it means there is no real barrier preventing the monstrous ideas of an R. J. Rushdoony from becoming the platform for the entire conservative movement.

    • Hilarious Shelly. Equating Christians with people of color? Methinks your category errors are showing.

    • “(34) Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. (35) For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – (36) a man’s enemies will be members of his own household.’ (37) Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; (38) and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (39) Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:34-39, NIV).

  6. “the Left tends to use non-violent passive resistance,”

    those Bolsheviks – shining beacons of passive resistance

    • What was the Right at that time?

      Feudal landlords who held the population in debt bondage.

      Which in fact is the bondage in which most humans have lived since the invention of private landowning several thousand years ago. We called it sharecropping here, and many of us were alive when it still existed. It’s still the way of life for millions of peasants around the world.

      How many humans have been starved, murdered, or died unneccessarily of disease because of this evil system that many conservatives consider the “good old days”? How many women and girls raped by their lords? How many children sold into slavery to pay off debts, as Edgar Snow described in 1930s China? From the Irish famine deliberately ignored by British authorities, to the worsening lives of third-world farmers under IMF neoliberalism today? Hundreds of millions? Billions?

      Since Gandhi called poverty “the worst form of violence”, I hope you’re leaving a space for that on your scorecard.

      And yes, I personally think we have a natural right to use violence against such a system, even if we risk putting a worse system in place. If our forebears were cowed by that risk, the bad guys would have won forever.

      • Super390,

        In 1917 Russia, there was a range of political groups between the Tsarist feudal landlords and the Bolsheviks.

        There were liberals, Mensheviks, and Kerensky’s Socialist Revolutionaries.

        The latter had their own history of political violence, but the Bolsheviks were in a category of their own. Their “October Revolution” was a coup d’etat – not against the feudal landlords of yore, land reform was already taking place – but against a government that represented a range of ideas and movements.

        Your dichotomy of what history was like at that moment is false. The Bolsheviks can be credited, it’s true, for letting one round of democratic elections take place. They lost them, getting just a quarter of the vote. Kerensky’s Socialist Revolutionaries, whom they had deposed, received half the vote. The new Bolshevik regime’s response? They surrounded the newly elected parliament, and arrested scores of its newly elected members. Mostly men who were also socialists, just like them, just not as radical or belonging to a different school of socialist thought.

        It was an act that foreshadowed the state terrorism that the Bolsheviks were to unleash in the years – and decades – to come. Your defense that they were merely acting against reactionary feudalists is historically just not correct.

    • I like to think that the “evil” left (of which I am one, I guess) has transcended violence by now. The Bolscheviks were nearly a century ago.

      • @Teri: There’s still plenty of leftist groups with teeth, at this time you just don’t find them in the English speaking world, that’s why you haven’t heard of them.

        There are plenty of voilent leftist groups in the former Soviet republics, south and central America, South (India, Nepal, Bangladesh) and South East Asia and Southern Europe.

    • Bolsheviks don’t believe in comprehensive democratic systems so they aren’t left, even though they claim to be left, many people and institutions lie, they are one of them.

      • Todd, your argument reminds me of that of the Jonah Goldbergs of the world about nazism and the right. Nazism, they assert, can’t possibly have been rightwing, because the right always only stands for individual liberty, and since the Nazis repressed individual liberty they can’t have been rightwing.

        You do the same trick: communism can’t have been a leftwing ideology, because the left is always only about “comprehensive democratic systems”, and since communists suppressed democracy, they can’t have been letwing.

        Yes, that is circular reasoning, and its ahistoricism is self-serving. You can’t rewrite history by creating your own definitions of what can *really* only be considered left or right wing, and then project those backward into history. The communists considered themselves radical leftists; they were considered radical leftists by all their contemporaries. You can make up your own definitions like Jonah Goldberg does, but it will require you to, well, write your own history.

  7. Thank you Professor Cole, I am a fan of your work, but I thought this particular post was above even that usual high standard. I hope you will not mind, but I included a link to it, and used a few (properly attributed) quotes from it in what I wrote this morning on my blog, (penigma.blogspot.com) about the terrorist attack.

    This was a terrible event, very much the Tim McVeigh moment for Norway. I hope this more properly focuses our attention, the world’s attention, on who it is that puts us at risk, rather than ideology-driven fear distracting us from paying correct attention to who is and is not dangerous.

  8. While we’re on the subject of terrorism, let’s not forget about state terrorism. Germany, Britain and the US have all recently negotiated substantial military contracts with Saudi Arabia, a leading bulwark against popular and democratic movements in the Arab world.

    This alongside the almost weekly drone attacks that barely get a mention in opinion pieces by the champions of Western values.

  9. Wow, that was great. I’m just glad to live in the state where you teach. Just unfortunate just a small minority will read this piece, it should be leading all newscasts.

  10. I am living in Oslo. when Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store (a Labor Party member), who refused to speculate about who was behind the attacks, the suspect were arrested and identified by police forces but it was not broadcasted.
    The minister definitely knew it was carried out by a Norwegian man.
    I don’t give him any credits for being fair.

  11. Religions are often and widely misused to interpret or justify wrongdoings.. Intellectual followers carry the burden to purify their beliefs from both seeds and preachers of misinterpretation, misleading and misuse among their faithful commons.. Regretfully, the mass-media had inevitably deviated from its noble cause towards progressive integration; to be a toy in hands of the notorious triangle: politics, money and sex.. I’m not sure how corrections would be developed, but at least I do appreciate the diagnostic efforts of yours.. Nevertheless, Muslims carries heavier burden as their educated elite could not provide the proper investigation, analysis and awareness to their own folks.. They satisfied with the international attention and efforts on their case; which had blind-folded many eyes from the non-Muslim extremism..

  12. Juan,
    Thanks for pointing to the Europol report. Looking though earlier years (covering 2006-2010), the annual reports account for over 2000 terror plots in EU member states. All of 8 were plotted by Islamists (less than half a percent). Looking at arrests, over a quarter of the over 4000 people arrested for terror-related activities in the same time period are described as being involved Islamist terror plots.

    Does this difference suggest that the attention that law enforcement has given to Islamic extremism is successfully stopping attacks prior to the plot being operational, or do you think that Muslims are being disproportionately (and unfairly) targeted? I would prefer to give law enforcement the benefit of the doubt, but the difference between arrest rate and actual plots is rather large.

  13. It’s sad–very very sad indeed! Humans are just killing other humans because of some stupid reasons. But my concern is not with individuals alone. Nations are dropping bombs on other nations because they don’t agree with them. Why can’t we resolve issues like human beings with rational minds.

    When countries easily resort to violence to solve problems, we essentially legitimize the use of instruments of death as means to attain common results. Thus the phenomenon get inculcated in the minds of individuals who just emulate what the State normally does.

    This is pretty simple: if I don’t like you, or what you do, or I get angry because of any other reason, I can pick up a gun and shoot at you—the object of my anger. In other words, I will just bomb you, or kill you by any means just because am angry with you and don’t like you. This craziness is going on all around the world and result in the death of innocent people.

    Israel is killing innocent Palestinians; Syria is killing its own citizens; Bahrain is killing its own citizens; Saudi Arabia does not even allow half of its citizens exercise even basic freedom, and Iran is doing the same.

    What we should realize is that,individuals are just doing what States are doing–just kill, and kill, and keep on killing when somebody is perceived as being against their interes/s, no matter how twisted and contorted that interest might be. How sad!

  14. Bill Maher is a Zionist racists who generally talks off the top of his head rather than studying the fact first.

    If he had been acquainted with the research of Robert Pape, he would have understood that most suicide bombers are secular and that the most prolific practitioners of suicide attacks are the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka.

    The Pape study, the most comprehensive study of it kind compiled data on all suicide attacks occurring in the world between 1982 and 2003, is restricted to suicide terrorism,but certainly the report represents far better than a fair sampling of general terrorism.

    Mr Maher knows absolutely nothing about the formation of Israel, which he is always defending, and its terrorist origins.

  15. It would be interesting to see a chart of how much violence is committed by different groups as a ratio of the violence effects (how many killed) to the population of those groups, with offensive violence (e.g. The US in Iraq or Israel in Gaza) in red, and defensive violence in blue.

  16. OK, my long, long post did not get approved. However, this is still an important issue —

    Another issue slipping under the radar is the radicalization of lower income men in general. In Europe there is a large group of the working class which can be poetically recruited and has progress into elements of the middle-class. When this happens there is usually an upswing in violence, as seen in Imperial Russia prior to 1910’s, and a pervious in the sport hooligans which at one time was a working class phenomenon and is now middle-class.

    If ‘radicalization” does not become politically violent, the violence is over other issues – like their soccer team losing, in this type of environment they are going to gravitate to anything violent and their politics is basically irreverent because they will gravitate towards anything. If it politics, it will usually manifest itself opposite to whatever is in power, which in Northern Europe it will be radical right, in Southern Europe it will be radical left, or it can take the form of religious, or racial violence.

    In my reading the next area of bias will be between the educated and under-educated and not necessary along racial lines. Maybe some of this is seen in it’s beginnings in a class struggle beginning to rear its head.

    And yes, I do wish a broader view of racial bias expressed would include the bias which flourished in the north.

  17. The guy is also a Freemason, conservative and organic farmer according to his face book so why specifically label him as a fundamentalist Christian except to lay the blame at Christians feet?

    • Yeah, gee, that is so UNFAIR!!!!! It’s like there’s no actual history of people claiming the Cross of Christ (speaking of false-flagging) as their guidepost engaging in this kind of stuff….

    • Fundamentalism is about thinking and doing as if your way of reading the Good Book is the only way and others therefore have to be eliminated by way of you being the judge and executing that judgment.

      It’s just that it’s so very hard to keep on thinking this way after reading, re-reading and contemplating the New Testament, with the life of Jesus Christ as its focus. It’s clear that God is the judge, that the central message is that by faith alone, on grounds of the completed work of Christ, this judgment is totally averted and that no one is even to attempt to take the role of Judge out of God’s hands. The role of the Christian is to be a humble witness to God’s grace.

      It would have been better to say that the terrorist claims to be a Christian. I would say he’s misappropriating.

  18. From what little I’ve read of him so far, Mr. Breivik doesn’t even seem to be as extreme a right-winger as many men one has to work alongside here in Houston. You know, the ones who routinely talk about murdering all the Arabs or all the fags. It will probably come out that his Christianity was mostly a worship of establishment white culture as it existed before Hitler discredited it throughout Europe, which means he is a moderately conservative Protestant by Texas standards.

    But what makes him different is that he acted on his own, while the far more vicious bastards here in America seem to have been placated by the knowledge that they now have a political party that will do their dirty work for them, in turn protected by the corporate media. Why carry out one’s murderous fantasies when one knows that his tax-supported military, police and prison guards regularly mete out “racial justice” at home and abroad? In fact, why not join one of those organizations and get the chance to be paid far better than modern capitalism pays productive workers, for gunning down towelheads and beating non-white convicts and protecting the interests of the elite more than those of the masses? Or wrap oneself in the flag by demanding that all tax dollars be routed to those organizations at the expense of schools, Social Security and hunger programs? Mr. Breivik would have been so much happier as an American.

    I guess if the GOP hadn’t done so well in 2010 things would have gotten more interesting here. But there is still the matter of the geographical origin of the concepts and rationalizations that impelled him to violence. Stay tuned to the non-US media.

  19. The real question here is who are we listening to when it comes to the experts on terrorism:
    link to electronicintifada.net
    Notice how all the media buzz was set off by a single expert who claims to have infiltrated a jihadist bulletin board which is only available in Arabic and then, without completing translating the post and without determining if is a regular poster or possible hoaxter begins the hue and cry

  20. He was probably as Christian as I am Muslim..and I’m not Muslim. How did he show love, the major tenet of Christ?

  21. Or stay tuned to talk2action.org, which surprised me by showing that the unfamiliar doctrines professed by Breivik at his old fave webpage do indeed have US ties:

    link to talk2action.org

    The key is “Cultural Marxism”, which Breivik mentions about once every other sentence. I think Mr. Berlet overdoes the religious overtones; guys like Paul Weyrich were secular extremists, meaning Kultur on top of religion, and that fits Breivik’s remarks about being a conservative Protestant yet never prescribing theocracy or Old Testament law elsewhere in his rants. The man worships Western Culture as his shield against being called a racist or fascist, and he killed those poor kids for Socialism’s role in enabling Moslems to become citizens and thus dilute the white majority… uh, “cultural conservative” majority.

    Here’s where a lot of the news stories you’re seeing got their Breivik quotes:

    link to translate.google.com

    I want to get this page seen, because it shows Breivik is smart, organized, and more lucid than the average American right-wing nut, meaning Michelle Bachmann. I think it’s fascinating to watch right-wingers from a different society wrestle with rationalizations for unequal citizenship and ethnic cleansing. My takeaway: because he doesn’t engage in the intellectual copout of using honkie Jehovah to justify all crimes economic, social and scientific, he actually has to articulate what he wants as a social model far more clearly than our Tea Partiers.

    It’s all culture with him, but it’s rigged culture, with the standard of conformity set so ridiculously high that no first-generation immigrant could possibly meet it unless he was a self-hating sociopath like Dinesh DeSouza. (There, I said it.) America’s senile neo-Confederates conflate God, guns, patriotism and capitalism in a giant ideological sphaghetti designed to obscure the only outcome that would really make them happy; living like the Ewell family in “To Kill A Mockingbird” with the right to beat up, frame and lynch other kinds of people whenever they need to feel better about themselves. Whereas Breivik simply wants other kinds of people to cease to exist around him. A cultural conservative who is willing to not keep the mud races around to dig all his ditches and build all his homes and fix all his highways and pay into his Social Security and Medicare and provide much of his entertainment is a lot more intellectually honest than what we have in this country.

    Consider Thomas Jefferson, in his “Notes on the Commonwealth of Virginia”, saying that (1) slavery must be abolished, and (2) the freed slaves must be expelled from Virginia on pain of death because whites would never act as his model republic required as long as there was a cultural conflict. Consider that the Texas school textbook commission deleted Jefferson as a significant 18th Century philosopher recently because he was TOO LIBERAL for them. That’s the difference between Breivik and the kinds of maniancs getting elected to office in America now. Which is why ours don’t have to go out and murder Socialist children their own damn selves.

  22. The issue isn’t Islam, and it isn’t Christianity. The danger is religious extremism of any stripe. I have no more desire to live in a Christian theocracy than I do an Islamic theocracy. If ‘yelling fire in a crowded theater’ isn’t free speech, then the religious leaders who advocate the destruction of civil government need to be held accountable.

  23. This isnt about “left” or “right”, as Juan Cole points out at the end Terrorists come in all shapes and sizes and its true. The overall point is that this was going to happen eventually. When you start categorize people as one thing people start to believe it, in this case certain political gorups in both American and Europe have been categorizing Muslims as terrorists and certain organizations and certain types of people in both Europe and America have really started to believe what that certain groups of people are really dangerous instead of questioning it and learning the facts. This is what you create when political organizations or political parties (no matter if its the left or right) create false monsters who are merely a small sect of people. Now that is not to say that there arent terrorists who are Muslims but it is a fringe group and again as Juan Cole pointed out terrorists come in all shapes, races, and can be a part of any religion.

  24. The horror in Norway is just another sign of the times, with conservative religious fundamentalists cheering for an apocalypse to happen (for others, for liberals, for anyone but the conservatives, the wealthy, the self-proclaimed righteous), with some of the more hard-core religious conservatives preemptively killing to get the apocalyptic ball rolling. To assist “God”? Jesus? What madness.

    We are facing a worldwide conservative religious cult, one whose members are willing to kill to get their way, one far larger than Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple or David Koresh’s Branch Davidians. This hard-right fundamentalist cult’s members have infiltrated all levels of our democratic government in America, unlike Jones and Koresh who established their relatively-small fundamentalist-run enclaves as far apart from society as possible and above the laws of the land, which are inapplicable to them as judged by them, relative to their “interpretation” of their “holy book,” which is always selective.

    And there is no chance of “deprogramming” the current crop of hard-right religious fundamentalists, no more than the followers of Jones and Koresh were open to “deprogramming,” which makes a person suspect that these un-deprogrammable religious fundamentalists (no compromise, no changing of their minds) are wishing for another Peoples Temple or Waco Compound horror to happen, but on a much more widespread scale, which fits their apocalyptic vision for America and the world.

    America has never been in as grave danger as today…from within…and by the gun-toting religious fundamentalists supposedly out to save us all, but only after they crucify us all (and our country) on their religious fundamentalist cross. We’ve seen this all before, theological slavemasters wanting everyone to be their slaves, to them and to their “God,” which flies completely in the face of what Jesus Christ taught about love, and peace, and forgiveness, and equality, and oneness, among all God’s children. A “Culture War” is hardly what Jesus Christ was teaching, not two thousand years ago nor today. So, exactly “who” do these hard-right religious fundamentalists really represent, if not Jesus or the God about whom Jesus was proclaiming the Good News, as evidenced in the Prodigal Son parable?

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