Islam, Norway, and the backlash


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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145 Responses

  1. Ed closes with “I do hope people understand that my anger was a mixture of reaction over the nature of the attack (which was only just being reported on) and a deep…angry regret over what was to follow.”

    I think that this touches on the nub of the issue: responding on the basis of emotion rather than reflective consideration of the facts. Emotions are heuristics – shortcuts that allow us to respond quickly to a situation without putting in the hard work of thinking, and they provide cognitive economy. The question, and I think it is an important one for prominent opinion leaders such as Ed, is this: should you be putting your emotions or your thoughts out there for all the world to see? A bit of reflective thought on the matter is bound to result in an answer which will allow you to sleep well at night.Report

  2. Avatar sneezy says:

    “I write emotionally sometimes. It’s just part of the nature of blogging I think.”

    There is no “nature of blogging.” There is only what you choose to write and post.

    “I don’t see the harm so long as people are able to admit error.”

    There is potential harm to your reputation and credibility as a writer worth reading. But even if there were no harm, what is the benefit?Report

  3. Avatar Art Deco says:

    A synopsis:

    1. I am not like those guys (‘hawks on the right’).

    2. The problem with political violence is the response of the police.

    Pretty pathetic.Report

    • To be more faithful to what Mr. Kain said, , I would modify #2 to say “One of the problems with political violence is the overreaction of the police.”

      I would also add #1.5: “Here are the reasons I am not like those guys:….”Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        You are not being more faithful. You are interpolating without warrant.

        I was – in a sort of uncomfortable way – quite relieved when the mass-murdering terrorist turned out to be a white guy, and a nationalist extreme rightwing Christian to boot

        It is so much more conveeeeenient.Report

        • Well, you’re right that that sentence, by itself, supports your assertion. But a faithful synopsis of what Mr. Kain has written would at least try to grapple with the other things he wrote:

          Concerning my point #1.5, the following suggests that he has offered at least one, verifiable, reason why he is different from hawks, right wing or otherwise:

          [especially with reference to the blog post he linked to] If you think this sounds like someone who is eager to demonize Muslims, I think you’re very much mistaken. I have written about Muslims before, but only to urge tolerance or to urge that we not start bombing them in yet another country

          For my point #2, as a projection of the possible dangers he foresees resulting from political violence:

          Escalation of the security state here and abroad; escalation of the anti-Muslim sentiment especially in Europe; a swelling of the ranks of rightwing parties in Europe; and a new reason for hawks in America to talk about more war, and for security-state advocates to push more spying programs, more drone attacks, more wire-tapping, and so forth

          How one reads this and comes away with the impression he meant only that “The problem with political violence is the response of the police” is beyond me.Report

  4. Avatar tom van dyke says:

    his violent acts signifies the potential of more rightwing violence in Europe, and that’s frightening enough on its own

    No more than McVeigh’s did. Junky riff. “Right-wingers” are nationalistic; they don’t run around blowing up their own fucking country. Nuts, on the other hand, do.

    The left were [in the US] licking their chops for a “Christianist” equivalent of epidemic Islamic terrorism. Didn’t. Fucking. Happen.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Erik, please stop licking your chops. You’re upsetting Tom.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Actually, I think the “Christianist” narrative comes at least closer to hitting the mark than “American right-wing” narrative. In terms of motivation, if not in being part of a movement.

      Perhaps the biggest reason to be optimistic here, though, is that the guy acted alone. The OKC bombings were more troubling because it involved a group of people. When it’s a group of people, you have to wonder how big this group of people (the contingent willing to resort to violence, that is) really is.

      If you’re a would-be terrorist, one of the hardest parts (I would think) would be assembling a group. Knowing who to ask that won’t say “Holy fish, dude, are you nuts?!” and call the cops.

      When it’s a solitary guy (as it seems to be here), well, it’s a nut. The main concern there is copycats. And given that I don’t think the Norwegian is getting the response he might have hoped, that’s particularly unlikely in this case. From a tactical standpoint, his going after the children was a mistake. If he’d bombed a mosque, there would be people (over there and over here) trying to mitigate the grotesqueness of his act.Report

      • Avatar tom van dyke says:

        Bruce Bawer nails it: “Norwegian television journalists who in the first hours of the crisis were palpably uncomfortable about the prospect of having to talk about Islamic terrorism are now eagerly discussing the dangers of “Islamophobia” and “conservative ideology” and are drawing connections between the madness and fanaticism of Breivik and the platform of the Progress Party. Yesterday’s events, then, represent a double tragedy for Norway. Not only has it lost almost one hundred people, including dozens of young people, in a senseless rampage of violence.

        But I fear that legitimate criticism of Islam, which remains a very real threat to freedom in Norway and the West, has been profoundly discredited, in the eyes of many Norwegians, by association with this murderous lunatic.”

        Read the whole thing…

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        The OKC bombings were more troubling because it involved a group of people

        It involved two people. There were two others who were aware of their plans but did not turn them in.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          The other two didn’t take a direct part in the bombing, but aided in preparations. My main point, though, is that McVeigh found people he could trust with it all. One may be a madman, four is a conspiracy. Fortunately, nothing more came of it. But the fear that where there were four, there might be more, is something more than the actions of a madman who (as far as we know) told nobody. It’s not al-Qaeda, but it’s more than Charles Whitman.Report

        • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

          The OKC bombing was a large operation, well financed and possibly a foreign secret service operation.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        Here is someone who would dispute you.

        While we are at it, ‘Christianist’ is an inane pejorative dreamed up by Andrew Sullivan. What Breivik’s doings have to do with our domestic disputes over school curricula, matrimonial law, the doings of the social work apparat, the penal law of homicide, and commercial regulations governing the traffic smut will be a mystery to many.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          On the other hand it seems to be related to murdering abortion providers? Low blow, I know but you left it off your list.

          That said any commentary from the left trying to draw parralelles between this psychotic kook and their ~political~ opponents on the right is utter idiocy. Left wingers are neither Stalin nor Mau nor anyone else like them. Right wingers are neither Hitler nor Breivik nor anyone else like them.Report

        • Avatar Gorgias says:

          One should not be surprised that a few of the people who insist that this is a “Christian country” take violent means to ensure that this is true.

          To the extent that both seek to establish the supremacy of the Christian religion in both laws and mores, dominionist Christians substantially share Breivik’s goals. At least to the same extent that peaceful libertarian wonks share McVeigh’s goals.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            One should not be surprised that a few people who see the death of the west as a worthy goal take violent means to make it happen.

            To the extent that environmentalists and environmental extremists see the earth in peril and the need for action, Al Gore substantially shares the Earth Liberation Front’s goals. And the Unabomber’s, of course.

            We should all be quite afraid. Or not, since tactics actually matter. And the difference between violence and non-violence is far more significant than who has what concern.Report

    • Avatar Barry says:

      “No more than McVeigh’s did. Junky riff. “Right-wingers” are nationalistic; they don’t run around blowing up their own fucking country. Nuts, on the other hand, do.”

      What color is the sky on your world?Report

      • Avatar tom van dyke says:

        Since you say nothing of value or substance here, sir, I accept your surrender of your place at the grownup table. You have given a rude account of yourself and your opinions; I’d think even those who rather agree with you wish you’d go away.Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. says:

          Well, okay, I agree that nationalists would, hypothetically, have a hell of a lot more reason to blow up people in other countries than their own, and when were talking about non-violent nationalists- probably 9o+ % of the total- I think that’s pretty much true. When you get to the violent/militant lunatic fringe, they seem pretty good at causing chaos in their own countries and I think the idea is that the national body just needs some cancer cut out. The interesting thing to me about the extremists/terrorists/violent kooks is that they tend to have the same internal enemies: some ethnic group or another, assertive women, liberals, the media, and so forth. It seems about the same if we’re talking the Nazis or the Hutaree or the Islamic Front of Judea. Working as I do in one of those fields that we all know to be traitors to the nation, I’m less than sympathetic to the cancer argument.Report

          • Avatar tom van dyke says:

            Well, there’s the Reichstag Fire, but the righties aren’t going to blow up the Washington Monument.

            Once we’re into the sociopaths, McVeigh, etc., all bets are off and we’re just trading anecdotes of the fringe.

            Bill Ayers bombing the Pentagon is problematic, tho, since he’s a citizen in good standing in some quarters.

            In his 2001 memoir Fugitive Days, Ayers recounts his life as a Sixties radical and boasts that he “participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972.” Of the day he bombed the Pentagon, Ayers writes, “Everything was absolutely ideal…. The sky was blue. The birds were singing. And the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them.” He further recalls his fascination with the fact that “a good bomb” could render even “big buildings and wide streets … fragile and destructible,” leaving behind a “majestic scene” of utter destruction.

            All told, Ayers and the Weather Underground were responsible for 30 bombings aimed at destroying the defense and security infrastructures of the U.S. “I don’t regret setting bombs,” said Ayers in 2001, “I feel we didn’t do enough.” Contemplating whether or not he might again use bombs against the U.S. sometime in the future, he wrote: “I can’t imagine entirely dismissing the possibility.”

            That comes from a right-wing website. I don’t feel like corroborating it for such a minor debate point. Corrections, clarifications and further context welcomed and accepted in advance.Report

            • Avatar Rufus F. says:

              Wait, who are you debating with that point? Am I supposed to answer for the Weather Underground because “in some quarters” they’re not seen as extremists, terrorists, and violent crackpots? Because, you know, that’s pretty much how this quarter sees them.

              Maybe I’m just confused about who you consider to qualify as nationalists here. Are you only talking about right wing nationalists in the United States? Because, you know, I was trying to respond simply to the idea that nationalists are non-violent at home. When you say that nationalists aren’t violent, the first group I think of, living in Canada, is the Front de libération du Québec, who were leftwing nationalists and committed several acts of terrorism, mainly in their own “nation” of Quebec and including killing Pierre Laporte who, one would imagine was not one of the “occupiers”. Then there’s a group like the IRA- terrorists and nationalists although they did maybe more damage in England. The Algerian Liberation Front probably killed more French than Algerians although they were nationalists and terrorists and blew up things in their own country. Those are the sort of groups I have in mind and, yes, there are some on the left and some on the right. But, in general, when nationalist groups use terror, they do okay with at using it at home.

              In terms of the US, I might think of a group like the KKK, who committed plenty of acts of violence in the US in spite of being nationalists. They just figured their targets didn’t count. In general though I thought we were talking about whether or not nationalists commit acts of terrorism in their own countries, although I get the feeling you’re seeing this as a discussion about the American right versus the American left, leaving out the nutty fringes. But, when it comes to political violence, I think by definition we’re talking about the nutty fringes. So, maybe our Venn diagrams aren’t overlapping in the first place.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke says:

                I dunno, Rufus, I forget what we’re talking about. This is such an ancillary point, I’ll withdraw it, although I think the left would be more likely to blow up the Washington Monument than the right, since they want “change” more than “conservation.”

                Mostly my point is yours and many others’, that demagoguing the nutters is bogus.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          Nationalists frequently committ violence on their own soil. In fact, they usually commit violence on their own soil or on the soil of an occupying nation (the Tamils, for example). I can’t think of an instance in which nationalist attacks occurred anywhere but one of those two places.Report

  5. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    The difference is a ‘murderous’ Christian is one who is violating the precepts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, while a ‘murderous’ Muslim is one following the teachings of Mohammed.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      And a murderous Jew is simply preparing for Passover in traditional fashion.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      As interpreted by you Bob? I had no idea you were not only an Imam but also The Imam (maybe the twelfth Imam? I believe there’re some old bearded guys looking for you in Iran…) that you can define the tenets of the entire faith.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

        Northie, yes I plead guilty of ‘judging’, in this instance, Islam, by its fruits. which is mostly slaughter, oppression, and torture. I am not trying to “define the tenets of the entire faith,” merely the result of the most egregious tenets.Report

        • You weren’t judging Islam by its fruits, but by what you claim it commands. (As for me, and apparently unlike you, I have never read the Koran, so I do not know what its tenets are.)Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Bob, I somewhat doubt that any mass religion (or to be fair any mass a-religion either) would come out looking much better than Islam when judged by only its most toxic of fruits.Report

          • Avatar Art Deco says:

            Aye, but how far into the tail of the bell curve do you have to travel to get to the zone marked ‘most toxic’?Report

            • Avatar BSK says:

              If we are applying the standard uniformly, my hunch is pretty equally far for all faiths. The problem is when one religion’s most toxic elements are somehow deemed more palatable than another because of familiarity or relate-ability when a more objective analysis would find that they were equally deplorable.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              Roughly the same distance generally? I couldn’t say for sure.Report

          • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

            Many Muslims in the West, living here as a minority, appear to reject the more anti-social aspects of Islam, for example, Jihad, the oppression of homosexuals and women, and the infamous tax on the ‘people of the book.’ What their opinions would be should they succeed at achieving ‘sharia’ law I can only guess at, but I fear it would not be good for secularists, Christians, and Jews.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      Bob – I would like you to stop saying things like this at The League. If it goes on you will be banned. This is not the place for it, and I could really care less whether you continued commenting here or not. This is your last warning.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

        E.D., it’s your site and you may limit the conversation as you see fit. I am curious, however, what in the above comment of mine do you find offensive?Report

        • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

          If you have to ask, Bob….Report

          • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

            Okay this:

            The difference is a ‘murderous’ Christian is one who is violating the precepts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, while a ‘murderous’ Muslim is one following the teachings of Mohammed.

            That is, almost by definition, offensive.Report

            • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

              Actually, and trying not to be snarky, you have a point. At least in terms of sentence construction. Let me inquire then, in all seriousness, if I’d written:
              “The difference is a ‘murderous’ Christian is one who is violating the precepts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, while a ‘murderous’ Muslim is one who may be following the teachings of Mohammed.”
              And, I write this because “a ‘murderous’ Muslim” is a phrase that can be describing a Muslim who has, for example, murdered an innocent Muslim rather than an infidel, which would violate a tenet of the faith.
              In that sense I do believe you are correct and I am wrong. So, if it’s a question of sentence structure (and words do meant things…) than I’ll happily be much more specific and qualify my statements a bit tighter.Report

  6. Avatar Scott says:


    You seem quite relived that the attacks were carried out by a right winger so you can continue to ignore the threat that Muslim extremists pose. Because we all know that recognizing that Muslim threat is racist and religiously intolerant (and not very PC either).Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      See, in this thread I’m a shill for the Muslim extremists. In the last one I was an anti-Muslim bigot. I must be doing something right.Report

      • Avatar Scott says:


        No, you weren’t clear in the other thread and folks misunderstood what you were trying to communicate. Here you were clear how you are quite relieved that the it was a right winger at fault.Report

        • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

          And why, pray tell, do you suppose I am relieved? Can you decipher that from my oh-so-clear post today?Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

            Honestly, E.D., how could you favor using federally supported municipal bonds to pay for forced busing of Soviet Communists to come into my homes to kill my puppies!?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              I’ll say this: I was relieved, kinda.

              I’m of the opinion that Europe still has a lot of potential for a very, very ugly outburst. A backlash that is building up, if you will. The fact that this was a Blond/Blue guy rather than someone more, ahem, “multicultural”, means that the backlash will be whipped back and that particular can will be kicked down the road a ways.

              If it were an Extremist Who Called Himself Muslim But Wasn’t Really Muslim Because We Know That The Real Muslims Eschew Violence Just As Much As Christians And Libertarians Do, I would have expected the tinder in Europe to spark. Would it have caught fire? I dunno… if it didn’t, it would have dehydrated a bit more.

              If I am relieved that this was a right-winger, it’s because whatever tinder there was over there has been dampened significantly.

              Which is good only because of my suspicions about the potential backlash.

              (Note: I seriously thought that there was something really awful that was going to follow Beslan and I was wrong about that. I could very easily be wrong about this.)Report

            • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

              Because I am Evil.Report

          • Avatar tom van dyke says:

            EDK, perhaps the problem here is that we your fans read you with too much care, not that we don’t read you with enough, and that you are understood too well.

            See, in this thread I’m a shill for the Muslim extremists. In the last one I was an anti-Muslim bigot. I must be doing something right.

            Not really. You’re being douchebagged by lefty demagogues, this is true, par for the course. The rest is principled discussion.

            It cannot all be flushed into an undifferentiated soup. That would be sophistry, to blur distinctions where they actually exist. I’d get your back more on the unfair attacks, but would be more motivated if you were such a good fellow as well.

            Fair play is most often unrequited, as you are now learning. If you are indeed a gentleman who seeks truth over rhetorical advantage, you’ll find that yr best allies are those who play fair, not those who agree with you.

            It’s not difficult, and indeed it’s a duty, to defend honest men.

            Cheers, Erik.Report

            • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

              Tom, well…look I spent a lot of time defending conservatives and libertarians in previous threads. Oh, not all conservatives mind you, but conservatives and conservatism more broadly. I see this act as the act of rightwinger, yes, but a particular kind of rightwinger that is certainly not representative of most conservatives, and not even of most actual nationalists or even many racists for that matter. Most people are not mass-murderers.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke says:

                Oh, I won’t get into chapter & verse of your post[s], Erik. Previously noted, and not just by me. This was a new thought that yr free to accept, reject or consider.

                Perhaps the greatest wisdom one can attain is to know who his friends are.Report

  7. Avatar tom van dyke says:

    As Bawer notes, Europe’s Religious Right is Islam. But this scrambles too many brains who routinely slag on the {Christian} Religious Right.

    One night over dinner, a Dutch writer of my acquaintance–a maverick gay conservative who could usually be counted on to speak his mind unflinchingly–insisted proudly that the Netherlands, unlike the U.S., had no Religious Right. I knew very well, of course, that the Netherlands did indeed have a Religious Right; that it consisted of Islamic, not Christian, fundamentalists; and that sooner or later the Dutch would be forced to deal openly with the challenges it posed. For the time being, however, they were plainly too uncomfortable with the idea. Criticizing any kind of Islam at all, I gathered, felt too much to them like voicing racial or ethnic prejudice.

    While freely condemning Protestant fundamentalism–which hardly exists nowadays in that once strictly Calvinist country–they couldn’t bring themselves to breathe a negative word about Islamic fundamentalism. There was no logic in this; but the Dutch were clearly still at a point where it seemed possible, and easier, simply to avoid such uncomfortable issues.Report

    • Avatar Art Deco says:

      Why not offer that they may be ‘uncomfortable’ with the idea because their self concept is constructed (to a degree) on not being a part of the vernacular culture and society?Report

    • Avatar Gorgias says:

      Opposing the encroaching influence of illiberal strains of Islam is not the same as opposing Islam as a whole, nor does it entail painting all Muslims as terrorists.Report

  8. Avatar tom van dyke says:

    The white Norwegian Christian rightwinger plagiarized the Unabomber? Say it ain’t so!

    Advisory from Echo Chamber Command: Immediately adjust all partisan douchebaggery accordingly in case this is true. Perhaps we can still salvage something out of this. It’s a sad sad world where we can’t even rely on lunatics for honesty and integrity anymore. We might have to eat a lot of shit on this one.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Fortunately for him, the places where his views will be welcomed, like RedState and the Washington Times, have no problem with serial plagiarists.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Wait, a right-wing nutjob quoted another right-wing nutjob who said basically what half the American right-wing now says regularly: that there’s a leftist conspiracy to ruin the country (though in this case the country was different)? There’s a surprise.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        For all his carping about leftism, I find it hard to dismiss the idea that really the Unabomber is just another a left-wing nutjob.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          Funny, he sounds a lot like a libertarian, too. I suppose one could say that the Unabomber was a crazy dude who picked up tropes from the entire American political spectrum, but since the groups he singles out for condemnation are pretty much exclusively left-wing (feminists, environmentalists, gay rights activists, etc.), and since he presents leftism as the problem, I find it hard to see him as a leftist. To me, he sounds like fairly straightforward right wing nutjob.

          I suppose anti-government folks are libertarians until they’re crazy, and then they’re leftists.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Yeah, if you are one of those manichean types who only has one axis, the world probably does look like that to you.

            The worst part is that the assumption that people disagree with your take because they’re on the other side and they’re defensive about it.Report

            • Avatar Chris says:

              Hmm… that’s the assumption you got out of the last sentence? Or did you get it somewhere else. If you got it from that sentence, I recommend that you get new between-the-lines decoder glasses. Yours aren’t working right. Probably due to an overdose of snarky condescension.

              And yeah, I think our political world only has one axis, because it does. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few people who don’t fall anywhere on it, but their existence doesn’t change the truth of the first statement either. I happen to think that the unabomber was a crazy dude who, if he fit on the axis (and he certainly did, to some extent), fit on the right of it. I’d be happy to entertain arguments to the contrary.Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

            No, no. There are plenty of crazy libertarians too. Andrew Joseph Galambos, Michael Badnarik, even the late-period paranoid Ayn Rand, though she’d hate the label. Each was a nutjob, I’d say, but none were violent.

            And yeah, there’s a bit of a family resemblance between the Unabomber and Hayek. Much more so than between Breivik and any libertarian I can think of.

            Perhaps it surprises you to see me admit it, but I would very much appreciate your withdrawing the implied charge of too-convenient ideological sorting.Report

            • Avatar Chris says:

              Jason, I withdraw it. I was being snarky, and as someone who’s read you for years, I realize it was unfair. So in addition to withdrawing it, I apologize.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Accepted and appreciated.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Lickin’ boots seems to suit you.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Bob, what I said about you still stands: you’re vile. But I do enjoy watching you dance in the face of evidence that your world-view is absurd. The bit about right-wing Christian terrorist attacks actually being the work of foriegn agents was awesome!Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Chris, I enjoy you as well, and see you as a rather typical modern. I am confused as to you charge? Was it re: OKC? If so, again I’d say it’d be best if you read, Ms. Davis’s ‘Third Terrorist’ and educate yourself and use your mind rather than always seeking to kiss the ass of whoever you precieve as the sites leading politically correct bullshitter. But, I am here to hep.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Bob, the charge was that, in your view, there are two evils: modernism and Islam (which is really of a larger evil, Gnostic whatevers. So, when evil is committed by people who don’t obviously fit into either group, you a.) point out that this is an aberration because it doesn’t fit with your world view, and b.) try to explain it away by suggesting that it wasn’t really people who don’t fit into either group who did this evil thing, but people who do disguised as people who don’t.

                And no, you didn’t offend my sensibilities, you just reminded me who you are.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Bob, I enjoy sparring with you and reading your interesting and erudite writings. That said I must, with affection, note that you are being ungentlemanly and quite possibly unchristian in this jab. If I didn’t consider you a friend I wouldn’t bother mentioning it.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Northie, I have no intention of befouling our friendship..I do learn a great deal from you and not only tolerance, love, and kindness. With that said, what ‘jab?’Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Calling a person a boot licker when they apologize (and not even to you) just seems a touch harsh. I’m no religious man myself but isn’t that in contradiction of proverbs 15:1?
                All my best to Mrs. Martha as always.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Northie, as I’ve pointed out on numerous occasions here at the League, I am a man who, while claiming the Logos as the God of the Cosmos, is filled with faults. One of those faults is a sinful inclination to annoy, annoying people. In this case, the beloved Chris.
                If I offended your sensibilities I do apologize and will try to be a better person, not to mention, Christian in the future. Thanks for kindly pointing out my inappropriate behaviour.
                BTW, re: the first wife, not only are you in her prayers, daily, but I must do the blog on demons, and soon. We had us an event that was so beyond the immanent pale I was shocked at the power of these horrific dark forces, their ability to ‘know’ and their efforts to thwart the ‘good.’
                BTW II, E.D.’s threatening to pitch me off the site again, so if I’m not around, best to you and yourn and keep fightin’ the good fight.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Well I hope he doesn’t though you do love gleefully leaping across the line a lot Bob old buddy and E.D. has had a very hard weekend so I don’t blame him for being short.

                I know I’d enjoy reading a blog on demons.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          My reading of his manifest is “If we reverse 50,000 years of cultural and technological progress, I night be able to get a date.” That doesn’t fit on any wing I know of.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            The loser troglodyte wing?Report

          • Avatar Rufus F. says:

            He also quotes Mark Twain in there. I’m still trying to figure out how to score political points from that, but dammit- I’ll think of something.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

            “He” means the Unabomber. (It’s probably not clear from the indenting that I was replying to Jason. ) His thesis really was was that technology (starting with agriculture) made his life and any possible achievements meaningless, where in the good old Neolithic, it was be a good hunter or starve to death. This did get some sympathy from the leftist anti-technology crowd, but only because they didn’t understand just how far back he wanted to go.

            Mix this in with his life story: he was a very talented mathematician (Harvard, Michigan, and a professorship at Berkeley) who got tired of it, worked in a factory, and got fired for harassing an ex-girlfriend who worked there. it was at that point he moved to Montana and start his bomb-making career, Hence my summary of what his real problem was.Report

            • Avatar Rufus F. says:

              That’s probably about right. That isn’t much different from the Norwegian wackaloon’s manifesto. From what I’ve read, so far, it’s, “If we reverse 60 years of cultural progress, I might be able to get a date.” Real problems with women, unsurprisingly.

              Admittedly, there’s a real banality of evil tone to this thing that’s probably going to prevent me from reading much more. You ever get stuck at a bad with some loudmouth whose endless, second-hand, boilerplate opinions aren’t nearly as revelatory or remotely as intelligent as he (always he, innit?) thinks they are? It’s about like that.Report

  9. Avatar Chris says:

    I can’t help but feel, E.D., that you’re getting your comeuppance here, with the heat you’re getting from both sides. You stupidly (and it was stupid) jumped to conclusions, and then covered your ass by saying you were relieved you were wrong (the “I’m not a bigot, even though I jumped to the same conclusion bigots did, because I was glad my prejudices were proven incorrect” defense is a classic, by the way). So now the left berates you for the stupid initial blunder, and the right for the way you covered your ass. Such is the life, I suppose, on the ever reasonable center right.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      Seems overly harsh to me. I think it was a reasonable mistake. From early reports the incident certainly looked a lot like other al Qaeda attacks, making the inference a lot more than just “uh, terrorists are Muslims.” Here are some similarities:

      Simultaneous attacks in two different places.

      Combining an explosive attack with a shooting spree.

      An obviously soft civilian target.

      Lack of warning beforehand. Other European nationalist groups like ETA and the Irish Republican Army are known for warning the targets ahead of time.

      I can’t call it stupid to speculate based on those characteristics.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Yeah, first of all, he jumped to a conclusion based on what? Attacks in India or the middle East? This didn’t look like any “Jihadist” attack in Europe. In fact, shootings period look pretty odd for Islamic terrorists in Europe, period. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t a possibility, just that jumping to that conclusion was hasty at best. Second, E.D. not only decided it was pretty clearly the work of “Jihadists,” but in his initial post that came soon after the news of the attack, he had already divined the specific motivation behind it! And he didn’t present it as a speculative reason. It was stupid, all around. There’s no other word that quite captures it. The “I’m not a bigot, even if I sound a lot like one. I was actually relieved my prejudices were wrong!” excuse makes the adjective even more appropriate.

        I don’t, I should say, think that being relieved that this wasn’t an attack by radical Muslims is necessarily a bad thing. For one, every attack against Europeans (the attacks against Indians and other Middle Easterners, as long as they’re not in Israel, are rarely noticed) creates a few more people like Bob, or worse, more people like the attacker in Oslo (Bob is harmless, even if vile). It also reinforces the culture of fear we’ve built in the wake of the September 11 attacks, and we all know what that fear has been used to justify. And finally, radical Islamic terrorists striking in Oslo looks a whole hell of a lot like escalation, whereas a single rightwing nutjob (who was not, it should be noted, that much of a loner — the “loner” trope is a way of distancing him from other rightwing nutjobs who might not have a predilection for violence, and it’s annoying) looks like a single rightwing nutjob.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          This didn’t look like any “Jihadist” attack in Europe.

          So an international terror organization is supposed to stop and say, “Good heavens, this is Europe, we have to do things differently here! We’re not allowed to shoot as well as bomb!”

          And then we’re supposed to say “Hmm, clearly not al Qaeda, their bushido doesn’t allow it!”

          Please. Besides, the 2005 London bombings had all the elements I described, with the exception of gunmen. Not much of a stretch, I’d say.Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            Yeah, now who’s being unfair. That doesn’t look like anything I said. I said it didn’t look like any Islamic radical attack in Europe, because it didn’t (coordinated attacks are not exclusive to Islamic radicals, as I’m sure you know). It did, I suppose, look like the attacks in India, but the attacks in India were carried out under somewhat unique circumstances that would make inferences to these attacks suspect. What’s more, when Islamic radicals coordinate attacks, they tend to coordinate them to occur simultaneously, or (in some cases in the Middle East) to occur when first responders arrive. In this case, the attacks weren’t simultaneous, because one dude was carrying them out. And if that weren’t enough to force a rational mind to suspend judgment, the fact that the second of the “coordinated” attack was against a particular political party should have been.

            And again, in his initial post, really just moments after the news came out, E.D. knew why the attacks were occurring, not just who was committing them!Report

            • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

              Chris, you know I’m not sure what to say to you. I don’t buy that the idea that Al-Qaeda was involved never crossed your mind. When I posted my little post I don’t think this was even on Memeorandum yet. I had read a couple live blogs on the attacks. Many people were speculating Al-Qaeda and some Islamic terror group had taken responsibility (or that was being reported at least). So there was very little information aside from speculation on some news blogs that this was retribution for the Mohammed cartoons, etc. It all made enough sense to me and I posted my own rush to judgment.

              When I got back online a while later I was met with a bunch of comments saying I hated Muslims because, gasp! I had not posted an update now that the guy was reported to be blond and blue-eyed.

              Yeah, that made my first update kind of snarky with the whole “white people are Muslims too” bit. But I do think we’ll see white people recruited to carry out more terrorist attacks for Al-Qaeda and its affiliates before this is all finished. So maybe I just thought the day had come. Again, at this point the man hadn’t been identified still, just described. (I think it’s likely enough that Chechen militants could be recruited for attacks on Western Europe at some point in the future, but I could be dead wrong.)

              Anyways, you can be as uncharitable as you like, but A) I’m not center-right or at least I don’t consider myself center-right; and B) I think this line of critique smacks of a holier-than-thou approach to discussion that is really off-putting and I wish you’d stop. I mean, whatever, obviously I’ve “taken my lumps” if you can call a bunch of commenters spending 99% of their time talking about me and how horrible I am instead of the actual shootings…I guess I just don’t really care. I know what motivated me, I know why I wrote what I did. I was going off of very information and some reports indicating Al-Qaeda. I asked for updates in the comments. People sharpened their knives and moved in for the kill – even long-time readers and commenters who I guess I had hoped would be more charitable.

              But it’s no big deal to me. I have communicated my thinking as clearly as possible. If it falls on deaf ears it falls on deaf ears. Life goes on.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Jason, the India analogy is bad because India was political (India and Pakistan are essentially in a state of war), with attacks sponsored by a foreign government for political reasons. Extremism was the recruiting tool, not the motivation. Plus, India ~= Europe. And again, the attacks in Oslo weren’t really coordinated, they were in succession, unlike India or any other major attack I can think of outside of, say, Iraq, where the attacks were once somewhat constant. And again, the targeting of a political party. It was all enough to suspend judgment. Which leads me to:

                E.D., my point is that a reasonable person not operating on prejudice suspended judgment. Did I wonder if it was Muslim extremists? Of course. I also wondered if it was home-grown terrorism. Not knowing much about the politics in Norway (do you?), I wondered if there might be something going on there that could have led to this. I wondered a lot of things. You know what I didn’t do? Write that it looked like it was one or the other, and then give an actual reason for the attack. You know why? Because waiting for more information was the reasonable thing to do. Now, I don’t always do the reasonable thing, but when there’s something that serious, that important, and the facts are still trickling in, doing the reasonable thing is pretty damn important, so I try my best to do so. You clearly did not make such an effort. You can call my saying this “uncharitable,” but I’m not sure how an accurate assessment is uncharitable. And I’m sure you feel know your motivations quite well (even if, as a cognitive psychologist, I can tell you with a great deal of certainty that you don’t, and neither do I), but nothing about your introspected “motivations” excuses the act. And I’m not being holier than thou, either. A whole hell of a lot of people suspended judgment until the facts were in. I am far from alone in this. That the sites you read didn’t doesn’t speak well for the sites you read, nor does it justify your acting rashly.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                But the London attacks were indeed in succession, although the second round was foiled. And 9/11 happened in a several-hours timeframe too.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Ah, I had forgotten that the last bombing in was delayed by an hour or so.

                The 9/11 attacks were staggered largely because of flight schedules and distances.

                I don’t see how either piece of information suggests that the differences did not merit suspending judgment until more facts were in.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              You’re right about the targeting of a specific political party. I don’t understand why it’s wrong to analogize to the attacks in India. Or the London underground bombing. Either of them seems very similar otherwise.Report

              • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

                Not to mention, at the time of my posting it was *very unclear still* who the primary targets were or what the hell was going on. The bombs, at the time, looked much worse than any shooting. We had no way of knowing that the youth camp itself would be where most of the killing occurred. For all I knew at the time, there was a second explosion planned at the island and something went wrong and shooting started. Almost no details had emerged yet, that I had found in any case.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Almost no details had emerged yet, that I had found in any case.

                Which I think makes Chris’s point: that in the absence of evidence, caution in assigning blame and coming to conclusions is ill advised.

                For my part, EDK, I apologize for making my criticisms personal rather than principled. I think my point is still misunderstood, so I’ll repeat it: convenience rather than evidence drove the initial claim of an AQ connection, and convenience rather than evidence drove the secondary push to distance this guy from any particular preferred ideology.

                Personally, I found the (what I viewed to be) ideologically driven distancing from Heivik’s motives even more distasteful than the initial, perhaps justified, conclusion that it was AQ behind this. The guy is clearly a nutjob, and his motives – which I think can, for the most part, be rejected because he is insane – were embedded in certain ideological traditions, be they liberal, libertarian, conservative, neoconservative, etc.

                But whatever those motives might have been, they are facts on the ground, facts that a part of a clear and accurate description of the incident. And whether that leads to uncomfortable reflection on the merits of a particular ideology, or whether those ideological motives get (perhaps rightly, probably incorrectly) used as a political cudgel, ought to also be merely viewed without bias as facts on the ground .Report

              • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

                But I didn’t try to distance him from an ideology! I don’t know what you mean by this. I said right away it appeared he was a white nationalist – a particular breed of European conservative. Later, it turned out he was much more complicated, and not really in line with many European nationalists, but he still had a very strong nationalistic streak and was certainly a racist and an extreme rightwinger. And, honestly, a crazy asshole to boot. But where was I trying to distance him from an ideology? I didn’t think he fit the profile of your typical American conservative, but it’s also just *true* that the nationalist movement in Europe is distinct from the conservative movement in America. In any case, that was the most logical conclusion once it was learned he was an anti-Muslim nationalist in Europe, so I fail to see how this is at all offensive even in the slightest.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Fair enough. I think there’s some disagreement about the timing of certain belief revisions as well as the timing and purpose of certain threads as well as conclusions drawn therein (Jason’s Mill post and the resulting comments). Like I said, I could be wrong, and at this point I’m beginning to suspect I am.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                People keep talking about how “crazy” this guy was. Outside of the murders themselves, what evidence do we have of this man’s mental illness? Why do we never speak of mental illness when the perpetrators are Muslim? Again, the tone of the narrative surrounding this attack and others committed by Muslims is very, very different. And that is concerning. And ought to be addressed.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Isn’t anyone who thinks slaughtering 90 some children will further his political goals insane? Does that even require argument? ITTM that a person can exhibit practical reason and intelligence while still being in some very clear sense insane.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                I think that Brievik was crazy in a way that Timothy McVeigh was not. McVeigh might be insane by some clinical definition (narcissistic or paranoid or something), but there was a rhyme and reason for his actions. One could see how, in a different political environment, they might have succeeded.

                Maybe I don’t fully understand Norwegian politics, but it’s hard to imagine any scenario in which killing a bunch of Labor Party members children would have resulted in anything. We’re dealing with a much more complete detachment from any sort of reality, in my view.

                Though I abhor his actions, I can sort of understand where McVeigh was coming from in his actions if I shared his basic assumptions about the US Government. Sort of. And the same is actually true of the 9/11 crew. I have a harder time with Brievik. Even if I believed that Muslims were an existential threat to our society and that the Labor Party was truly evil, killing those kids is just not what I would have done about.

                I do agree with BSK that sanity and terrorism are murkier issues than we give them credit for being.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                And, I should add, my views on Brievik are subject to change. I haven’t read his manifesto. Maybe he was working under a set of assumptions where his actions make more sense than they appear at first glance.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                Stillwater, thank you very much for saying that. This is my take on it. Saying that the man is clearly deeply pathological is not to say that he’s completely divorced from reality. In some sense, his thinking is “political”. Yes he shares plenty of delusions with people who aren’t going to shoot up children. But thinking that massacring dozens of children at a summer camp is going to further your political goals, which don’t include rallying the support of your society around the political party you attacked- or accomplish anything really… well, most of us would have a pretty clear answer to that question and it wouldn’t be to go ahead with that idea. There is a random and senseless aspect to this violence that seems to be overlooked. Shooting up a summer camp doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense, even if we want it to. If you want to talk about Al Quaida, I don’t think I’ve ever heard much talk about how random and bizarre blowing up the World Trade Center was. We tried to make sense of it, but on some level, it was psychopathological.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                There’s nothing wrong with jumping to conclusions.

                I’ll make an analogy to that guy who committed suicide but made it look like a lynching (he had “Fed” written on his chest… remember that?) and the responses.

                It looked like he was murdered. It looked like he was murdered as part of anti-government sentiment.

                There is nothing wrong with suspecting that a guy who was found hung in a field with the word “Fed” written on his chest was murdered rather than committed suicide hoping to frame anti-government types.

                The problem comes after the truth comes out (and then, after we can re-examine the truth after a good night’s sleep and our blood is no longer high).Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Well, I think there is something wrong with jumping to conclusions, especially in the context of already highly charged issues. But I get your point. And it’s part of the point I was making a coupla days ago: that ultimately our judgments ought to be determined by the evidence. On that we are in agreement.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                For me, I cannot help but jump to conclusions. When I heard that there was an attack, I immediately started to wonder who the attackers were and put some preliminary thoughts together.

                Allow me to project for a moment, I suspect that *MOST* folks immediately started wondering who did it and putting together lists of names.

                It seems to me that the question isn’t one of should we think about things that happen as they happen but whether we should be polite enough to repeat, as if it were a koan, that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions until all of the information is in.

                I am a fan of the idea of politeness but it doesn’t strike me as a virtue in and of itself.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Well, there is a sorta reflexive impulse to think of AQ when you see buildings blown part. But we know that there isn’t any utility in doing so, unless we enjoy long, heated threads accusing people of bad intentions and misquoting Mill.

                But I think there’s a practical reason for it too. To take one example: Look at the latest Jennifer Rubin piece in which she doesn’t apologize for jumping the gun, but instead covers her initial false claim by talking about nations getting even tougher on terrorism. Of all stripes. Of course, she’s right, right? I mean, who thinks we should be soft on terror? So the false claim has morphed into a noble truth. (Another example: Khan being falsely accused of raping the hotel maid.)

                So her previous commitment to a false claim dovetails into an incoherent ‘larger point’ about increasing the use of state power and all that that entails. My guess is that this sorta hysterical CYA article wouldn’t have been written if she’d been more restrained in demonizing AQ in the first place.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:


                I largely agree, although I would make a distinction between “jumping to a conclusion” and “getting on a podium and telling everyone about it.”

                When I first read about it, I thought it was probably AQ or some like organization. Probably in part because that’s where the media was pointing, but not entirely so. At the same time, I also figured that there wasn’t much reason to comment on it while details were still unfolding.Report

              • @BSK:

                Again, the tone of the narrative surrounding this attack and others committed by Muslims is very, very different. And that is concerning. And ought to be addressed.

                I agree. If I can ever get out from under the mountain of work I’ve got right now, I plan on doing a post about this, more or less.

                This guy was not Loughner. Nor was he someone whose political program fell outside the political spectrum, as many on the Right are claiming (seemingly based on the fact that he advocated the use of violence to advance his political program).

                That doesn’t mean the Pam Gellers and Robert Spencers of the world are to blame for these attacks. It does, however, mean that they should examine the implications of their claims and ask themselves whether some of those claims might be wrong and/or exaggerated or even, yes, bigoted.Report

              • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

                Mark – I agree that the killer is apparently much more steeped in some of the anti-Jihadist American blogs and American movement conservatism than I thought he would be. I figured him to be much more involved in European nationalism, but it appears he takes from many different sources.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Yeah this is a bit heavy don’tcha think.

      Also isn’t a lot of the conversation about this getting a bit too meta? Too little talk about the original subject and too much talk about what was said about the original subject.Report

    • Avatar BSK says:

      I was one of the guys who initially jumped on ED. For me, the problem wasn’t so much the assumption that this might be linked to Al Qaeda. As many have pointed out, there was good reason to have that suspicion. I was bothered when, in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, ED still clung to that assumption (the whole “whites can be Muslims, too, ya know”) and when the truth became evident, he fell into the trap of immediately designating this as a lone wolf scenario, an entitlement exclusively reserved for white mad men.

      ED, your writings here and elsewhere have generally proven you not to be a virulent bigot. If any of my comments came across as accusing you of that, I apologize. I do think we should all reflect on how we responded to this tragedy, both immediately when there was much doubt about the perpetrator(s) and later on when we knew quite a bit more (and ongoing, as we will likely have more info come to light that might change our minds yet again). I do think your initial updates seemed very defensive and the extent to which that was a function of the fear/outrage the attacks generated is understandable, but I do think you have to take your lumps on that.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I should note that I don’t think E.D. is a virulent bigot. I think he has prejudices, and they got the better of him in a highly emotional situation. We all have prejudices, many of them only implicit, that come out when we’re under emotional or cognitive stress, such as when learning about horrible terrorist attacks against innocent civilians. What makes E.D.’s initial post problematic is that he let his prejudices guide his reasoning publicly in a situation that was too important for such a slip up.Report

        • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

          I may have prejudices, but I’m not sure what you think they are. I am very prejudiced against violence and against violent reprisals (such as the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya). I think Islamic law and theocratic rule in general are essentially as close to evil as anything. I am indeed worried about future terrorist attacks and the response by the security community to those attacks. I did not expect a homegrown nationalist attack of this scale in Scandinavia. I am sorry that I was wrong.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      I just think the dozens of children being murdered was a horrific, unthinkable tragedy; but, if their deaths lead to someone winning an argument somewhere on the Internet, at least they won’t have been in vain.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Certainly. And that’s precisely what people are doing here: trying to win an argument at the expense of dozens murdered in cold blood.

        And I’m being uncharitable.Report

  10. Avatar Chris says:

    I’m not sorry that you were wrong; I’m sorry that you were publicly so.

    And like I said, we all have our prejudices. You likely have many you’re completely unaware of, even if they operate fairly directly in your behavior and reasoning. That you can articulate (rationalize) the prejudices you have, as you see them, in a way that makes you look good is pretty much irrelevant. Your behavior is enough.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      I write publicly and I’ve been wrong publicly before. I’m not sorry about that.

      I’m glad that you understand my prejudices better than I do myself, and that you also understand how I rationalize. This is a comfort in an otherwise dark and troubling world.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I doubt either of us really understand your prejudices. That’s sort of the nature of them. How you rationalize, on the other hand, is available to all to see, in this post as well as in the comments. It’s a convenient way to save face to say, “Sure, I said what these other bad people said, but I said it out of regret!”

        And there’s a difference between being wrong publicly on, say, a political debate about unions, and being wrong about who killed a bunch of innocent civilians, particularly when such an attack is so politically charged (as the polarization of the reactions shows).

        And pace Jaybird, I don’t think anyone is arguing that we should wait until all the facts are in, as a matter of strict doctrine. However, we should wait until at least enough facts are in to get a good picture, as a matter of doctrine, and when the topic is as charged and as serious as this one, we should wait longer still before making public pronouncements about both the perpetrators and their motives.Report