Just as news emerged yesterday about the terror attacks in Norway, the right wing here in the U.S. rushed to judgement, declaring that they were perpetrated by Islamic terrorists. But Norwegian authorities have since charged Norwegian right-wing “Christian fundamentalist” Anders Breivik, a move that appears to have confused conservatives about terrorism in general.
Today on Fox News, former Bush administration State Department official Christian Whiton acknowledged that the case in Norway “wasn’t Islamic terrorism,” but he quickly downplayed terrorist acts committed by those such as Breivik, saying it’s the first of its kind since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Whiton then attacked the Norwegians for not being serious about terrorism and claimed that European countries are susceptible to terrorism because they’re “neutral in the war on terror”:
WHITON: This wasn’t Islamic terrorism. It’s one of the first instances since Oklahoma City when terrorism on this scale was not Islamic. But steps you can take to defend your people and your government and your society against Islamic terrorism would also come in handy against lone wolfs as this is turning out to be. It just looks like the Norwegians didn’t happen to take them, nor did they approach terrorism in what frankly, was a serious manner I’d say.
GREGG JARRETT: Islamic terrorism is a problem in the Scandanavian countries. Were they just sort of turning a blind eye to it? […]
WHITON: You know the problem in a lot of European counties is they think by being neutral in the war on terror as if any civilized society can be, that they won’t face the threats that we face. But that’s just not true, we do know al Qaeda and Islamic terrorist movements are targeting Scandanavian countries just like the rest of us.
Of course Whiton is wrong that the Oslo attack is the first act of terrorism since 1995 that didn’t involve Islamic extremists. Various nationalist and political terror groups have committed violent terrorist acts around the world since then, for instance the Real Irish Republican Army bombing in Omagh, Northern Ireland in 1998.
CNN contributor Erick Erickson had a similar bait and switch today on his Red State blog. He acknowledged that he was “wrong” to blame the Oslo attacks on al-Qaeda affiliated groups, but then defended his position saying that Christians aren’t as violent as Muslims:
First, those of us on the right who point out the now fairly common ties between terrorists and Islam do so largely because the secular left has become willfully naive. The fact of the matter is violence and Islam may not be very common among American muslims, but internationally it is extremely common and can fairly well be considered mainstream within much of Islam. Read Andy McCarthy if you suffer on the delusion that it is not mainstream.
With Christians, it is rather rare to see a self-described Christian engage in heinous terrorist acts. In fact, in as much as there is an Arab Street filled with muslims more often than not cheering on the latest terrorist act of radical Islamists, you will be very hard pressed to find a Christian who does not condemn the act regardless of the faith of the person doing the killing.
Erickson then asked, “why is the left so gleeful that the Norwegian is a ‘conservative Christian’?” No one is “gleeful” that Breivik is right wing or a “Christian fundamentalist.” Responding to terrorism requires dealing in facts and dispelling speculation based on pre-conceived ideology.