Norway: Justifying terrorism

Norway: Justifying terrorism

Following the recent terror attack in Norway, there's been a few different responses from the right-wing side, both politicians and pundits. Though the left-wing/media reaction to them all is the same ('you're supporting terrorism'), I think there's a big difference between them:

1. Agreeing with Breivik's ideas

For example, Mario Borghezio, MEP for the Italian Northern League, said he agreed with Breivik's "opposition to Islam and his explicit accusation that Europe has surrendered before putting up a fight against its Islamisation". Geert Wilders said he couldn't be held responsible for 'an isolated idiot who abuses freedom-loving anti-Islam ideals in a violent way, even though others might like to see it that way'.

As Daniel Cohn-Bendit, co-president of the Green bloc in the European Parliament, says: "So much of what he wrote could have been said by any right-wing politician."

Breivik's terrorist act doesn't mean by extension that everything he believed in wrong. There's a big difference between thinking there's a problem with multiculturalism or Islam or the EU, and thinking all Muslims are animals (as per Breivik's manifesto). Sadly enough, at this point in time, nobody's making that distinction. If you hold right-wing ideas, you're by extension justifying terrorism.

2. Justifying Breivik's attack

This line of reasoning is used by people who say terrorism is wrong, but they understand why Breivik got to that point where he felt obligated to commit terrorism. For example, Erik Hellsborn (Sweden Democrats), who wrote that the attacks were the fault of mass immigration and Islamization. "The ultimate responsibility is with the perpetrator, but if you are to discuss the underlying reasons which motivated him then it was caused by multiculturalism."

It's a fine line between agreeing with some of Breivik's ideas and seeing why they would bring him to commit mass murder. Supposedly, those people are not supporting terrorism. But the minute you use the word 'but' - there's no way around it. The difference between this line of reasoning and that which understands why a cartoon would send Muslims over the edge is not substantive. Both blame the victim for thinking differently and therefore forcing their killers to act.

3. Supporting Breivik's attack

For example, Jacques Coutela (Front National) who described Breivik as an 'icon' and 'defender of the West' and wrote that "the reason for the Norway terror attacks: fighting the Muslim invasion, that's what people don't want you to know."