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newsmongering 07/26

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> Those of you with whom I’m friended on Facebook might noticed the livelinking I was doing during the Norway attacks. In conversation with people in Real Life, I made two predictions: that it would only be a short time before someone managed to suggest that Anders Breivik was misguided in his methods but generally had a sound foundation, and that someone would blame the  high death toll on the island on Norway’s handgun laws.

Occasionally I hate being right. Glenn Beck has decided (and being Beck, made public his belief) that the youth at the camp on the island of Utoya was pretty much the same thing as the Nazi Youth. Having attended a camp for kids (well, young adults) that was all about politics, I for one found his statement “There was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like, you know, the Hitler youth. I mean, who does a camp for kids that’s all about politics? Disturbing” to be…well, distasteful if not unexpected. Politically active youth! They totally had it coming!

Now the second point. Eighty-two people died on Utoya. In the US in 2006, there were 13,950 gun-related homicides. In Norway in 2005, there were five.

Additionally, those claiming that Breivik could only face a maximum of 21 years in prison because Norway is too lenient should note that his sentence may be extended if he is deemed “a threat to society.”

Somewhat hearteningly, youth parties in Norway are seeing an upsurge of recruitment.

Breivik was apparently motivated by a deep hatred of multiculturalism and by xenophobia against Norway’s Muslim immigrant population; one wonders if he’ll be known as a Christian fundamentalist terrorist. Experts are suggesting that “a frank debate about immigration may be the best way to prevent similar explosions of violence.” I would argue that people not massacring other people would be the best way to prevent similar explosions of violence, but not being an expert, it’s possible I’m missing something. Honest discussion needs to be had; I’m not disputing that. But while Breivik’s actions can be explained, they cannot – ever – be excused.

In today’s winner of the state-the-obvious contest, Breivik’s lawyer has said that Breivik “appears insane.” I think we’d worked that out already.

Describing Brievik as a “very cold” person, Lippestad added: “This whole case has indicated that he is insane.” He said defending the man who had confessed to carrying out the attacks was a job that had to be done to preserve the integrity of the Norwegian legal system, but did not understand why the killer had chosen him.

He also describes himself as “100% Christian.” One wonders when the Norway attacks will be known as fundamentalist Christian terrorism. Boston University’s Stephen Prothero argues that Christianity needs to acknowledge its roll in Brievik’s motivation.

But Breivik does not just deny Islam. He affirms Christianity. He describes himself as “100% Christian” in his apparent manifesto. That work says he’s a member of the “Knights Templar,” which the document refers to as “a Christian ‘culturalist’ military order.” …The manifesto refers repeatedly to martyrdom, calls Breivik the “savior . . . of European Christendom,” discusses Quranic views of Jesus and quotes extensively from the Bible.

In fact, in an extended section justifying violence in the name of self-defense (plagiarized, like much in the manifesto, from other websites), it quotes from Exodus, Samuel, Judges, Psalms, Luke, Matthew, Isaiah, Daniel, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians and other biblical books. “God will anoint you with his power to go into battle,” the manifesto reads. “God can be a Man of War if He wants to be.”

Finally, key dates in the manifesto, including the date for the rampage itself (July 22), are linked to key dates in the history of the Christian crusades. “Celebrate us, the martyrs of the conservative revolution,” a video attributed to Breivik reads, “for we will soon dine in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Osama bin Laden was a Muslim terrorist. Yes, he twisted the Quran and the Islamic tradition in directions most Muslims would not countenance. But he rooted his hate and his terrorism in that text and that tradition. So Muslims, as I have long argued, have a responsibility to speak out forcefully against Bin Laden and to look hard at the resources in their tradition that work to promote such evil.

If he did what he has alleged to have done, Anders Breivik is a Christian terrorist.

This is the New York Times’ complete round-up. It’s worth a read.

The newspaper Dagbladet has a page commemorating the dead.

> Thirty thousand Israelis marched in Tel Aviv last night; has the the Arab Spring found the Promised Land?

These protests, which began as explicit anger at the rising rental prices in cities across the country, have been fueled by the response of Netanyahu’s government, which initially, with hostile rhetoric, dismissed them as being part of a large, leftwing movement being funded by outfits such as the New Israel Fund. The initial rhetoric, which claimed that the protests were not about anything other than the “Zionist Left’s” political agenda, only served to increase protesters’ anger and resolve.

These reactions from Netanyahu and other government officials have served to broaden the protests, which have now moved from rent prices to a host of social justice issues: women’s rights, union rights and education reform, among other things, with general chants of “revolution” heard on the streets last night.

> Hungary has destroyed all of its Monsanto GMO cornfields.

Almost 1000 acres of maize found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds have been destroyed throughout Hungary deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development Lajos Bognar said. The GMO maize has been ploughed under, said Lajos Bognar, but pollen has not spread from the maize, he added.

> The Lithuanian Holocaust has mostly been forgotten. In 2007, a memorial commemorating the 72,000 Jewish victims was spray-painted with the words “Hitler was right.”

Why has the desecration of such a place escaped our notice? When the “Arbeit macht frei” sign was stolen in late 2009 from the gates of Auschwitz, an international scandal ensued, and the thieves (a Swedish neo-Nazi and two Polish accomplices) were apprehended. Perhaps reporters and editors in western Europe and the US do not associate places like Ponary with the Holocaust. Our imaginations are dominated by Auschwitz, even though more far more Jews were shot at places like Ponary than were murdered in its gas chambers.

> Seventy-eight people were killed when a military plane apparently missed the runway and crashed in  Morocco in the southern end of the country.

> Tina Fey continues to be awesome. Christopher Hitchens, relatedly, is kind of a tool. (Thanks to Spoon for the link!)

> Severus Snape was based on a real person!

In retrospect, Nettleship described himself as “a short-tempered chemistry teacher with long hair … [and a] gloomy, malodorous laboratory” who enjoyed picking on students, particularly bright students like Rowling. Which was why it was kind of weird that it took reporters straight up asking him if he was Snape before he figured it out. Even his wife knew the connection, but, tellingly, was too scared to bring it up.

> A guy in Bangkok was arrested after trying to smuggle 50 snakes onto a plane. Let the jokes commence.


Written by whackanarwhal

July 26, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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