Collective Guilt Watch: If Muslims are Responsible for Osama Bin Laden, Are Anti-Muslim Bloggers Responsible For Anders Behring Breivik?

Anders Behring Breivik—the Norwegian who recently went on a Christian nationalist inspired rampage, murdering over 90 of his fellow citizens in Norway—immersed himself in the rhetoric of anti-Muslim blogs where Muslims are routinely tarred with collective guilt for such things as 9/11.

The question is thus fairly asked: if Muslims can be considered collectively guilty for, say, Osama bin Laden’s reading of the Quran—and the violent conclusions he drew from it—can right-wing blog site authors be considered collectively guilty for the violent conclusions that Anders Behring Breivak drew from reading them?

Or is it suddenly very important that we make clear intellectual distinctions, and treat people engaged in cultural movements as free Jeffersonian individuals solely responsible for their beliefs and actions, but no one else’s?

Here’s William Saletan writing at Slate:

In a manifesto posted online, the admitted killer, Anders Behring Breivik, praised [Pamela] Geller. He cited her blog, Atlas Shrugs, and the writings of her friends, allies, and collaborators—Robert Spencer, Jihad Watch, Islam Watch, and Front Page magazine—more than 250 times. And he echoed their tactics, tarring peaceful Muslims with the crimes of violent Muslims. He wrote that all Muslims sought to impose “sharia laws” and that “there are no important theological differences between jihadists and so-called ‘peaceful’ or ‘moderate’ Muslims.” He reprinted, as part of the manifesto, a 2006 essay by “Fjordman”—a blogger whose work appears frequently on Geller’s site—which argued that “radical Muslims and moderate Muslims are allies” and that because Islam teaches deception, no Muslim who claims to be moderate can be trusted.

So, now that the shoe of collective guilt is on the other foot, what’s the difference between blowing up something after reading the Quran and blowing up something after reading the Bible or an anti-Muslim blog?

Here’s William Saletan again:

The vindictive part of me wants to blame [Pamela] Geller and her ilk for what happened in Oslo. But then I remember something Abdul Rauf said: “The Quran explicitly states that no soul shall be responsible for the sins of another. Terrorism, which targets innocents who had no part in a crime, fundamentally violates this Quranic commandment.” That principle—that no one should be held responsible for another person’s sins—is the moral core of the struggle against terrorism. It’s the reason I can’t pin the slaughter in Norway on bloggers who never advocated sectarian violence.

Abdul Rauf, for those who don’t recall, is the moderate American imam who wants to build a mosque a few blocks down from Ground Zero.

Should we let him? And, if you say no, why should he be held partly responsible for 9/11 while Pamela Geller is held blameless for Anders Behring Breivik?

Here’s The Daily Caller reporting what Pamela Geller said in her own defense:

Geller points out that while she and Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer appear in Breivik’s manifesto, so do several influential historical thinkers. For instance, the New Yorker reports that Breivik cites Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Adam Smith. “Are they responsible too?” Geller asks.

The easy answer to Geller’s rhetorical question is Obviously not. But I’d like to complicate things just a tad. The most sensible thing I’ve ever read on the issue of collective guilt came from Leon Wieseltier. He wrote the following in the New Republic when the Ground Zero mosque was a trending issue and being widely debated:

One of the most accomplished Jewish terrorists of our time, Baruch Goldstein, came from the Jewish universe in which I was raised. . . . The same was later true of Yigal Amir. . . . If the standpoint of broadly collective responsibility was the wrong way to explain the atrocities, so too was the standpoint of purely individual responsibility. There were currents of culture behind the killers. Their ideas were not only their own. I am reminded of those complications when I hear that Islam is a religion of peace. I have no quarrel with the construction of Cordoba House, but not because Islam is a religion of peace. It is not. Like Christianity and like Judaism, Islam is a religion of peace and a religion of war. All the religions have all the tendencies within them, and in varying historical circumstances varying beliefs and practices have come to the fore.

Ideas and cultural movements have consequences, and, as Wieseltier rightly emphasized, behind killers we can always identify currents of culture. In this instance, the current of culture was an Internet one, but we should no more stop Pamela Geller’s website because of what Anders Behring Breivik did than we should stop Abdul Rauf from building a mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero because of what Osama bin Laden did. Jeffersonian rights to freedom of speech and peaceable assembly should be inalienable.

What’s good for Pamela Geller is good for Abdul Rauf.

Or do you see a distinction between them that I’m missing?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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11 Responses to Collective Guilt Watch: If Muslims are Responsible for Osama Bin Laden, Are Anti-Muslim Bloggers Responsible For Anders Behring Breivik?

  1. hassaan4084 says:

    nice work .. thumbs up..

  2. andrewclunn says:

    Is anti-Islam a religion? If Muslims don’t think that they should be held accountable then why this?

    Fuck Islam, it is evil. Saying that doesn’t mean I’m pro-killing people. Quite the contrary, Islam is evil because it encourages the murder of innocent people.

  3. concerned christian says:

    Santi, you are missing the big picture, we have millions of Muslims who consider Bin Laden a great hero, how many Christians approve what Breivik have done? When Muslims go on a rampage in Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and many other countries they can justify their crimes by what Mohammad had preached and done, but no one can find any teaching of Jesus that justify killing non believers.
    I know liberals can not give up on their multicultural faith but don’t forget that just today we almost got another Fort Hood massacre by yet another peaceful Muslim who could not bring himself to fight his Muslim brothers but he was more than willing to kill his fellow soldiers.
    Finally I want to add that the link between Breivik and Geller is the same as the link between the uni bomber and Al Gore.

  4. Paradigm says:

    Like Concerned says, millions of Muslims support terrorism while Breivik possibly had the support of a handful of extremists. There is no culture inspiring him. Geller never told him to do this or anything like it. They guy definitely looks like he has a narcissistic personality disorder.

    As for Rauf he is just as two-faced as Tariq Ramadan. He wants to build a “inter-faith platform” next to Ground Zero and names it Cordoba House – Cordoba being the symbol of Muslim oppression in Europe. He called America an accessory to 9/11 and failed to condemn Hamas and only changed his mind when that stance became problematic.

    The hard truth is that if Jefferson’s ideas can’t protect you from this guy and from Muslim colonization, then they must be reformed or abandoned altogether. Don’t cling to him like religion ; )

  5. concerned christian says:

    Your last statement “if Jefferson’s ideas can’t protect you from this guy and from Muslim colonization, then they must be reformed or abandoned altogether. Don’t cling to him like religion ”
    captured the challenges that are facing liberals today. They can not give up on their old world vision while the rules of the game are continuously changing.
    Radical Muslims, with the advantage of Western education, have totally understood the Western culture and identified every loophole and weak point they can exploit, while we are still trying to follow the fair play rules. In a post I had in an Egyptian blog, I likened the way Christians try to argue their positions with radical Muslims, with a ballet dancer going to a fight with a professional Wrestler, can you guess who will win?

  6. Paradigm says:

    Very true. America and Europe are now in the situation that the Israelis have been for some time. Trying to make friends with someone who will never reciprocate.

  7. conservative says:

    The same people who were saying “Let’s not blame all Muslims! It’s wrong to generalize!” whenever a terrorist attack takes place, are now generalizing and attacking Christians and conservatives in general.

    Santi, you are probably not familiar with Pamela Geller’s blog. She doesn’t call for acts of violence against Muslims. In fact, no one among normal, moderate right wing Conservatives ever did.

    There are a few differences between the way Muslims respond to terrorism and the way Christian conservatives do.

    1. If you recall, when the tragedy of 9/11 occurred, tens of thousands of Muslims (average people, not terrorists) took to the streets in Egypt, Gaza, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, and celebrated the deaths of thousands of innocent civilian people. I didn’t see any conservative Christians, conservative nationalists or patriots, do the same thing now. No one among “right wing” conservatives could be so monstrous to rejoice about what happened in Norway.

    2. Many Muslims in England and other parts of the Western world were sorry for Bin Laden when he was killed. Again, we’re not talking about terrorists. In London, “normal” Muslims including many veiled women (the ones that look like Muslim nuns and are on welfare, taking advantage of the socialist welfare British system with handouts) staged anti-American demonstrations where they prayed and mourned for a murderer like bin Laden. No conservatives would feel sorry for Breivik or commend him for his actions. HELLO, are you listening?? What about this? Even this doesn’t make you see things clearly??

    3. The actions of a murderer like Breivik don’t change the fact that Islam and Neo-Communism are still a threat to freedom. The fact that Communist or Marxist slogans and stereotypes are socially acceptable, is proof of the fact that left wingers get away with their arrogant defense of Communism even today. Here are a few examples – it’s acceptable and even seemingly normal to hate “the rich”, to make violent statements about free market capitalism, private property and about traditional values; T-shirts with a murderer like Guevarra, the Cuban Communist who murdered about 4,000 people are also acceptable. T-shirts with CCCP, that is USSR, are also acceptable on the street, in the Western world. Suppose somebody wore a T-shirt with the Third Reich on it, how would people react? WHY THIS DOUBLE STANDARD?

    4. Breivik did not even kill Muslim immigrants. He killed Norwegians. Whenever Muslims planned and carried out a terror attack, the “tolerant” liberal leftist media with The New York Times leading the way, used words like “homegrown terrorists” or “radicals”. They avoided using the term Muslim. Now, the same New York Times used the term “Christian extremist” to refer to Breivik. This is another example of hypocrisy!…

    5. Another thing – if you can say that conservatives like those of us who are aware of the threat of Islamo-communism are responsible for what happened in Norway, then we can also blame agnotics and atheists like you, for something like the Columbine school tragedy. After all, those murderous kids were atheistic nihilists, they were influenced by the anti-God culture that you people promote so enthusiastically. Great, let’s blame all atheists for that. 🙂 Does that mean all people who don’t believe in God and don’t live their lives according to some traditional moral principles, are capable of doing that? I don’t think so.

    This is guilt manipulation, what the progressive liberals are trying to do. They expect conservatives to feel guilty and to stop their justified opposition to left wing multiculturalism and big government socialism.

    Do you expect me to feel guilty? I don’t feel guilty, and neither do tens of millions of other conservatives, religious or non-religious.

  8. conservative says:

    Here are a few portions from Breivik’s own rantings.

    “The Judeo-Christian religions played an important and influential role in building the once mighty West but we also discovered that these religions contained a serious flaw that has sewed the seeds of the suicidal demise of the indigenous peoples of Western Europe and our cultures. This flaw was identified by the brilliant German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who described it as “an inversion of morality” whereby the weak, the poor, the meek, the oppressed and the wretched are virtuous and blessed by God whereas the strong, the wealthy, the noble and the powerful are the immoral and damned by the vengeful almighty Yahweh for eternity”. (p. 391)

    Here he praises Nietzche, a notorious anti-Christian. Nietzche’s twisted interpretation of how God treats people is totally false. Nowhere in the Bible does God or Jesus Christ condemn people for being rich, noble and powerful. Job and Joseph of Arimathea were rich, and they are commended for their faith.

    Besides, Christian teachings don’t say that those who are poor are automatically saved by the LORD. There are poor individuals who don’t have any character. Calvin warned against giving preferential treatment to the poor, at the expense of other people. “Therefore, magistrates should be wary of being too favorably disposed toward the poor, lest they do injustice under the cloak of compassion”. Ironically, that’s what we’re seeing today. Among big government bureaucrats, there are those who are stealing from hard working families who have a hard time paying their bills and their mortgages, and are giving away their hard earned money to illegal immigrants, lazy bums and irresponsible people who are alcohol or drug addicts, under the form of social programs. All under the cloak of “social justice” and compassion.

    “Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God.”

    Then he doesn’t have the single most important thing for a Christian.

    “The cultural factors are more important than your personal relationship with God, Jesus or the holy spirit. Even Odinists can fight with us or by our side as brothers in this fight as long as they accept the founding principles of PCCTS, Knights Templar and agree to fight under the cross of the martyrs. I have studied Norse Mythology and have a lot of respect for the Odinist traditions. I consider myself to be a Christian, but Odinism is still and will always be an important part of my culture and identity.” (p. 1360)

    So pagan worshippers of the viking deity are welcomed to the club of Knights Templar. The Knights Templar were a military-religious order with occult origins that came into conflict with the Catholic church. Atheists, new agers, wiccans, pagans and “DaVinci Code” fans always held the Templars in high esteem because supposedly they “discovered some esoteric truths” but were killed by the Vatican. Now, they turn around and say the Knights Templar were Christian. They do this so they can associate the present day Templars and other idiots, with Conservatives. This is is the kind of inconstistency and hypocrisy specific to many liberal agnostics and atheists. Santi, you were quoting an infamous atheist philosopher as saying “There’s nothing more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense.” Is shouting “Everything is relative! There are no moral absolutes” and then condemning murder and hate, something reasonable and consistent? That’s what most liberal cultural and moral relativists do. Is that common sense?… So yes, common sense is very much against the religion of moral and cultural relativism.

    “It is enough,” Breivik says, “that you are a Christian-agnostic or a Christian-atheist.”

    If you can please explain that to me. What in the world is a “Christian-atheist”?!

    This shows how confused Breivik really was.

    In many ways, our modern societies and European secularism is a result of European Christendom and the enlightenment. It is therefore essential to understand the difference between a Christian fundamentalist theocracy (everything we do not want) and a secular European society based on our Christian cultural heritage (what we do want). (p. 361)

    Here, he’s using the same vocabulary that any good liberal leftist anti-Christian and anti-Conservative progressive ACLU activist, uses. 🙂 “Christian fundamentalist theocracy”, “European secularism” and “the enlightenment”. It’s very funny when things don’t come out as you plan them.

    It’s clear that anyone who is honest with themselves will come to the logical conclusions about this whole story.

  9. conservative says:

    Anne Coulter said it best. “The only reason Timothy McVeigh has gone down in history as a right-wing Christian and Jared Loughner has not — despite herculean efforts by much of the mainstream media to convince us otherwise — is that by January 2011 when Loughner went on his murder spree, conservatives had enough media outlets to reveal the truth.As explained in the smash best-seller “Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America,” the liberal rule is: Any criminal act committed by a white man with a gun is a right-wing, Christian conspiracy, whereas any criminal act committed by a nonwhite is a reaction to the government violating someone’s civil rights.”

  10. conservative says:

    “The cultural factors are more important than your personal relationship with God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Even Odinists can fight with us or by our side as brothers in this fight as long as they accept the founding principles of PCCTS, Knights Templar and agree to fight under the cross of the martyrs. I have studied Norse Mythology and have a lot of respect for the Odinist traditions. I consider myself to be a Christian, but Odinism is still and will always be an important part of my culture and identity.” (p. 1360)

    That should be enough to show that he is not a Christian. I said this before, anyone honest with themselves will come to the logical conclusions.

  11. conservative says:

    Here’s a sample of media propaganda and manipulation. This is an interview on the BBC, with Tommy Robinson from the European Defense League (EDL).

    Watch how the BBC lackey is desperately trying to establish a link between the European Defense League and Anders Breivik. The EDL is known for its anti-sharia stance, warning people through blogs and protests. The BBC host keeps interrupting Robinson when he quotes facts. Just watch this.

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