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American Anti-Muslim Activists Throw Devoted Follower Breivik Under Bus

By Robert Steinback on July 26, 2011 - 9:28 am, Posted in Anti-Muslim

The irony is, had Anders Behring Breivik merely posted his manifesto without killing at least 76 innocent children and adults in Norway, he probably would have emerged as a rising star among the anti-Muslim activists he so admired.

As it happened, America’s most fanatical anti-Muslim activists quickly retreated behind walls of denial upon discovering that the perpetrator of Friday’s stunning act of terror was committed not in the name of Islam, but in response to their own mission: Whipping up paranoia about Islam.

Breivik on Monday admitted responsibility for the attack, telling a court that he did it to “save Europe” from Islam. His 1,500-page manifesto, which he posted on the Internet shortly before launching the rampage, confirmed his motivation in no uncertain terms. But in the aftermath of the tragedy, the very people whose anti-Muslim polemics Breivik admired and studied were pathetically incapable of any introspection whatsoever regarding the influence their inflammatory anti-Muslim paranoia might have had on Breivik.

When the news first broke Friday, along with an early, unsubstantiated report that a Muslim terrorist group had claimed responsibility, Pamela Geller, executive director of the anti-Muslim hate group Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), prepared to indict all of Islam for the carnage.

Her first post, at 12:57 p.m. Friday was headlined, “Jihad in Norway?” Mocking her critics, she wrote, “But remember, jihad is not the problem. New York’s 911, London’s 7/7, Madrid’s 3/11, Bali, Mumbai, Beslan, Moscow … is not the problem. ‘Islamophobia’ is the problem. Repeat after me as you bury the dead, ‘Islamophobia is the problem, Islamophobia is the problem.’”

Islamophobia, it turned out, was the problem. The news broke that the attacker was a blue-eyed Norwegian who not only was no jihadist, but was one of Geller’s ardent admirers. Suddenly, in Geller’s view, the suspect was now a lone wolf who represented nothing larger than himself.

On Saturday evening, Geller unleashed a nearly incoherent denial of responsibility. Breivik, she wrote, “is a murderer, a mass murderer. Period. He’s not anything else. He is sick, sick to death and he has aided the enemy in so many ways it defies comprehension. Anyone who would kill children is insane. And if he’s a right winger who hates Muslims, how does that translate into killing a bunch of political youth party Workers’ Youth League? … [H]e started planning this attack nine years ago. I wasn’t blogging back then. I despise savagery and inhumanity in any [and] all instances. Period. This abject loser lowered himself to sub-human status. And he has done this wholly on his own. Nowhere does Christianity or the counter jihad movement call for violence of any kind. Whatever he says doesn’t square. He’s a bloody murderer. Period. He is responsible for his actions. He and only he. There was no ‘ideology’ here.”

Geller on Sunday was still scrambling to deflect blame and to isolate Breivik as a lone madman unconnected to her cause. Breivik had made only “one passing reference” to her, she insisted (Geller ignored Breivik’s 12 references to her blog, however), and a mere 55 mentions of her SIOA co-founder Robert Spencer, which Geller described as  “mostly quotes from Muslim scriptures.” (The New York Times counted 64 mentions of Spencer; Geller also disregarded Breivik’s “nomination” of Spencer for the Nobel Peace Prize.) But in an almost surreal bit of legerdemain, Geller suggested that blame could lay with Charles Johnson, proprietor of the website Little Green Footballs, who, after initially being part of the anti-Muslim chorus, became appalled at the level of hatred and bigotry the movement represented and by 2009 had turned against it. Breivik, Geller wrote, “includes a long diatribe against Charles Johnson, whom he clearly admired until he felt betrayed enough to snap. The killer speaks about Charles Johnson obsessively and wrings his hands about Johnson’s turn to the left. Could this perhaps have been the provocation? Could this have been what caused him to snap?”

Thoughtful readers would likely wonder if they’d misread the logic there: Breivik was motivated to murder innocent children because Johnson rejected bigotry? But Geller made clear she was deadly serious: “Anders Behring Breivik is responsible for his actions. If anyone incited him to violence, it was Islamic supremacists.” There it is: In Geller’s view, either Breivik was a crazed lone wolf, or Muslims drove him to kill some 76 fellow white people. In Geller’s warped world, the only parties truly free of any responsibility for inspiring Breivik’s rampage are those who happened to believe exactly what he believed. Go figure.

Contrary to Geller’s casual dismissal of Breivik’s references to Spencer, the accused mass murderer was a rapt follower of Spencer’s work. “About Islam I recommend essentially everything written by Robert Spencer,” Breivik wrote in his manifesto. That should reignite a long-running debate about the accuracy of Spencer’s research; many critics accuse Spencer of focusing only on the Koran’s violent passages – which are common to many ancient texts, including the Bible – without accounting for its more-numerous passages of peace, justice and restraint, nor centuries of interpretive scholarship that place the violent passages in historical context.

On his Jihad Watch website Monday, Spencer said he has never had contact with Breivik and added, “If I was indeed an inspiration for his work, I feel the way the Beatles must have felt when they learned that Charles Manson had committed murder after being inspired by messages he thought he heard in their song lyrics. There were no such messages. Nor is there, for any sane person, any inspiration for harming anyone in my work, which has been consistently dedicated to defending human rights for all people.”

The problem with Spencer’s analogy is that only a truly deranged individual could find an inspiration to murder in the vague lyrics of the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter.” Spencer, on the other hand, has devoted three decades of work trying to get people to believe exactly what Breivik came to believe: that Islam demands the destruction and subjugation of all non-Muslims. Hatred and paranoia of that intensity are designed to scare people. Can the fear-monger rightfully claim absolute innocence when the duly frightened person lashes out with violence?

Spencer, even as he disavowed having ever sanctioned violence, reaffirmed his broad-brush smear of Islam: “The difference,” he wrote, “is this: Islamic texts and teachings, and frequently imams, directly exhort their followers to commit acts of violence. I do not. Nor does anyone else in the counterjihad. There is nothing Breivik could conceivably have read here as a justification for killing anyone. There is plenty in the Qur’an and Sunnah that jihadists can and do use as justification for murder.”

Frank Gaffney, head of the Center for Security Policy and a member of a core group of American anti-Muslim extremists, on Monday wrote that anyone who would shine a critical light on people like himself could only be motivated by a dastardly desire to abet Muslim terrorists. “[A]n unholy axis of Muslim Brotherhood operatives and those on the Left – groups whose spokesmen, ironically, endlessly inveigh against precipitous judgments when jihadists are the perpetrators – have been quick to find in this attack proof of their favorite meme: that conservatives and Christians are as much a threat to domestic tranquility (if not more) as are those seeking to impose the totalitarian Islamic politico-military-legal doctrine of shariah,” wrote Gaffney, an alarmist who has long warned that Muslim operatives have infiltrated all major American institutions and are within striking distance of toppling the Constitution. “They insist that as much effort (if not more) should be expended by law enforcement and other government agencies to counter such ‘Islamophobic’ right-wing extremists as is applied to Muslim ‘violent extremism.’” It’s a curious argument after Norway’s biggest terror attack: Law enforcement should pay less attention to the threat posed by people with political views like Breivik’s.

Another of that anti-Muslim core group, David Horowitz, leapt to Spencer’s defense in response to a critical, but measured New York Times editorial. Horowitz, who sponsors Spencer’s website, has stated that as many as half of all Muslims worldwide – more than 750 million – support Al Qaeda’s holy war against “Christians, Jews, and other Muslims who don’t happen to be true believers in the Quran according to bin Laden.” Monday, Horowitz wrote, “The attack on Robert Spencer, a man of great courage and decency, is just one phase in the war against all those who speak out against Islamic terror and Islamic imperialism.” Horowitz thus amplified the same convoluted theme put forth by Geller: The only truly blameless ones in Friday’s attack are the ones who believe exactly as Breivik believes.

  • JCA

    “I AM concerned about the virtual demonization of the wider Christian community by some liberal/left wing commentators which correctly decry the demonization of Muslims so eagerly propounded by Geller, Spencer, Horovitz and others.”

    Really? Seriously? You’re concerned that there are all these “liberal/ left wing commentators” saying… What exactly? That Christians are a dangerous threat to humanity and civilization that must be destroyed at all costs? Where exactly are you reading these things, because I haven’t seen anything even remotely like this.

    BTW, I don’t know about Spencer, but Geller and Horowitz are Jewish, I believe. I, however, am a Christian and decidedly left-wing, and I can tell you categorically that the problem with Spencer, Geller, Horowitz, Breivik, and Bin Laden is not their religion, but their ideological fanaticism that causes them to distort reality and dehumanize others.

    It’s the dehumanization and fanaticism that is being criticized. No one is suggesting that they are subhuman or should be destroyed. Quite the opposite, in fact. We’re saying that because they are human and adults they should start acting like it.

  • tomfrazee

    Just having read the quote from Industrialist, Jay Gould; “I can hire half the Americans to kill the other half”, causes one to wonder which group we’ld be in, and the point is; either/both groups. We’re all very vulnerable to persuasion, passion and can be motivated to take some pretty strange actions ( just thinking back on my own life ). I’m always impressed with news stories of how the simple act of people in neighborhoods, taking the time to meet with each other, to discuss the problems facing them, like break-ins, car theft, drug dealing, safety, etc. and learning how the people working together, as a team, looking out for each other, and letting others know that it’s happening, actually works, to rid the area of violence and other crimes. That is taking government to a personal level, by the people, for the people, from the people. Perhaps, we all should be meeting with each other, solving our problems, on the grass roots/from the bottom up level. It would certainly make us less dependent on outside intervention/supervision. If the whole country is made up of people participating in the matters that directly affect their own lives, we would surely find ourselves working together, giving voice and to solving problems. We all have to be involved and represented to make Democracy work and defeat Facism, which feeds on division, weakness and a feeling of hopelessness.

  • TC

    Liontooth – if you disingenuously suggest that Hinckley wasn’t at least inspired (not that it diminishes his responsibility for the act) to attempt to assassinate President Reagan by Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver, it’s pathetic. No, of course Jodie Foster and Taxi Driver are not fully to blame, but for Pam Geller and Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, etc to suggest now that, they can’t IMAGINE where anyone could have gotten the idea to kill 76 people is rank disingenuousness of the most cynical, scared sort.

    Justin-I’ve followed the Charles Johnson saga fairly closely also and while he may bare some blame for letting the evil genie out of the bottle, I think he has made an honest attempt in the last couple of years to express remorse for his role therein.

    And also, if you have difficulty following the moral thrust of this article, well, it’s that Muslim-baiting bloggers are brave when people who cite them are not killing people, but when it is brought to their attention that their work is cited as an inspiration for a mass-murderer, they claim like Inspector Renault in “Casablanca” that they are shocked, shocked, that gambling might go in a casino.

  • Jonas Rand

    The Unabomber had a deep hatred for Marxists and authoritarian Stalinist reactionaries didn’t fall into favor with him, either. On the spectrum of green politics, his views were diametrically opposed to Al Gore’s, as extreme an ideological gap as there could be with environmentalists. (I’d wager to say that Al Gore is not even “green” at all, but a hypocritical pro-business capitalist.)

    Spencer, Pipes, Geller, and Yerushalmi are Islamophobic propagandists who characterize all Muslims with a broad brush, as a universal threat to all freedom everywhere. Their ideology is base, simple-minded hatred.

  • Jonas Rand

    @Snorlax Actually, the SPLC is only nonpartisan insofar as it doesn’t stand for any political party, not that it has no political views of its own . SPLC just doesn’t advocate for the GOP or the Ass Party who both support corporate tyranny. They are almost surely a leftist law firm. Not that it’s a bad thing, of course.

  • Jonas Rand

    Ted Kaczynski had a politics all his own – undoubtedly primitivist though. He mainly shared common cause with anti-civ anarchists, Luddites, “green anarchists”, and people who have a general hatred of technological development. He is by no means the darling of the Green movement or anarchists (but a few Greens and anarchists share his sentiments). These people aren’t representative of anarchists in general; they are against the globalized commercial “McWorld” that exploitative corporate capitalism has created and propose as the solution a return to simple hunter-gatherer, village, and sometimes tribal society. Anything from before “civilization”, which they blame all the world’s ills on, is ideal for them. Ironically, these neo-Luddites have a website, primitivism.com.

  • Mary

    The moral of this tragedy: hate is taught. As JCA put it, “when you train people to hate and dehumanize another group – liberals, Muslims, feminists, gays, whatever…” this is the worst case scenario result. It is a root cause.

    Those who spout hate on their websites, blogs, talk shows, etc., like to pretend they have no culpability. Suddenly, they “forget” the reason they use public forums to share their dogma is to INFLUENCE others’ opinions. The problem is when the seeds of thought they plant take root in a troubled mind. The farmer has to take some responsibility for his crop.

  • Terry Washington

    Clearly Anders Breivik is no more a “Christian”( in the accepted sense of the word) than the jihadists he despises so mightily are “Muslims”. I AM concerned about the virtual demonization of the wider Christian community by some liberal/left wing commentators which correctly decry the demonization of Muslims so eagerly propounded by Geller, Spencer, Horovitz and others.

  • JCA

    I’m now convinced that it is absolutely impossible to reason with the right-wing because there is no reason to be had there. We get revisionist history (Ted Kaczynski as a socialist darling of the green movement? Why doesn’t anyone but Ishmael remember that? Oh, yeah! Because it only happened in his head. This would be the same Kaczynski who sent bombs to Berkeley professors, who was against the progress that – ahem – progressives seek.) or pathetic denials. Right now, even as many on the right are nodding their heads in agreement with Breivik, even as people are reading Breivik’s direct expression of his intentions and can see that they are not just closely aligned with, but exactly parallel to those of the right-wing in this party, we still get these pathetic little attempts to deflect blame to others. Liontooth, there is a difference between someone reading a call to murder Reagan on behalf of Jodie Foster in a movie that doesn’t say or mean any of that and someone expressing and acting on the very same ideas that are expressed by Gellar, Spencer, Horowitz, et al. One is delusional. The other is a direct application of the very ideology being expressed. Not to mention that one is a fictional movie, whereas the discourse of Gellar and her ilk, as divorced from reality as it really is, is intended to be taken seriously and verbatim.

  • Snorlax

    SPLC doesn’t HAVE a political point of view. Nonpartisan.

  • Ishamel Royer

    Don’t forget that Breivik also plagerized entire passages of the Ted Kacznski Unabombers Manifesto.

    If memory serves Kaczinsky, the Liberal Socialist Darling of the Green Movement and ecological role model for VP Al Gore is a troubling connection. Oh yes Ted K “Unabomber” did kill several people to further green political Marxist agenda.

    Ahhh – the inconvenient truth of Unabomber Ted K – mucking up the waters for the SPLC to take a full wack at Geller, Spencer, Pipes, etc…

    It makes me feel dirty how the SPLC is using the dead corpses this psychopath murdered to further their political point of view.

  • liontooth

    “Breivik and Geller did not need to have direct contact in order for Breivik to have been an ardent admirer, and to have been highly influenced by her ideas.”

    Some wacko can be inspired by anything he or she reads, sees or hears, and the source of the inspiration
    is at fault? Was the movie Taxi Driver responsible for Reagan being shot? It inspired Hinckley.

  • JCA

    To Justin: “i’m trying to follow the moral thrust of this piece.”

    It’s not rocket science. It can be summed up in the pithy phrase, “If the shoe fits, wear it.” Or, “If it looks like a duck, and it talks like a duck, and it walks like a duck…It’s a duck!” Or, if you prefer the sexist rendition, “Man up!” Racist, hateful vitriol, of the kind spouted by Geller et al inspired Breivik. They should own up to it, not try to deflect the blame elsewhere.

    The only one being political here is you. You seem bent on trying to blame critics of Breivik and his islamophobic brethren for something, anything, rather than admit that when you train people to hate and dehumanize another group – liberals, Muslims, feminists, gays, whatever – it’s very likely that you end up with situations like the one in Norway.

  • nekora

    liontooth,

    did you not read the article? The evidence is in his manifesto, where she, or her organization, is mentioned many times.

    Breivik and Geller did not need to have direct contact in order for Breivik to have been an ardent admirer, and to have been highly influenced by her ideas.

  • liontooth

    “The news broke that the attacker was a blue-eyed Norwegian who not only was no jihadist, but was one of Geller’s ardent admirers.”

    Where is all this evidence of contact between the two? Where are the links to all of the posts Breivik left on Geller’s website? How much contact did Geller and the mass murderer have?

  • DrMJG

    He went after the Labor Party, who he felt was too supportive of Palestine and Muslims in general.

  • Argaman

    Justin – I read LGF pretty regularly, and Charles Johnson has been denouncing the likes of Geller, Gates of Vienna, Vlaams Belang, and the others for several years now.

  • Juan Epstein

    How many Muslims were killed in Norway?

  • justin

    it also needs to be noted that charles johnson’s role in this matter is misrepresented in the article above.

    charles was indeed “initially” part of the anti-muslim chorus, but initially should not taken to mean “breifly” and his “part” in it was kingpin. his website, littlegreenfootballs, was the hub of the “counter-jihadist” movement. pamela geller herself was a protege johnson plucked from his own commenting community. this was also the case of fjordman, who initially began as “norwegian kafir” at littlegreenfootballs. when he changed his name to “fjordman” and opened his own blog, johnson featured fjordman’s essays as headline items more than two dozen times on his blog, giving fjordman de facto “guest-blogger”credit by prefixing his authorship to the headlines. these posts (i.e.; “Fjordman – Scandinavian Rape Epidemic”) were not less racist or extreme than what fjordman writes contemporaneously, and johnson’s own lead-ins to these pieces, as it was with his own rhetoric, often surpassed fjordman’s and geller’s with luridly racist vitriol (i.e.; “If you’re a Western material girl thinking of marrying that exotic Muslim guy who’s been treating you like a princess, you may want to read the fine print.”).

    with that in mind, there is some confusion as to whom breivik does and does not apparently admire in his manifesto, as the bulk of it’s 1500 pages is comprised of reproductions of others’ works. breivik mentions geller in his own pen only once. he also mentions chalres johnson only once in a neutral citation. at no point does breivik “attack” or “condemn” charles johnson. these passages, as well as all of the rest of the citations, are second-hand from essays written by fjordman. in this collection, one can easily find breivik quoting fjordman praising johnson, and even breivik quoting fjordman quoting johnson’s own hate-speech directly and admiringly.

    by this method, johnson and his website are supportively referenced in the breivik manifesto more than twenty times, more than geller in fact. the bulk of these are because when breivik reproduced a fjordman essay, he referenced the essay as hosted by johnson, because johnson’s site is apparently where breivik read them. this should surprise no one. breivik, geller, flordman, spencer (who’s blog, “jihad watch” was coded pro-bono by johnson himself) are the crowd which johnson cultivated.

    it’s sickening to see johnson is being allowed to exculpate himself with a couple of convenient denunciations. johnson has never chosen to have an “i was a racist, and now i regret it” moment. only a sustained “those people over there are racists and i’m going to make them regret it” moment with his finger pointed at the figures of a movement he created from the ground up and has only recently parted company with.

    absolution comes after reconciliation.

  • Peakofelephants

    “Fjordman has been posting the whole time Breivik’s been in jail.”

    Yes. Because on the internet, nobody could make posts using the same alias as somebody else. Or even share an alias or account with anyone.

  • justin

    i’m trying to follow the moral thrust of this piece.

    what you’re saying is that the people mentioned in breivik’s manifesto bear additional shame because they’ve condemned breivik and sought to distance themselves from him?

    it would almost appear that the cold-blooded massacre of more than seventy people is just a tertiary instrument in a political narrative.

  • http://noblesseoblige.org Randall Gross

    Fjordman is not Breivik, please do not try furthering that lie.

    There’s enough culpability and affinity in ideology that nobody needs to embellish the truth. Fjordman has been posting the whole time Breivik’s been in jail. I don’t doubt that they know each other however.

  • David

    For all the crocodile tears and faux denunciations of this violence, Geller et al do bear a grave responsibility for this carnage. Breivik’s manifesto was a cut-n-paste job that was 3 years in the making, not 9, All the while Breivik was posting on HER website under the alias of Fjordman.

    We all tend to forget this bitter truth about hate speech — sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can really kill you.