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July 22, 2011

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Thinking about this, I'm prepared to make a sweeping generalization. If a government building is attacked, it's not truly foreign terrorists: it's either an individual or small group with a grievance that is way out of the mainstream, or it's an organized rebel or separatist group. Basically, to foreign terrorists the point is to target civilians, as many as possible; only domestic terrorists (or rebels) are opposed to the *government*, specifically.

What about the attack on the Pentagon?

The death toll being reported from the island massacre is simply incomprehensible.

The moment I heard that a guy disguised as police opened fire (the first info I got on this) I thought 'domestic'. Norway has developed a violent RW fringe (afaik relatively recently) and I guess this is their international debut (previous actions being mainly limited to public brawls or otherwise low-key enough not to make headlines outside the country).
There is a handful of Islamists (claiming to be nonviolent) I know of in Norway. I doubt anyone of those could pull off anything. They live under the microscope and afaict the state is looking for any excuse to get rid of them. Not the ideal conditions for planning terrorist acts.

Norwegian SWAT had him 84 min after the beginning of the attack and reporters still claimed that it was Islamist terrorists for next 20 hours. Initial feelings will still keep on in anti-islamist mentality environment. It's protecting right wing extremists, again.
You got to wonder if Murdoch owns Norwegian news too.

Glenn Greenwald is explaining that is mostly US news editors pushing for Muslim terrorists, and even worse, switching from classifying it Terrorisam to "extremism" because white non-muslim can not be a terrorist

Basically, to foreign terrorists the point is to target civilians, as many as possible; only domestic terrorists (or rebels) are opposed to the *government

I don't think this holds up. The 9/11 guys targeted the Pentagon (and possibly the Capitol) as well as the WTC. Mir Kansi went after CIA.

To be honest, when the crazy gets this deep, I'm not sure it matters much what the ideological motivation is. It's just very, very sad and very, very FUBAR.

"To be honest, when the crazy gets this deep, I'm not sure it matters much what the ideological motivation is. "

I think the motivations do matter, in the sense that sometimes terrorists have legitimate grievances, or if that sounds too sympathetic, sometimes legitimate grievances lead ordinary people to support terrorism. Other times the grievances are sheer lunacy. But it's important to try and find out.

Also, in my opinion a lot of Western violence is equivalent to terrorism and just like the people we call terrorists, some of our grievances are legitimate and some aren't.

"I don't think this holds up. The 9/11 guys targeted the Pentagon (and possibly the Capitol) as well as the WTC. Mir Kansi went after CIA."

I agreed with this part though. The 9/11 murderers were trying to hit important symbols of American power and kill large numbers of civilians simultaneously.

Atlas Shrugged, the musical:

http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2011/07/22/rightist-wreaks-terror-through-norway/

Ayn Rand's murderous influence kills government employees and kids at a liberal camp in Norway and serves as the platform for Paul Ryan's plan to murder tens of millions of Americans through U.S. government policy.

I understand the Bible and "Atlas Shrugged" hold the top two spots on the global terrorist best-seller how-to-butcher-the-Other list.

They outsell the Koran and Marx.

I look forward to Redrum's defense of Pam Gellar, if they can spare the time from butchering the country.

Russell, did you pay attention to how many victims of WTC destruction were employed by millitary contractors, inteligence agencies and war and economic logistics. As far as i can recall, there were about dozen victims high up in war and world economy planning functions presented on TV. WTC rented offices to many war contractors and WTO. Building number 7 was a back up storage for inter-national financial dealings, debt etc.
Maybe Xe (Blackwater) employees could be called civilians? not by me.

Russell, did you pay attention to how many victims of WTC destruction were employed by millitary contractors, inteligence agencies and war and economic logistics. As far as i can recall, there were about dozen victims high up in war and world economy planning functions presented on TV. WTC rented offices to many war contractors and WTO. Building number 7 was a back up storage for inter-national financial dealings, debt etc.

I actually have a friend who was working for the US government and was injured escaping from his WTC office on 9/11. There were indeed a bunch of government employees there. But this whole claim is just nuts. The vast majority of people at WTC were not working, either directly or indirectly, for the US military or intelligence communities. And while there were a bunch of finance companies (dude, this is lower Manhattan, wtf do you expect?), to say that they're part of 'economic logistics' and thus legitimately part of the US military is just absurd.

WTC was a very visible civilian target that had some military and finance folks in it.

If a government building is attacked, it's not truly foreign terrorists: it's either an individual or small group with a grievance that is way out of the mainstream, or it's an organized rebel or separatist group.

I think you're assuming that the government in question does not exert significant control over people in other countries. That assumption is true for the vast majority of countries in the world today, but false for the US. For example, I'd say that Iraqis have good reason to hate the US government despite their being foreign.

Note that the guy who shot George Tiller in Kansas last year, Scott Roeder, had been previously arrested with bomb-making materials in his car and got 2-years probation out of it. Cheryl Sullenger currently works with Operation Rescue -- she'd been in contact with Roeder before he shot Tiller; she spent two years in prison after being caught trying to blow up an abortion clinic. Obviously, reactions to domestic terrorism have changed in general even since the tax-protest movements in the mid-90s, but it's still interesting that many folks like this are on our radar, walking around freely, yet we spent a year rounding up any Muslim with a hint of a connection to anything like this and now refuse to let them walk in the absence of evidence justifying their detention a decade later.

The embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania killed mostly civilians, but they were clearly aimed at US government installations.

Russell, did you pay attention to how many victims of WTC destruction were employed by millitary contractors, inteligence agencies and war and economic logistics.

Award to the lowest bidder and leasing in lower Manhattan don't seem to play well with each other.

Without a cite or three, I have absolutely no confidence that you have anything resembling a point, here.

Pretty much every kind of person you can imagine was killed in the WTC attack. From government contractor, to investment banker, to fireman, to waiter, to file clerk.

It was an equal opportunity thing. They wanted to knock down the building because it was iconic, and they wanted to kill a lot of people, and didn't really give a crap who they killed as long as they were American. Or even, just physically in America.

That's my take on it.

The guys who pulled off 9/11 were sick MF'ers. That's how I see it. People all around the world have a million legitimate gripes with the US, but they don't all respond by flying planes into buildings.

It takes a special kind of psychic warpage to get to the point of doing stuff like that, or like this Norwegian guy did, and regardless of the reasons that bring people to that place, they are still responsible for what they do.

And yeah, there is a hell of a lot of stuff like that going on in our name, paid for with our money, and carried out with the knowledge and permission of our representatives.

It's messed up.

I think the motivations do matter, in the sense that sometimes terrorists have legitimate grievances, or if that sounds too sympathetic, sometimes legitimate grievances lead ordinary people to support terrorism.

I agree with the factual reality of what you're saying, but my personal thing is that when your grievance leads you to blowing up or shooting people who have little or nothing to do with your grievance, and who have done little or nothing whatsoever to harm you, then I lose interest in your claim to having been wronged.

When you talk about destruction / don't you know that you can count me out.

That's how I see it. You start blowing people up, you've kind of cashed in all of your sympathy chips. And then some. As far as I, personally, am concerned, anyway.

the bombing -- and the related massacre at a Youth Labor Camp

Just to clarify on the site and situation of the people who were shot at: It was an annual conference/gathering of young activists of the Labor Party, currently the majority party. The closest thing here might be Netroots Nation (the DailyKos). I thought I heard it reported yesterday early on that the Prime Minister was scheduled to visit and speak there, but haven't followed up to find if that's held up.

In any case, a mass murder inflicted on a gathering of political activists is terror of a very particular kind. It's impossible to deny that this is politically motivated. And the scale alone should overcome resistance to characterizing it as terrorism.

To my knowledge Prime Minister Stoltenberg was expected for the next day.
---
Have there been any attempts yet to blame it all on gun control (as inevitably would happen in the US)?

According to some sources, the shooter was motivated by what he felt was Norway's growing multiculturalism. Looking up some things on that, I found this pdf about a comparison for multiculturalism in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. I'm a bit suspicious of the paper, as it drops a few clunkers and it cites a book called The Menace of Multiculturalism: Trojan Horse in America by Alvin Schmidt. The reviews have this

How popular are D'Souza, Bennett, Brimelow, Sowell, and company among your library's patrons? If their books fly off the shelf, this Red-baiting attack on multiculturalism by an Illinois College sociology professor will have appeal. Schmidt distinguishes between multicultural education, of which he approves, and multiculturalism, defined as a neo-Marxist ideology based in cultural relativism. Menace opens with hyperbolic rhetoric ("If multiculturalism continues to infiltrate America's basic institutions with its potentially divisive ideology, neo-pagan principles, and multi-morality, it [the U.S.?] will surely lose its soul . . . "), then traces multiculturalism's sins: "Marxist" concepts, cultural relativism, "omissions, distortions, and noble lies," diversity, political correctness, and its "threat to the family" and "the Judeo-Christian/Western tradition." A brief but highly laudatory foreword by D'Souza declares that "this time the Trojan horse will be recognized, the looters will be turned back at the gates, and the city on the hill will be preserved from destruction."

The Wall Street Journal has this
“Mr. Schmidt argues that by importing the perspectives of the groups who have traditionally been marginalized in our society, we will destroy all the progress that has made America great. He is right to complain about the tendency of radical educators to playdown the achievements of the groups of whom they disapprove, such as dead white European males, while promoting beyond their ultimate value minor accomplishments of groups whom they favor.”

I don't know what other folks think, but it sure seems like a short hop, skip and a jump from one place to the other.

Pointing out an error here: This guy had no prior criminal record. The one who was arrested 11 years ago was ANOTHER 32 year old right wing nut.

The guy arrested 11 years ago identified openly as neo-nazi, so I bet he's on PST's lists, not so easy to do something like that then.

The killer, however, identified with the Tea party. Yeah, I know it sound crazy, but he had his head totally in the English-speaking right wing world. Few tea party members would do something like this, but I bet a few of them would if they woke up in a genuine left-oriented state, with a large Muslim minority.

I've watched these loons for a while. Mail me if you want to know more, I want to expose their perverse ideology as much as I can for this. I'm vintermann on google mail.

LJ, what to expect from a person who uses Marx, who wrote the most idealist books since the Bible but not so utopian, as a scarecrow. Alvin Schmidt is targeting usual bigots who are also scared by Marxist arguments and theories.

"When you talk about destruction / don't you know that you can count me out."

As Sarah Death Palin will soon explain via Twitter, when Paul Revere and the Raiders sang those words to the British in one version of the song, the lead singer added the word "in" after the word "out", having been ambivalent at the moment about what might be required.

True, Lennon had conviction about the count me out and had no more conviction about count me in than he did about goo,goo,goo, joob. That Yoko forgot to pack heat ("Mother, did ya bring the AK-47 tonight, I'm feelin a might bit vulnerable") that fateful night in 1980 might say something about gun control, but what it would be is beyond me.

'A brief but highly laudatory foreword by D'Souza declares that "this time the Trojan horse will be recognized, the looters will be turned back at the gates, and the city on the hill will be preserved from destruction."'

That John Philip D'Souza, in the clipped, pedantic accent of the Indian sub-continent gone to Dartmouth, can yearn for Troy to succeed over Greece, shows an uncommmon, Palinesque view of the course of western civilization, not to mention, in the case of D'Souza, a gaping hole in the leaky trojan of our immigration policies. His parents must have been in the sh*thead line at Ellis Island, having turned their noses up at the Kenyan line.

"Have there been any attempts yet to blame it all on gun control (as inevitably would happen in the US)?"

Let me give it a shot. If a sizable cache of weapons, clips, and ammo are discovered on the Norwegian island, not to mention a shooting range for the lefty kids to practice their chops, I expect the sizable armed crapola contingent in the Tea Party caucus in the House of Representatives to begin investigations of what a political youth Labour Socialist summer camp had in mind with such weaponry, with members of the commie Move-On, the socialist and swarthy NAACP, and the ever-dangerous far-left National PTA leadership called for some vigorous McCarthyite brow-beating.

Louie Gohmert and a FOX blonde or two will mention that maybe the Norwegian gunman should have been MORE heavily armed given the concealed weaponry of the Labour (and we know what "Labour" means) kiddies.

The guys who pulled off 9/11 were sick MF'ers.

It's hard for me to find a single coherent word to say about this event. But one thing I keep coming back to is that it takes an extra special kind of sick MF'er to stand around for an hour and a half killing children face to face.

Yes, Hartmut, there are a bunch of comments on the Economist's account to the effect that, if only Norwegians carried guns everywhere like Americans, this guy would have been stopped quickly. There are also responses pointing out that
a) even in America, guns are very rare at kids camps. For that matter, the fraction of the population who actually carry guns, even here, is pretty small.
b) Norway isn't exactly gun-control heaven -- lots of hunters there who own guns and would have them available. Just not at a kids camp.

I suspect that, as with almost any event, a bunch of people with personal hot buttons grab the event as an excuse to vent their favorite enthusiasm. Which says a whole lot more about their lack of grip on reality than anything else.

Calling them just sick MF's is avoiding dealing with the process of developing such MFs minds and what leads them to it. They are driven trough what everyone experiences but never stopped by principles that laws and religions dictate in their idealist beliefs.
I was puzzled by cruelty as bad as Breivik's during the war and imprisonment i survived.
A sense of victim-hood is a starting point where they go astray into extremes. The victim-hood, such as 9/11 guys believing that US is the cause of their suffering with US's supporting dictators in Saudi Arabia and Israel, bigots in US believing that illegals and blacks are the cause of the economic trouble and stealing their taxes, is the most probable cause for Breivik believing that PM and Labour is to blame for imigrants destroying his livelihood.
That victimhood comes from narcisistic thinking that they (MF's) deserve better treatment. Victimhood believes leads them (and everyone else) to take actions to stop further victimhood. Simply refusing to think that they are themselves masters of their own universe and gain selfrespect, they are asking for the respect to be given to them. Extremists are going for revenge or asking for respect in extreme ways. Sometimes both.
Osama bin-Ladin has clearly stated his intentions: Get the US to bog down in wars and exhaust it economicaly, just as they did it to USSR in Afganistan, in order to be left alone in the Middle East. Since US wars are financially dependent, WTC and its economic significance are relevant target in such war. More relevant then Dresden with many refugees from industrial cities or Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


Instead of applying that energy toward the self-growth, as MLK asked of African-Americans to grow out of victimhood helplessness and take their fate into their own hands, OBL go for demanding others to give them that by any means necessary to achieve their ends.
Half way thought out the mind process will give them the conclusions that others are solely to blame.
Victimhood will lead to defensive decisions unencumbered by basic principles and supported by idols and peer positive feedback.
Just as US victimhood after 9/11 attacks led to attacking Afganistan and Iraq instead of Al-qaida itself which is only possible by police and intelligence actions, not by wars.
Victimhood sense leads the most powerful to attack the least powerful (Breivik-kids, US-Iraq, US-Afganistan, OBL-civilians or a bully-its victim) to fulfill that narcissistic sense of power over others.
It is a state of mind developed over the years in positive feedback environment (or mind itself paying attention to that positive feedback only/ looking only at the things that will reinforce itself).
Everyone lives in their own world.

American History X movie marvelously describes such state of mind, how it was developed and what it took to change it.

Calling them just sick MF's is avoiding dealing with the process of developing such MFs minds and what leads them to it.

Nobody called them "just" sick MF's. Before you go getting all superior about what other people are avoiding, why don't you avoid putting words into people's mouths?

Everyone lives in their own world.

Yes, and being so far off in your own world that you think you can disappear the humanity (and in a case like this the lives) of other people by making them instruments of your political message makes you ... a sick MF.

My clarification on what kind of gathering the victims of the attack were attending was intended to emphasize something I'll say more plainly:

Those attending were not children. They are/were politically active young people. The phrase "summer camp" evokes associations that are inaccurate here, and unhelpful in masking the political nature of this mass murder.

The Islamophobia that has been hyped here and in Europe was reflected in the shameful performance of the US and UK networks and newspapers wrt the events in Norway. The obsessive equation of terrorism as exclusively Muslim was on display over the last few days among many a "liberal".

Nell: "Those attending were not children."

That's absolutely true, but they were young, young, young people. And although your real point is well taken, I'll agree with JanieM in her comment that "it takes an extra special kind of sick MF'er to stand around for an hour and a half killing [young people] face to face." Or, for that matter, any people. But especially young people. What a heartbreaking tragedy.

when your grievance leads you to blowing up or shooting people who have little or nothing to do with your grievance, and who have done little or nothing whatsoever to harm you, then I lose interest in your claim to having been wronged.

Agreed, but since the killing of innocents inevitably happens in every armed conflict and often on a large scale, we need to judge military actions by the same standard ... and become pacifists.

Yes, and being so far off in your own world that you think you can disappear the humanity (and in a case like this the lives) of other people by making them instruments of your political message makes you ... a sick MF.

JanieM
My humanity? Humanity is love, revenge, massacres, self-sacrifice, objectiveness, subjectivity, on and on... as far as i know, human do all of it in almost equal measure.
If you assume that emphatic emotions with the victims is the only thing that describes humanity then you surely did not emphatise with my point of view.

If you assume that emphatic emotions with the victims is the only thing that describes humanity then you surely did not emphatise with my point of view.

First, just to (try to) be clearer: my statement of "you" in the passage you (ct) quoted meant the general "you," not the specific "you" (ct) -- the people off in their own worlds, which the specific "you" (ct) had written about.

Second, I recognize that you wrote "if" -- but I did not assume anything remotely like the idea "that emphatic emotions...." (whatever that means) and all the rest of it. You have totally misread what I meant by the word "humanity."

Since trying to clarify is only making the hole deeper, I am hereby going to stop digging.

Killing youngsters for 84 minutes i find no sicker then torturing others for months at the time. While Breivik is under adrenaline for those minutes, enhanced interogators had time to think about it for months. The process is the same, "my ideological principles are above yours" "you are less human then me cause i think this way" and " i will be praised for it by my peers and idols"

It takes a sickMF to stand around for an hour shooting people, period. This is a massive tragedy.

But the mental image of a "lone nut" massacring children mystifies the events. This was a calculated, vicious targeting of the young, activist leadership/future leadership of the Labor Party, by someone who connected with a widespread, growing, and fanned-by-media right-wing ideology.

Paul Woodward on deadly Islamophobia

Nell

As the last decade has demonstrated, whether it’s on the level of governments or individuals, those who take up a banner in the name of a crusade against hatred have a surprising willingness to employ violence in pursuit of that goal.

Woodward here in his article is much more carefully saying the same thing as I did today.

But the mental image of a "lone nut" massacring children mystifies the events.

Has anyone here indicated that they're harboring this image, or that they're misinformed about the events? Or are you not particularly responding to people here?

I'm glad you wrote, It takes a sickMF to stand around for an hour shooting people, period. This is a massive tragedy. Because I was starting to think that you've been trying to say that if it's a "calculated, vicious targeting" for political purposes, then it can't have been carried out by a sick MF.

The two are hardly mutually exclusive, which is partly what I thought russell was trying to say in the first place.

Because people were murdered, I find it more upsetting (understatement of the year) as a political act than e.g. the Koch Brothers et al. buying legislatures.

Also because people were murdered, I find it upsetting period, and not more so because it was politically motivated.

JanieM
I take it that you believe of my feelings towards sick MF's is not as some sick MF's and that the massacre is not much of the tragedy. You are terribly wrong. I take that this is a tragedy as granted and go past it.
Part of my experience is watching over 15 POW being killed, listening to couple dozens of tortures, listening how air escapes the lungs under the hits of rifle stock, but the worst was for over a day taking care of a never before met man who was beaten for two days in a row and he died in my hands. Being helpless and being beaten sure would lead to hate and deep trauma, but i have not allowed myself to get into victimhood and selfpity knowing that it will lead to PTSP if i was to survive. I was to think about the puzzle of how is possible that my yesterday neighbors were capable of such monstrous acts.
The answer is that most of the humanity is capable of such things if given the circumstances. Maybe you have heard of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment>Stanford prison experiment
After getting out into free Croatia i realized that my side was also doing the same things, in much much lesser volume, while the whole population was aware of it and there was no sign of a disapproval. "Since we were defending ourselves that was OK" Myself being an innocent prisoner, yet still going trough the sh*t as if i was guilty, knew that my side also was wasting resources and doing torture to get informations.
Just wanted to point out that our side is doing equally despicable acts in our name. It is all about perspective we allow ourselves to take.

Killing youngsters for 84 minutes i find no sicker then torturing others for months at the time.

I agree with this wholeheartedly.

The two are hardly mutually exclusive, which is partly what I thought russell was trying to say in the first place.

Yes, that is correct, and thank you for making my point more clearly than I was able to.

The killings in Norway were clearly and unambiguously political. We don't know yet if the nut was a lone nut, or not.

To follow on Janie's aptly stated comment, the fact that it was politically motivated doesn't detract from its essential horror.

And yes, it's very clear that there are lots of folks who see acts of gross violence as a political option, and it's also very clear, to me at least, that in the current-day American and European context, a lot of those folks are right wingers.

Just wanted to point out that our side is doing equally despicable acts in our name.

I have no argument with this, either.

People who make their well-paid living hiring out to the CIA as professional free-lance bone-breakers and murderers in order to "collect intelligence".

Insane right-wing Christian fundamentalist fanatic Norwegian blowing up offices of government and hunting young people down like dogs.

You can probably parse some kind of distinction there, but I'm not sure how much of a point there is in doing so.

The biggest distinction I can see is that Breivik is almost certainly going to jail, while the torturer-for-hire is a free man.

"When you talk about destruction / don't you know that you can count me out.

That's how I see it. You start blowing people up, you've kind of cashed in all of your sympathy chips."

I think there's a fair amount of people talking past each other going on in this post. I have mainly disgust for people who plan the cold blood murder of other people, but I wasn't talking so much about them. But it's simply a fact that in some situations ordinary people, very large numbers of ordinary people in fact, will support terrorism, or unjust wars, or torture, or aerial bombing of civilians, or other things that kill large numbers of innocent people. Sometimes the ordinary people volunteer for the act. And when that happens I think it is extremely important to find out why.

In some cases we find that the people who cheer for one group of terrorists are themselves victims of some pretty heinous human rights violations. In other cases we find that the "grievances" are simply the product of a sick ideology. Sometimes it might be a bit of both. (I think of Hamas in its suicide bombing days, for instance.) "Sick ideology" describes what has just happened in Norway. None of this has anything to do with justifying terrorism--it has everything to do with finding out what sorts of conditions have produced the people who commit terrorist acts.

I take all of the above to be pretty obvious, actually. Probably way too subtle for mainstream American political discussion, (I don't mean people here) because anything slightly more complex than bumper sticker slogans is too complex for American politics.

Since Europe have less ideal free speech laws then US, i am wondering if there will be a backlash in the aftermath of this massacre in form of banning Pamella Geller hate speech or some other kind.

since the killing of innocents inevitably happens in every armed conflict and often on a large scale, we need to judge military actions by the same standard ... and become pacifists.

novakant, isn't there something to be said for distinguishing between killing innocents in the course of waging war, and killing innocents as the purpose of what you are doing? Not that either should be regarded lightly. But it is a sicker frame of mind that does the latter.

wj

isn't there something to be said for distinguishing between killing innocents in the course of waging war, and killing innocents as the purpose of what you are doing?

If there is a difference, then what there are war crimes prosecutions for?
If you are thinking about collateral damage from bombing, that is potentially different, but not in every case.
If you thinking about the cases where scared soldier kill a native civilian for not obeying his english orders, i would give some leniency but i do not think familly of that civilian would. I would blame and prosecute his commander for military procedures and encouragement for killing. Being easy to claim that such soldier was endangered doesn't makes it less deadly. You can see many examples in documentaries about our soldiers being on the brink of pulling the trigger on civilians.
But the rationalization is the same, "have to kill to defend myself".

"isn't there something to be said for distinguishing between killing innocents in the course of waging war, and killing innocents as the purpose of what you are doing?"

There's a difference, but I think Western countries have become masters of doublethink on this issue. The US government might try to avoid killing civilians if it thinks civilian deaths will strengthen the enemy (by creating support for guerilla fighters), but it will tacitly engage in policies designed to cause civilian deaths and suffering if it thinks this will work in its favor, while never openly acknowledging what it is up to.

This happened in Gulf War I pdf file link

I think as an American this is a good example about how war corrupts everything. Is what he did bad? Sure. Worse than what our military has done on a regular basis? 100's of thousands of Iraqi's didn't kill themselves. Well, maybe? It's complicated, and it's the logic of violence.

:: But the mental image of a "lone nut" massacring children mystifies the events. ::

Janie M: Has anyone here indicated that they're harboring this image, or that they're misinformed about the events? Or are you not particularly responding to people here?

@JanieM: I was and am particularly responding to people here, those who have referred to the victims on Utoya as "children", and those who might be misled by the connotations of the phrase "summer camp", used in several media accounts.

Murdering actual children at a recreational camp is difficult to see as a political act. Murdering young activists at an annual political convention is, as russell says, clearly political. I wasn't positing the idea that carrying out mass slaughter for political purposes is mutually opposed to being a sickMF. I was trying to remove misapprehensions that could inhibit understanding the attack as a political one.

"isn't there something to be said for distinguishing between killing innocents in the course of waging war, and killing innocents as the purpose of what you are doing?"

It won't make any difference to the dead civilians.

At heart the question is, "When is human life expendable for the goal of another human?"

My biggest objection to self-proclaimed pro-lifers is the lack of any serious discussion of this question behind their claim. There are lots of people who commit the sin of pride and proclaim themsleves "pro-life" but supported the killing of hudreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians for a war based on lies. Those people would preobably not support the literal killing of their fellow Americans for political reasons of any sort but did ejoy the killing of foreigners so they could indulge in the vanity of cheer leading as their team "won" a war. ALso many so-called pro-lifers support the hate talk and violent rheoric which provides a growth medium for real violence here i America.

Bottom line: in order to kill people have to dehumaize the victim. And that is all too easy for people to do, even self-proclaimed posessors of superior morals or self-proclaimed patriots. Maybe people who strongly indentify with one group find it easier to dehumanize everyone else.

We are not a very nice animal. I like dogs better.

Insane right-wing Christian fundamentalist fanatic Norwegian blowing up offices of government and hunting young people down like dogs.

I'm not sure how you classify someone who's insane as being right-wing or left-wing, in any important way. The important thing is: they're insane. Murderously insane, if we need some further distinction for those who think the right wing is, as a body, insane.

The guy cribbed murderously from Ted Kascynski. Who claims Ted?

What Slarti said. Planning and executing the mass murder of young people and bombing a building is the end product of a hyper extreme combination of pathologies that professionals, at this point, could only guess at. It was a "political" act in the sense that human trafficking in kidnapped young women is a sexual act.

What happened in Norway, like what happened at Ft. Hood, can be adjusted to fit anyone's narrative.

I'm not sure how you classify someone who's insane as being right-wing or left-wing, in any important way.

How about: If they carry out a plan to kill nearly a hundred activists of a left-wing political party, then they're right-wing. In an important way.

And that leaves aside a ton of other ways in which Breivik can be accurately characterized as right wing. Islamophobia is right wing. Admiring the English Defence League is right wing.

The insanity is not the only important thing. Erasing the political nature of this attack requires wilful blindness.

Nell: ... image of a "lone nut" massacring children mystifies the events. ::

Janie M: Has anyone here indicated that they're harboring this image...?

Yes; Slartibartfast just has.

How about: If they carry out a plan to kill nearly a hundred activists of a left-wing political party, then they're right-wing. In an important way.

Or: they're even further to the left. Are anarcho-primitivists right-wing or left-wing, or is there a wraparound there somewhere.

Oh, and since the refresh, joined by McKinneyTexas.

Yes, just random crazy guy; nothing to see here, move along.

The idea that terrorists are crazy is usually wrong. I suppose the lone gunman who goes on a shooting spree of the sort we seem to have in the US tends to be crazy, but politically motivated killers often aren't. Here's an article by Scott Atran published in SCIENCE from 2003 on this subject--

link

He's focusing mainly on the Middle Eastern terrorists and their motives and he finds that they aren't psychologically abnormal or uneducated (another stereotype)--they are driven by their cause to do what they do. That might also be the case with Breivik--I don't know if the psychologists have been evaluating him yet.

The insanity is not the only important thing. Erasing the political nature of this attack requires wilful blindness.

Good thing I didn't do that. If I'd said that insanity was the only important thing...but I didn't.

Good luck in your next demonizing venture!

He's nuts in the sense that anyone who plans this sort of massacre has to be nuts. That doesn't mean he's "nuts" in the "thinks he was abducted by aliens" sense.

And this was pretty obviously a political act: he targetted the equivalent of a youth political convention for the Labour Party. He has, apparently, right-wing views re: multiculturalism (a big bugaboo on the Right, unless I'm quite mistaken), socialism (duh) and Islam in particular (duh again).

Sometimes psychotic killers don't fit neatly into a right-wing or left-wing box (my recollection is that the wacko in AZ who shot Giffords was quite a mixed bag). But this guy *does* seem to fit neatly into a right-wing nutter box. It is what it is.

I think it is useful to draw a distinction between this kind of act and terrorism. In terrorism the major impact comes from the reaction to the event -- fear, hesitation, incapacitating security measures, breakdown of trust. Here it appears the intended impact was in the event itself -- to murder the next generation political elite. The sort of calculated murder more often associated with warfare.

My wife's mother was a teenager of the upcoming elite in Norway during WW II. The Nazi calculation was to try to convert this group rather than destroy them. This man, with fewer resources, opted for destruction.

Andrew Sullivan says it better than I did:

Berwick is quite obviously not insane. The manifesto has very little in it that you wouldn't find on, say, Jihadwatch, except for his violent conclusion. That distinction matters a huge amount, of course. But mass murder is not proof of insanity. In some ways, if you truly believed the extremist crap he writes, it makes perfect sense to take up arms against what he regards as tyranny. He's evil; but not mad.

I tend to use "nuts" or "crazy" or "psycho" in fuzzy ways. To me, anyone who guns down 84 people because he doesn't like their politics is obviously a wacknut. What I was trying to say in my first post was that I recognize that my use of "nuts" and the like is very much not scientific, and I know it.

I guess I'm more interested in how Nell's little struggle session is going to turn out than I am with finding which half of humanity to blame Breivik's killing spree on.

Maybe those two are the same kind of thing, though.

Slart asks: "Who claims Ted?"

No one that I know. Not even Ted's brother. I can remember, though, back in Ted's day, plenty of the usual suspects cobbling together politically useful narratives about the complicity of vague liberal narratives in Ted's narrative.

It was all a very Archie Bunkerish sort of ipso fatso sort of thing, but, like or not, lots of innocents were held complicit in Ted's narrative.

We now have a Republican Presidential candidate, Herman Cain, doing his ignorant best to make innocent mosque-building Muslims in Tennessee part and parcel of the Fort Hood killer's narrative.

Federal Government employees, who had nothing to do with Waco, in case Brett Bellmore pops over here with yet more narratives) were part of two narratives at the same time back in the 1990s: Tim McVeigh's and Newt Gingrich/Frank Luntz's, the latter being the champion of narrative creators.

But who claims Breivik? This guy comes close:

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/conservative-christian-knight.html

If you follow some of the links, some similarly ipso fatso (because the accused narrative-makers are so effing stupid that they don't know what they are talking about, except that they are very good narrative creators) stuff is thrown about, but if you close one eye and kind of squint with the other, the cultural Marxism (caught up with anti-Semitism) Breivik bloviated about is referred to by name by lunatics like Glen Beck and Andrew Breibart, among others, including the Obama is a cultural Marxist narrative spouted by recently elected sociopaths (I'm sorry, was that some narrative talk) in the House of Rrepresentatives.)

In short, after observing the narrative creators on the far Right in the Republican Party (to which I once nominally belonged) over the past thirty years, I've decided everyone better hurry up and get themselves a narrative else someone else will create one for you.

My philosophy now is to become whatever narrative the Right has depicted for me, which I hear plenty of on the Internet, on the radio, at dinner parties, etc.

We're all Patty Hearst now, ipso fatso.

"f I'd said that insanity was the only important thing"

Is there any evidence that insanity played any role at all here? I'm asking--maybe there is. Unless you are just defining insanity as "the state of mind of anyone who commits some horrific action that decent people should condemn". That's emotionally satisfying, I suppose, but may not be helpful in understanding why people do what they do.

"half of humanity" is a major exaggeration, for effect.

I mean, I did post that Scott Atran piece for a reason. There are people who devote their professional careers to studying violent extremists, interviewing them and their friends and associates, and it's just barely possible that in the process someone like Atran might have learned something.

One narrative that I've mimicked like a color-changing butterfly is the misplacing-my parentheses narrative.

CT: If there is a difference, then what there are war crimes prosecutions for?

Not all actions in war which kill innocent (or even not so innocent) civilians are justifiable as being part of an effort to attack a ligitimate military target.

For example, if someone sets up guns in a school and shoots at you, you have some justification for shooting back. Even though they are trying to use human shields (which I consider a war crime). But if there are no guns there, and you shoot up the school, then you are looking at something that a war crimes court might deal with.

I think it fits the distinction I was making originally: if you have a legitimate military purpose, some civilian casualties may be justified; if your whole purpose is to create civilian casualties, then no.

True, the civilians are dead either way. And in a perfect world, that would be avoided. But in the world we live in, avoiding all civilian casualties is not always possible. (And that's before we get to the issue of civilians working in plants turning out military hardware.) And how possible it is depends, to a very large degree, on just how precise your available weapons are. For example, with an RPG you can take out a specific vehicle; with an IED, any vehicle which passes by may set it off. Using the RPG may still make a mistake or take out civilian as well as military. But an IED makes in unavoidable. (That is part of why land mines are banned by mostcountries -- they don't discriminate at all.)

I would agree that the US has gotten pretty far into double-think on the issue. And my personal opinion is that we took a big step that way when we decided that torture (under whatever euphemism) was sometimes acceptable. One of the few places I buy into the "slippery slope" arguement is when you go from "the end justifies the means [in some cases]" to "the end justifies any means at all."

That's an excellent point, Donald. I guess there's a point of view that has organized mass murder as something other than sane.

But it's worth considering that there are people who have extremely strong political views that don't plan and execute mass murder. Even Markos Moulitsas wouldn't have killed people he disagreed with, even if he minimized such an act afterward.

Here, for anyone interested, is a link to Scott Atran's webpage, with further links to a lot of articles on violence and terrorism and what motivates people who do these things. Whether this applies to Breivik I couldn't say, but what little I've read suggests a politically motivated ideologue rather than a crazy man, but I could easily be wrong, or maybe nobody knows yet.

link

WJ--I think the US doublethink problem long precedes Bush, though he certainly made it worse. In our case, yes, the collateral damage defense can be legitimate, but I think that what happens is that if we (meaning the US government, its allies, and those who defend their actions) can even imagine a storyline where collateral damage might conceivably explain why civilians died, then that's good enough. And you have people who engage in policies that "punish" a civilian population in hopes of pressuring their rulers who then indignantly deny that they are responsible for any civilian suffering.

"Even Markos Moulitsas wouldn't have killed people he disagreed with, even if he minimized such an act afterward."

No, probably not, even.

I don't know for sure, but has he used narrative "metaphors" about people he disagrees with?

Like say "water the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots" or "lock and load", or "reload", or "I'm gonna go get my wife's shotgun if one of them Census Community Survey gummint twits knocks on my door."

I don't know this for sure either, but does Moulitsas even own a weapon, in case he wants to talk the gun metaphor (metaphor being one of them fancy Ivy League elitist words for "people shooting their mouths off, but maybe they actually mean it, literalists that they are) walk? I know he was in the military.

Cause, you know, when the above quotes are thrown around in company by avid gun afficianados, I'm thinking, like George Carlin, it's the loud motherf$ckers you've got to watch.

I mean sometimes, when someone says over and over again that say, they are going to destroy the full faith and credit of the United States of America to achieve their own ends, maybe that's not a negotiating position.

You can never tell.

I take that last back. Sure you can.

Maybe thinking Breivik crazy is emotionally satisfying, but it might also be true.

Whatever academic analysis is done with regard to his psychology and whatever the results of such might be, there is some sort of crazy going on that allows someone to think that what he was doing was justified by some political grievances he had. The results are simply too perverse for this to be considered an act of a completely sane person. I don't really care what any given psychologist has to say about it. Psychology isn't physics, and even if it were, a physicist couldn't convince me that I was really a seven-dimensional armadillo, which I find an equally plausible proposition to the one that Breivik wasn't somehow crazy to do this.

That's not to say he didn't know what he was doing (he did! - afaict) or that it wasn't political (it was! - afaict) or that it wasn't decidedly right-wing political (it was! - afaict), but you can't get there from here, not without driving through some part of Crazy Town on some part of the ride.

Being open-minded is all well and good, but, like the man said, don't be so open-minded that your brain falls out. I, for one, am very admittedly not open to debate on at least the binary crazy/not crazy question. Call it definitionalism, if you like.

I think is is misuse of the the term "insane" to apply it to the Norwegian killer. It's also a cop-out of sorts, a way of not facing up to how easy it is to get people in general to kill other people.

People need to take resposiblity for their own attitudes and the attitudes they support i other people. I don't believe that Becks listeners, for example, are responsible for the murders he motivated, f but they are resposible for their decision to listen to hatemogering and that decision reflects poorly on them.

The Norwegian guy acted on rhetoric that others don't act on but support to varying degrees. Here in the US we have a whole media empire devoted to hatemongering, a whole political party that uses the hate mongering, and lots and lots of citizens who think of themselves as nice resposible people but who either support the hatemongering by agreeing with it or enable the hatemongering by pretending it away. When someone acts on the hate mongering they all distance themselves: that guy is crazy! It has nothing to do with me! It has nothing to do with the hatemongering I support or enable!

I doubt very much that the Norwegian guy has a mental illness. I also doubt if the guy who killed Dr. Tiller has a mental illness or the Glen Beck fan who planned to kill Patty Murray was mentally ill or the guy who, motivated by Glen Beck, shot a cop in Philadelphia was mentally ill. Etc. Etc. I also don't think that the people who pretend that there is no pattern here are mentally ill. They don't have that excuse.

There's a spectrum of behavior and a spectrum of responsibility. People who promote demonizing and marginallizing are not the same as people who act on the demonizing with violence. I do not think that Glen Beck's fans are resposible for the murders that other fans have done, motivated by his hatemogering. I don't thik Sarah Palin's supporters are resposible for the actions of a man (who probably really is mentally ill) who took the target metaphor literally. But I do think they are resposible for ackowledging the connection between hate talk and hate action. That won't happen as long as people hide behind the pretense that everyone who acts on hate talk is just an isolated nut that has nothing to do with the hate talkers, or their talk or all the other "nuts" who committed similarly motivated murders.

If we want to extend the definition of "insane" to include all people who are responsible for horrific atrocities, then fine. IMO that includes most American Presidents.

Also, I've been reading off and on again a recently published history of the Comanche "Empire of the Summer Moon" and would have to conclude that in the 1800's every human being in Texas was either insane or the victim of someone who was insane.

Has anybody hear about these guys?

Terrorism in the name of Jesus? Everybody ignore

Certainly he has not the fascinating look of a bin-Laden and does not live in the mysterious caves of the Hindu Kush, surely he has not the media appeal and the anchorman vocation which the ‘Master of Terror’ has shown to have in the last seven years; yet Roberto Sandalo (alias Robby the Mad or Commandant Franco) has more terrorist credentials than ‘Sheik Osama’. Roberto Sandalo, allegedly the leader of a Christian anti-Islamic terrorist movement called Fronte Combattente Cristaino or ‘Fighting Christian Front’.The mysterious group has been responsible, in the last year, for bomb attacks against Islamic centres and mosques as well as death threats to Muslims.

From:
http://www.mpacuk.org/content/view/4545/34/

I definitely blame Jesus for that guy, SOD.

If we want to extend the definition of "insane" to include all people who are responsible for horrific atrocities, then fine.

Some of them might simply be amoral and greedy. Maybe that's crazy and maybe it's not. But I don't see where this guy was getting anything out of this in terms of personal gain other than some perceived and vague sort of political advancement. That's where the crazy comes in - that and perhaps thinking that was he did was right, as it seems he does, as opposed to not really giving a sh1t one way or the other about right and wrong and just trying to get something you want at someone else's expense.

...in the 1800's every human being in Texas was either insane or the victim of someone who was insane.

Just the 1800's? What about right now? ;)

(I kid, of course. At least McKinney's sane.)


Well, I'm not going that far, but I point to the article, because it seems to suggest that many folks may believe trends in Europe are beyond, "political grievances".

Radical groups who take on violence as a political strategy, seem to believe their grievance is about their possible existential annihilation. Framing it as a "political grievance" seems to suggest this is about parking fines or zoning rights or tax issues.

Although, many of the Tea Party grievances, seem to turn "tax issues" into a matter of existential annihilation.

I'm not sure how you classify someone who's insane as being right-wing or left-wing, in any important way.

He embraced right-wing values, hence right wing.

He deliberately sought out folks he disagreed with politically as his victims, hence his political orientation was actually quite important.

Seriously, can we at least allow the basic facts to stand?

Were the Weathermen violent murderous crazy *left-wing* nutjobs? Yes, indeed they were.

Same / same.

Why do I call Breivik insane? Because he thought that murdering members of the Labor party was necessary in order to save Norway and, more broadly, Western Europe, from "cultural Marxism and Muslim domination".

That's a perception that is not congruent with reality. So, fundamentally insane.

"But I don't see where this guy was getting anything out of this in terms of personal gain other than some perceived and vague sort of political advancement. That's where the crazy comes in "

So it is crazy and evil to murder people for some political goal, but not crazy (while still evil) to murder people for personal gain. I don't really see this. It sounds like the sort of thing a person would think in a society dominated by the market, where sane people are assumed to be driven by "rational" self-interest. It would be sane to murder 10 people in a bank robbery. It would be crazy to murder them because you hate their politics. To me this sort of reasoning is itself crazy, where I'm using the term loosely.

I think it's evil to murder people, but if you do it for some clear motive that doesn't involve voices in your head then you don't need a psychologist, but someone to convince you that you're wrong while you're serving your lifelong prison term. The Muslim extremists that Atran studies (he's also studied others, I think) are doing it out of misplaced idealism. They see their people oppressed and they think that to strike back at the oppressor is their moral duty. Somewhere along the way the notion that striking back by murdering civilians is somehow right gets rationalized, but that's human nature for you. In one of the articles I read, some of the people Atran interviewed actually became offended when he asked if they would refuse to carry out a terrorist attack if offered a large sum of money to refrain.

Radical groups who take on violence as a political strategy, seem to believe their grievance is about their possible existential annihilation.

Which may be, in and of itself, crazy. Shooting a bunch of kids (in the broad sense) over it, as though it's some sort of solution? Like I said, I'm not really open to the debate.

So it is crazy and evil to murder people for some political goal, but not crazy (while still evil) to murder people for personal gain.

I suppose if the political goal is at all realistic and the murders have some chance of achieving that political goal, it might not be crazy. But that's not what we're talking about.

Seriously, can we at least allow the basic facts to stand?

Sure, provided that the facts permit a tidy right/left division. Anarcho-primitivism and Luddites: right-wing, or left-wing?

Shooting a bunch of kids (in the broad sense) over it, as though it's some sort of solution?

This seems to be a very traditional act.

You don't conquer huge swaths of land, because you had better arguments. The drive West and the acquisition of Africans as chattel slavery, involved the mass death of children. But I didn't grow up thinking US settlers were crazy. "Misguided" and "mistaken" but not crazy.

Nell: ... image of a "lone nut" massacring children mystifies the events.

Janie M: Has anyone here indicated that they're harboring this image...?

Yes; Slartibartfast just has

...

@JanieM: I was and am particularly responding to people here, those who have referred to the victims on Utoya as "children", and those who might be misled by the connotations of the phrase "summer camp", used in several media accounts.

Murdering actual children at a recreational camp is difficult to see as a political act.

...

Heaven forbid anyone should be afflicted with false consciousness while grieving for dead poeple.

Since I was the only person who had mentioned “children,” I -- and not “people here” -- was clearly the target of your original response. So I wonder what you think you’ve proven by pointing to what Slarti said a day later.

Also: what, twelve-year-olds aren’t “actual children” if they’re at a political camp instead of a recreational camp? As far as I’m concerned, twelve-year-olds and for some purposes older teenagers are “actual children” no matter what they went to camp for. Conversely: from the point of view of grieving for dead people, I don’t give a flying f*ck whether their killing was a political act or not.

The news of this event made me cry. I rarely cry about what I see on the news; usually if I do it’s because children are involved. Not that it wouldn’t still have been a horrific tragedy if it had been adults, just that it would have hit my emotions differently.

So maybe I should have made an explicit statement about emotions at the beginning instead of expressing them in the form of an intensification of russell’s comment about sick MF’s: For me, there was an extra emotional jolt to this event because lots of the people who died were young people. To have someone else jump in and start “correcting” me about how I feel ... well you know, f*ck it. That’s how I feel and in that emotional space I don’t give a sh*t what they were at camp for; I care that they’re dead.

...

Donald: That's emotionally satisfying, I suppose, but may not be helpful in understanding why people do what they do.

Laura: I think is is misuse of the the term "insane" to apply it to the Norwegian killer. It's also a cop-out of sorts, a way of not facing up to how easy it is to get people in general to kill other people.

On second thought, I doubt it would have made any difference if I had made an explicit statement about emotions.

Maybe it’s just hitting me at a funny angle (Slarti and McK might be able to enlighten me on this score), but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a thread at ObWi where people have been so at pains to say that other people are *bad/stupid/wrong* for their reactions to an event. I’m the last person in the world to object to trying to understand why people do what they do, but that effort doesn’t preclude also having feelings about what people do. I could equally easily suggest that the intellectual game of trying to “understand why people do what they do” -- laboring as we so often do under the delusion that we can do f*ck all about it once we tell ourselves we’ve understood -- is a great way of copping out of facing up to the feelings themselves.

Me and my false consciousness are going for a walk in the woods.

"I think it's evil to murder people, but if you do it for some clear motive that doesn't involve voices in your head then you don't need a psychologist"

I forgot about sociopaths here. For that matter, maybe it's more likely a bank robber would be insane (in that sense) than a terrorist. Again, try reading Atran. The people who volunteer for suicide bombing are normal people. Or don't. I guess it doesn't really matter that much if you wish to define "insane" to mean "evil".

Though I guess it's possible Biervik is a different sort of personality from a Palestinian suicide bomber.

Anarcho-primitivism and Luddites: right-wing, or left-wing?

If Breivik was either an anarcho-primitivist or a Luddite, this question might be relevant.

But, SOD, do you think this guy had a realistic goal in mind and that his killing spree had any chance of achieving that goal? Do you think this youth group constituted and existential threat to this man? Do you think his beliefs and the obvious strength with which he held those beliefs have anything to do with the knowledge that killing people can gain you access to land or slaves?

It's not simply that he killed. It's why he killed, and the fact that he killed over nutty ideas, nutty ideas, that, even if true, wouldn't mean that killing the people he did would do anything to make the situation any better.

It makes no effing sense, even if you're calculations are amoral. Killing for land works, right? Didn't you just write that, in so many words?

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a thread at ObWi where people have been so at pains to say that other people are *bad/stupid/wrong* for their reactions to an event

Clearly, you're a newcomer 8)

If you want to see how things used to be, go check out some of the older threads. Not that I think you should spend an otherwise pleasant afternoon doing that.

I just posted something on the front page, but it was being written while most of this discussion was taking place, so I want to emphasize that I've got no one's particular comment in mind. I did try and read thru the comments and pulled the link that Donald gave, but I don't think I can really disentangle a lot of the comments here as they seem to be related to a lot of different things.

JanieM--Not once did I have you in mind when I typed any of my comments. Without going back and looking I couldn't even have told you what I said that seemed to contradict anything you said.


But this is ironic--I had decided to stop commenting on blogs so much because of all the strange arguments that one finds oneself in, where people are shouting at cross purposes, but I had no notion this morning that when I jumped into this thread I was going to get you pissed off. Argh. Time to go back to lurking.

If Breivik was either an anarcho-primitivist or a Luddite, this question might be relevant.

His extensive plagiarization of the Unabomber could just be for sheer utilitarianness in the domain of killing people, I suppose. I admit that I jumped to the conclusion that there might be some political-orientation affiliation, there.

I should add that I'm not trying to convince anyone that Breivik is crazy, just saying why I think he is and why I'm not really open to being convinced otherwise. The only reason I'm responding is to clarify my thinking and to address what I think are misrepresentations of the distinctions I've made. (I mean, it's not like it matters, right? We're not deciding anything here.)

I mean, it's not like it matters, right? We're not deciding anything here.

^
|
This, only not parenthetical.

I also want to add, after reading my last comment, that I don't think the misrepresentations I mentioned were intentional. I'm not implying bad faith, just the normal progress of trying to understand each other.

Do you think this youth group constituted and existential threat to this man?
I think he believed they did. I don’t agree with him. I think he’s stupid. Possibly evil, not crazy, by what I know to be crazy.

Do you think his beliefs and the obvious strength with which he held those beliefs have anything to do with the knowledge that killing people can gain you access to land or slaves?

Most of the discourse surrounding the acquisition of land and slaves revolved around the perpetrators believing their way of life was indeed threatened. “They’ll eventually try to kill us, anyway!” or “Our culture will not survive unless they are annihilated or enslaved!” were themes advanced by our nations’ settlers and freedom fighters.

I invoked Western expansion and chattel slavery, but I would include Vietnam and Iraq, in that as well. The term “baby killers” applied to Vets during the Vietnam War was not exaggerated rhetoric. I’m not trying to spread the hippie-spitting-on-soldiers myth (although “hippies” who claimed to do that were ex-soldiers themselves, but that’s not an argument I want to explore now).

And I would like to withdraw my statement:

Radical groups who take on violence as a political strategy, seem to believe their grievance is about their possible existential annihilation. Framing it as a "political grievance" seems to suggest this is about parking fines or zoning rights or tax issues.

To

Any groups who take on violence as a political strategy, seem to believe their grievance is about their possible existential annihilation. Framing it as a "political grievance" seems to suggest this is about parking fines or zoning rights or tax issues.

What went through my head when I made the "emotionally satisfying" comment were two things--

1. Some of the Islamophobic bloggers (see the Balloon Juice link that countme supplied either here or at LJ's post) are denying that there is any connection between their hatred of Muslims and what this man did. They want to say he was just a nut. Well, no. What he did is a logical extension of what they say. I personally know an Islamophobe who said Muslims shouldn't have the same rights as people of other faiths.

2. In general it's sort of comforting to imagine that people who commit atrocities must be crazy.


Okay, this need to justify one's self is exactly what makes commenting such a pain. But having gotten that out of my system, back to lurking.

As an aside, while TAing a Western Frontier class, I came across a letter from a Norwegian woman, circa early 1800s, who had witnessed her family slaughtered by Indians. She was a poor peasant, but was “fooled” (her words) by the US government into settling land, the US government had no intention of protecting. That is, the US government only protected “high value” settlers. Her letter spread throughout Scandinavian nations, to demonstrate the fecklessness of the US government. And it spread in the US, to demonstrate the barbaric nature of Indians.

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