An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

There was an attack in Oslo, Norway, yesterday.  It was a tragedy, and the death toll right now is over 90 people.  Seven were killed in the car bombing, and 85 people were killed in the subsequent shooting at a camp for the local labor party that was 25 miles away from the car bombing.  Now, the moment that this happened, the media instantly started to wonder who it was, and the problem here is that they all wondered the same thing – was it a Muslim terrorist?  Well, it wasn’t an Islamic terrorist group, it was a lone man with some pretty hardcore beliefs.

The perpetrator of this heinous crime was a man by the named of Anders Behring Breivik.  He is 32 years old, and not a Muslim at all.  He is a Christian fundamentalist white nationalist.  When the media first reported this attack, some of the more level-headed mindset thought that this didn’t fit the MO of an Islamic terrorist group.  It targeted a government building, which doesn’t fit the pattern.  Usually, Islamic terrorists do their crimes in an area where they can maximize the casualties, kill as many people as possible.  Of course, several Muslim groups did come out after this event and take credit, but that is what they do.  They want the world to fear them as much as possible.

But the fact is that the media all jumped on the same bandwagon – that this had to be a Muslim group, that this had to be Al Qaeda or something like that.  On Facebook there were posts where people said that even if it wasn’t any of them, it was still them because they had inspired this kind of thing.  Well, that is an interesting perspective, because the fact is that white nationalist terrorism isn’t a new thing in this world at all.

One parallel that was made about this was comparing this event to the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh.  That’s a very good comparison.  It shares a lot of the same themes.  White nationalist, Christian fundamentalist, attacking a government building in order to deal a blow to a system they are radically against.  It is very similar in all of the ways that it can be.  But really, it is just the fact that people jumped on a bandwagon so quickly that says something pretty unpleasant about society that we have today.

The fact is that terrorism comes in all shapes an sizes.  From the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords to the Oklahoma City Bombing, people need to be aware that domestic terrorism is real, and it is often something that people don’t take seriously, but really should.  Because a common bit of vernacular that comes up is that “it is only Muslim terrorists who blow people up.”  No, wrong!  The fact is that domestic terrorism is infinitely more dangerous because it can’t be defended against.  Nobody could have predicted that this lone guy was going to do this.  Nobody could have foreseen him just deciding to kill people, including a bunch of kids, who didn’t agree with him.

There was a quote by somebody or other,

One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 people who have only interests.”

And what’s more, Rupert Murdoch’s groups, Fox News, and The Sun newspaper, didn’t report on the fact he was a Christian at all.  Not one report mentions that the god this guy worships is the same one that Fox News claims that all of America is based on.  I wonder how many conservative groups posted after the Oklahoma City Bombing that Timothy McVeigh was a Christian.  The fact is that people will all go crazy and will paint a button to put on a group of people, but they close their minds to that other group, to the other, more dangerous half of America.

This brings it to the part about Fox News.  Back when Glenn Beck was on their network, whenever one of their viewers would decide to follow his insane rhetoric and go out and do something, he would scream, and cry for non-violence.  Well, this is what happens.  When you write books and go on the news and tell people that killing other people who don’t agree with you is a perfectly acceptable way to handle things, stuff like this happens.

And where are those who believe that it is all Muslims now?  They aren’t anywhere.  They aren’t talking.  Or there are those who make posts on Facebook or other blogs about how it is Al Qaeda who inspired this kind of action.  And there are those who claim this was one guy.  Yeah, not true.  Take a look at Northern Ireland right now, where this kind of violence is flaring up right now.

And what’s more, the media doesn’t think critically.  Fox News and all of the conservative groups instantly jump on the bandwagon of an Islamic terrorist group, not even bothering to think that it might be somebody else.  It was ironic to listen to Keith Olbermann talk last night and have to make it very clear that it wasn’t an Islamic terrorist.  He shouldn’t have to be that clear, because the media shouldn’t be painting pictures already.

This is where Jon Stewart was right about the modern 24-hour news networks.  They are becoming sensationalist and lazy, not doing the very hardcore and very diligent reporting that groups like NPR, PBS, and BBC are famous for.  The thing that makes it worse is that people aren’t demanding something better from the news they watch.  They aren’t demanding a better coverage and being more level-headed.  They jumped on a bandwagon because it was easy, and rode that (Fox News is still riding it) until it became apparent that their preconceived notion was wrong.

The public has to start demanding something better of their news.  Fox viewers will never demand anything better.  They don’t have the integrity to demand something better.  But for all the rest of you who watch CNN and MSNBC, you have to start demanding something better.  Because reporting like this, is a shame upon the entire field of journalism

Peace out,

Eli

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Comments on: "Oslo Tragedy Shows Different Side of Terrorism" (2)

  1. I couldn’t agree more… It is a shame how quickly the media jumped to blaming Islamic terrorists and how quickly people believed it.
    I was quite surprised about how long the Dansih news stations kept to that theory, even after the guy had been captured… It is a shame. It does not exactly help us understand each other better, with the media acting like that…

    • I agree. The media is very much to blame in this new paradigm that has sprung up in this world that if a terrorist attack happens, it has to be a Muslim group. It is now the accepted vernacular, and it really is a stain upon the media and the whole field of journalism.

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