When word first broke of the deadly bombing and mass shooting in Norway, there was little information available to suggest what party or parties were responsible. Much of the right-wing commentariat filled that information vacuum with their own prejudices, declaring that this was clearly an act of Islamic terrorism. It was later reported that the suspect in custody, Anders Behring Breivik, is a native Norwegian with extreme right-wing politics and ties to fundamentalist Christianity.
Among the conservative to rush to judgment were Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post, CNN contributor Erick Erickson, and Andrew Breitbart's BigPeace.com. The Breitbart website surmised that the attacks could have meant that Norway's "big Muslim problem" had "just blown up in its face." Erickson wrote via Twitter: "Terrorist bombing in Oslo. I bet you it was not Lutherans who did it."
Now that their uninformed and ideologically motivated guesswork has been proven wrong, these same conservatives are adopting the "No True Scotsman" fallacy and claiming that Breivik's abhorrent behavior was not that of a Christian, but more akin to that of a Muslim.
From a Big Peace post today, bearing the headline "Anders Behring Breivik: Jihadist":
This Norwegian terrorist was not a Christian or a conservative. He acted contrary to the teachings of the Bible and conservatives from Burke to Madison. He was instead a jihadist, blinded by an ideology who resorted to violence rather than engaging in a public debate of ideas. He was a coward who planted bombs and killed innocent people. For him, violence was the only answer. He claimed to be fighting jihadists...but he actually became one. He didn't kill one islamist [sic] terrorist with his actions-only innocent Norwegians. Change the location, and he acted like so many jihadists in the Middle East. He became one of them.
Erickson writes that while he was wrong, he was nonetheless justified in his assumption because Christians, unlike Muslims, do not commit politically motivated violence:
First, those of us on the right who point out the now fairly common ties between terrorists and Islam do so largely because the secular left has become willfully naive. The fact of the matter is violence and Islam may not be very common among American muslims [sic], but internationally it is extremely common and can fairly well be considered mainstream within much of Islam. Read Andy McCarthy if you suffer on the delusion that it is not mainstream.
With Christians, it is rather rare to see a self-described Christian engage in heinous terrorist acts. In fact, in as much as there is an Arab Street filled with muslims [sic] more often than not cheering on the latest terrorist act of radical Islamists, you will be very hard pressed to find a Christian who does not condemn the act regardless of the faith of the person doing the killing.
Over the next week, assuming the budget fight in Washington doesn't over shadow it, you can expect lots more gloating that the guy in Norway described himself as a conservative Christian. Never mind that a conservative Christian would not do what the guy did. The left, however, will not be persuaded otherwise. They are of this world and this world is all that matters until the last day.
Muslim-bashing is one of the pillars of today's conservative movement, and they rarely pass up the chance to equate "Muslim" with "terrorist." The reaction from these conservatives to the tragedy in Norway -- from the initial round of shoddy guesswork to the subsequent dissembling on Breivik's ideological identity -- demonstrates the intensity of that anti-Muslim fervor. Even though no Muslims were involved, they are still working hard to make sure Muslims share the blame.