Every movement has its extremists, every ideology its rotten apples, and every benevolent entity can provide us with the occasion awful product. A couple weeks ago in Norway a religious extremist killed scores of people in the name of God. This was not an Arab Muslim who performed these atrocities, but rather a Scandinavian Christian who believed he was rescuing Europe from the evils of multiculturalism, Middle Eastern immigration, and Islam. He had a lengthy polemic detailing what he believed, a system of beliefs that admittedly fell along the spectrum of conservative Christianity. This does not mean that conservative Christianity is an inherently violent and terror-driven belief system. So it should follow that if any lessons are learned from this tragedy it is that every group, including Christianity and Islam, have their share of violent extremists. Neither ideology should be judged by those minorities.
Unfortunately this sense of individual responsibility is lost on some people, conservative and liberal alike. A notable example for the leftwing would have to be Eugene Robinson, a regular columnist at the Washington Post. In a column published on July 25th, Robinson argued that in addition to the mass murderer, various American media outlets shared some of the blame for the attacks in Norway. Robinson pointed out several writers with an anti-Islamic bent, including Robert Spencer, who was cited by the mass murderer multiple times in his 1,500 plus page opus.
“Breivik referred favorably to the work of several well-known anti-Muslim polemicists in the United States — zealots who usually boast of their influence but now, for some reason, seek to deny it,” wrote Robinson.
One major shortcoming of Robinson’s argument was that he could not point to any instance when the confederation of anti-Islamist blogs had directly advocated violence as a solution to growing Islamic immigration to western countries. However, like any good literary partisan, Robinson was able to forge a reasoning that nevertheless connected the writers he disagreed with to xenophobic violence.
“If Muslims have no respect for human life, why should anyone respect their lives? Or, for that matter, the lives of the government officials who invite Muslims to live among us? Or the lives of the sons and daughters of such traitorous quislings?” wrote Robinson, trying to make that connection.
So Robinson believes that nonviolent anti-Islamic websites in America are partially culpable for the tragedy in Norway. He sees this culpability as being present even though none of the writers he quoted openly supported violence against Muslim immigrants. It causes me to ponder something.
Back in November 2008, not long after the John McCain–Sarah Palin ticket failed to make it to the White House, an arsonist attacked a church. It was not just any place of worship, it was Palin’s home church in Wasilla, Alaska. According to the Huffington Post:
“Damage to the Wasilla Bible Church was estimated at $1 million, authorities said Saturday. No one was injured in the fire, which was set Friday night while a handful of people, including two children, were inside, according to Central Mat-Su Fire Chief James Steele.”
Thankfully no one was hurt, however the arsonist remains at large. In the months leading up to the presidential election and the arson incident at the church, liberals in the media launched an intense campaign against Palin. Some of their remarks were valid criticisms; many of them were personal attacks. Among the anti-Palin army of journalists, columnists, commentators, and writers was Eugene Robinson. The examples of his opposition to Palin during the 2008 campaign were numerous.
“So, at 72 and with a history of cancer, how could McCain choose a vice presidential nominee who has, let’s face it, zero experience in foreign affairs? Being the nominal commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard doesn’t count, unless you think Vladimir Putin is about to order an invasion across the Bering Strait,” wrote Robinson in one of his September 2008 pieces.
“The McCain campaign would like us to see a straight-talking, gun-toting, moose-eviscerating, lipstick-wearing frontierswoman. Instead, we’re beginning to discern an ambitious, opportunistic politician who makes no bones about rewarding friends and punishing those who stand in her way — and who believes that truth is nothing more, and nothing less, than what she says it is,” wrote Robinson in another September column.
“I should make clear that I believe Palin is wrong about basically everything, at least to the extent that we know what she really believes,” wrote Robinson days before the election.
An important point to stress is that Robinson has never called for violence against Sarah Palin or her church for that matter. He has never celebrated physical retaliation for disagreeing with him ideologically. It would be interesting to know if Robinson believes that the 2008 arson of Sarah Palin’s church can be connected to the vitriolic rhetoric of liberal pundits, even though none of them directly advocated for violence against her. If he does, then as a critic of Palin Robinson should turn himself in as an accessory to arson. If he does not, then he is a profile in hypocrisy.