From the very surprised and seemingly disappointed Guardian:
“Targeting government offices and the Labour party camp point to political agenda behind attacks rather than Islamist terrorism”.
A gunman dressed as a police officer shot and killed upwards of 80 people at a Labour Party youth camp on the small island of Utøya just hours after a car bomb killed seven individuals in Oslo’s government district. Police arrested a 32-year old Anders Behring Breivik, “who happens to be conservative Christian who enjoys classical music and the video game World of Warcraft“, in connection with the pair of attacks.
The news is still unfolding, and more is being revealed by the minute. But one thing is for certain: your local news program is more concerned with finding a hidden link to an “Islamist” group than with the actual devastation rattling the streets of Norway.
Much is to be said (and questioned) about the mainstream media’s coverage of these terrible and shameful attacks on Norwegian soil and, more specifically, how our news sources, who claim to uphold genuine neutrality and objectivity for the sake of honest reporting, assumed al-Qaeda was at it again.
Have we reached a level in the West, and particularly in the United States, where we immediately feel compelled to attribute violence to Islam, to Arabs, and to anyone with dark skin and hair? Must every bullet and every car bomb be investigated for serial numbers in Arabic print? Is it bad that I, along with the community of conscience, refuse to be trained into instinctively picturing a bearded Muslim man whenever a separatist group in France sets a building on fire, whenever hooligans flip police cars in the streets of Canada or Britain, whenever Colombian drug barons infiltrate the United States with cocaine, money, and a political agenda meant to unseat the authority of American law enforcement?
And am I expected to defend myself, my people, and my religion each time a bomb goes off?
Mainstream media has lost focus of the real issue at hand, which is that hatred, corruption, irresponsibility, and prejudice took the lives of almost a hundred innocent Norwegians today. Learning that today’s attacks have no direct or indirect connection to Islam should not disappoint nor should it make this tragedy any less significant. The perpetrators must be brought to justice before the world’s eyes, and the media must do its part by telling the story as it is without acting under the orders of the memo that has apparently been circulating through news office desks since 2001, the one that claims everything evil has some odd connection to Islam, even if you have to make it up. (Note that the media must also make sure not to paint entire groups of non-Muslims as terrorists as well. This isn’t honest, nor is it an objective representation of the facts on the ground.)
There seems to have developed two kinds of terrorism, based on what is printed in the New York Times and the like. There is “Islamist terrorism”, the worst kind, the category that all violence immediately falls under before it is investigated and proven to be completely unrelated to Islam. The second kind of terrorism is the “Everything else terrorism”, the kind that can’t give the West an excuse to wage another war in the Middle East and North African region, the category that is dealt with, sure, but quietly, diligently, and carefully so as to avoid labeling an entire group of people with unfair stereotypes.
It is this exact dynamic that has not escaped from notice mostly because the mainstream media makes it tremendously obvious. According to the Guardian, “[t]he most tempting and immediate conclusion was that it would be a jihadist group [that committed the attacks], as the style of the Oslo attack bore strong similarities to other earlier attacks in Europe and elsewhere”. However, bomb blasts look and sound the same everywhere. The fact that it’s acceptable to assume a Muslim was behind it simply on the basis that the attacks bore a resemblance to selectively chosen terrorist attacks reveals the true ignorance of conventional mainstream journalism.
Whoever it is behind these skewed comparisons purposefully ignored the stark resemblances today’s shooting in Norway shares with the Columbine High School shooting of 1999, the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007, the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, and the Greensboro Massacre of 1979, none of which were committed by Muslims but all of which featured the same key ingredient of terrorism: hate.
A popular commercial in Egypt reads “We are Muslim, we are against it [terrorism]” and airs very frequently during prime time hours. But you didn’t learn this from the New York Times because it doesn’t fall into its script of finding Islam at fault whenever possible.
Until the media’s unreliable and tainted coverage of all things “terror”-related becomes neutral and ceases its vain attempts to hold Islam responsible for all that is un-Islamic, you will continue to be hidden from the fact that we Muslims condemn terrorism just as much as you do.