Norway’s largest daily, Aftenposten, Saturday ran an article that says it all. Called They are the third way, it ran over two pages. Pictures and text carried an unmistakable message: An big picture of Anders Behring Breivik sitting in a police car, smaller pictures of Bat Ye’or, a question mark and a black profile where Fjordman’s face should have been, and to the right Robert Spencer.
The subtitle leaves no room for doubt:
They do not hate races. They flaunt no swastikas. They are dressed in suits. They think islam is the greatest threat to our civilization.
Whilst the prime minister have been reticent and careful not to apportion blame, journalists and media have shown little such caution.
Aftenposten’s article is short on analysis with an eye for the complexities and nuances. It goes straight for the throat. Not just Robert Spencer’s, but also Bruce Bawer, an american living and working in Norway.
Such articles could have very direct consequences for his ability to live and work in Norway. Is that something that Aftenposten can lightly dismiss? Since Bawer also writes under his rightful name, those allegations could have consequences for him in the most unexpected situations. You never know when such a reputation might catch up with you.
The journalist Kjetil Kolsrud draws a direct link between neonazis of the past and the new socalled counterjihad-websites.
The language is chilling if you are on the receiving end:
Rightwingextremists used to be cropped young men with military boots. Usually seen on a grainy homevideo from a livingroom in an unknown place in Oslo, with bottles of beer, hard rock and a tattered swastika-flag on the wall. Or some pudgy middleaged men in white shirts too small for them, with yellow egg running from their balding heads, at a speakers pedestal some place at Norway’s South.
Those days are over.
The classical neonazi-milieu was totally eradicated by the police and public opinion after the killing of 15 year old Benjamin Hermansen in January 2001.
The rightwing extreme political parties, like the People’s Movement against Immigration, White Voteralliance and lastly Vigrid, have all crumbled and died.
It has been replaced by somehting else. It is called «the third wave».
Aftenposten rightly identifies true rightwing milieus in Norway, with boots and rightwing populists, short on almost everything. They have now been replaced by «clever people». It is this equation that could prove lethal for one’s reputation and social standing and ability to conduct normal political business.
Three quarters after the killing of Hermansen, whilst Oslo’s neonazi milieu was in ruins, something happened that changed the extremists enemy picture: 11. september 2011. The terror attacks on the US and the ensuing wars in the Middle East have shifted the rightwing radical ideas from the traditional racehate. In stead there has grown forth a cultural hate, a hate that binds rightwing radicals together spanning religions, sexual dispostiion and colour, according to those hat have followed this development.
Those are amazing propositions. Kolsrud/Aftenposten follows a all too familiar pattern: make the allegations that you want to market, and have some expert vouch for them. In this case a guy named Cas Mudde, one of the world’s best experts on rightwing extremism according to Aftenposten. He is Dutch, at present teaching as guest professor at Prindle Institute of Ethics, i Indiana, USA.
There is a lot of ground to be covered if you want to jump from neonazis and pudgy racists to Robert Spencer and Bat Ye’or.
Kolsrud/Aftenposten wants us to buy the premise that race hatred can be transported to culture, a very diffuse term. Cultural conflicts are common place. How is one to decide if someone is filled with hatred or if there is a legitimate cause for grievance? It seems the analysis Aftenposten advances have huge consequences. But not once in the article does the journalist stop to listen and caution against abuse.
A Norwegian writer on rightwing extremism, Øyvind Strømmen, lists the words we should look for when identifying the new right wing radicals: They are convinced that there is a deliberate attempt to let muslims immigrate to Europa, changing the continent into Eurabia.
But those are very serious questions that pertain to real problems. The immigration into Europa has been facilitated by politicians who have never dared ask their voters what they think. Enter the rage. But also serious commentators. Should they not be taken seriously?
Aftenposten has an answer:
A lot of the most prominent figures are more or less well regarded, intellectual figures.
Now that is a problem. How to demask and denounce them? Aftenposten has started the job.
Kolsrud ventures on to Bruce Bawer, who is openly gay, has credentials from writing for respected publications, and has, according to Aftenposten:
….no obvious prejudices against specific minorities. But he is convinced that the islamic world is out to force us to our knees.
Just pause to relfect on the effect of the ominous use of the little «but» in that paragraph.
Bawer has brought trouble on himself, Kolsrud seems to say. He is gay, good, seemingly tolerant, fine, but then – he bears grudges.
Bawer is one of many who on have been cited on several accounts as an inspiration in the socalled manifesto Anders Behring Breivik wrote.
Bawer writes that he finds this a cause for despair and shocking. He has never either wanted or encouraged to violence, he ensures. In this regard he is in the company of many others, for noone of the prominent ideologues whithin this growing train of thought are calling for armed resistance. On the contrary. They want a democractic process whereby legislation and laws are employed as some kind of cultural defence.
Bawer is then let off the hook as a moderate in order to characterize how bad Fjordman, Bat Ye’or and Robert Spencer are.
But there are no examples how bad: if Bat Ye’or is such a harmful figure, why not bring some citations, or present her ideas? Instead: innuendoes, generalizations. And sudden retreats:
Brevik’s inspirational sources do not promote violent or fascist values, even if the anonymous Fjordman sometimes are in a grey area.
This is something that is prevalent when smearing: make a concession or reservation, just in case, to fall back on. But Kolsrud is not in good faith, he uses the footnote only to proceed, leaving the job to Daniel Poohl, editor of Expo in Sweden, political enemies of everything the political right stands for.
– Even neonazis have understood that what they have been up to until now, has not been very successful. What we have witnessed since 11. sepember is that the Eurabia-idea instead has become the domineering way of thought. And Breivik is this movements først terrorist.
The rethorics twists and turns: «Even the neonazis». And the intellectuals are of course smarter, but then even more bad? Those sentences implicates all the names Kolsrud has mentioned – Bruce Bawer, Fjordman, Bat Ye’or, Robert Spencer, even Ayaan Hirsi Ali – as part of a movement that has spawned Anders Behring Breivik.
This is more than a smear, it is a campaign to outlaw critical dissent.
Serious questions are raised, – where do we draw the line between legitimate and illegitimate criticism? But the main premise – that criticism of culture is a new form of racism – torpedoes any meaningful discourse.
One consequence of the rightwing extreme rethoric moving from race to culture, is that is has become hardere to see the difference between racist rightwing extremism and legitimate political viewpoints on the far right.
Professor Cas Mudde is there to bemoan that the Eurabia-thinkers have infiltrated the neoconservatives in the US.
Up comes Daniel Pipes. Pipes obviously belongs to the «infiltrators».
There is a red line going from the Eurabia-ideologues and straight into the now quite dominant neoconservative milieu in the US. Eurabia-ideologue Daniel Pipes was for example made a member of the American peace institue by president Bush, to vehement protests from democrats and various organizations. He was later an adviser to Rudolh Giulianis candidacy in 2008.
In 2007 Pipes wrote, amongst others:
«Europe is an open door, and muslims are wandering through it. Or will they have that door thrown in their face?»
So where do you draw the line, asks Kolsrud and lets Mudde answer:
– One crosses the line when it becomes irrational. When all the problems you see are reduced to islam. Like the strife about genital mutilation, which has little to do with islam. It is first and foremost a cultural phenomenon in certain parts. Or when one, as in the Netherlands, attributes all problems in the Moroccan milieu to islam, when in fact islam has very little influence on the youth in question, says Mudde.
Now the syllogism is complete. That the question of where to draw the line is a political question that should be open to debate, is disregarded. Kolsrud and Aftenposten behaves as if Cudde is a doctor.
The article is one long exercise in political smear about very serious subjects: freedom om political thought. It specifies that certain ways of thinking are irrational. It also establishes a political affiliation between neonazis, conservative thinkers of different hues, some with a admittedly more militant bent, and political terror.
This is darkness as enlightenment.