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Norwegian bloodshed: right-wing terrorism?

July 27, 2011

A shocking spasm of bloodshed in Oslo has prompted many editorial writers to reflect on whether right-wing ideology should be blamed for the killings. In a nicely balanced analysis, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat argues that Anders Brevik should indeed be recognized as a right-wing terrorist, but his brutal crimes should not be used to discredit the ideas he espoused.

“While his crimes should be denounced and disowned, their ideological pedigree has to be admitted,” Douthat writes. Brevik is clearly a right-wing extremist, based on his voluminous quotation from conservative sources.

However, the fact that one homicidal man embraced these views cannot be cited as evidence that the views themselves are inflammatory, Douthat argues. He notes that the written sentiments of Theodore Kaczynski, the “Unibomber,” are indistinguishable from those of former US vice president Al Gore.

Moreover it is wrong to identify Brevik as a “Christian” extremist, Douthat writes, since Brevik’s ideas are not identifiably Christian and he describes himself as “not an excessively religious man.”


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