Norway massacre reveals West's violence problem

Issue 

The horrific July 22 terrorist massacre in Norway should be the cause for a lot of soul searching in the West.

The massacre by Anders Behring Breivik at the youth camp of the Labour Party on the island of Utoya, and the bombing of government buildings in Oslo, were motivated by a fanatical belief that the Labour Party, the senior partner in a coalition government, was “betraying” Norway by being too soft on migrants and Muslims.

Unfortunately there is an unwritten but strictly followed “political correctness” in public discussion that stops any real examination of the source of most politically motivated violence.

It is not acceptable to state the simple truth: most violence in the world comes from the West and has done so for the past 500 years.

See also
Mass murderer praises Howard as 'one of the most sensible Western leaders'
Norway, Islamophobia and Anders Behring Breivik
Right-wing attack in Norway

The rush to portray Breivik as a deranged “lone wolf”, ignoring documented links to various extremist networks and instead emphasising his psychology over his ideology, is part of a broader refusal to look at the violent nature of Western culture.

This includes a culture, promoted by much of the media and “mainstream” politicians, that is intensely hostile to all things non-Western.

People in the West and elsewhere have been horrified by Breivik’s massacre. In the West it is, to say the least, not normal to settle political differences over immigration quotas by slaughtering more than 70 fellow nationals, mainly youth.

US talk show host Glenn Beck was widely criticised for remarks vilifying Breivik’s victims — comparing the youth wing of the Labour Party to the Hitler Youth.

However, the fact that Beck’s views were heard at all reflects that he is an establishment opinion maker. He only recently parted company from the godfather of Western ideology, media baron Rupert Murdoch.

His regular vilification of non-Westerners, particularly Muslims and Latin Americans, never received similar criticism.

Likewise with Breivik’s rambling manifesto, 2083 — The European Declaration of Independence.

Most Westerners would find his Knights Templar fantasies bizarre and strongly oppose his calls for a European civil war.

However, many of the points in his thesis can be found in varying forms in the statements of Western leaders across the political spectrum and forms a constant thread in the Western media.

This includes the inevitable “clash” between Western and non-Western cultures; the threat to Western “values” and “identity” posed by peaceful communities of immigrants; the vilification of Islam; and, most importantly, the unquestioned assumption of Western superiority.

The reflexive Western response to Breivik’s atrocity is denial that Breivik’s fringe world of neo-Nazi groups and “Justiciar Templars” is a product of the Western body politic.

But the anti-immigrant and Islamophobic far right is growing in support across Europe. This includes in Norway, where the anti-immigrant Progress Party (of which Breivik is a former member) is the second largest party in parliament.

Since the initial Western assumption that Muslims were the perpetrators of the Oslo terrorist attacks turned out to be untrue, Western ideologues have tried to blame Breivik’s Islamophobic ideology on … extremist Islam.

The July 23 New York Times claimed Western anti-Muslim terrorists “were mimicking Al Qaeda’s brutality and multiple attacks”, as if “brutality and multiple attacks” were somehow innovations in the practice of terrorism.

Yet Breivik names as influences a number of mainstream Western conservatives.

This includes mainstream Australian sources.

Breivik cites positively Australian establishment figures, including former PM John Howard, right-wing historian Keith Windshuttle (who denies the genocide against Aboriginal people) and misogynist, homophobic Catholic Archbishop of Sydney George Pell.

Some of those Breivik cites, such as US blogger Pam Geller, not only spout the same Islamaphobic and anti-immigrant hate speech as Breivik, but also make hysterical allegations and use violent language against mainstream political opponents.

In Geller’s case, this includes the administration of US President Barack Obama.





Such commentators generally refrain from explicitly endorsing violence against mainstream opponents, and have distanced themselves from the Oslo attacks.

However, advocating violence against non-Westerners, and Western dissidents such as WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, has become par for the course from this type of Western conservative.

The influence of Geller’s Tea Party Movement over the US Republican Party, and the Republicans’ influence over Congress, shows this extremist thinking permeates Western politics.

However, it is not just Western conservatives who have been in denial about the Oslo attacks.

The Western liberal media has also downplayed their political motivation, and the links between the terroristic fascism of European far right and Western political culture.

Mainstream Western culture is deeply narcissistic. At the heart of the Western outlook is the unquestioned assumption of Western superiority.

This can manifest itself as extreme nationalism or racism. But even mainstream liberal ideologies in the West, which reject outright racism, tend to assume the superiority of Western culture and that the West has an inherent right to a disproportionate share of the world’s resources.

These assumptions are all-pervasive in Western mainstream political parties and media and underpin the West’s violence.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Western ideology has been characterised by the obsessive hostility to Muslims that featured in Breivik’s manifesto — especially after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US.

Whether in conservative Christian or liberal secular guise, the narrative of the “clash of cultures” between Islam and the West has been used to justify major wars against Iraq and Afghanistan that have taken millions of lives.

It has also justified numerous smaller military actions and proxy wars, kidnapping, torture, secret jails, removal of civil liberties within the Western countries and persecution of refugees, among other things.

However, this Islamophobia is merely the current manifestation of a far broader Western hostility towards the rest of the world.

The history of the past half century includes devastating Western wars of aggression in Latin America and South East Asia.

Going back further, the West’s bloody colonial wars are too numerous to list. Some Western countries — the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — were created by colonisation and the genocide of the local, non-Western people.

From the Spanish in the Caribbean in the 1490s, to France’s role in Rwanda in the 1990s, genocide has regularly been perpetrated by the West.

In the US, the nation building process also included the enslavement of millions of Africans.

Two of the more violent moments in the last century were the two world wars in which the Western powers fought with each other, in large part, over control of the non-Western world, devastating Europe in the process.

In World War II, this included racist genocide against Jews and Roma (gypsies).

Today, this event is usually cited not as a warning against the violence inherent in Western ideology but as justification for Israeli occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

The crimes of Germany are atoned for by the Palestinians, who were colonised at the time and remain so.

An aggressive Western state, imposed on a non-Western region, is cast as the victim of the non-Western people it colonises by references to the earlier crimes of another Western state.

Misplaced victimhood is another recurring feature of mainstream Western thought.

Peaceful communities of non-Western immigrants are portrayed as a threat to the “national identity” of Western countries, but the West’s right to impose its values on the rest of the world is rarely questioned.

There is not a single non-Western country that has never been attacked or colonised by a Western power.

The West is economically dominant. Western culture, transmitted by the global corporate media and entertainment industry, is ubiquitous throughout the world.

Yet the Western “identity” is apparently threatened.

In Australia, the arrival of a relatively small number of refugees by boat is described as an invasion. However, the despatch of soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan, where they have killed civilians including children, is generally not.

Many of the refugees are from Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is not enough for mainstream Western commentators and politicians to condemn Breivik, the neo-Nazi groups he associated with, or even the Islamophobic and anti-immigrant right-wing.

There needs to be acknowledgement of the violence that the West perpetrates against the rest of the world.

Westerners need to realise that they are minority on this planet — about 20% of the population. The West, however, consumes more than 80% of the world’s resources and is responsible for more than 80% of greenhouse gas emissions.

The West’s violence enforces this inequality. The resulting poverty is itself a form of violence.

Millions of non-Westerners die from preventable causes because Western corporations make profit-driven decisions to deny them water, healthcare and food.

Westerners need to integrate — for the sake of the world, but also for their own sake.

Within the Western countries, inequality is increasing. In the US, the richest 1% now own 40% of the nation’s wealth.

As anyone who has witnessed an Australian election should know, the West’s ideology, in both liberal and conservative forms, directs resentment at such inequality at non-Western targets.

Furthermore, the spectre of global warming shows that if the West does not integrate into humanity and change its destructive ways, then humanity itself is doomed.

US comedian Steven Colbert takes apart the US media's "blame the Muslims" response to the Norway atrocity on The Colbert Report

Comments

The "West" has been responsible for a lot of violence historically, but possibly the scale of it owes more to their technological and military advancement than innate capacity for violence. Japan in World War 2 showed Asians could be as systematically genocidal as the Nazis, while Rwanda showed a more primitive brutality between Africans, the killing fields of Cambodia, Mao's Cultural revolution, the chemical warfare between Iran and Iraq and the genocide of the Kurds, Stalin's mass murder of his own people, the Islamic slave trade (which continues to this day in parts of Africa). As for greenhouse gas emissions, Wikipedia says China alone produces 23.33% of emissions, India 5.78%, Russia 5.67%, how can the "West" possibly produce 80%? Yes we have consumed more than our share, but the bigger problem is now the growing demand from the rest of the world to consume on an equal basis. No nation or race has a completely guilt free past, but some of us can at least claim to be on the road to enlightenment. We need to encourage the spread of liberal, secular values, not accept retrograde and chauvinist ideologies simply because they are culturally different, or to assuage the guilt of our own history.
"As for greenhouse gas emissions, Wikipedia says China alone produces 23.33% of emissions, India 5.78%, Russia 5.67%, how can the "West" possibly produce 80%? Yes we have consumed more than our share, but the bigger problem is now the growing demand from the rest of the world to consume on an equal basis." You are confusing yearly emissions with historical emissions. Because the West industrialised first, it is responsible for most emissions in the atmosphere, i.e. it has had more time to put the there. This is not self-flagellation but a simple fact. The only way the rest of your comment makes any sense is if you ignore all the death and destruction the West has perpetrated in its colonisation of the world. You can do that if you like but it makes you nothing more than a chauvinist - something you seem to dislike.
It's hard looking in the mirror isn't it?
It seems the Australian Protectionist Party is mentioned in the manifesto, should keep an eye on those guys. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/norway-killer-told-aussies-to-join-fight/story-e6freuy9-122610517556
The point the article makes is a good one, and all of this is true, except for this: "There is not a single non-Western country that has never been attacked or colonised by a Western power. " Mongolia, Ethiopia, North Korea (South Korea was a US possession after WW2)? Yes, there may have been some cultural coercion or economic subjugation that amounts to colonization by the West, but those countries have never been made "colonial possessions" of Western countries. As for the rest, the West has historically halted the development of several cultures through its own culture of violence, oppression and dominance. 2 the commenter who said "enough self-flagellation" : the reason so many cultures have not been able to survive and make progress, instead remaining in choking third world poverty, is because of neocolonialism and neoliberalism. Imperialism and the imposition of Western values, materialist and selfish but also hateful, violent, oppressive and demanding of conformity themselves, have stagnated the flourishing of many cultures. For example, the Islamism that Breivik attacked and that secularists (including myself) find revolting developed out of a nostalgic, misguided attempt to revive the Ottoman Caliphate, in response to British colonialism (Muslim Brotherhood/Ikhwan). The Rwandan genocide, while there was French complicity, was also the fault of Belgium for inciting anti-Tutsi hatred amongst Hutu during colonization, cooperating with the Tutsi oppression and slavery of Hutus by promoting a racial model that favored the Tutsi over the Hutu. Throughout history and today, the West has tried to domineer and spread, often violently, its values and practices, condemning critically and arrogantly everything that deviates from its culture. Pain, cultural destruction (as opposed to coexistence), and self-loathing, in addition to economic depression and poverty, have been the result of the colonial exploits celebrated with glorious tales of "discovery" in the West. Christianity spread through the sword and the sweet-talking missionaries, wielding carrots and sticks, who foisted it on numerous unfortunate people throughout the world. The love of martyrdom, blood, death, sexism, suffocation, homophobia, hatred for human nature ("predestination" *barf*); these concepts, inseparable from Christianity and imperialism, have justified the abuses of so many. The violent Western negativity has to change.
The West has historically halted the development of several cultures through its own culture of violence, oppression and dominance. 2 the commenter who said "enough self-flagellation" : the reason so many cultures have not been able to survive and make progress, instead remaining in choking third world poverty, is because of neocolonialism and neoliberalism. Imperialism and the imposition of Western values, materialist and selfish but also hateful, violent, oppressive and demanding of conformity themselves, have stagnated the flourishing of many cultures. For example, the Islamism that Breivik attacked and that secularists (including myself) find revolting developed out of a nostalgic, misguided attempt to revive the Ottoman Caliphate, in response to British colonialism (Muslim Brotherhood/Ikhwan). The Rwandan genocide, while there was French complicity, was also the fault of Belgium for inciting anti-Tutsi hatred amongst Hutu during colonization, cooperating with the Tutsi oppression and slavery of Hutus by promoting a racial model that favored the Tutsi over the Hutu. Throughout history and today, the West has tried to domineer and spread, often violently, its values and practices, condemning critically and arrogantly everything that deviates from its culture. Pain, cultural destruction (as opposed to coexistence), and self-loathing, in addition to economic depression and poverty, have been the result of the colonial exploits celebrated with glorious tales of "discovery" in the West. Christianity spread through the sword and the sweet-talking missionaries, wielding carrots and sticks, who foisted it on numerous unfortunate people throughout the world. The love of martyrdom, blood, death, sexism, suffocation, homophobia, hatred for human nature ("predestination" *barf*); these concepts, inseparable from Christianity and imperialism, have justified the abuses of so many. The violent Western negativity has to change.
I sent the following letter to Australian MPs and mainstream media but the Silence has been Deafening in Zionist-beholden Lobbyocracy and Murdochracy Australia. "Western and Australian Mainstream media, including the taxpayer-funded ABC, have resolutely ignored the following 2 huge Elephant in the Room realities of the Norway Massacre. 1. Several days before 69 Young Labor activists were murdered by Breivik they had publicly demonstrated for tougher Norwegian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel for its crimes against the Palestinians (for details and a photograph see "Palestinian civil society expresses solidarity with people of Norway"). 2. Neo-Nazi mass murderer Breivik was also a pro-Zionist extremist who set out in his 1,500 page Manifesto his demand for the ethnic cleansing of Muslims from Europe, Turkey, China, India, Thailand, the Philippines and Palestine. Constraints on free speech in Lobbyocracy Australia have prevented virtually any reportage of the above huge realities which, in marked contrast, have been reported by outstanding anti-racist Jewish commentators such as Stephen Lendman (US), Gilad Atzmon (UK) and Uri Avnery (Israel) and by pro-Zionist media (e.g. JTA and the Jerusalem Post). " For details censored in Lobbyocracy Australia of the mass murder of 69 anti-Zionist Young Labour Norwegians by the pro-Zionist mass murderer Breivik read US history professor Vijay Prashad's "Palestine's Norwegians"." Dr Gideon Polya, Melbourne.
Of course we should accept that western history and Australian history is only about black armband of historical events......this leads to aborigines being given an excuse not to examine their own behavior...and stopping people having a hot chocolate at Max Brenners. The Norwegian shootings were the work of a madman driven by an absurd view of world events...Bin ladens extremist islamic bombings, murders and suicide attacks are also driven by an absurd view of world events
I have a copy of the manifesto, am 20+pages through it, and I've realized that he can't just be dismissed as "a lone nut". He knew what he was doing and is an intelligent person. Almost everyone who inspired him immediately used this excuse to distance themselves from him, and then continued spouting the same hateful propaganda, appeals to the lowest common denominator. American and European Islamophobic writers using base vitriol to insult Islam and Muslims, whilst portraying Muslims as bogeymen terrorists, shaped Breivik's worldview. And...tell me something good that the genocidal "discovery" of Australia, which killed hundreds of thousands of Aborigines through slaughter and the careless spread of disease, did for indigenous Australians? If you believe that stating the unfriendly truth about what happened when Australia was first settled by Whites is a "black armband [view] of history", tell how it improved Aborigines' conditions. Are most of them doing as well as White Australians?
"Neo Nazi Pro Zionist"!!!??? its amazing your surprised no one printed your BS. It's as insensitive and offensive as it is opportunistic and stupid.
My opinion is that the media is about 90% to blame for creating these monsters, they need to be held more responsible for their actions. There constant beat-up of Muslim culture will insure an everlasting feud between western and middle eastern people. - comment by Aaron Smith