When news broke of the horrific terrorist attacks in Norway, conservatives reacted with something approximating glee. The American Enterprise Institute’s Gary Schmitt was quick to lecture, “There has been a lot of talk over the past few months on how we’ve got al Qaeda on the run and, compared with what it once was, it’s become a rump organization. But as the attack in Oslo reminds us, there are plenty of al Qaeda allies still operating.”
As it turned out, the Oslo attack had nothing to do with al Qaeda. In fact, the terrorist wasn’t even brown. He was a conservative Christian Norwegian who shared an ideology with American conservatives. “In the U.S., the Tea Party movement is one of the first physical, political manifestations which indicate that there is a great storm coming,” wrote the terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik. “The creation of similar conservative organizations, even the creation of revolutionary conservative movements ... is about to materialize.”
Similar politically motivated violence has wounded the United States as well, from Timothy McVeigh’s horrific act of terror to the assassination of Dr. George Tiller. From the July 2008 shootings at a Tennessee Unitarian church that killed two, to the two police officers in Pittsburgh who lost their lives in April 2009 because the shooter thought Obama would take away his guns. From the right-wing tax protester who killed a security guard at the Holocaust Museum in June 2009, to the Glenn Beck fanatic who was intercepted in July 2010 on his way to shoot up the ACLU and Tides Foundation offices in San Francisco. There are more. Lots more.
On Jan. 17 of this year, police found an improvised explosive device along the planned route of the annual Martin Luther King Day parade. It took a bomb disposal unit eight hours to disarm a device that would’ve wreaked havoc on thousands of people who’d gathered for the event. The reason the parade was targeted is obvious — the hostility to multiculturalism embraced by the most prominent conservative pundits. Remember, it wasn’t just some random crank on a white-supremacist message board who accused Obama of having a “deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture.” It was Glenn Beck.
Whether American conservatives admit it or not, Breivik was motivated by their hostility to a growingly diverse world. At least one of them, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, is honest about it: “Much of his analysis of cultural trends in Europe and the danger created by Islamic immigration and inflitration [sic] is accurate,” Fischer said of Breivik. And while Fischer pays lip service to the notion that violence isn’t the solution to that “accurate” problem, it’s hard to keep the crazies at bay when you arm them to the teeth and then scream that Western civilization is at the precipice.
Conservatives have gotten great mileage from the general right-wing hysteria. They stoke fears about Obama taking away their guns, they claim he’s an illegitimate Kenyan Muslim communist who’s infiltrated this country, they circulate conspiracy theories that the government will herd Americans into FEMA-run concentration camps, they rail against imaginary “death panels” and they claim House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) is the second coming of Josef Stalin.
But when you take a group of people steeped in paranoia; throw in Glenn Beck-style conspiracy theories about threats to Western civilization; generate hostility to people of different races, colors and sexual orientation; and create a culture that fetishizes guns and violence, what do you think will happen?
Exactly what happened in Oslo. And it will happen again.
Moulitsas is the publisher and founder of Daily Kos (dailykos.com).