Shaping the mind of the Oslo killer

BY SAEED NAQVI

Anders Behring Breivik’s monstrous act in Oslo is another leak in the sewer of Islamophobia, anti-Marxist fanaticism, and worse, which runs through the western sub stratum and breaks out into open every now and then.

Sen. Joseph McCarthy terrorized America in the 50’s with his anti communist witch hunt. But there was sufficient muscle in American liberalism of that era to throw up a journalist like Edward Murrow of CBS News who took on McCarthy and almost single handedly created conditions for the Congressional Committee chaired by the Senator, the singular forum for the witch hunt, to be wound up.

If Breivik’s atrocity were a result of some home grown, Norwegian affliction, then I am certain (I have some knowledge of Norway and have met Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in Oslo) it would have been arrested well before it went over the edge. Indeed, the local media would never have created an environment in which such minds are shaped. In this it is not a solely Norwegian event. It can happen anywhere. Breivik’s is a globalized affliction, conditioned in the hot house of global 24X7 media. Murrow could take on McCarthy frontally in the local arena, without any globalized obstruction.

Breivik is the creature of the Murdoch press which has throttled the Murrows of this world. His mind set would synchronize perfectly with Bill O’Reilly, the famous anchor of Fox News. The coverage of American military action in Afghanistan in November 2001 would have been orgasmic for Breivik. The channel’s star correspondent, Geraldo Rivera, whips out a weapon: “I would shoot him, if I could lay my eyes on Osama Bin Laden!”

In both, vocabulary and image, the agenda pushed by the Murdoch press (and, by infection, others including CNN and BBC) nursed and manufactured the Breivik mind by the sheer incantation of hyped anti Muslim-Marxist hysteria.

In the 60s, Protestant triumphalism of the Orange Marches were disrupted by Roman Catholics and Rev. Ian Paisley was taking up cudgels for Protestants and Unionists by spewing venom on the Pope. Across the Atlantic, Americans were mourning the death of their first Roman Catholic President, John F. Kennedy. It was in everybody’s interest to confine the intra-Christian quarrel to Ireland. In any event, there was no global media in existence then, except BBC Radio, a useful colonial habit. The global media made its entry as part of the triumphalism that the collapse of the Soviet Union brought in its wake.

The first major event covered by the new global media was Operation Desert Storm, Iraq, in February 1991. If Breivik was in his impressionable years then, he would have seen Saddam Hussain painted as a latter day Hitler, barbarous, invader of a neighbouring country, oppressor of his people. A young Nordic mind would celebrate Western triumph. The entire Muslim world – among a host of others – would internalize the outcome differently, as if from the opposite side of the trench.

Is there a hesitation to mention Christian or Hindu terrorists when Muslim names are mentioned as possible perpetrators within hours of the attack? The first scenario sketched by Stratfor after the Oslo outrage dwelt on Muslim terror. A trademark image of Muslim terrorism became vast congregations bowing in prayer. Bush Senior knelt in prayer all night with Rev. Billy Grahame on the eve of that messianic mission, Operation Desert Storm or George W. Bush before the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq: on TV these would have looked too much like medieval crusades. Bush Jr. restrained himself by simply mentioning “crusade” to describe his mission.

In this, too, the global media and its imitative appendage, the Indian media, have played their part. That which is known as the Bosnian war actually began with Serbian attack on Croatian positions – part of an ancient Orthodox Church and Catholic Church conflict. Bosnian Muslims were initially squeezed in the middle. But how did the global media cover the war? It consistently described the conflict as one between Serbs, Croats and Muslims. The Christian denominations were completely hidden from view. And the manner in which Europe kept aloof from the brutalities visited upon the Bosnian Muslims, day after day for full four years on live TV, Sebrenica and all, created conditions for Islamism to grow in Turkey, which has historical memories of Bosnia, and its lethal opposite number – the mind of a lonesome, psychopathic, confused young man in Oslo, making the Klu Klux Klan look like a moderate idea. It is frightening that the fascist badge he wore was designed in Varanasi?

(Saeed Naqvi is senior Indian journalist, television commentator, interviewer, and a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. Mr. Naqvi is also a mentor and a guest blogger with Canary Trap)