About the author: Rusty Walker is an Independent Political Analyst, educator, author, Vietnam veteran-era U.S. Air Force, from a military family, retired college professor, former Provost (Collins College, U.S.A.), artist, musician and family man. Rusty Walker is an ardent supporter of Pakistan.
The New York Times did no favors for worldwide Muslim – Christian relations when it insisted on the sensationalist headline “As Horrors Emerge, Norway Charges Christian Extremist.” My problem with the headline is that it begs the question that is not answered in the article: is there a Christian Extremist Movement? Are we to assume there may be legions of Christian Soldiers celebrating this mass murder? I didn’t think of these questions, but these are the queries burning up the Cyber-sphere following press stories, in Online blogs, Facebook Groups, and news article comments. And the answer is, “No there isn’t any existing or emerging Christian Extremist Group.”
Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian that was charged Saturday with attacks in Oslo after murdering 92 people left behind a detailed manifesto outlining his preparations and calling for a what the New York Times contends was a “Christian war to defend Europe against the threat of Muslim domination.” He was identified only by a policeman as a “right-wing fundamentalist Christian,’ but, that remains to be seen. This has not been verified, because as yet there is no record of him belonging to a Fundamentalist Christian church, no wide-spread group proselytizing, or even a modest following of like-minded people. However, we get a glimpse of real truth as the article manages to include something more responsible to answer questions about his nature, his “acquaintances described him as a gun-loving Norwegian obsessed with what he saw as the threats of multiculturalism and Muslim immigration.” (I inserted the key points in bold) – This is a better description of the killer and motives, and it has little to do with Christendom, and more to do with guns, obsession and hatred of Muslim culture (Islamophobia).
The point is, the irresponsible press and the inflammatory blogs are once igniting the flames against the Christian-right and its demonization to create fear; also indulging in what constitutes a perceived balance in the news of the relentless, radical-Islamic Caliphate narrative. The uniformed can then speculate with visions of non-existent legions of Fundamental Christians clashing with Muslims- or, killing people out of fear of Muslims en masse, which in the 21st Century is an absurd notion, but, a lone killer is always a possibility in the world at large. The backlash of Christian hate-speech is already hitting the Blogosphere. All this based on the rambling papers of a lunatic. The intriguing phrase “Clash of Civilizations,” re-emerged in Samuel P. Huntington’s 1996 book. It was a dubious thesis for many scholars at the time for a modern world, and it is still a stretch to attempt to apply it to the high-tech world of today over a decade later, notwithstanding terrorist cells and asymmetrical warfare.
Playing to sensationalism, the New York Times was sure to spread the Breivek private dogma by including this gem from his papers: “a secret meeting in London in April 2002 to reconstitute the Knights Templar, a Crusader military order. It says the meeting was attended by nine representatives of eight European countries, evidently including Mr. Breivik, with an additional three members unable to attend, including a “European-American.” Knights Templar! Crusader military order! Members! And, a “European-American!” …Compelling stuff to exaggerate tales around, indeed.
Let me get digest this for a moment, though…Anders Behring Breivek had 9 people willing to listen to him in a meeting 9 years ago – Some Crusading group that is! Breivek isn’t a soldier of Jesus, he is a pathologically disturbed, lone, mass-murderer.
It is a shame that one man can get such extensive media coverage at all but his verbal assault on Muslims makes it a double tragedy for our turbulent times. Headlines should have covered the loss and they did; the human toll is newsworthy, of course. Still, the American, European and South Asia press, blogs and Facebook groups appear to have more questions than answers- precisely because there is no real story here of membership in an organization of Fundamentalists- it is a pointless human tragedy. That is your story; loss of innocent bystanders by a ruthless killer of 92 individuals, all of whom have families mourning them- all asking why?
So, the responsibility of the press is not to leave too many unanswered questions. Will Durant once wrote in the History of Civilization, that where there are unanswered questions “leaves a void,” and the void we sometimes “fill with demons.” So, some will default to their favorite conspiracy theories. Timothy McVeigh, will come up again- who was a marginal Christian at best, who simply hated the US government, and was also a loner, but the same recycled misrepresentation to associate him with Christians continues and will spring up in the media again, so there can be a white, American fundamentalist- Christian who blows things up – the trouble with this is, that McVeigh was not a practicing Christian and no motives or agenda associated with a faith.
Few intelligent, practicing Christians have issues with moderate Islam. Christians, Jews and Muslims share not only the same Old Testament holy figures, but hold the same values that we who were raised Christians hold dear, a love of family, ethical values, the work ethic, and faith in one God, with respect for other religions. No Fundamental Christian Crusade exists, except the one that abides in Breivik’s disturbed mind. The devil is in the details, and the details here point to one very unholy murderer, who represents one person: himself.