A Further Perspective

The New York Times Finds Its Poster Boy for Hate

So now the Norway terrorist was a "right-wing, Christian" extremist?

By 7.26.11

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When it came to light that Anders Behring Breivik was responsible for the heinous acts of terrorism in Norway -- which, as of this writing, claimed the lives of 76 people last Friday -- the New York Times wasted no time in putting forward a narrative.

Consider a few of these headlines from The Gray Lady:

"Oslo suspect wrote of fear of Islam and plan for war"

"Norway Attacks Put Spotlight on Rise of Right-Wing Sentiment in Europe"

"Killings in Norway Spotlight Anti-Muslim Thought in U.S."

The Times notes how Breivik followed writers who were critical of Muslim jihadists and their influence, most notably Robert Spencer. The article, written by Scott Shane, suggests that Spencer's writings and those of others "indirectly fostered the crimes in Norway." But as Mark Steyn so pointedly asked, "So, if a blonde blue-eyed Aryan Scandinavian kills dozens of other blonde blue-eyed Aryan Scandinavians, that's now an 'Islamophobic' mass murder?" Steyn further notes, "As far as we know, not a single Muslim was among the victims." But facts be damned. The New York Times has a narrative it must pursue.

Shane's article also resuscitates the infamous 2009 Department of Homeland Security report which claimed that the combination of the recession and the election of Barack Obama as President would foment right-wing violence in this country. Despite having no evidence to support its assertion, the report repeatedly warned that "returning military veterans" were susceptible to being recruited to unleash another Oklahoma City. Amidst an uproar, the report was subsequently withdrawn by Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano. Despite this report being disavowed, the New York Times is clearly pulling out all the stops on this story.

John Guardiano, my colleague from The American Spectator, also cites a couple of New York Times headlines -- "As Horrors Emerge, Norway Charges Christian Extremist," and "Right-Wing Extremist Is Charged in Norway." Guardiano notes the latter headline was amended from "Christian Extremist Is Charged in Norway." He writes, "That's better, but still not quite right."

Well, I think you get the idea. But now let's consider these headlines from the New York Times in the wake of the Fort Hood Massacre in November 2009:

"Army Doctor Held in Ft. Hood Rampage"

"Mass Shooting at Fort Hood"

It is worth noting that the stories which followed these headlines did not identify Hasan as a Muslim. Indeed, the first article which cites Hasan's military records notes he had "no religious preference."

But this was perhaps the New York Times' most egregious headline where it concerned Fort Hood:

"Little Evidence of Terror Plot in Base Killings"

This was the story that attempted to put forth the narrative that Hasan was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after counseling veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq. The New York Times was essentially touting the line, "Terror plot? What terror plot?"

In the exceedingly unlikely event I was ever bestowed the responsibility of writing headlines for the New York Times here's a headline I would have been far more inclined to use with regard to Nidal Malik Hasan's actions. To wit:

"Army Doctor Kills 13 at Ft. Hood; Shouts 'Allahu Akbar!!!'"

Even the Guardian acknowledged that Hasan had shouted "Allahu Akbar!!!" in one of its headlines. But for those liberals and socialists who are easily offended at such incendiary language let me offer a couple of different headlines:

"Major, Self-Described 'Soldier of Allah', Massacres Fellow Soldiers at Ft. Hood"

Or perhaps you might prefer:

"Major Who Killed Fellow Soldiers Consulted Jihadist Web Sites"

Indeed, ABC News used a headline which both acknowledged Hasan identifying himself as a "Soldier of Allah" and his frequent use of jihadist websites.

Now please consider this headline concerning Major Nidal Malik Hasan's impending military trial which was published on July 20, 2011. Keep in mind this headline was published scarcely 48 hours before the terror attacks in Norway:

"Major is Arraigned in Fort Hood Killings"

So here we are twenty months after the Fort Hood Massacre and the New York Times still cannot bring itself to describe Hasan as an extremist, a jihadist let alone a Muslim. I guess the Times believes that such descriptions of Hasan, although accurate, are unfit to print.

When the New York Times has acknowledged Hasan's Muslim background it has done so in this manner:

In the aftermath of this unforgivable attack, it will be important to avoid drawing prejudicial conclusions from the fact that Major Hasan is an American Muslim whose parents came from the Middle East.

President Obama was right when he told Americans, "we don’t know all the answers yet" and cautioned everyone against "jumping to conclusions."

Yet the New York Times spares not a moment's hesitation in "drawing prejudicial conclusions" when using the words "right-wing," "Christian" and "extremist" to describe Breivik.

So where does that leave us? I do not want to downplay the significance of what Breivik has done. After all, he wantonly killed children. If anyone is deserving of execution it is surely Anders Behring Breivik. But since there is no death penalty in Europe, Breivik is assured of three square meals a day for the rest of his life.

If Breivik's politics were the driving factor or played a role in his actions then by all means the New York Times and other media outlets ought to subject his views to thorough scrutiny. Especially if it turns out that Breivik did not plan this dastardly deed on his own.

But the New York Times does both its readers and the general public a grave disservice if they refuse to scrutinize the likes of Nidal Malik Hasan in the same manner while downplaying the ongoing global threat of Islamic terrorism.

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About the Author
Aaron Goldstein writes from Boston, Massachusetts.