Often the Left is so predictable.
While Norway mourns the deaths of the 92 (so far) shooting victims, kook bloggers at FireDogLake, Democratic Underground, and elsewhere are already labelling the alleged killer “right wing.” This meme appears to have started with a comment made by a Norwegian political science professor who speculated that the shooter might be “right wing.”
Even Sarah Palin is now being blamed for the shooting because the suspect reportedly favored the creation of a European Tea Party.
The media keeps repeating the mantra that the shooter is “right wing.” But what does it even mean to be “right wing” in Norway?
The American media doesn’t have a clue. American journos would much prefer to parrot a fuzzy idea than offer genuine insight into what happened in Norway.
Very broadly speaking, to be on the right is to favor the status quo or a status quo ante. To be on the left is to favor change or something new. The terms came out of the French Revolutionary period.
Right and left are awful, imprecise descriptors but for whatever reason they have remained popular.
Use of the terms can lead to characterizations of political movements that are absurd on their face. For example, those wanting to topple the Communist system in the Soviet Union of the late 1980s could quite plausibly be referred to as “left wing” even if they wanted to replace Communism with free market capitalism. And I’ve read more than once in a political science article the bizarre phrase “right-wing socialism.”
In much of Europe “left” and “right” mean roughly the opposite of what the terms mean in American political discourse.
Norway’s nearby neighbor, Denmark, which is what Americans would consider to be a left-of-center country, is governed by a party called Venstre.
What does Venstre mean in the Danish language? “The Left.”
Although Denmark has a huge welfare state and high taxes, Venstre is pro-free market. In America, because Venstre favors less government, it would be labelled “right wing.”
This is perhaps too difficult for Reuters and AP and the New York Times to understand.
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