by Abe Sauer
The attacks were “a despicable act directed at everyone in Norway,” said Siv Jensen, the leader of the Norwegian Progress Party. While her assessment of the 76 dead and nearly 100 injured may be philosophically true, it’s technically false. The bombing and mass shooting late last week was in fact directed at a very specific group of Norwegians. These “summer camp” teens weren’t shot for taking canoe lessons; they were shot for being political activists, or children of such. (This was something made very clear by Tea Party leader Glenn Beck, when he functionally ended his corporate career days later by comparing the dead to Hitler Youth).
After years of ratcheted-up rhetoric, it was only a matter of time before some right-winger deduced to take what he saw as the natural next step. Still, it’s a surprise that Anders Breivik’s manifesto argues for creating “a cultural Euro-version of a Tea Party movement” — since one already exists. Norway’s Progress Party is a smaller-government, low-taxes, culturally conservative movement based on Christianity that, besides the diacritics, is nearly identical to the Tea Party. Breivik belonged to the party for some time. Progress Party leaders have made it a point to note that he left the party; Breivik himself still endorses the party in his 1,500-page diary, writing that he “strongly recommends followers extend their Facebook networks to like-minded individuals overseas and to, amongst others groups, join the Progress Party.”
The Progress Party is no lunatic fringe. In 2010, speaking on behalf of the Republican Party of the United States, then-Chairman Michael Steele sent a letter beginning “To My Friends at the Progress Party of Norway.” He wrote: “I look forward to your continued growth.”
Also in 2010, the head of U.S. Tea Party seed group Americans for Prosperity, Tim Phillips, addressed the Progress Party convention, cementing the relationship. It makes sense; the Progress Party is simply a populism movement and, despite all its rhetoric, that’s all America’s Tea Party is as well.
Phillips and Steele needn’t be embarrassed to have their associations with European extremists exposed. They regularly travel in the similar company of U.S. counterparts.
In America, it is becoming increasingly easy to find those like-minded individuals Breivik spoke of not just in the United States but also in the halls of power.
In March, Rep. Peter King held national hearings on the Muslim threat. Despite widespread criticisms, he announced that he would go ahead with a second June round, titled “The Threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons.” King is on record saying the nation has “too many mosques” and has addressed criticism thusly: “To back down would be a craven surrender to political correctness.”
For those obsessed with Islam, “political correctness” is a code word. Breivik constantly blamed political correctness as a weakness that would allow for Islamification. He wrote, “Multiculturalism (cultural Marxism/political correctness), as you might know, is the root cause of the ongoing Islamisation….”
Meanwhile, Michele Bachmann lashed out at critics for “applying a veneer of political correctness to national security,” calling King’s hearings “common sense.”
Bachmann has long cozied to anti-Muslim activists, understanding that the passion behind their single-issue support makes noise for candidates. As a presidential candidate, she signed the anti-Sharia pledge, which won her praise with the likes of bloggers like Robert Spencer, author of Jihad Watch, a blog cited numerous times by Breivik as inspirational.
One of the American anti-Muslim crusaders Bachmann partners with is Minnesota “punk preacher” and radio host Bradlee Dean. Dean is no mere nut — in addition to Bachmann, Dean’s ministry has ties with Tim Pawlenty and Tom Emmer, the Tea Party candidate for governor who lost by a hair.
In May of this year, Bradlee Dean gave the opening prayer for the Minnesota House of Representatives. During his address, Dean, long having hinted that Obama is a Muslim, praised all denominations of Christianity, and said: “The head of the denomination is Jesus as every President up until 2008 has acknowledged, in Jesus’ name.”
When Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to serve in Congress, took issue with the address, Dean took to his radio show in reply: “What is it you don’t like about who we are, Keith? Our laws say no to Sharia law in this country. Is this your problem?” It wasn’t his first scrap with Ellison. In 2010, Dean said, “There is a correlation between the Muslims and the homosexual agenda, and we have a couple of fools in the state of Minnesota that are putting a rope around their neck and they just don’t realize it.”
Speaking of Obama: Those who argue that Breivik’s politics were those of the EU, and not of America’s Tea Party, will have a hard time explaining why the shooter featured Photoshopped anti-Obama imagery in his video opus. And in his manifesto, Breivik ranted about the “War on Christmas.”
Compare Breivik’s now-famous sole tweet, the paraphrased Mill quote (“One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100 000 who have only interests”), to, say, the Adams quote on TeaPartyGroundZero.com: “It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.”
And for those familiar with the Tea Party, seeing Breivik posture with his firearm was a familiar sight.
When it comes to national leaders, Bachmann and King are hardly the only ones flirting with the anti-Muslim crowd. Herman Cain caused a stir when, citing Sharia law, he said he would only hire Muslims if they swore a loyalty oath.
Then, at the conservative conference RightOnline, Herman Cain defended his statements by saying, “There is this creeping attempt, there is this attempt to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government… This is what happened in Europe. And little by little, to try and be politically correct, they made this little change, they made this little change. And now they’ve got a social problem that they don’t know what to do with hardly.”
For those looking for it, “creeping Sharia” can be found anywhere. “Sharia creep” is a favorite term of Michelle Malkin — herself a religious fundamentalist who sought to live amongst the like-minded in Colorado Springs, a city that’s become a “mecca” for Evangelicals.
American Sharia creepers may even be having an impact on American business (our “job creators”). In June, American bloggers created a headache for Delta when they concocted a conspiracy theory about the airline’s partnership with Saudi Arabian Air and their “discrimination against Jews.” Soon, Delta was being plastered with comments from ignorant people under the spell of racist paranoids. One commenter wrote, “I will not be flying Delta Airlines again. Your silly excuse is sickening. You should refuse to enter any relationship with any county in which it is illegal to carry a Bible openly. You make me sick!”
Sharia creep is just one more item of proof that the EU nationalists and American Tea Party right-wings are speaking the same language (even when they’re not speaking the same language). When Progress Party leader Siv Jensen warned about the Islamic threat, she used the term “snikislamisering” — “sneaking Islam.”
A proven influence on Breivik were American anti-Jihadists and Sharia creepers Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. (Spencer is the author of the books The Truth About Muhammad and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam.) In an age when everyone laments American’s distaste for reading, both of those books made the New York Times Bestseller list. Spencer often writes about Obama’s partiality for Islam, such as his ties to the Islamic Brotherhood.
Pamela Geller authors the blog Atlas Shrugged, where she rails against Sharia creep. She is a regular marquee speaker at Tea Party events. In his manifesto, Breivik recommended both Geller and Spencer for guidance.
Those two are among numerous right wing and Tea Party bloggers who sound the same alarm — many of whom see putting “infidel” in Arabic on their sidebars as heights of intellectual counterpoint.
Even more mainstream writers are tied to the populist vilification of Islam. The National Review now regularly partners with the topic, as its reader base longs for more information on the impending threat of America’s Islamification. National Review writer Andrew McCarthy put his name on a book called “Shariah: The Threat to America.”
The scaremongering is paying off both in votes and legislation. Tennessee and Oklahoma now both outlaw Sharia law. In Tennessee, the law even defines Sharia as “a legal-political-military doctrinal system.” Lawmakers said the bill was necessary to prevent “homegrown terror,” which would be funny today if it were not tragic.
At least ten other states are currently considering similar laws.
Then there are the anti-mosque movements. New York, most famously, but so many other states have seen them now, like Florida and Wisconsin. In North Dakota, the webpage of a planned mosque features comments such as “A mosque was not welcome by ground zero & is surely not welcome here” and “shariah laws are trying to change our country. Look what you’ve done to France and England!!! India is no longer allowed to practice their faith due to muslims.”
Ross, North Dakota, is the site of the first recorded mosque in the United States.
With all of this noise, one would expect to find Muslims coming out of America’s ears. The very highest estimates of Muslims in the U.S. top out at 2 percent of the American population. (Estimates range from 1.3 million to 7 million, with a 2011 Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life study finding that Muslims make up less than 1 percent of the U.S. population today (2.6 million) and that by 2030, 20 years from now, they will still only account for 1.7 percent of the nation’s population.)
The anti-Muslim sentiment that in its extreme bred Norway’s shooter has only manifested so far in the U.S. in individual assaults and community “incidents” — such as the one in February in Yorba Linda, California, where a Muslim relief organization with perceived ties to terrorism was protested by attendees waving American flags and yelling “terrorist go home” to women and children.
Lost on nobody, in condemning the acts, right wing radicals in the U.S. and Norway sounded exactly like the Muslim community they so suspect — “We never advocate violence” is parroted by many, who then blame violent acts on lone, misled members of their ideology. (Familiar story.)
This is to be expected from a populist movement completely barren of self-awareness. In his comparison of Norway’s dead to the Hitler Youth movement, Beck asked, “Who does a camp for kids that’s all about politics? Disturbing.” Well, in July, the Tea Party 9/12 Project offered a summer camp for kids ages 8–12 where they learned about socialism, the gold standard and the Constitution, among other things. In 2009, Beck was an early champion of the 9/12 movement, writing, “Become a 9/12er and don’t be afraid of it.” (Beck got what he wanted though, attention, in the form of legitimizing criticism from Al-Jazeera that compared the talking head to al-Qaeda.)
Undeterred from continuing to churn the butter that makes their bread tasty, Sharia creepers vowed to be undaunted by the events. After jumping to condemn Islam and jihad for the attacks in Norway, Michelle Malkin wrote that she would offer “no apology” and “I will continue to be vigilant in thoroughly covering the global jihadist threat.” Like many other Sharia creepers, Malkin defended herself by saying that “reading the signs and connecting several large, obvious dots,” the event “definitely suggested jihad.” Malkin was finally right, it was jihad.