By JR on Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Last week, the New York Times ran a headline depicting Breivik as a "Christian extremist" while other media outlets have labelled him a "white extremist". Breivik is certainly white - so much so that he is said to have undergone plastic surgery to look like an Aryan Nazi. But he does not belong to any Christian church and he has condemned both the Catholic and Protestant faiths.
In Australia, some left-wing commentators have focused on the fact that Breivik cited some well-known Australians in his manifesto - Peter Costello, John Howard, Cardinal George Pell, former Liberal MP Ross Cameron and historian Keith Windschuttle. It is easy to score ideological points against political opponents who have been cited with approval by a mass murderer. However, a reading of Breivik's manifesto reveals that the Australians named have nothing to be defensive about.
Costello is quoted as declaring that Australian Muslim leaders should denounce terrorism and Howard is referred to as stating that Islamist migrants to Australia should adapt to Australian ways. Cardinal Pell is cited as expressing concern about invocations to violence in the Koran and about the deeply anti-Christian views held by some secularists. Cameron's citation turns on his view that young men should commit to women and agree to have children. And Windschuttle is mentioned as someone who is disturbed about an anti-Western culture in many of our universities. That is all.
All of these comments are considered. None has provoked acts of violence in Australia.
One problem with the reaction by sections of the left to the Norway murders is that it is intolerant in itself. If the likes of Costello, Howard, Pell, Cameron and Windschuttle cannot say what they said, there would be no free debate at all.