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Anders Behring Breivik, the Counter-Jihad Movement and the MSM

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By Rachel Neuwirth & John Landau

The trial of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik is, in the words of a perceptive Norwegian reporter-blogger, a "media circus." The killer is being allowed to spout his extremist views on a wide variety of subjects, and although he murdered 77 people with no apparent provocation, he is being permitted by the court to plead self-defense.

And amazingly, the trial began with the presiding judge and the prosecutors advancing to the defendant's box and shaking Breivik's hand--a mass murderer who admits his crimes and expresses no remorse!

Plainly, there is something wrong with such a "non-adversarial" criminal trial, and with the politeness-obsessed, conflict-averse Norwegian society that has created such a criminal justice system.

Other aspects of the trial are equally non-adversarial. While in an American courtroom the defendant's lawyer would argue that his client is not guilty by reason of insanity--the only plausible defense for a murderer who freely admits his guilt and expresses pride in his crimes--Breivik's lawyer is allowing his client to argue that he is sane. In his remarks to the court and the press, he freely admits that he finds it distasteful to represent his client, and he doesn't make any serious effort to defend or even excuse him. "I feel I have lost my soul as a result of this case," he told reporters.

On the other hand, while the defense attorney shows little interest in defending, the prosecution seems equally uninterested in prosecuting. It has not argued that the defendant is sane--which it must do in order to obtain a conviction--and is instead leaning toward the view that Breivik is insane. In other words, the prosecutors are on the whole more helpful to the defendant than his own lawyer!

But whether he is convicted or found "not guilty by reason of insanity," Breivik will live a comfortable life under some form of detention, with numerous rights and privileges that in Norway 's ultra-humane correctional system are granted to all criminals. On the other hand, he will be detained indefinitely in either case--until and unless he can persuade his "guardians" that he is no longer a threat to society. In Norway 's permissive, soft-hearted and soft-headed society, he might just succeed in doing that some day.

Why then, hold a trial at all? In an American courtroom, a defendant pleading self-defense after killing 77 unarmed, unresisting people would be required to produce evidence that he actually was under attack and needed to use deadly force to protect his life. Any other "evidence" offered by the defendant would be disallowed by the judge as irrelevant, incompetent and immaterial. Instead, the Norwegian court is allowing Breivik to mount a "political" defense that his atrocities were necessary to protect his society from multiculturalism, socialism and an Islamic takeover. This makes for a prolonged, extremely painful trial for the relatives of the victims, who must sit there listening to a remorseless killer boast of the dreadful things he did to their deceased loved ones, and attempting to justify, even glorify, his crimes. Since none of this "testimony" has any real bearing on the question of Breivik's guilt or innocence, allowing it in court serves only Breivik's twisted purposes--and perhaps those of others who seek to exploit his atrocities, and the horror they have inspired, to advance their own political agendas.

By attempting to link the overwhelmingly nonviolent and anti-violence "counter-jihad" movement to the Norwegian lone killer, "mainstream media" (MSM) journalists are helping to legitimate the much larger, better-funded and extremely violent international jihadist movement. Their guilt-by-association tactic is the very same smear tactic made infamous by the late Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Typical of this MSM response to the Breivik massacre is New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, who claims that nearly everyone on two continents who has warned of the danger to Western civilization posed by militant Islamism are "enablers of terrorism" and responsible for Breivik's vicious deeds. Cohen also links people to Breivik's massacre in the true tradition of McCarthyism by claiming that Breivik's "many ideological fellow travelers on both sides of the Atlantic,"  were Breivik's "enablers"  and supplied "the poison in which he refined his murderous resentment." Among those accused by Cohen are:

"Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, who compared the Koran to "Mein Kampf' on his way to 15.5 percent of the vote in the 2010 election; the surging Marine Le Pen in France, who uses Nazi analogies as she pours scorn on devout Muslims; far-rightist parties in Sweden and Denmark and Britain equating every problem with Muslim immigration; Republicans like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Representative Peter King, who have found it politically opportune to target "creeping Shariah in the United States' at a time when the middle name of the president is Hussein; U.S. church pastors using their bully pulpits week after week to say America is a Christian nation under imminent threat from Islam."

Cohen leaves out the small detail, however, that none of these people have ever advocated violence against anyone. The late Senator Joe couldn't have done it any better.

New York Times op-ed columnist Thomas Hegghammer, a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment in Oslo and co-author of "Al-Qaida in Its Own Words," prefers to link Breivik to counter-jihadist bloggers:

"While Mr. Breivik's violent acts are exceptional, his anti-Islamic views are not. Much, though not all, of Mr. Breivik's manifesto is inspired by a relatively new right-wing intellectual current often referred to as counterjihad. The movement's " main home is the Internet, where blogs like Jihad Watch, Atlas Shrugs and Gates of Vienna publish essays by writers like Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Bat Ye'or and Fjordman, the pseudonym for a Norwegian blogger. Mr. Breivik's manifesto is replete with citations of counterjihad writers, strongly suggesting that he was inspired by them."

However, Hegghammer also acknowledges that "the leading counterjihad writers have virtually never advocated violence, and several of them have condemned Mr. Breivik's actions."

Hegghammer concedes:

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Rachel Neuwirth, an internationally recognized, political commentator and analyst. She specializes in Middle Eastern Affairs with particular emphasis on Militant Islam and Israeli foreign policy. She has been published in prominent news papers of (more...)
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