After rushing to declare that the recent attacks in Norway were linked to Muslims, the right-wing media has now expressed outrage that the perpetrator, Anders Breivik, is being described accurately as a self-identified Christian.
Breivik “Self-Identified As 'Christian' ”
Salon: “Breivik Chose To Be Baptized At Age 15. He Self-Identified As 'Christian' On His Facebook Page.” As Salon's Alex Pareene notes, Breivik “self-identified as 'Christian.'” From Salon:
Breivik chose to be baptized at age 15. He self-identified as “Christian” on his Facebook page. He thought “Christianity should recombine under the banner of a reconstituted and traditionalist Catholic Church” or, later, under a new (traditionalist) European Church.
Breivik is not an American-style evangelical Christian. He is not a “fundamentalist” in that sense. Though he does identify with American cultural Christian conservatives. And he considers himself to be fighting in the name of “our Christian cultural heritage.” He supports a reconstituted Knights Templar devoted to winning a war against Islam in the name of Christianity.
Does he go to church? Does he believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ? Is he a biblical literalist? I have no idea. There's plenty about him that would lead a devout Christian to consider Breivik “not a 'real' Christian.” Here's the thing about that: The same is true of all self-proclaimed Muslims who commit acts of terrorism.
He's a sick perversion of Christianity, sure. But if he “doesn't count” as a Christian solely because no one this evil should “count” as a Christian (which is [Fox News host Bill] O'Reilly's other argument -- “no one believing in Jesus commits mass murder,” he said) then no terrorist should “count” as a representative of his faith. [Salon, 7/26/11, emphasis in original]
Right-Wing Media Complain Breivik Being Labeled As A “Christian”
Ingraham: “The Idea That In Any Way He Represents” Christians " Is Ridiculous And Absurd." On the July 27 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade asked Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham if she was “surprised” that the media “quickly label[ed]” Breivik a “Christian.” Ingraham replied that Breivik didn't represent “any mainstream or even fringe sentiment in the Christian community.” From Fox & Friends:
KILMEADE: Let's talk about Norway. The horrific -- that horrific terror attack and that gunman and the quick look at -- looking at him and the relief the media seems to have expressed that he is not Islamic, and they quickly label him Christian when there is nothing religious about his approach. Were you surprised at that?
INGRAHAM: No, I wasn't. And the New York Times headline, the day after that horrible attack, I mean, it did jump out of the page at me, you know, Christian extremist, because I don't recall the Islamic extremist label being used at all --
INGRAHAM: -- or frequently by main stream media. We did a quick search on our radio show for one and we couldn't find one from the Post -- Washington Post or the New York Times. So look, obviously this guy, obviously a beast and an evil person and twisted, we'll find out. The idea that in any way he represents any mainstream or even fringe sentiment in the Christian community is ridiculous and it's absurd and the glee seems to have come through in some of these headlines. [Fox News, Fox & Friends]
O'Reilly Promo: “Why Is The Liberal Press Playing Up The Christian Angle?” A promo for Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor which aired during the July 26 broadcast of Fox News' Happening Now asked: “What's the motive? Why is the liberal press playing up the Christian angle in the Norway shooter case?” [Fox News, Happening Now, 7/26/11 via Media Matters]
O'Reilly: Coverage Of Breivik's Christian Faith Is “A Movement ... To Diminish And Marginalize” Christianity. On the July 25 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly claimed that identifying Breivik as a Christian “is intentional and people should know. Americans ... should know that there is a movement in the American media to diminish and marginalize the Christian philosophy.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/25/11 via Media Matters]
O'Reilly: “Liberal Media Have Branded” Breivik “A Christian, Even Though There Is ... No Evidence.” On The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly claimed: "The New York Times and other liberal media have branded the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik a Christian, even though there is absolutely no evidence the man is a follower of Jesus Christ." O'Reilly later claimed: “There is no evidence this man was a member of a church. No evidence that he followed the teachings of Jesus Christ. As you know, they're nonviolent. OK? No evidence that he had anything to do with the Christian faith. Yet, they call him a Christian because he says he is? Come on.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/26/11 via Media Matters]
Peters: “He Defines Himself As A Christian, But ... Anybody Can Claim Anything.” On the July 26 edition of Fox Business Network's America's Nightly Scoreboard, Fox News contributor Lt. Col. Ralph Peters claimed Breivik “defines himself as a Christian but, you know, anyone can claim anything.” From America's Nightly Scoreboard:
ASMAN: Well, judging from the mainstream media accounts of the horrific massacre in Norway, you might think that we're on the cusp of a wave of Christian terrorism that could rival any threat from Muslim terrorists. Is that true?
Let's ask our own terrorism expert and Fox News strategic analyst Lt. Col. Ralph Peters. So Colonel, first of all, this guy who was responsible, who we think is responsible, he's claimed responsibility, et cetera, Anders Breivik, I guess is his name -- do you think that he is -- would you define him as a Christian terrorist, as all the headlines are?
PETERS: Well, he defines himself as a Christian, but you know, anybody can claim anything. And I have to tell you, doesn't have anything to do with any church I've ever attended.
But David, what troubles me most is the hypocrisy. I mean, this is such a godsend to the liberal media. One guy, a Timothy McVeigh type in Norway this time, does something really monstrous, and suddenly, 'Oh, it's OK!' It's not about -- you know, you -- you know, it's just like Islam.
Well, you know, it's not. There have been tens of thousands of Islamist terrorist attacks, and the media have rushed to say it's nothing to do with Islam. Now one crazy claims he's a Christian and commits an act of terror, and Oh, my God, we expect more Christian terrorists. Well, I'm waiting for the Baptist suicide bombers. [Fox Business Network, America's Nightly Scoreboard, 7/26/11 via Media Matters]
Yet The Right-Wing Media Rushed To Incorrectly Label Breivik A Muslim Before Learning His Identity
Ingraham: “Two Deadly Terror Attacks In Norway ... Appears To Be The Work ... Of Muslim Extremists.” On the July 22 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, guest host Laura Ingraham claimed the bombings “appears to be the work, once again, of Muslim extremists.” From The O'Reilly Factor:
INGRAHAM: In the “Back of the Book” segment tonight, two deadly terror attacks in Norway in what appears to be the work, once again, of Muslim extremists. In Oslo today, which is where the Nobel Prize is awarded, at least one bomb exploded, ripping apart buildings including the prime minister's office and killing at least seven and injuring 15.
Shortly afterwards a gunman disguised as a police officer opened fire at a children's camp nearby. Though authorities say as many as 10 people were killed in the shooting, the man arrested in that incident has been linked to the bombing in Oslo. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/22/11 via Media Matters]
Rubin: Oslo Attacks Are “A Sobering Reminder For Those Who Think It's Too Expensive To Wage War Against Jihadists.” In a July 22 Washington Post blog, conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin claimed there was a “specific jihadist connection” in the Oslo attacks and called it a “sobering reminder for those who think it's too expensive to wage a war with Jihadists.” From the Washington Post:
Moreover, there is a specific jihadist connection here: “Just nine days ago, Norwegian authorities filed charges against Mullah Krekar, an infamous al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist who, with help from Osama bin Laden, founded Ansar al Islam -- a branch of al Qaeda in northern Iraq -- in late 2001.”
This is a sobering reminder for those who think it's too expensive to wage a war against jihadists. I spoke to Gary Schmitt of the American Enterprise Institute, who has been critical of proposed cuts in defense and of President Obama's Afghanistan withdrawal plan. “There has been a lot of talk over the past few months on how we've got al-Qaeda on the run and, compared with what it once was, it's become a rump organization. But as the attack in Oslo reminds us, there are plenty of al-Qaeda allies still operating. No doubt cutting the head off a snake is important; the problem is, we're dealing with global nest of snakes.”
Some irresponsible lawmakers on both sides of the aisle -- I will point the finger at Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee and yet backed the Gang of Six scheme to cut $800 billion from defense -- would have us believe that enormous defense cuts would not affect our national security. Obama would have us believe that al-Qaeda is almost caput and that we can wrap up things in Afghanistan. All of these are rationalizations for doing something very rash, namely curbing our ability to defend the United States and our allies in a very dangerous world.
In a later post, Rubin acknowledged her error, writing the story “is a good reminder to all of us including myself that early reports are often wrong.” She nonetheless added, “There are many more jihadists than blond Norwegians out to kill Americans, and we should keep our eye on the systemic and far more potent threats that stem from an ideological war with the West.” [Washington Post, 7/22/11; Washington Post, 7/23/11]
Big Peace Asks If Norway's “Big Muslim Problem” Has “Just Blown Up In Its Face.” In a July 22 post on Big Peace, blogger Dan Friedman wrote: “Norway has a big Muslim problem. Before long we should know if Norway's problem has just blown up in its face.” [Big Peace, 7/22/11]
Bolton: “It Sure Looks Like Islamic Terrorism.” From the July 22 edition of Fox News' America Live, Fox News contributor John Bolton stated:
BOLTON: Well, this is a very un-Norwegian act, so the odds of it coming from someone other than a native Norwegian, I think, are extremely high. And it is a classic terrorist effort. And it's gonna have a dramatic impact on Norway. There have been speculations because the famous Mohammed cartoons were published there, because of this cleric who's under deportation proceedings. So without anyone taking responsibility for it or any definitive evidence, we can't say for sure, but it sure looks like Islamic terrorism. [Fox News, America Live, 7/22/11 via Media Matters]
Erickson: “I Bet You It Was Not Lutherans.” In a July 22 Twitter post, CNN contributor Erick Erickson wrote: “Terrorist bombing in Oslo. I bet you it was not Lutherans who did it.” [Twitter, 7/22/11]
Media Matters intern Marcus Feldman contributed to this item