Perhaps the ugliest demand of politics is that tragedies often have political implications, and at some point those must be discussed. The end result, of course, is the often undignified spectacle of pundits trying to score public relations points in the face of human suffering and sorrow.
To wit, I’m pretty sure I just heard, on BBC’s Newshour, one of the right-wing authors cited in Norway shooter Anders Brevik’s outsize manifesto compare himself to The Beatles.
Or a blogger for Crooks and Liars suggesting that FOX News is unwilling to describe Breivik as a “conservative” extremist. And while there is no question about why FOX News might want to protect the word “conservative” from any negative associations, there really isn’t a dignified way to go about that discussion:
As you can see, the host is getting away with blaming social media, Norway’s law enforcement authorities for not monitoring social media more closely for people like this, and just about everything but coming out with the truth: Brevik was not a “domestic extremist.” He is a radical right-wing cultural warrior who has been influenced by many different people, including Tim Phillips, director of Freedomworks, apparently.
Herridge, instead of discussing the fundamental problem here, spends an inordinate amount of time blaming the Internet for his views. There is some truth to what she says. It’s easy to turn social media, blogs, and other content into an echo chamber which then magnifies anger and hate. Just have a look at Andrew Breitbart’s timeline sometime for an example. He specializes in that kind of tactic. Still, it’s beside the point. The point here is that Brevik espoused extreme right-wing political positions and acted on them to inflict political mayhem on his countrymen.
Let’s not forget that he didn’t just target a random group of people. He chose to target the youth movement of the current political party in power, which is further evidence of just how far he was willing to go to eradicate opposition.