Debates over representation and cultural difference rarely spill into violence. To understand the shooter, we must look beyond politics.
The terrorism in Norway is appalling, unforgivable, and shocking. Anders Behring Breivik was deeply involved in a growing movement in European politics, as activist Bruce Bawer notes, becoming well-known in right wing groups and circles "concerned... with the Islamization of Norway." But what does that mean? It would be easy to react against all right-wing movements, but that is, in fact, a mistake. It is also rather unfortunate hypocrisy.
MORE ON NORWAY TERROR ATTACKS
Jeffrey Goldberg: On Suspecting Al Qaeda in the Norway Attacks
James Fallows: A Norwegian View on the 'Mutation of Jihad'
Jeffrey Goldberg: Mumbai Comes to Norway
Steve Clemons: Jennifer Rubin's Fear Mongering
Jeffrey Goldberg is absolutely right to push back on the clutched-pearls reaction by several writers here at The Atlantic who complained the world was too quick to assume al-Qaeda was behind the vicious acts of Norwegian terrorism.
Before we knew what was going on, the attacks did seem to show the hallmarks of its particular brand of Islamist terrorism. Even well-known Internet forum trawlers like Evan Kohlmann were quoted by respectable publications (not just right-wing bloggers at the Washington Post!) as noting some jihadi groups claimed responsibility for the attacks. My friend Will McCants, who also noted the claim of jihadi responsibility -- then carefully walked back that assessment as new information emerged -- was nevertheless hammered for "Muslim fear mongering."