When Anders Breivik murdered 69 young Norwegian politicians, several leftist commentators pointed righteous fingers at writers like Sam Harris and Mark Steyn and accused them of influencing Breivik’s thinking with their anti-Islamic writings.
Harris and Steyn have indeed been critical of Islam, as any civilised and brave person should be. Whether criticising Islam makes them complicit in the actions of every nutcase that picks up their books is another matter entirely. Neither Harris nor Steyn advocates murdering young Norwegian politicians, nor Muslims, nor anyone else.
Yet these finger-pointers are convinced that Steyn and Harris are responsible for their readers’ actions. I disagree with this but let’s imagine for a minute that they are right. If they are, then surely the finger-pointers themselves will want to do some soul-searching in the wake of 9/11, the London Bombings, the Madrid Bombings, the Boston Marathon bombing and Lee Rigby’s murder since their own writings may have poured fuel onto the fire of Muslim and black grievances.
Just take a look at how these progressives equivocate about the reasonableness of Islamic terrorists’ motivations. While Steyn and Harris reject outright the awfulness of Breivik’s thinking, apologists for Islamist terror, once they have performed the usual throat-clearing about how nothing excuses violence, go on to suggest that it’s understandable that Michael Adebolajo felt aggrieved about western interference in Muslims lands. The conclusion seems to be that westerners shouldn’t be surprised when chickens come home to roost.
On this view, both America and Britain have only themselves to blame for breeding a generation of angry Muslim terrorists. Progressives go on to list America’s alleged atrocities over the past 70 years and Britain’s supposedly blood-soaked history, leaving readers wondering why even more oppressed people haven’t resorted to suicide bombing. Here is a good example from Australia of the demonisation of a western country that, while not perfect, does not resemble the hotbed of hate and prejudice depicted by some Muslims.
Progressive writers and broadcasters imply, and sometimes state outright, that what Muslim terrorists do is bad yet totally understandable. This insistence on empathising with any Muslim grievance, no matter how delusional, is something that neither Harris nor Steyn indulges in. They reject Breivik’s actions outright and don’t excuse them with prevarications about, how seen in a certain light, they make perfect sense.
So let progressive liberal writers take a look at themselves and ask whether they haven’t given succour to Muslim murderers. If after doing so they feel that their consciences are clear, then I don’t see how they can continue to point fingers at Sam Harris and Mark Steyn.