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 these writers responsible for every nutcase that picks up their books and goes on the rampage is another matter entirely. Neither of these men 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 analysis but let’s imagine for a minute that they are right. If they are, then surely they 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. They should take a look at their own writings and ask themselves if they haven’t been pouring fuel on the fire of Muslim grievances. After all, it seems to me that the link between their writing and Michael Adebolajo’s alleged grievances is more direct than the one between Harris and Steyn’s writings and Anders Breivik’s murders.
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 men like Michael Adebolajo feel understandably aggrieved because of western interference in Muslims lands. They suggest that western powers 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 Muslim terrorists who are justifiably angry. 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 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, is nothing like the hotbed of hate and prejudice depicted by some blinkered Muslims and their enablers.
Progressive writers and broadcasters imply, and sometimes state outright, that what Muslim terrorists do is bad but also 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 of how they were bad but understandable when viewed in a certain light.
Maybe progressive liberal writers need to take a look at themselves and ask whether they haven’t given succour to Muslim murderers by giving too much credit to Muslim grievances. 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.