Naming Terrorism

As you probably heard, two weeks ago, a guy named Rodrick Dantzler went on a killing spree here in Grand Rapids, shooting his wife and her family, and an ex-girlfriend and her family. He was reportedly bipolar and had a history of violence; four women–none of them among his victims–had gotten protection orders against him. He might fit the profile of a “family annihilator.” But even in spite of his criminal record, no one intervened to prevent the murders.

He terrorized this city. But he was not a terrorist.

I raise Dantzler not because the murders he committed–reportedly the worst attack ever in this city–equate with those committed in Norway, but because of the crazy talk about terrorism in response to the Norway attack–first, the rush to label the attack Islamic terrorism, and now the escalating ignorance in an effort to excuse such bigotry (this beaut is from Erick Erickson)…

First, those of us on the right who point out the now fairly common ties between terrorists and Islam do so largely because the secular left has become willfully naive. The fact of the matter is violence and Islam may not be very common among American muslims, but internationally it is extremely common and can fairly well be considered mainstream within much of Islam. Read Andy McCarthy if you suffer on the delusion that it is not mainstream.

With Christians, it is rather rare to see a self-described Christian engage in heinous terrorist acts. In fact, in as much as there is an Arab Street filled with muslims more often than not cheering on the latest terrorist act of radical Islamists, you will be very hard pressed to find a Christian who does not condemn the act regardless of the faith of the person doing the killing.

But then why is the left so gleeful that the Norwegian is a “conservative Christian” and why do they feel it so necessary to rub it in when they’re downright apathetic and hostile to the notion of radical Islam being rather mainstream within Islam when terrorist Christianity is largely nonexistent except among a few crazies?

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Bible is quite on point about this.

Secular leftists and Islamists are both of this world. Christians may be traveling through, but we are most definitely not of the world. In fact, Christ commands us to throw off our ties to this world. But the things of this world love this world and hate the things of God. That’s why secular leftism can embrace both activist homosexuals and activist muslims when the latter would, when true to their faith, be happy to kill the former.

And frankly, the urge to dig up analysis of a rising right wing terrorist threat–particularly analysis that sees terrorism as a big process of action and reaction–in Europe is not much better.

A report by European police agency Europol on security in 2010 said that there was no right-wing terrorism on the continent in that period.

But it added the far right was becoming very professional at producing online propaganda of an anti-Semitic and xenophobic nature and was increasingly active in online social networking.

“Although the overall threat from right-wing extremism appears to be on the wane and the numbers of right-wing extremist criminal offences are relatively low, the professionalism in their propaganda and organization shows that right-wing extremist groups have the will to enlarge and spread their ideology and still pose a threat in EU member states,” it said.

If the unrest in the Arab world, especially in North Africa, leads to a major influx of immigrants into Europe, “right-wing extremism and terrorism might gain a new lease of life by articulating more widespread public apprehension about immigration from Muslim countries into Europe,” it added.

Public manifestations of right-wing extremism can often provoke counter-activity by extreme left-wing groups. Such confrontations invariably result in physical violence.

That’s not to say we should ignore the networks of people organizing to commit violence, whether they’re Muslim, Christian, or something else (though we’re less likely to be surprised if we don’t always try to classify it according to the ideology feeding it). It’s to say that you don’t need terrorism per se to kill a lot of people. You need a gun, or some fertilizer, or some beauty products.

When our first reaction after a person commits such atrocity is to try to label the ideology of it, we seem to miss the underlying commonality that people often respond to threats to their own dignity with violence, and that in this world, it’s fairly easy for that violence to turn massive.

31 replies
  1. matthew carmody says:

    Yeah, the brand of Christians this guy is referring to are traveling through the world hoovering up every fucking penny they can get their hands on, fuck the poor and defenseless who get in their way.

  2. JTMinIA says:

    What I am patiently waiting for is the following double-standard: while it is Muslims’ fault that, by immigrating to Europe and not integrating with European society, this Norwegian nutjob went on a killing spree (against people who don’t seem to understand how scary Muslims are), it is not our fault that, by being in the Middle East and generally being obnoxious and bossy, Al Qaeda attacked us on 9/11. What I predict is that, as soon as someone notable does blame European Muslims for the Norway event and then someone else makes the link to 9/11, there will be a huge backlash against the latter person on the grounds that they clearly hate America.

  3. Hmmm says:

    This is a very thoughtful piece, Marcy. Thanks for it.

    I’m still trying to reconcile the scope of the casualties with the idea there was only one person acting. So yes, before even knowing with certainty who all the actors were, ascribing a specific ideology to the acts seems like something’s off. Maybe that’s opportunism on the ascribes’ part, or maybe just bad psychology. (It’s remarkable how often those two threads coincide.)

    And of course it’s not unknown for a volatile person of ideology X to be provoked into violence by a person of a totally different ideology Y, so long as the outcome furthers both their causes. A “who-all is crazy enough to think they’d benefit?” analysis might be a sensible alternative for thinking about this awful, awful event.

    All that said, mass violence against political targets sure seems to meet the threshold definition of terrorism.

  4. emptywheel says:


    Oh, I’m not saying this isn’t terrorism. It is.

    And to the extent political goals provide the motive for the attack, we need to understand the killer(s)’ ideology (there are reports there may have been a second man at Utoya).

    But I just think the urge to label it as one ideology or another to be odd–as Erickson makes clear, one that involves attacking teh dignity of others and perpetuating the problem.

  5. Katie Jensen says:

    The Spiral Dance of Death begins with judgments treated as facts. Next comes invalidation of accountability related to the violence, in the guise of minimize, (it ain’t no big deal) deny (never happened), and or blame (I had to do it, you made me). These two components are present in every act of violence. Even if it’s a “just” war…that idea is a judgment. Even if we kill a serial killer someone makes the judgment that we “should” or that it’s “okay” or that the consequences to society for killing a serial killer are positive. These are not questioned, they are treated as fact. We do not accept the reality that we do not fully understand the consequences of violence on society. We cannot prove or disprove them. We don’t know if capital punishment is a “good” thing or a “bad” thing, yet we murder “as if” it is good. We do the same with war…and to a lesser degree we do the same in our families. This type of thinking can occur on the left or the right. When taken to extreme, it is in essence these cognitive distortions that lend themselves to violence.

  6. Gitcheegumee says:

    WHOA,in what parallel universe is Erik Eriksen operating in?

    The mention of conservative Christian and Norway rang a couple of distant bells for me.

    One: The Fellowship,aka,the Family,aka
    “C: Street gang has its roots in Norway. We all know the depth and breadth of this groups political influence,bith domestically and abroad, over the past 50 years or so.

    I would be curious if this attacker had any possible affiliation with this group. The Family ascribe to Christian Dominionist theology.

    Two:Karl Rove, a Norwegian American, is also a member of the Family.I am a bit fuzzy on this,but didn’t Rove interject himself to some degree into Norwegian politics not long ago…or was that Iceland?

    (For the record,in no way do I wish to impugn ANYONE from Norway or of Norwegian descent.)

  7. Gitcheegumee says:

    The Roots of the Fellowship

    The roots of the Fellowship go back to the 1930s and a Norwegian immigrant and Methodist minister named Abraham Vereide. According to Fellowship archives maintained at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College in Illinois, Vereide, who immigrated from Norway in 1905, began an outreach ministry in Seattle in April 1935. A loose organization and secrecy were paramount for Vereide. Fellowship archives state that Vereide wanted his movement to “carry out its objective through personal, trusting, informal, unpublicized contact between people.”

  8. Gitcheegumee says:

    EXPOSÉ: THE “CHRISTIAN” – CachedSimilar
    The term “Christian Mafia” is what several Washington politicians have termed the major conspirators and it is not intended to debase Christians or infer …

    ►Inside the “Christian Mafia”—By Scott Horton (Harper’s Magazine) – CachedJul 16, 2009 – They proudly call themselves the “Christian Mafia.” With the political careers of two high-profile members, Mark Sanford and John Ensign, …

  9. scribe says:

    You note:

    “Two:Karl Rove, a Norwegian American, is also a member of the Family.I am a bit fuzzy on this,but didn’t Rove interject himself to some degree into Norwegian politics not long ago…or was that Iceland?”

    AFAIK, he’s only stuck his porcine snout into Swedish politics, though that’s a relatively long-standing thing. He’s reportedly close to the present Swedish PM and there have been allegations that his hand is the one up the Swedish PM’s ass, moving his arms, legs and mouth relative to the permanent government’s rampage after Assange and wikileaks.

    Though I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s also tangled up in Norse politics, the historical antipathy between Swedes and Norwegians still does exist.

  10. Anderson says:

    The scary thing about Erickson’s gibberish is, it sounds just like what this Norway murderer was prone to say. Damn leftists just can’t grasp the Muslim menace, etc.

    Let’s hope EE sticks to blogging.

  11. rosalind says:

    speaking of kkkarl, i have it on very good authority he is currently aboard a cruise ship off the coast of Scotland that is getting tossed arse over teakettle in the turbulent seas, and most the passengers are below puking their guts out.

    the mental image of karl in such a repose makes me very happy.

    as for my source, i haven’t decided if i want to offer him/her fifty bucks to sneak up behind him in the shuffleboard line and whisper “she was covert!!!”, or take a quick snap of whomever his traveling companion is.

    decisions, decisions…

  12. P J Evans says:

    a killing spree (against people who don’t seem to understand how scary Muslims are)

    I could do without the parenthetical there. It’s unfair to both the victims in Norway and 99.9 percent of Muslims.

  13. jo6pac says:

    rosalind I’m in for $10.00

    To go all tin foil hatty to me the people that could gain in this in the long run would be Israel since Norway believes the Palatines should be free to have their own state. Mossad operates around the world as New Zealand just found out again.

  14. P J Evans says:

    jo6pac, I think you mean the Palestinians. The Palatines are a completely different group, and haven’t been wanting their own state (AFAIK).

  15. DWBartoo says:

    Superb post, EW.

    Agreeing with cregan @14, the last paragraph was especially powerful and moving in its grasp and appreciation of common humanity.

    I second bmaz @13, Rosalind!


  16. The Heretik says:

    Read Andy McCarthy if you suffer on the delusion that it is not mainstream. Sorry, no thanks. Terrorism, jihad, blah, blah, scare, scare, is McCarthy’s stock in trade. The former federal prosecutor would hardly speak a peep if not to warn us. And make a buck. zZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

  17. P J Evans says:

    JTMinIA, you might want to not forget your snark tags, then. Because I’ve seen, elsewhere, way too many intended comments on this that read just like that.

  18. Gitcheegumee says:

    scribe @ 3:26 pm

    Thank you for your reply. And the basis for historical animosity between the Swede and Norwegians is further expounded upon,along with some very interesting commentary from readers.Most informative:

    Bjørn Stærk blog – Rove’s grudge against – CachedSimilar
    Apr 27, 2004 – VG has published the excerpt I was looking for about Karl Rove’s obsession with …. The non-politic average Norwegian citizen (below 50? …

  19. Gitcheegumee says:

    From the upthread ,linked article “Expose: Christian Mafia”:

    The Fellowship’s influence in Vereide’s native country of Norway was revealed in late 2004 when the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet exposed Norway’s Lutheran minister and Christian Democratic Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik as a secret member of the Fellowship. Although Bondevik at first downplayed his role in the Fellowship, Bondevik later was forced to admit that in December 2001 he met at a dinner at the Cedars with then-Attorney General Ashcroft and that the meeting involved his official role as Prime Minister. Apparently, Bondevik and Ashcroft discussed the U.S. military tribunals. Ashcroft referred to Bondevik as his “brother in Christ” and he serenaded Bondevik Norwegian folk songs after dinner. Bondevik had previously argued that his involvement with the Fellowship was a personal matter.

  20. Gitcheegumee says:


    In addition, it was revealed that Norway’s ambassador to the United States, Knut Vollebuk, was a frequent visitor to the Cedars* as were a number of members of Norway’s Christian Democratic Party. As the scandal deepened, Coe’s involvement in Norwegian politics came to the fore. Torkel Brekke, a Norwegian religious researcher, revealed in his book Gud i norsk politkk (God in Norwegian Politics) that Coe provided advice and money to Christian Democrat politician Lars Rise.

    During a campaign in 1997, Coe told Rise to target voters in the heavily Muslim eastern part of Oslo. Coe emphasized that Christians and Muslims shared common views on the evils of pornography, alcohol, abortion, and same sex marriages. For Rise, the strategy was successful although a subsequent election saw him dropped as a Christian Democratic candidate. The Coe-Rise affair points to the alliance the Fellowship has formed over the years with Muslims, particularly more radical Islamists. For example, in 1988, the first Muslim, Saudi Prince Bandar, spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast.

    Norway’s opposition political leaders, from the right to the left, demanded an explanation from Bondevik about the role of the Fellowship in Norwegian politics. Socialist Left leader Kristin Halvorsen told the Oslo daily Aftenposten, “seen with Norwegian eyes, this is a reactionary association.” The Labor Party and right-wing Progress Party also raised concerns about Bondevik and the Fellowship. For many Norwegians, Bondevik was tied with George W. Bush through a secret and right-wing fundamentalist group.

    *The Cedars is a mansion in Arlington,Virginia owned the the Fellwoship.

  21. Gitcheegumee says:

    Lawyer: Norway suspect wanted anti-Muslim crusade
    Source: AP


    OSLO, Norway (AP) – The man blamed for attacks on Norway’s government headquarters and a youth retreat that left at least 92 dead said he was motivated by a desire to bring about a revolution in Norwegian society, his lawyer said Sunday. A manifesto that he is believed to have written ranted against Muslim immigration to Europe and vowed revenge on “indigenous Europeans” who he accused of betraying their heritage.

    Although lawyer for the 32-year-old Norwegian suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, said his client acted alone, police conducted raids on a garage and sheds in an industrial neighborhood of eastern Oslo, said police officer Kjell Bjerklund.

    Survivors of the mass shooting on Utoya island that killed at least 85 young people reported seeing two assailants, and police have said they were looking into those accounts and had not ruled out a second suspect. Another seven people were killed in Friday’s bombing in an Oslo government building.

    In all, 92 people were killed and 97 wounded. There are still people missing at both scenes. Six hearses pulled up at the shore of the lake surrounding the island on Sunday, as rescuers on boats continued to search for bodies in the water. Body parts remain inside the Oslo building, which housed the prime minister’s office.

    Read more:

  22. Gitcheegumee says:

    Norway Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store Support Palestinian State ……/report-norway-fm-called-for-palestinian-state-… – Cached18 hours ago :
    World Report: Norway FM Called for Palestinian State At Youth Camp ….. and Palestine and the UN vote in Sept for palestinian statehood. …

    NOTE: The Youth camp was AUF-a young socialists group with affiliations to the Labor Party in Norway.Norway has been reported set to vote in favor of recognzing Palestinian statehood at an upcoming UN vote this September. Very informative piece.

  23. joberly says:

    EW–this is the first I have heard of the Danztler killings in Grand Rapids and I try to follow Mich. events from afar. How horrible. And how telling that we have so many sprees or rampages or whatever we call them in this country that such an event goes unreported outside the immediate area. Listening to baseball on the radio this afternoon, I was reminded of another such mass murder in the US when I heard a clip from Pat Gillick’s induction speech at the Baseball Hall of Fame this afternoon–he thanked Dallas Green, with whom he worked for the Phillies…and then I remembered the 9-year-old girl who was murdered in Tucson this past January was Dallas Green’s granddaughter.

  24. emptywheel says:


    It got a lot of play that night (IIRC, it was a Friday), because there was a spectacular car chase (it went right by my house–at least 18 cars chasing, plus another 4 heading up to cut the chase off at the pass; Dantzler was even driving a white SUV at that point). He shot someone innocent downtown, and ultimately took 3 hostages (who all got out safely).

    But it is still pretty meaningless according to any ideology.

  25. Mary says:

    @18 I laughed out loud at that, “Read Andy McCarthy if you suffer on the delusion that it is not mainstream.”

    Who knew Erickson was into homeopathy? Read a nutcase who repeatedly baptises himself in the holy water left over from the repreated drownings he venerates in order to cure yourself of the (non-existant) delousion that evil men do evil things.

    Here’s some insight from Christ for Erickson – God will never bless an unrepentant torture nation. Unfortunately, that’s a piece of insight he’ll never got from reading Andy McCarthy.

  26. 1970cs says:

    By assigning blame on the attacker’s ideology, it helps break down the lines of sovereignty and induce drone strikes. Not an abrupt change, but slowly chipping away.

  27. Kim Hanson says:


    Love you link section (and everything else as well) but I am sure I am not alone in wishing I could like to a chunk of your link section, thus including your pithy comments, rather than having to link to the article (s) you have linked to. Hope you can find a solution!

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