Anti-Islam Bloggers: Collective Blame Suddenly Wrong

My post at Greg's today is about right-wing anti-Islam bloggers suddenly discovering the evil of collective blame:

Pamela Geller, who along with Professional Islamophobe Robert Spencer has been active in opposing the construction of mosques in the U.S., wrote: “This is just a sinister attempt to tar all anti-jihadists with responsibility for this man’s heinous actions.” Spencer, for his part, wrote: “as if killing a lot of children aids the defense against the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, or has anything remotely to do with anything we have ever advocated.”

Most of Geller and Spencer’s blogging consists of attempts to tar all Muslims with the responsibility for terrorism. At CPAC last year, Geller and Spencer drew a large crowd for their documentary referring to the proposed community center near Ground Zero as “the second wave of the 9/11 attacks.” Yet they’re now pleading for the world not to do what they’ve spent their careers doing — assigning collective blame for an act of terror through guilt-by-association. What’s clear is that they understand that the principle of collective responsibility is a monstrous wrong in the abstract, or at least when it’s applied to them. They are now begging for the kind of tolerance and understanding they cheerfully refuse to grant to American Muslims.

These bloggers are not directly responsible for the actions of Anders Behring Breivik. But make no mistake: Their school of analysis, which puts the blame on all Muslims for acts of terrorism perpetrated by Islamic extremists, has been fully discredited — by their own reaction to the Oslo attacks. While it’s obvious that few if any of them will take this lesson to heart, the rest of us should — terrorist acts are committed by individuals, and it is those individuals who should be held responsible.

Then there are those chiding liberals for “celebrating” the fact that Breivik was not a Muslim. Commentary’s Jonathan Podhoretz complained that the “anti-Zionist” left was celebrating “the fact that the killer was not an Islamist,” and that “one can only say that it is very strange and very sad to see what gives some activists pleasure” may have missed those on his own side joking about “Lutherans” being responsible for the attack, because in their mind only Muslims commit acts of terrorism. Of course, the vast majority of terrorist attacks in Europe are conducted by nationalists and separatists, not Muslims.

Anyway, the accusations of "celebration" are hard to take seriously, especially given that conservatives seem deeply disappointed that they won't get to spend the next couple of weeks exploiting the Oslo attacks to hammer Obama over federal trials and closing Gitmo, the way they have in the aftermath of every other attack. If the attacker had been a Muslim, every liberal and Muslim on the planet would have been responsible, the president would have "blood on his hands" for not taking the Islamofascist threat seriously. Instead many of them feel sorry for themselves, having been deprived of what seemed like a ripe opportunity for demagoguery. 

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