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When the world doesn't make sense
26 July 2011, 12:23 PM | Source: Matt Hall, SBS
Or maybe we could discuss the moral collapse of an empirical media empire and the public humiliation of its management.
Or, there’s the absolute inability of American politicians to agree on anything at all but especially how to fend off an impending deadline to repay a few trillion dollars of debt.
Or for some light relief, we can yell for an Australian who this year rode a bicycle around France faster than anyone else and, thus, lived out a boyhood dream.
Or we can talk about a man in Norway who detonated a car bomb and then shot to death (at last count) 92 people who until that point were enjoying a sunny island summer camp – all because he thought his world (or at least Europe) was in peril from people from far off lands.
Infamously, some early media reports of Anders Behring Breivik’s terrible actions ascribed them to radical Islamist terror organisations. It’s easier that way.
Until, of course, it was revealed that a white, European, conservative Christian had pushed the button and pulled the trigger.
Things got more complicated when Breivik’s manifesto, a pseudo-academic tome of over 1500 pages, was made public. You can read it, with caution, here.
It’s weirdly compelling reading that shows Breivik is/was an angry man highly influenced by, according to a New York Times report, anti-Muslim rhetoric from American bloggers and writers.
Such a claim does not go unnoticed and so it was that Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch website received much attention after Breivik quoted much from Spencer’s website.
Spencer responded to a Norwegian journalist’s enquiry by writing: “If I was indeed an inspiration for his work, I feel the way the Beatles must have felt when they learned that Charles Manson had committed murder after being inspired by messages he thought he heard in their song lyrics. There were no such messages. Nor is there, for any sane person, any inspiration for harming anyone in my work, which has been consistently dedicated to defending human rights for all people.”
But there is power in published words and websites like Jihad Watch do wield influence (otherwise, why publish them?). Freedom of speech?
“This rhetoric is not cost-free,” Marc Sageman, a former C.I.A. officer and a consultant on terrorism, told the New York Times.
Writing in The Guardian, Norwegian writer Thomas Hylland Eriksen suggested that rather than being overwhelmed by too much cultural diversity, Breivik’s mental demise came from a tunnel vision fine-tuned by Internet opinions he actively pursued.
Or perhaps we can talk about the weather. It has, by the way, been very hot in New York over the past week, as this subway brawl captured on a cell phone aptly demonstrates.