However, if you want to understand the attitude of the punditocracy to fascist terrorism, consider the query put by BBC News to the former Norwegian Prime Minister yesterday: "Do you think not enough attention was paid to those unhappy re immigration?" Or, consider this New York Times article blaming the failure of multiculturalism. Or, look at this Atlantic article, which describes such racist terrorism as a "mutation of jihad" - that is "the spread of the 'jihad' mentality to anti-immigrant and racist groups". You begin to get the picture. The idea is to find some way in which all of this is still the fault of Muslim immigrants. The logic will be: the fascists express legitimate grievances, but go too far. Or worse, in their natural outrage, they have allowed themselves to become like them.Let me say what I think is going on here. The move is to externalize evil, that is, to say that this atrocity could not have come from "within" but had to have been inspired from "without". Hence the suggestion that the gunman has either lapsed into "being like them" or has been "infected by the spread of jihad" and so forth. The language of "spread" and "infection" is interesting- it evokes a sense of "Western" purity that is contaminated by the evils of the "Orient". Then there's obstinate insistence, despite what's happened, that the racist thesis that "multiculturalism has failed" is still valid (see here and here). It's as if to say: "yes, this is ugly, but it doesn't refute the basics premises of xenophobic racism". What's most interesting of all, however, is that the media continues to propagate such racist ideologies at the same time that they continue to be baffled as to where the sort of reactionary fascist hate on display in Norway came from. Something similar was true of the coverage terrifying shooting that took place in Arizona months ago.
I've also been struck recently by the air of disbelief expressed in the press: "why would a far-Right, gun-toting fanatic want to kill socialists?", "how could a European have done something like this?". The AP found it to be a "complete mystery". But this naiveté is not just innocent ignorance. It is political distortion that derives from a distorted view of the world. Countless examples (Oklahoma City, Tuscon shooting, Greensboro Massacre, Chattanooga shooting, etc.) of "homegrown" right-wing terrorism cast doubt on the validity of this manufactured disbelief.
Marcuse's idea of "repressive tolerance" is also worth invoking here. When the media isn't busy stirring up islamophobia, survivalism and orientalist hysteria, it's putting forward the claim that the far-Right deserves to be "tolerated" and heard just like everyone else. This is non-sense. Fascists aren't just "polarizing" figures who have a "different" flavor of opinions in the "food-court/marketplace of ideas"... they are a violent, racist force that corrodes the very possibility of having a just society, of living with each other terms of equality and respect. To tolerate such hate is to be complicit in its capacity to oppress marginalized groups.