Monday, August 01, 2011

Commentary Without Class

It is almost beyond comprehension that the blowhards who pass for
political commentators in this day and age could not let the recent
Norwegian tragedy pass without making tasteless and asinine remarks.

I speak in this instance of Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly, the
Tweedledee and Tweedledum of punditry for whom nothing is quite as it

Here is Beck’s take on the carnage in Norway, in which a crazed
gunman on a delusional anti-Muslim mission set off a bomb in downtown
Oslo, then hunted down and killed 68 youths at a camp run by the
country’s Labor Party:

"There was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little
like, you know, the Hitler youth. I mean, who does a camp for kids
that's all about politics? Disturbing."

Not as disturbing, of course, as his insensitivity. And, as it turns
out, his hypocrisy.

To answer his question, who does a camp for kids about politics?
Well, for one, conservative columnist Jeff Lukens holds one in Tampa,
Fla. And guess what? It’s based on Beck’s very own 9/12 Project and
aligned with the “Tea Party” values that Beck espouses.

Then there is Camp USA for middle school students which advertises
itself as a bi-partisan tour of the political world to inspire
participants to become more informed, engaged citizens.

There are countless others that embrace many philosophies.

But let’s for a moment assume Beck forgot there is a political camp
for kids based on his own world view and turn to the issue of Norway
and the Nazis.

Norway was invaded by Hitler’s armies in 1940 and occupied for the
next five years. During that time, starvation was not unknown and
thousands of Norwegians were shipped to concentration camps or killed
outright. Many more fled the country and became refugees.

Against this background, Beck has the audacity to suggest Norway is
running youth camps inspired by the Nazis.

Torbjørn Eriksen, a former press secretary to Jens Stoltenberg,
Norway's prime minister, told London’s Daily Telegraph: "Young
political activists have gathered at Utøya (where the shootings took
place) for over 60 years to learn about and be part of democracy, the
very opposite of what the Hitler Youth was about. Glenn Beck's
comments are ignorant, incorrect and extremely hurtful."

It’s hard to imagine Beck could stoop lower.

Bill O’Reilly, meanwhile, was admonishing the media for describing
Anders Behring-Breivik, the admitted shooter, as a “Christian

"No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder," he said. "The man
might have called himself a Christian on the net, but he is certainly
not of that faith...we can find no evidence, none, that this killer
practiced Christianity in any way."

He said that the reason the media was calling Breivik a Christian was
because "the Left wants you to believe that fundamentalist Christians
are a threat just like crazy jihadists are."

In fact, the police described him as a Christian as did Breivik
himself. He wrote that he does not have a "personal," religious
relationship with Christ (but) believes in Christianity "as a
cultural, social, identity and moral platform," which he says "makes
me Christian."

We’re in murky waters here. It is not unusual for extremists to wrap
themselves in the cloak of religion to justify their actions.

Breivik did it. So did Osama bin Laden. But whether or not they were
true believers is known only to God, not Bill O’Reilly.

And to suggest that “no one believing in Jesus commits mass murder”
is absurd on its face. History is full atrocities committed by
Christians from the Crusades to the Inquisition to the witch hunts in
Europe and the New World. All conducted in the name of Jesus Christ.

While O’Reilly’s contends there is a move to paint fundamentalist
Christians as dangerous, there is plenty of evidence to suggest there
are reasons for concern.

A group called the Army of God has been targeting abortion clinics,
doctors and homosexuals for the last 25 years. The motive for
anti-abortionist Scott Roeder to murder Wichita doctor George Tiller
was a belief that abortion is criminal and immoral, and that this
belief went "hand in hand" with his religious beliefs.

Hutaree, a Christian militia group based in Adrian, Mich., had nine
of its members indicted on charges of seditious conspiracy to use of
improvised explosive devices, teaching the use of explosive
materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence.

Perhaps these two gentlemen should forgo trying to politicize a
tragedy whose root cause is madness.

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