On Friday, I included The Atlantic in a list of sources that “ran with the unsubstantiated Muslim-terrorist angle” immediately after the attacks in Norway. I was referring to a they-hate-us-for-our-freedoms piece about an alleged 2010 plot by three Muslims against Norwegian targets. In my haste, I overlooked the July 2010 dateline and wrote as if the article were newly issued background on a pattern of unprovoked Muslim hostility toward peaceful Norway. That was sloppy of me, and I corrected my post to note the error.
But it turns out that The Atlantic did re-post the year-old piece Friday as background on a pattern of unprovoked Muslim hostility toward peaceful Norway. The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg explains:
The question arises, then, why did Jennifer Rubin make this outrageous assertion about jihadism and Norway?
Well, perhaps it was because she was reading the Atlantic. Shortly after the bombing in Oslo, the Atlantic re-posted on its home page a very interesting piece from last year by Thomas Hegghammer and Dominic Tierney entitled “Why Does al Qaeda Have a Problem With Norway?” …
So it would have been possible, from reading The Atlantic alone, to suspect al Qaeda involvement in the Norway attacks. I myself suspected this, and wrote so.
Boy, did he. In a post subtly titled “Mumbai Comes to Norway” — we know what sort of people blow up buildings in Mumbai, right? — Goldberg let his extraordinarily active imagination loose on the situation, even working in a plug for his beloved Iraq War. Goldberg was sure to include an escape hatch, thus proving that he’s smarter than Will Saletan and Dave Weigel, but it’s a doozy:
Of course, this could [be] an act of right-wing extremism, perhaps in reaction to the rise of radical Islamism in Europe. I’m as confused as the rest of you are about the authorship of these attacks. There have been early claims of responsibility by jihadist groups, followed by denials, followed by reports that a blonde “Nordic-looking” man was the one who opened fire on the youth camp. Was this “Nordic-looking” man an Adam Gadahn-type, or someone not motivated by jihadist ideology? Stay tuned.
In other words, at the time Goldberg composed the post, before he added any updates, he already knew that the only reported suspect was not your stereotypical al-Qaeda operative. Yet Goldberg charged ahead anyway, asserting that the killer was probably inspired by radical Islam one way or the other. Look at that first line again: “Of course, this could [be] an act of right-wing extremism, perhaps in reaction to the rise of radical Islamism in Europe.” Not “perhaps in reaction to the very presence of Muslims in Norway” or “perhaps in reaction to the Jared-Loughner-esque voices in some loon’s head.” No, our misguided young Aryan must have been driven to madness by THE RADICAL ISLAMS!!!!!
I believe we’ve just witnessed the birth of a new Twinkie defense.
UPDATE: I expected some competition for stupidest response to this post, but I think I can go ahead and declare a victor. Goldberg had no evidence that the attacks were undertaken by Islamists of any race or ethnicity, there was nothing particularly Islamist about the choice of targets (no synagogue or church or even military base), and there were reports that a “Nordic” guy (who could have been Muslim, of course, but there was no evidence of that) was responsible — and Goldberg still decided to ride the Clash of Civilizations Express. Obvious conclusion: Goldberg is credible and I’m a racist. Well, I’ve learned my lesson: from now on, my default assumption whenever a mass murder takes place will be that the perpetrator is a Muslim (or suffering from Muslim panic).