A sharp-eyed reader pointed to this Wall Street Journal editorial that appeared on the paper’s website around 6 p.m. Friday (and ran in the dead-tree issue):
- REVIEW & OUTLOOK
- JULY 23, 2011
Terror in Oslo
Norway is targeted for being true to Western norms.When cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad appeared in a Danish newspaper in the fall of 2005 and sparked a full-blown jihadist campaign against Denmark, then-Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen responded with a telling remark. “We Danes feel like we have been placed in a scene in the wrong movie,” he told the German newsweekly Der Spiegel. Norwegians thunderstruck by yesterday’s seemingly coordinated terror attacks appear to feel the same way. “Of course I’m scared,” one ferryboat worker told the New York Times, “because Norway is such a neutral country.”
Norway is not, in fact, a neutral country. Though it isn’t a member of the European Union, it is a founding member of NATO. Al Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri has repeatedly singled out Norway in his videotaped messages for “[participating] in the war against the Muslims.” Theories abound about the specific nature of Oslo’s “crime”: the 400 troops it currently deploys to Afghanistan; its house arrest of Mullah Krekar, a founder of the Kurdish terrorist group Ansar al-Islam; the republication of the Danish cartoons in a small Norwegian paper.
Perhaps all that is at work. What it misses is that the explanations furnished by jihadist groups to justify their periodic slaughters of civilians are pretenses, not genuine motives. Norway certainly did not buy itself much grace from the jihadis for staying out of the Iraq war, or for Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s demand that Israel open its borders with Gaza, or for his calls for a Palestinian unity government between Fatah and its terrorist cousin Hamas.
Norway can do all this and more, but in jihadist eyes it will forever remain guilty of being what it is: a liberal nation committed to freedom of speech and conscience, equality between the sexes, representative democracy and every other freedom that still defines the West. For being true to those ideals, Norwegians have now been made to pay a terrible price. They are not in the wrong movie. They are on the right side.
That sharp-eyed reader noted:
They jumped prematurely onto the Islamist angle, although there was no significant evidence at the time connecting it to any jihadists. In fact, at the time I read the editorial, other news outlets had already been reporting that it was a white Norwegian man that had already been arrested on the island.
The WSJ editorial page concludes first, then looks for facts later.
For the record, here’s what’s on the website now. And this is the Journal’s current stance:
At our first deadline reports indicated that the attacks were the work of a jihadist group. Later in the evening evidence emerged that a suspect in the shooting attack on a youth camp was an ethnic Norwegian with no previously known ties to Islamist groups. Coordinated terrorist attacks are an al Qaeda signature. But copycats with different agendas are surely capable of duplicating its methods.
Translation: We might be wrong, but we’re not wrong just yet.