Curb the Hate Mongers, For All Our Sakes

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The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

Curb the Hate Mongers, For All Our Sakes

The gunfire in Norway had barely died away before the usual right-wing media pontiffs were rushing to shout that your Islamic terrorists were up to their evil worst again.

When it became quickly apparent that Anders Behring Breivik was a blue-eyed Norseman and, indeed, a professed Christian, the story changed. The killer was now a lone madman. Shocking business, of course, but perhaps understandable. Glenn Beck, the large lump of talking whale blubber who broadcasts on Rupert Murdoch's American Fox News channel, explained to his audience that the gathering on Utoya Island sounded "a little like the Hitler Youth".

"Who does a camp for kids that's all about politics? Disturbing," he babbled.

That apart, there was consensus among the rightists that Breivik had nothing to do with them; a self-serving delusion, if ever there was.

The man might well be insane, as his lawyer claims, but he was not stupid. Nor ignorant. His 1500-page diatribe, grandly titled "A European Declaration of Independence'', written in literate English and emailed to right-wing hate groups around the world, appears to have been a closely argued thesis demanding the extermination of Islam, multiculturalism and Marxism. It was studded with quotations from heroes of the political right including - astoundingly - our very own John Howard, Peter Costello, Cardinal George Pell and the Sydney Marxist-turned-High Tory academic, Keith Windschuttle. Breivik had done his reading.

His words and actions were a seamless, linear progression of right-wing rage and loathing. At one end, you start with the anger and paranoia fomented by rightist politicians, demagogues and commentators for their own cynical political ends, the bigotry and racism that is daily grist to the talkback radio mill.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

At the other end is a clear-eyed fanatic with tonnes of fertilizer, automatic weapons and an ubermensch mission to save the world. The dots join up.

Mike Carlton

Mike Carlton is an Australian media commentator and broadcaster.

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