Before I begin, you should hear from the purple-mounted champion of truthiness, who speaks about the media's response to the crisis in Norway far more star-spangledly than I could.
Just because Norway's confessed murderer is a blond, blue-eyed, Norwegian-born, anti-Muslim crusader doesn't mean he's not a swarthy, ululating madman. ~ Stephen Colbert
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Norwegian Muslish Gunman's Islam-Esque Atrocity|
You know what it reminded me of? The liberal media's rush to blame political conservatives and Sarah Palin for the Tuscon shooting of 19 people including congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Didn't expect me to go there, now did you? The alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, wasn't a particularly conservative fellow; while he did hate many politicians, he seemed to hate them at random, regardless of their political leanings. He was not known to be a Fox News junkie nor a Palin fan; he seems to be just your friendly neighborhood psychopath.
In defense of both the Al Qaeda blamers and the Palin haters, this is as much the consequence of the 24-hour media medium as it is the individuals. TV audiences don't tune in to hear "We don't know who did it," they tune in to hear their favorite pundits editorialize and blame whomever their favorite pundits happen to hate at the moment. The fact that the 24-hour news media exists, and that there's a great deal of competition in the field, means that journalists who are a part of it are going to have to make stuff up to fill air time. I'm not saying that's right, I'm not saying that the kind of "journalists" who would participate in this circus aren't a bunch of nattering douchemongers, I'm just saying. (Douchemonger, which I picked up somewhere on these here Internets, is a pretty silly word. Douche is French for shower and monger means tradesman, so a douchemonger would be a purveyor of showers, which isn't really a bad thing to be. But I digress as usual).
Anyway, all this got me thinking about blame. Blame descends, according to my friends over at the Online Etymology Dictionary, comes from Old French blasmer, which is etymologically related to blasphemy, which is kind of appropriate in light of what I'm going to say.
I was thinking that maybe blame is a more dangerous phenomenon than even hate (which is distantly descended from the old Greek kedos, for sorrow, a far more harmless thing).
Jews during the middle ages were less impacted by the black death than others. This was largely because the Jews tended to observe biblical law when it came to cleanliness, and it was the filth and squalor in which the goyim were living at the time (goy comes from the Hebrew word nation, oddly enough) that made their towns so hospitable to plague. But the non-Jews, not knowing about things like hygiene and such, thought that the Jews were spared because the Jews had caused the plague. Jews had been hated in Europe since time out of mind, but when people started blaming them for their misery, they began slaughtering them en masse.
Same thing happened during the Holocaust (a term which once meant burnt offering). Jews were hated, reviled in Germany, but it wasn't until people began to blame them, with Hitler's influence, for the economic crisis in Germany at the time that they all really got on board with the whole ethnic cleansing thing.
Jared Lee Loughner seemed to blame, based on a Myspace post, the illiterate, the war, and some school bully for his behavior. And seriously, who still uses Myspace? That should have been our first sign.
Anders Behring Breivik, alleged perpetrator of the Norway massacre, apparently blamed Islam for his actions. Jim David Adkisson opened fire in a Unitarian Universalist church in 2008 because he blamed gay people for the fact that he couldn't find a job, and the UUs were harboring gays. Seung-Hui Cho, who perpetrated the massacre at Virginia Tech apparently did so because he blamed rich kids for his problems.
Noticing a pattern? Killers don't seem to kill just because they hate, they seem to kill because they blame. This worries me given how much blaming goes on in American news and politics. Pat Robertson blames the gays for everything from terror attacks to natural disaster; liberals blame the NRA whenever someone opens fire in a school; the Democrats and Republicans are now stridently blaming each other for a financial crisis that hasn't even happened yet. How are we supposed to avoid crisis if we're too busy blaming each other to do it?
I blame the gays.