As I have watched the news stories come out of Norway they are speaking over and over again about the extremism of Anders Behring Breivik who is responsible for murdering over 90 people. The damage and death toll with the bomb was seven. At the summer camp 85 children and youth were murdered in cold blood. Early reports are saying he is a right winged extremist who wanted to destroy government buildings and kill people in the Labor Party in the city, and he murdered the children and youth at the summer camp as this was a camp sponsored by the Labor Party.
His ideology is really of little consequence to me. I know nothing about politics in Norway and his disagreements are not fodder for discussion now. He murdered at least 92 people and that’s all that really matters.
When Timothy McVeigh murdered so many people in Oklahoma City he was also referred to as a right winged extremist. Again, ultimately, his ideology was not fodder for discussion. He was a murderer and died for his crimes in 2001. Even people like me, who really disagrees with the death penalty, could muster little opposition to his death. He was, in so many ways, a walking argument for the death penalty.
Something was striking about McVeigh when they captured him. I don’t know if this will be true about Breivik, but it sounds like it might be. McVeigh was not crazy. He was a true believer in his cause and believed that people had to die and a violent war had to be waged. He saw himself as a soldier for what was right. The fact that he chose to make war on innocent people made little difference to him. His extreme views were, in his mind, principles that allowed him, even compelled him to commit violence.
Over the years these people have come out of the woodwork and committed grave acts of violence. There have been left winged extremists who have killed and right winged extremists who have killed. And, over the years, many have attempted to justify the actions because they are for the ‘cause,’ and there were issues...
The actions of McVeigh and Breivik are much like the acts of the people who bombed the World Trade Center or put road side bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc. We call those people terrorists. And they are. But so people like McVeigh and Breivik. There is no cause that justifies acts of terrorism. None.
We need to stop referring to these people extremists. It gives others an idea that these people are justified. They are not justified. We all know that. We all accept that. No matter how fervent people may be about their political beliefs, it is a very, very rare individual who is willing to kill others to put their view forward. For this we can be thankful.
But frankly, we need to stop calling these terrorists extremists. Their ‘extreme’ views are of little consequence. And act of terror is an act of terror and it should be called for what it is.