As I’ve begun to notice as typical with Catecinem’s articles, there’s so much that’s interesting and thought-provoking here that I want to quote the article in its entirety. But I’ll just settle for this bit:
Before I go any further, I must issue a disclaimer that, since this story is still unfolding, a lot of the facts have yet to be unearthed, and certain assumptions have been made and will be made that may turn out to be baseless. Whether or not the facts bear out a lot of the things that have been reported is almost irrelevant to the story, though. At this point, the three items I identified already — Christianity, political conservatism, and video games (and film/TV, I suspect) — and the ways they intersect will be part of a broader conversation. Earlier in the year, a huge swath of ignorant chuckleheads falsely laid the Tuscon rampage of Jared Loughner at the feet of American conservatives. That debate essentially short-circuited once it became abundantly clear that the shooter was not motivated by any coherent ideology. My gut feeling is that the Breivik case will not pan out the same way. My suspicion is that “Breivik” will become synonymous with “Christian conservatism,” which in turn will become synonymous with “terrorism.” In other words, Christian conservatives should start getting used to being labeled “Breiviks,” because that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
The problem is that this is not an entirely unfair tactic. For the last decade, a good portion of American conservatives — many or most of them identifying themselves as Christians — have adopted an aggressive stance toward Islam. They have maintained that bigoted violence is endemic to the religion itself, often supporting anti-Muslim measures in foreign countries that target Muslim religious practice. What’s more, many of them have attempted to draw a sharp contrast between Christianity and Islam, purporting that if Christians dissent politically from the mainstream, they do so more peacefully than Muslims. On the whole, this may be true. I have no doubt that more people have died in the last few decades as a result of terrorist actions by jihadists than have died because of violence perpetrated by Christians. Yet the aggressive, thoughtless campaign that conservative Christians have waged against Islam has had a massive, glaring flaw: it assumes that there is a marked distinction between religiously motivated violence of one kind versus another, and that everyone will recognize that difference.
That assumption is just plain idiotic.