Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Face of Terror

(Image via Full Fat Milk)

On Friday, Anders Behring Breivik (the man on the left in the above picture) committed two terrorist attacks in Norway.  He planted a bomb in Oslo and then went to an island where a youth camp for the ruling Labor political party was being held, shooting over 80 people before giving himself up.  Nearly 100 people dead, in total.

These were acts of terror.  But the war on terror has really been the war on other - and other in the West is non-white, non-Christian, non-civilised.  A white Christian man from Norway, one of the most civilised countries in the world, surely wouldn't commit an act of terror?  He's one lone guy.  He's not working in a group.  He doesn't represent every blonde Caucasian male.

He must have some motivation other than terror.  Never mind that he appears to be behind a 1500-page manifesto full of anti-Muslim sentiment.  Never mind that he posted a video along the same lines.  He's one of us, he can't be a terrorist!

It turns out that Anders Breivik also happened to enjoy video games.  He played World of Warcraft, and Modern Warfare 2, and Dragon Age 2.  A-ha! Now that is a story.  He's not a terrorist, he's just a gamer influenced by violent games!  Because, as everyone knows, violent video games cause people to act violently.  This angle was covered by The Australian, and also very strongly pushed in The Post Chronicle (NOTE: Massive spoiler for Dragon Age 2 in that article, and the next paragraph in this post - skip if you don't want the spoiler).

I have no idea what sort of "news" outlet the Post Chronicle is.  I'd never heard of them until today, when the story linked above was posted on Twitter.  Their reasoning, which is iron-clad, is as follows: Anders Breivik played Dragon Age 2.  There is a character in Dragon Age 2 who is also white and blonde and named Anders.  The Dragon Age 2 Anders blew up a "political" building (I would say "religious", but this is the Post Chronicle's party).  Anders Breivik also blew up a political building.  Therefore, Dragon Age 2 is responsible for the Norway attacks!  Fantastic investigative journalism there, Post Chronicle.

Look.  I'm about the same age as Anders Breivik.  I played World of Warcraft for years, and have logged hundreds of hours in Dragon Age 2 - I suspect far more than he has.  I never played Modern Warfare 2, but I've played plenty of other violent games.  You don't see me going about killing people, do you?  There are millions of gamers all over the world.  There are over 2 million people online in Steam as I write this, and this is at the lowest point of their activity cycle, as it's the middle of the night in the US.  Blaming his love of video games, while overlooking his massive Islamophobia, fundamentalist Christian beliefs, and military training, is simply creating a scapegoat and reinforcing the idea that terrorists are not like us.

But they are.  Terrorists are people, just like the rest of us.  They might have different religious beliefs, or similar.  They might be the a different ethnicity, or the same.  They might be from another country, or from our country.  They might have opposing political views, or similar.  The only thing they share is a desire to incite terror in the hearts of others.  I'm a gamer, but I'm no terrorist.  The two don't always go hand-in-hand.


  1. Good post! I think that people always try to position the bad guy as being as different from ourselves as possible - makes it easier to understand and digest.
    This just isn't always the case. Everyone needs to just accept the fact that there are extremist, violent, sadistic nutcases in every race, religion and culture - just as there are lots more reasonable people with compassion and love for humankind in each also.

  2. Exactly right Kez. I really feel that the war on terror has done nothing but demonise one group while overlooking the massive damage any person can do, if they have strong enough motivation.

  3. Stupid...

    How can bin Laden represents all CIA and Breivik - all Bilderbergers?

  4. I'm not sure what you're getting at, Anonymous - would you care to elaborate?