Read Slate's complete coverage of the tragedy in Norway.
On Friday, anti-Islamist blogger Pamela Geller pounced on news of a massacre in Oslo. "Jihad in Norway?" she asked. She posted a second item—"You cannot avoid the consequences of ignoring jihad"—and linked to a previous one: "Norway: ALL Rapes in Past 5 Years Committed by Muslims." As the Oslo body count grew, she piled on: "if I hear another television or radio reporter refer to muhammad as 'the Prophet Muhammad,' I think I am going to puke. He's not your prophet, assclowns."
Then things went horribly wrong. It turned out that the suspected terrorist in Norway wasn't a Muslim. He hated Muslims. And he admired Geller.
In a manifesto posted online, the admitted killer, Anders Behring Breivik, praised Geller. He cited her blog, Atlas Shrugs, and the writings of her friends, allies, and collaborators—Robert Spencer, Jihad Watch, Islam Watch, and Front Page magazine—more than 250 times. And he echoed their tactics, tarring peaceful Muslims with the crimes of violent Muslims. He wrote that all Muslims sought to impose "sharia laws" and that "there are no important theological differences between jihadists and so-called 'peaceful' or 'moderate' Muslims." He reprinted, as part of the manifesto, a 2006 essay by "Fjordman"—a blogger whose work appears frequently on Geller's site—which argued that "radical Muslims and moderate Muslims are allies" and that because Islam teaches deception, no Muslim who claims to be moderate can be trusted.
Scan Geller's blog and her friends' sites, and you'll see how thickly these ideas pervaded Breivik's online world. Jihad Watch says "Islam is intrinsically violent." Islam Watch asserts that "terrorism … is the real Islam," that "Islam is beyond alteration," and that "it needs to be emasculated, marginalized or eliminated altogether." Geller has published Fjordman's views—"I do not believe that there is such a thing as a moderate Islam"—with her own proud note that "I have long derided the 'moderate Islam' meme as a theory with no basis in reality or history." Four days before Breivik opened fire, she posted an item headlined, "Moderates vs. Radicals—What's the Difference?" She joked that "one straps one on, and the other covers for jihad." She concluded that "there really is no difference between muslims and radical muslims."
Geller has pursued this line of attack most aggressively against Faisal Abdul Rauf, the imam who wants to build an Islamic community center two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks. Abdul Rauf, accused of radicalism by Geller and Republican politicians, has done everything possible to refute the charge. He has denounced al-Qaida as un-Islamic. He has said, "I condemn everyone and anyone who commits acts of terrorism. And Hamas has committed acts of terrorism." He has invited the U.S. government to vet potential funders of his center. He has rejected the idea that Sharia overrides civil laws. And when U.S. forces killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, the imam declared: "I applaud President Obama for his resolute efforts in the war against terror, including bringing Bin Laden to justice."
Despite these statements, Geller continues to depict Abdul Rauf as a terrorist sympathizer. Her evidence is a series of secondhand, thirdhand, and nonexistent connections. "Rauf is an open proponent of Islamic law, Sharia, with its oppression of women, stonings, and amputations," she asserts, falsely. He "was a prominent member of the Perdana organization, a leading funder of the jihad flotilla launched against Israel in 2010 by the genocidal Islamic terror group, IHH." One of his books was supported by the International Institute of Islamic Thought and the Islamic Society of North America, which are "Muslim Brotherhood fronts," and ISNA "was named an unindicted co-conspirator" in a "Hamas terror funding case." Another Abdul Rauf book was promoted in Malaysia at a meeting of an organization that's been banned in some countries.
You can use this guilt-by-association tactic against anybody. To take the simplest case: President George W. Bush sent Abdul Rauf to the Muslim world as an informal ambassador. That makes Bush a supporter of a supporter of terrorism. But the new poster child for guilt by association is Geller herself. She has been implicated in the Norwegian massacre.
On Friday, Charles Johnson, an anti-Jihadist blogger, posted a headline calling Breivik a "Pamela Geller fan." He cited evidence that Breivik was influenced by Geller and Spencer and had given "a great deal of money to the far right 'counter-jihad' movement." Next came an item titled, "Oslo Terrorist Linked to … European Branch of Pamela Geller's Hate Group." Then a sharper accusation: "Breivik is a product of the groups and causes Pamela Geller continues to promote." Johnson concluded that "in the Norway atrocities, the responsibility is far more evident and direct. People like Fjordman and Pamela Geller and the right wing blogosphere who spew apocalyptic rhetoric and refuse to denounce the extremists among them now have the very real blood of children on their hands."
Geller is outraged. "Attempts to link us to these murders on the basis of alleged postings by the murderer mentioning us are absurd and offensive," she writes. Breivik "is responsible for his actions. He and only he." She adds: "Watching CNN and BBC coverage about Norway, I found very disturbing to hear the number of times they use the word 'Christian.' They would never dare refer to religion when it is jihad, and this attack had nothing to do with Christianity."
Now you know how it feels, Ms. Geller. When the terrorist is a Christian—in his own words, a "Crusader" for "Christendom"—and when the preacher to whom he has been linked is you, you suddenly discover the injustice of group blame and guilt by association. The citations you didn't create, the intermediaries you didn't recognize, the transactions you didn't know about, the violent interpretations you didn't condone—these exonerating facts suddenly matter.