First they blamed it on the Muslims. Now they seem to be blaming it on neoconservatives, white nationalists, libertarians, Christians, Mossad and Geert Wilders.
It was natural for many to assume the Oslo incident last Friday was the work of Muslims. Norway still has NATO troops in Afghanistan, is partaking in the Libyan adventure and, much like its Scandinavian neighbors, having trouble with an internal Muslim population. I thought it was fairly obvious who was behind it all, but I kept my mouth shut until I knew for sure. Bizarrely, far more prominent personalities than myself seemed incapable of common sense behavior and fell into the trap of making statements that can, and will, be used against them in the future.
The circus that occurred afterwards disappointed me. The folks at LewRockwell.com went for the jugular, stating for definite that Breivik is a neocon. Incredibly, some of Rockwell’s contributors claimed that because the leftists had held a pro-Palestinian demonstration, it may have been Breivik’s motive, as he wrote favorably of Israel.
Yes, the young leftists did indeed hold a pro-Palestinian rally, but it was among many other political activities promoting leftist positions that Breivik wouldn’t have liked. Breivik also expressed admiration for Japan and South Korea with regards to their policies on immigration. Breivik’s manifesto quoted many neoconservative writers, yet his footnotes also point to libertarian works published by the Mises Institute, as Rockwell (its President) admits. To my mind, Breivik’s views on immigration make him similar to the Paleo-conservatives like Pat Buchanan, who frequently contribute to Rockwell’s site. While LewRockwell.com contributors feared Breivik would be exploited by the left to demonize people who disagree with them, they themselves ended up doing exactly that by taking a cheap shot at Israel and neoconservatives (a movement I have no great love for, as I’ve written about earlier).
I’ve criticised people from my own side of the ideological spectrum for exploiting Breivik’s killing spree first, but there is no doubt that others have been doing the same thing to a similar or an even worse extent. The Angry Arab rants: “Imagine if a terrorist cited the writings of leftists like me as his inspiration. Would not TV trucks be parked outside my home?”
Well, sir, here is Reverend Benjamin Weir, who was abducted by Islamic Jihad in Beirut in 1984: “There became available to us a few books in English, provided not only for our recreational interest but presumably for our education. There was Edward Said’s Covering Islam”.
Everybody is out to blame somebody, it seems. Most of the American cable news channels have settled on the ”right-wing Christian extremist” label. I’m inclined to say our villain is a white nationalist in the BNP/Front Nationale mode, but not a Nazi. That label is just lazy. Breivik condemns Nazism—saying he wished he had a time machine so he could go back to 1933 and kill Hitler himself. He hates Nazism as much as Marxism, that’s for sure.
I personally feel somewhat unnerved: there is much in Breivik’s manifesto I agree with. I am not a supporter of mass Muslim immigration, particularly when there exists an extensive welfare state. Breivik rightly characterizes leftist Oslo anthropologist Thomas Hylland Eriksen’s aim to “deconstruct the majority…and do it thoroughly, so that it can never be called the majority any longer” as genocidal hate speech. Breivik could certainly string an argument together. Then I get to the part where he says he has to kill people. A man like Breivik makes the Oslo killings a lot more scary than if it had been some lone, barely literate nut. No, this man is brutally logical and idealistic. The fact that he did not direct his wrath at an Islamic center or mosque, against the people a white nationalist would most naturally hate, is fascinating. He went for the leftists, the people he knew were enabling the excesses of multiculturalism.
I suppose people are capable of killing for any belief system. Right-wing terror hasn’t been prominent in Europe of late. Before Islamic terrorism grabbed headlines, domestic terrorism on the continent seemed very much a Marxist affair, considering the Baader Meinhoff Gang, the Red Brigades and so on. Breivik is no doubt trying to start a trend.
Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal probably had my favorite take on Oslo:
The more telling side of Breivik’s manifesto is his self-description as “Justiciar Knight Commander for the Knights Templar of Europe,” a group he claims has some 80 members and held a secret meeting in London in 2002. The fetishistic medievalism—Breivik seems to have designed a military dress uniform, and wants to wear it to his trial—is significant: Like Osama bin Laden and his epigones, his worldview seems mainly defined by the politics of the 13th century. And that worldview is fundamentally geared toward hastening an apocalypse.
In a superb new book, “Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of Millennial Experience,” Boston University’s Richard Landes notes just how pervasive this kind of impulse has been throughout history and across cultures, and how much its many strains—Christian, Marxist, Islamist, Nazi, environmentalist and so on—have in common. Breivik, Mr. Landes says, was of a piece: “Like many active cataclysmic apocalypticists, he believed that the socio-political world is in huge tension, like tectonic plates about to crack, and if he can set off a small explosion in the right place it will unleash far greater forces.” In this sense, Mr. Landes adds, “the thing he resembles most is the people he hates.”
He’s right, and not just in regards to methods. Just as al Qaeda’s primary fury has always been directed at Muslims who they view as apostates, traitors or stooges of the West, the main object of Breivik’s hatred was what he called the “cultural Marxists” who dominated Norwegian politics. “If they refuse to surrender until 2020,” he said of them, “there will be no turning back. We will eventually wipe out every single one of them.”
Similarly, the purpose of Breivik’s massacre wasn’t simply to kill off the Labor party’s leadership, current and future. It was to create a spectacle, and in doing so energize a cause. It’s no accident that he wants media present at his trial: He has now entered what he calls the propaganda phase of his campaign, in which he imagines he will be given “a stage to the world” through which he can win over “tens of millions of European sympathizers and tens of thousands of brothers and sisters who support us fully and are willing to fight beside us.” This was precisely what al Qaeda hoped to achieve (and to an extent did achieve) with 9/11.
I will certainly be reading Richard Landes, and watching the trial.