The tragedy in Norway tells us nothing. Our reactions to it tells us a lot.
Anders Behring Breivik represents no one but himself and his narcissistic fantasies. He is a loner and the network of contacts he claims are little more than the product of his delusions.
Breivik is not a Christian, he is not a conservative; he is a deeply damaged young man who has slaughtered indiscriminately in pursuit of his abnormal vision of himself.
In his own mind he was the instrument who would bring about redemption through blood. In his actions he is different from Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot only in the matter of scale. All believed that the slaughter of innocents was a negligible price to pay in order to achieve one’s political aims. The dictators slaughtered in their tens of millions, Breivik in his dozens, all shared the same outlook on humanity. Like the jihadists he hates Breivik was enraptured by an utopian fantasy built on blood.
In Norway itself there has been no hysterical rush to blame, to abuse, to gain political advantage. Instead there has been the dignity of absorbing the pain, of suffering quietly. Perhaps the reaction of the Norwegian people was best illustrated by the sight of the King and Queen quietly weeping in Oslo cathedral.
Elsewhere unfortunately, as soon as the news broke we were inundated with
reports that he was a “Christian,” or even worse, a “fundamentalist.” In his grandiloquent 1500 page manifesto, “2083: A European Declaration of Independence,” Breivik calls himself a “Christian,” once. It is pretty clear that by Christian he means what the Muslims he despises mean by Christian, anyone from the west who is not a Jew. By their definition Richard Dawkins and Terry Pratchet are Christians.
Several times in his manifesto Breivik takes issue with Christians because we are too soft-hearted. It’s that Jesus thing, turning the other cheek and forgiving enemies, it really bugs those with clear political visions and the will to implement them no matter what.
Here in the UK there were immediate attempts to associate Breivik with the BNP and EDL. Both organisations do resort to violence, but anything beyond random thuggery and hooliganism is too complex for them. They couldn’t organise a panic in a sinking submarine.
The various anti-fascist organisations have a vested interest in portraying such organisations as bulging with evil monsters intent on instituting the Fourth Reich in England’s green and pleasant land. In reality they are for the most part ineffectual working class men frustrated and angry about being ignored by the political and media elites. The way to change their views is to listen to them and to speak to them, not build up their egos by exaggerating their influence.
Breivik was not motivated by political rage. Many who have been poring over his manifesto have noted his quotations from writers like Mark Stein who speak out concerning Islamic influence in Europe. To blame them for his actions makes as much sense as saying that because the Unabomber in the USA was found to have in his possession a book by Al Gore then the one-time Vice-President and present day climate alarmist was responsible for the Unabomber’s actions.
Breivik also quoted John Locke, John Stuart Mill and Winston Churchill. To use this to suggest that he had thought through a coherent political philosophy is to give credence to the intellectual pretensions of a madman. Breivik did not plant a bomb in the centre of a city, he did not go to a camp for teenagers and gun down as many as he could because of his political anger. He did it because he is a deeply disturbed, even psychopathic, young man. He did it because he is insane.
To use his actions as a means of denouncing one’s political opponents, as some, especially in the USA are doing, is despicable. It is to use the deaths of innocents, the suffering of the bereaved and the trauma of a nation for personal political advantage.