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07/24/2011

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If you haven't seen his video it is revealing (I link on CT).
His Christianity, from what I can tell, is more a romantic notion of the crusaders and those who stopped Muslim incursions, and a vague cultural identification with Christendom. (Though a Protestant, he calls for a new reformation that would unite with Rome).
There is no reason to link him with paganism, or death metal, or fascism, or neo-Nazis; indeed he specifically condemns Nazism as well as "cultural Marxism", socialism, multiculturalism, and Islam. And he is very pro-Israel.
And he calls for a "conservative revolution".
Except for the Knight Templar stuff, most of this would be at home on right wing American talk radio (like Rose, the co-host of The War Room, which is like Hannity on acid, who one moment is spouting evangelical pieties, and the next proclaiming that she has coated all her bullets with lard for the day when she kills Muslims...)
Though early reports indicate no sign of mental illness, the stuff is pretty weird, and other reports that he expects that someday he will viewed as a hero of Western Civilization certainly seem delusional. Yeah, big hero, gunning down unarmed kids, whose only "crime" was to be identified with the leftist Labour Party and to have attended a pro-Palestinian rally the day before.
And while the Right has always insisted, rightly, that ideas have consequences, and had no problem identifying the ideas with consequences in the 70s, when most political violence was from the Left, they will be paddling as fast as they can away from any responsibility, chalking it up, again, to a lone madman.
Granted, but don't you think that if you sow fear, suspicion, and paranoia, that some unhinged person might take it seriously and act on it?

Of course you would want to hold "the right" at large responsible for this. Melanie Phillips to Anders Breivik, writing books to machine-gunning kids--it's all pretty much on a continuum, right? [shaking my head] Good thing the left doesn't sow fear, suspicion, and paranoia.

What I meant about death metal etc. is that I was aware of an undercurrent of violent politico-cultural feeling in Norway, whatever the specifics are, which somewhat lessened my surprise.

I said that the Right has rightly noted the roots of Leftist violence in overheated rhetoric. What? The RIght is innocent of this?
But this has nothing to do with death metal, fascism, etc. Watch the video; he is some sort of Right Wing, neo-medievalist, Islamophobe.
No? Evidence?

No, the burden of producing evidence is on you, in your insistence that "the right," generically, is responsible. That he is part of the right in a general sort of way is now clear (and I didn't say otherwise) but you're engaging in simple guilt by association in blaming everyone on the right, and in a way that can't be disproved, by charging them, nebulously, with sowing fear etc.

If you have evidence that he has been influenced by some particular person--e.g. this talk show you mention--let's hear it. If you just want to condemn violent rhetoric in general, fine, I'll join you. But you are attempting to pin responsibility for these murders on millions of people who do not engage in such rhetoric. I'm on the right and read a lot of conservative opinion, but I have never heard of this show. I don't feel the least bit responsible for what is said on it, much less for the murders committed by this man. Not the least.

You're not hearing what I said about the music subculture, but never mind, that's not really relevant.

My point about the left is that it is equally active today in sowing fear, suspicion, and paranoia, but I don't expect you to accept that.

Calm down, Maclin.
He cites numerous right wing sources, who are all now decrying his act and distancing themselves.
Of course. Even most overheated Islamophobes don't want to shoot a bunch of Norwegian kids, whose only crime is being identified with a left/labor political party and having attended a pro-Palestinian rally.
But it is the overheated rhetoric and fear-mongering that is at fault. Talk show hosts like old Rose can talk of shooting Muslims with lard-coated bullets, and there was no outcry; she still has her job (I heard her say this a couple of years ago).
Fill people's mind with fear and it is not unlikely that some unstable person will snap.
And I am not going to do the tit for tat on Left and Right. Certainly there is paranoia on both sides. It's just that the Right is ascendant at the moment.

I sound pissed off because I am pissed off, because you are trying to pin some blame for mass murder on me, insofar as I'm on the right. You don't seem to see that you are engaging in precisely the same broad-brush guilt-by-association that you correctly deplore when it's applied to Muslims. By all means condemn specific people or statements that incite violence, especially if it can be shown that they influenced this guy. But you keep repeating that one talk show host's line as a stand-in for "the right" at large, though you haven't mentioned whether Breivik listened to her (which seems unlikely). I assume we are not talking about some vague New-Age-ish idea that releasing bad vibes causes bad things; if not, specific instances of influence are in order.

I have been browsing in Breivik's manifesto, and he's all over the place. Here is his list of favorite books:

n. George Orwell - Nineteen Eighty-Four, Thomas Hobbes – Leviathan, John Stuart Mill - On Liberty, John Locke - Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Adam Smith - The Wealth of Nations, Edmund Burke - Reflections on the Revolution in France, Ayn Rand – Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, William James – Pragmatism, Carl von Clausewitz - On War, Fjordman – Defeating Eurabia

Other important books I’ve read (in random order):
The Bible, Avesta, Quran, Hadith, Plato - The Republic, Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince, William Shakespeare - First Folio, Immanuel Kant - Critique of Pure Reason, Homer - Iliad and Odyssey, Dante Alighieri - The Divine Comedy, Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels -
Communist Manifesto, Charles Darwin - The Origin of Species, Leo Tolstoy - War and Peace, Franz Kafka - The Trial, Arnold Joseph Toynbee - A Study of History

Are all these now guilty or at least suspect?

Mac - it sounds like he read too much!

Dan & Mac - there is a good column by Ross Douhat in the NYT this morning which says that conservatives should acknowledge the killer largely used conservative sources, and everyone should acknowledge that Europe has problems about immigration

For decades, Europe’s governing classes insisted that only racists worried about immigration, only bigots doubted the success of multiculturalism and only fascists cared about national identity. Now that a true far-right radical has perpetrated a terrible atrocity, it will be easy to return to those comforting illusions.

But extremists only grow stronger when a political system pretends that problems don’t exist. Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic have an obligation to acknowledge that Anders Behring Breivik is a distinctively right-wing kind of monster. But they also have an obligation to the realities that this monster’s terrible atrocity threatens to obscure.

For decades, Europe’s governing classes insisted that only racists worried about immigration, only bigots doubted the success of multiculturalism and only fascists cared about national identity. Now that a true far-right radical has perpetrated a terrible atrocity, it will be easy to return to those comforting illusions.

But extremists only grow stronger when a political system pretends that problems don’t exist. Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic have an obligation to acknowledge that Anders Behring Breivik is a distinctively right-wing kind of monster. But they also have an obligation to the realities that this monster’s terrible atrocity threatens to obscure.

For decades, Europe’s governing classes insisted that only racists worried about immigration, only bigots doubted the success of multiculturalism and only fascists cared about national identity. Now that a true far-right radical has perpetrated a terrible atrocity, it will be easy to return to those comforting illusions.

But extremists only grow stronger when a political system pretends that problems don’t exist. Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic have an obligation to acknowledge that Anders Behring Breivik is a distinctively right-wing kind of monster. But they also have an obligation to the realities that this monster’s terrible atrocity threatens to obscure.

I meant to copy the last paragraph of his piece once, and somehow managed to copy it three times!

As it happens I was just reading that Douthat column, and I totally agree with him.

Just for emphasis, not that you said otherwise, let me point out again that I haven't denied that Breivik is a right-winger. I mention it in the original post.

I bought the NYT to read in a coffee shop this morning, and noted that they said on the front page that the guy's Christianity didn't come in to it. I had heard that Douhat had taken up their 'conservative' slot, but hadn't read him there before. He is not bad.

OTH, Boris of the Tel says he is just a nutter who could not get a girlfriend

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/borisjohnson/8658872/Anders-Breivik-There-is-nothing-to-study-in-the-mind-of-Norways-mass-killer.html

He seems to value Christianity more as a cultural force in opposition to Islam than as a religion, on the basis of my scattered reading in his manifesto. At one point he says he would like to see all the churches united under Catholicism with a fighting pope.

Douthat is mostly really good. He was editor or assistant editor or something at The Atlantic, and it was better then. He's also pretty wonky a lot of times, though, and I'm too impatient to read much of that.

I'll read that Boris piece while I eat my sandwich.

Now I remember about the New Atlantic. I can see from that column that he could be a bit egg heady. When I went off to look for that paragraph to post, I was surprised I could find it - I thought the NYT was behind a pay firewall.

NYT has some sort of deal where you get up to 20 articles free. Not sure how they police it.

Re Boris: reducing it to rejection by a girl is a tad over-simplistic, too.

On one level what's striking about Breivik's manifesto is that he *doesn't* seem all that crazy, in the sense of being completely out of touch with reality. But I guess it's more often the case with somebody like this, who meticulously plans his attack, as opposed to a Jared Loughner who just goes berserk one day, that it's not so much derangement as monomania.

About the rise of the 'far right' all over Europe: at one point, in the early 1980s, the BNP (British Nationalist Party) was becoming popular and threatening to take away conservative party votes. Mrs Thatcher slapped on tighter immigration controls. Collapse of the BNP party support for a number of years... IE, there are simple policy reforms which would deflate if not eliminate most of the extremist parties from France to the Ukraine via Birmingham

Similar stuff going on here with immigration.

Boris' girlfriend view may be simplistic, but there's an element of truth in it. Neither your average far leftist nor your French National Front/Le Pen voter, nor your Dutch Freedom party voter goes out with a shot gun and kills.

You mean chicks dig them more?:-)

Or just that there is something very specific in this guy's psychology that made him do this? In that case I agree. And that's what we'll probably never really know.

I think it's specific to him, but I wish I'd said that Geert Wilders voters are simply too busy being girl magnets to become obsessed about politics ...

Geert Wilders has weird hair. I've been hearing his name for years but never saw a picture of him till just now.

I'm catching up on this terrible story. I heard a bit about it last week, but at that time they (the NYT) were saying that a jihadist group had taken responsibility. This fresh news about the perpetrator has taken me by surprise. How awful -- not to mention totally counter-productive.

I agree that Douthat's comments are sane. I am surprised to hear him described as 'wonky'. I read him semi-regularly -- when he is not deeply involved in what feels like the minutiae of policy -- and I am almost always impressed by his balance and calm perceptiveness. Maybe he and I are wonky in the same ways, so that I have a hard time seeing it.

I only recently realized that "wonky" can mean something different from "wonk-like."

wonk

wonky

But I've been using "wonky" to mean "wonk-like", as in the above definition of "wonk."

In short, I agree--"when he is not deeply involved in what feels like the minutiae of policy" is when I like him, too.

I've always used it in the "not in correct alignment; askew" sense.

AMDG

Mac; Sorry if it seemed I blame the whole Right; of course the folks at my favorite magazine, The American Conservative, antiwar and anti-imperial, are blameless (they are for the most part critical of Islamophobia as well). I only meant- and I do mean - that those who sow fear and suspicion and paranoia are not blameless.
Or look at it this way: wouldn't you agree that Muslims who have no intention of committing violent acts but use inflammatory rhetoric and hate speech nevertheless share some responsibility when their more radical co-religionists act violently for the same reasons?
I find it hard to believe that you could deny this. After all, a couple years back you opposed the so-called Ground Zero Mosque, a misnomer for what was to be a Muslim cultural center in Manhattan. And that was not proposed by someone spouting jihadist sentiment, but on the contrary by an imam who opposed religious violence, had a long history of interfaith activity, and was even an unofficial diplomat to Muslims for, of all people, George Bush.
But he was a Muslim, so somehow he apparently shared some responsibility for 9/11, despite his opposition to that atrocity.

Haven't seen the Douhat piece; it usually shows up in the Akron paper a day or so after the Times. He is one of the conservatives I nearly always like...

You asked for specifics, well the shooter apparently quotes Robert Spencer 60 times in his book, and also other anti-Muslim bloggers. No, of course they do not propose violence, just as our irresponsible Muslim does not, and certainly the guy is deluded if he thinks killing a bunch of Labor schoolkids is going to earn him history's praise. But if he had mowed down 70 people at a mosque none of these folks, who sow fictions about looming Sharia law and some sort of united Muslim front to create a caliphate, would admit any connection.

"I only meant- and I do mean - that those who sow fear and suspicion and paranoia are not blameless.
Or look at it this way: wouldn't you agree that Muslims who have no intention of committing violent acts but use inflammatory rhetoric and hate speech nevertheless share some responsibility when their more radical co-religionists act violently for the same reasons?
I find it hard to believe that you could deny this."

I don't deny the possibility. As a general principle, yes, obviously inflammatory rhetoric can produce flames. But I have yet to see anything to make me believe that happened here. The guy quotes Mark Steyn four times, for instance, two of which are mildly critical of Islam, hardly exceptional. Yet Steyn is one of the ones being blamed. Theodore Dalrymple is quoted seven times. He is one of the most humane and civilized writers around. And as for Spencer, he is indeed a harsh critic of Islam, but pretty much everything quoted by him is a variation on or illustration of this statement: "In no way is Islamic Sharia, Islamic government compatible with Western understandings of human rights and freedom of conscience." That's a perfectly reasonable thing to say, and saying it is not an incitement to violence.

Charges like "sowing fear" etc. are extremely vague, and can be (and are being) used to shut down debate. I'm not going to consider right-wing criticism of Islam to blame here unless there is something that a reasonable person would construe as an incitement to violence. I have yet to see anything quoted by Brievik from any right-winger whose name I recognized that passes that test. An unreasonable person can be incited by anything, but we can't let them control what we can and can't say.

I didn't oppose the so-called Ground Zero Mosque, btw. My position was that it should be New York's decision.

At one point did Breivik's rather unexceptional concerns about the eclipse of European civilization give birth to the idea that he should start a violent revolution? I'm not sure one could say even after reading the whole 1500 page monstrosity. However, he got a lot of his ideas about actually mounting a revolution from leftist revolutionaries. If his reading is going to be blamed for the violence, that should be in there too.

Catholics especially should be wary of terms like "hate speech," "Islamophobia," and "homophobia" that can mean pretty much anything anyone wants them to mean, because they're already being used in an effort to stop us from saying unwelcome things about homosexuality.

The more I think about it, the more the idea that the source of the guy's troubled fantasies was that he could not get a girl friend appeals to me.

The problem with associating the causes of his actions with the 'far right' is that the European far right, the BNP or Le Pen's supporters or the Freedom Party in Holland do not go out and shoot people.

"In no way is Islamic Sharia, Islamic government compatible with Western understandings of human rights and freedom of conscience."

But that is precisely what I mean; there is no one understanding of Sharia and how it is to be implemented among Muslims. It is like someone sowing alarm about Christians, who want to impose Levitical law on everyone. True, a tiny minority thinks like that, radical Calvinists and Restorationists, but most Christians propose a more general biblical influence on public affairs.
Generalizing about Muslims always leads to bad conclusions; there is a lot of myth and fear. Most people do not know that far more terror plots since 9/11 were by domestic Right wingers of one sort or another than by Muslims.

In this piece, Spengler makes an important distinction between groups of terrorists, like the Chechens who shot 300 school children, and lone shooters

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/MG26Dj05.html

I do think, Francesca, that the girl factor, so to speak, used as sort of a stand-in for what are undoubtedly a lot of personal pathologies, goes much further toward explaining this guy than the influence of right-wing pundits etc. I'll have to wait till later to read the Spengler piece, but I do think there's a very important difference there (lone shooter vs. organized group).

Daniel, I realize Spencer's statement is debatable, that there is a great variety of belief and practice in Islam, etc. etc., but it's not false, slanderous or inflammatory, either. It's a perfectly valid question as to whether Islam in most of the ways it has been understood over the centuries, and currently in a number of countries, can be reconciled with the Western political order.

The question is not whether you like or agree with what Spencer says, but whether it makes him in some way culpable for the murderer's actions. I say it doesn't.

p.s. for the record, I don't much care for Spencer's approach--I think it's often unfair and excessively negative.

The Spengler piece is excellent, Francesca.

The best thing I've read on it, including Duwonk.

On the FT blog, where I picked up Spengler's piece, someone had commented on how weird the guy's father is - he said, 'he should have shot himself.' This is a piece about the father - between them, Spengler and this one say more about it than any of the business about his 'political allgiances'

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/katharinebirbalsingh/100098765/norway-shootings-anders-breiviks-father-has-a-lot-to-answer-for/

Again, have to wait till later--out of lunch hour (beyond out, actually...better get to it).

Mac, I am troubled that you don't follow Scandinavian affairs more closely! :-)

Actually, I am interested. If I had money and no attachments I would go live out the rest of my life in some little cabin by a lake...

Well, that is extremely informative about the murderer's father. Not so much the effects of being abandoned, which obviously are bad but don't turn most abandonees into mass murderers, but because of the cold-heartedness of the father. It's not fair to judge only by whatever of what he said managed to get into the paper, but if the impression that his greatest concern is himself is accurate, well...you can see how that, taken to a couple of exponential powers, could be the same basic thing that allowed the son to shoot children.

My friend in Finland has a Facebook status that originated in Norway (she translated it for me) which notes that the killer's book says he would rather be hated than forgotten, so we should not say his name. That seems very fitting, though his name will still be all over the place in the media.

And yet--he's a child of God, too. I shudder to think what he may have to face at death.

It's not the dad, or the girlfriend, or the ego. Ideas have consequences, and here he is pure neocon, with a big dose of medieval romanticism thrown in. Here is Justin Raimondo on the topic:
http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2011/07/26/the-return-of-the-neocons-prodigal-son/

He had no ideas, Dan. He is simply a nutter. Do you know any mad people? They spout stuff and make hundreds of connections between things. But they don't think about ideas.

I think your definition of neo-con (Daniel) needs a little work--I don't think worry about immigration etc. is especially neo.

But anyway, speaking of neo-cons, I'm sure we will never agree about this, but here's an illustration of the way I look at it:

There is a lot of intense animosity toward the neo-cons in certain Catholic circles. They're held to be responsible for much of what's wrong in the world and the Church. You've certainly written in that vein. Suppose some isolated unbalanced young man, like the Norway killer and others who do this sort of thing, decides that it just can't be allowed to go on any longer, and starts killing people like George Weigel. When he's caught, police find in his room a manifesto in which he indicts the neo-cons, and in making his case includes quotes from you and others who have written against them.

I don't think you or anyone else he quoted would bear any responsibility for his actions. Unless maybe someone had said "We need a warrior-saint to rid us of these vermin," "May God smite them," or the like--something that really seemed to suggest or advocate violence.

I wouldn't say he had no ideas, Francesca. But they were absorbed into his nutterness.

I meant that he viewed the world as engaged in a struggle with Islam, as do the neocons. And they have advocated violence in that struggle, just not vigilante violence.

This is interesting. The killer had a long-standing animosity toward Muslims going back to fights with Muslim gangs as a teenager.

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