In his 1,500-page European Declaration of Independence mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik approvingly quotes me and several other authors who have written critically about Islam, including Bat Ye’or, Robert Spencer, Andrew Bostom and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The exploitation of the connection followed promptly.
“Norwegian butcher a product of Islamophobia” was last Monday’s banner headline in the Zaman, Turkey’s leading pro-government daily. On Tuesday The New York Times published a major feature article (“Killings in Norway Spotlight Anti-Muslim Thought in U.S.”) which claimed that the mass killings in Norway have focused new attention “on the subculture of anti-Muslim bloggers and right-wing activists”:
In the United States, critics have asserted that the intense spotlight on the threat from Islamic militants has unfairly vilified Muslim Americans while dangerously playing down the threat of attacks from other domestic radicals… The revelations about Mr. Breivik’s American influences exploded on the blogs over the weekend, putting … self-described “counterjihad” activists on the defensive, as their critics suggested that their portrayal of Islam as a threat to the West indirectly fostered the crimes in Norway.
Almost a week after the event our thoughts are naturally with the victims and their families, but we cannot escape feeling shock and disgust with the efforts of mostly liberal journalists to make cheap political capital out of human sufferlng. The perpetrator of these crimes is an extreme case of a type all too familiar on the Internet, a young man cut off from both religious faith and community, so convinced of his own righteousness he is willing to hate people he has never met. Such people only occasionally act out their delusions, but when they do, the results can be catastrophic.
Many influences may impact a disturbed mind. Working in his Berlin study in the early 1800s Hegel could not have dreamt that—by unwittingly godfathering dialectical materialism based on a perverse misuse of his ideas—he would “contribute” to the violent death of tens of millions of victims of Marxist dictatorships in the ensuing century. As Tom Fleming has noted, in attributing responsibility to authors for crimes committed by readers, we have to make careful distinctions:
For example, when journalists like Marat and Hebert libeled important people and called for mob violence and terrorism against them, they should be held liable; but when a John Brown misreads the Bible to justify murder, it is not the fault of the Bible. It is in the nature of schizophrenics and psycopaths to find significance in everything, and it behooves a prudent writer to consider the consequences of his words. Nonetheless an honest writer tells the truth as he sees it. We have always deplored violence and hatred and opposed US attacks on Muslim countries and their civilian populations. However a sense of justice and Christian charity does not oblige us to cover up Islam’s history of violence against the West.
The Breivik atrocity is difficult to understand even on his own terms. If he really was motivated by a conscious concern of defending Norway’s European and Christian identity against the surging forces of Islamic immigration abetted by domestic collaborators, wouldn’t he have attacked a mosque, say, like the stereotypical skinhead thug firebombing an immigrant hostel in Rostock? Even if, in Breivik’s mind, Muslims are one with the “cultural Marxists/Left” who promote “multiculturalism” in Norway and the West generally, such that attacking the latter is effectively the same as attacking the former, one might even see why (assuming acceptance of his premises and methodology) he’d bomb Oslo’s government center (cf., the Oklahoma City bombing). But shooting dozens of Norwegian youths up close and personal requires a level of depraved depersonalization which is comparable to the Muslims who committed the Beslan massacre in 2003.
If Breivik’s intended purpose was to spark a militant European revival against Muslim immigration, his actions will go far to ensure the West instead adopts an even more utterly supine posture. He has hung a big red target on anyone warning against the Islamic danger and will further serve to discredit any criticism of Islam, starting with those named in his manifesto. Nor can we expect a kind of psychological jiu-jitsu of the sort capitalized on by such accredited victims as the gay rights movement and Islam, both of which turned what should have been a great moral vulnerabilities—respectively, AIDS and 9/11—into powerful ideological weapons, namely “homophobia” and “Islamophobia.” Nothing comparable will occur here because anti-jihadists and defenders of European Christian culture cannot count on the good will or even honesty among the smart and beautiful classes, who will not ask “what are the grievances that influenced this nutcase?” but “who are the purveyors of dangerous views who caused Breivik to do what he did?” As the Turkish editorialist concludes,
“The manifesto proves that Breivik's ideological influences such as Bat Ye'or, Robert Spencer, Abdullah al-Arabi, Walid Shoebat and Serge Trifkovic are too responsible for the Norwegians who lost their lives. It is not yet clear whether the person Breivik often refers to as “Fjordman” is a real person or whether it is his pen name. If it is another person, Fjordman's name should come right after Ye'or on the list of guilty people.” [emphasis added]
It is only one step from declaring such people “responsible” and “guilty” to calling for them to be suppressed, already a danger in Europe (and Canada) prior to the Norway attacks, and perhaps soon in the U.S. as well.
Dr. Srdja Trifkovic, Foreign Affairs Editor of Chronicles, is the author of The Sword of the Prophet and Defeating Jihad.