On August 1 The Daily Mail published an op-ed by Melanie Philips (“Hatred, smears and the liberals hell-bent on bullying millions of us into silence”) which warns that the baleful effects of Anders Breivik’s recent attacks in Norway have not been limited to the carnage of the day. The atrocity has produced a reaction on the political Left in Britain, Europe and the U.S., she says, that is in itself shocking and terrifying.
Philips singles out former Norwegian prime minister and current chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee Thorbjorn Jagland, who has warned British Prime Minister David Cameron and other European political leaders to refrain from criticizing multiculturalism. In her view, to connect Breivik’s so-called manifesto—a rambling compendium of quotes against mass immigration, multiculturalism and Islamization—with criticism of the multicultural experiment itself, is “simply grotesque”:
First and foremost, this is treating Breivik as if his words deserve to be taken seriously and at face value. As of now, however, we don’t know whether Breivik is psychotic, a psychopath or under the influence of all the drugs he claims to have taken.
We also don’t know what part, if any, his political views actually played in this atrocity. After all, since his target was his country’s Labour party one might just as well surmise that he was motivated by hatred of his father, who was a Labour party supporter and who was divorced from Breivik’s mother when the killer was a baby.
In any event, someone who travels to a teenagers’ summer camp and invites them all to gather round so that he can kill them all cannot be considered rational. Yet the former Norwegian premier is treating Breivik as if he is a political terrorist whose words have the authority of a sane and coherent creed.
Even if he was motivated by hostility to multiculturalism and Islam, the author concludes, it is perverse to suggest that no one should write about these things because some deranged person raving about such ideas has run amok: “It’s a bit like saying no one should express concern about late abortions or animal cruelty because it leads straight to the firebombing of abortion clinics or animal-testing laboratories.”
On her own blog, also on August 1 (Fanaticism, mass murder and the left) Melanie Phillips points out that the relationship between the views approvingly quoted in Breivik’s ‘Manifesto’ and acts of terror is very different indeed from the relationship between Islamist radicalism and Islamic acts of terror:
The former is characterised by terrorism perpetrated in pursuit of discrete and limited aims. The latter aims to effect an apocalypse in order to bring about the perfection of the world. The former may be appalling in its effects but is nevertheless fundamentally rational since its goal, however noxious, is achievable. The latter is fundamentally irrational since its goal is a utopian fantasy. Consequently those who are in the grip of millenarian apocalyptic fantasies tend to be lunatics or psychopaths; and so it is as ridiculous to ascribe the pathologically murderous behaviour of Breivik to political rage as it would be to do so in the case of Stalin, Hitler or Ahmadinejad… [Militantly secular leftists] are in the same mould as the religious and political totalitarian tyrannies of the past; they make in this respect common cause with the Islamists whose agenda poses a mortal threat to their own lives and liberties and most cherished beliefs; and they share the characteristic of a closed thought system which is totally impervious to reason…
That is, in her opinion, why the left seized upon the Norway atrocity with demented joy and detonated a terrifying eruption of distortion and demonization, irrationality, hatred and sheer blood-lust as it saw in the ravings of Anders Behring Breivik the mother and father of all smears which it could use to crush those who refuse to surrender to cultural totalitarianism:
So those of us who fight for life, liberty and western civilisation against their enemies found ourselves—and by implication, the many millions who share these mainstream views—grotesquely damned as accessories to mass murder by those who actually cheer on religious fascists and genocidal madmen and who are set upon silencing all who resist.
In a similar vein Human Events commentator Rachel Marsden notes that Breivik’s outrage prompted media reports world calling it a sign of far-right extremism sweeping Europe. Meanwhile, back in America, a Muslim soldier, Naser Abdo, was arrested for planning a terrorist attack on Texas’ Fort Hood military base where Major Nidal Hasan murdered 13 people in 2009—and yet we are not hearing the same concern about attacks by all these people of a certain common cultural and religious background:
Despite what the media says, far-right extremism isn’t significantly on the rise in Europe. People can be legitimately frustrated with imposed societal reengineering by leftists and want to conserve the social and cultural cohesion that has traditionally made Europe a nice place to live without being considered extreme. To suggest that increased support for legitimate parties is extreme or dangerous is nothing more than an attempt to stigmatize real and valid concerns.
Marsden quotes a statement by the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) which claims that the Oslo killings “dreadfully demonstrate that extreme-right ideologies are a danger for the whole society and not only for minorities. Anyone can become victim to the violence of extreme-right fanatics, intent on wiping out diversity from our societies.” ENAR would have us believe, she notes, that it’s a steep, slippery slope indeed from, say, controlling illegal immigration of Roma gypsies to literally “wiping out diversity”:
I have a question for ENAR: How many violent acts by people of an ideology or origin must be committed before it’s considered a disturbing trend? Because it would seem from this statement that it only takes one. Why aren’t they at least equally concerned by the rampant violent acts committed by people from the same “minority” groups they cite?
A Danish psychologist, Nicolai Sennels, offered an answer on The Gates of Vienna. Breivik claims that he found inspiration for his massacre in blogs focusing on Islam and Muslim immigration, Sennels writes, but his true inspiration was the Lashkar-e-Taiba attack in Mumbai and Al-Qaeda’s massacres around the world:
No wonder that so many newspapers initially stated that Norway had been hit by Islamists. And no wonder that Islamists were the only ones to call the tragedy “good news”. Breivik’s interpretation of the Islam-critical blogs that he mentions in his manifesto is just as subjective and just as much a misunderstanding as the democratic and peaceful Muslims’ interpretation of their own religion.
That much-maligned American site’s own commentator (July 31) stresses that it is ludicrous to be blamed for a lone barbarian’s “research”, but that is exactly what the Left must needs do—when the prospect of accepting responsibility for what your culture produces is too terrifying, then you must find scapegoats to relieve your own anxiety:
With the imposition of the EU “Constitution” on member states, free speech among the citizens of that sad failure is greatly imperiled. The elites have granted you the right to say and think whatever they approve. The idea that free speech is inherent in the dignity of the individual is being systematically destroyed in favor of the collective mind, a collective whose rules are written by the oligarchs currently in power in the EU. You are no longer permitted to live and move and have your being outside their pre-approved strictures. Many of our European friends are understandably scared for themselves and for their countries. I can’t say that I blame them. The boundaries of their homelands are blurring, the doors out of the gilded cage of the nanny state are quietly closing, one by one. We grieve with you. We see our own Gramscians attempting the same thing in our country, too. Will they win? It’s hard to say at this point. The Founding Ideals, of free speech and individual dignity, are under fierce attack here also.
They are indeed, and Diana West, writing in The Brussels Journal, identifies The New York Times as a key player in the swift-moving drive to limit free speech about Islamization in the West. She points out the manner in which the paper initially published and subsequently omitted a report of Breivik’s lawyer stating that his client’s attack was directed against the Norwegian the Labor Party, not Muslim immigrants. The paper’s theme is one of Muslim aggrievement, even though most of Breivik’s victims were non-Muslim. Such aggrievement, however, fits the Times’ anti-anti-jihad narrative to date, also dovetailing with machinations on the Left:
Forgive my cynicism, but I don’t see how else to interpret the omission of highly relevant news, the projection of Muslim victimization, and the apparent elevation of a criminal lunatic's pseudo-thesis to a means to silence “politically incorrect” critiques of Islam. Which is in itself a kind of tragedy. The cynics and manipulators, eager for political advantage, fail to see the attack for what it was: a shattering blow to all of civilized society.