When terrorism has a white face it invariably gets marginalized in the popular narrative. The lone wolf, the outsider, the sociopath — in many cases these portraits of misanthropic, isolated individuals who turn to violence are quite accurate.
The Oslo killings, however, should be seen in a different light since there is a wealth of evidence to suggest that the perpetrator of this atrocity, even if it turns out he was acting alone, was very much part of a political movement — a movement whose leading ideologues regularly appear on Fox News and have high public profiles.
Anders Behring Breivik, the 32-year-old Norwegian man widely assumed to be responsible for the mass murder that took place in Oslo yesterday, is being referred to as a Christian fundamentalist in many press reports.
His comments appearing on the political website Document.no suggest however that this is a rather misleading description. His views, as revealed there, are ideological rather than religious with his preeminent focus being his opposition to multiculturalism. (Quotations of Breivik appearing below come from a translation provided by Doug Saunders.)
In the United States, one of the most prominent public faces of the movement to which Breivik belongs is that of the notorious right-wing, pro-Israel, Islamophobic blogger, Pamela Geller, whose principal mouthpiece is Atlas Shrugs.
The poster below shows a recent event which she backed, along with Robert Spencer who operates Jihad Watch.
The World War Two iconography they employ — battleships, tanks and squadrons of bombers — makes it clear that they regard their campaign against “Islamization” as a kind of war. One of the battles in that war played out in Oslo yesterday.
Breivik, who probably sees himself as one of SIOE’s “freedom fighters,” describes himself as a cultural conservative and anti-Marxist liberal. In his comments at Document.no, he says little about his religious beliefs and seems to see his Christian identity primarily as a cultural identity. He writes:
I myself am a Protestant and baptized / conﬁrmed to me by my own free will when I was 15
But today’s Protestant church is a joke. Priests in jeans who march for Palestine and churches that look like the minimalist shopping centers. I am a supporter of an indirect collective conversion of the Protestant church back to the Catholic. In the meantime, I vote for the most conservative candidates in church elections.
The only thing that can save the Protestant church is to go back to basics.
Breivik is much more specific in identifying the sources from whom he takes his own ideological direction: Robert Spencer, Fjordman, Atlas [Pamela Geller], Analekta [Informatics], Gates of Vienna, The Brussels Journal, and The Religion of Peace.
These are the preeminent voices promoting fear and hatred of Islam across Europe and America. But they also form — at least in Breivik’s mind — the “epicenter” of “political analysis” on the threat posed to cultural conservatives by multiculturalism in Europe and America. He recommends Fjordman’s book, “Defeating Eurabia,” as “the perfect Christmas gift for family and friends.”
Do any of the leaders of Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) and Stop Islamization of Europe (SIOE) advocate that their “freedom fighters” should adopt violent tactics such as those employed by Breivik? Perhaps not. Indeed, I have little doubt that in the coming days we will hear many vociferous disavowals of their having any association with the Norwegian. But have no doubt, while they might have a sincere revulsion for Breivik’s actions, they cannot so easily disassociate themselves from the ideas that drove him to murder almost a hundred innocent people.
Two years ago, Breivik called on fellow Norwegians to form a youth action group “that represents our ideological platform (anti-racist but critical of multiculturalism / Islamization etc).” He saw the group developing as part of Stop Islamization of Europe or as a new group that would model itself on SIOE and the English Defense League.
“For me it is very hypocritical to treat Muslims, Nazis and Marxists differ[ently]. They are all supporters of hate-ideologies,” Breivik writes. There is a whiff of the Bush doctrine here — that we should not differentiate between terrorists and those who harbor them. There’s also a hint of Bin Laden’s idea of the near enemy and the far enemy.
Breivik argues that cultural conservatives should not identify their main opponents as Jihadists, but instead should focus their attention on those he regards as the “facilitators” of Jihadists, namely, the proponents of multiculturalism. Hence his vehement opposition to Norway’s Labour Party and its leader, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.
Those in the anti-Islam movement who now want to distance themselves from Breivik will proclaim that they are opponents of hatred and maybe that’s true — but that’s how he sees himself too: as a man dedicating his life to combating the “hate ideologies.”
As the last decade has demonstrated, whether it’s on the level of governments or individuals, those who take up a banner in the name of a crusade against hatred have a surprising willingness to employ violence in pursuit of that goal.