Envoy's chilling response to crimes of a psychopath

11 August 2011

Published in The Jewish News: 11th August 2011

Anders Breivik’s appalling massacre of the innocents has left many questions unanswered, not least the killer’s motives for the attack. His manifesto, which quotes dozens of prominent libertarians and conservatives, is a rambling, xenophobic tract that contains an unbridled assault on Islam and multiculturalism. He talks of stopping the “Islamic colonisation” of Europe and seeks to reverse the “demographic jihad” of Muslim immigration.

He believes that his country’s elites have sold out to “cultural Marxism” which he blames for a plethora of ills ranging from feminism to political correctness. He pictures himself as a Christian defender of cultural conservatism and, in keeping with paranoid conspiracy theorists, believes America has a “Jewish problem”.

While his crime has caused understandable revulsion, some of the reactions from the political elite have been genuinely disturbing. Norway’s former PM, Thorbjørn Jagland, warned Europe’s leaders to use more caution in criticising multiculturalism and said that they “should not play with fire”.

The Guardian’s Seumas Milne claimed that Breivik’s concerns mirrored “the ideas and fixations of transatlantic conservatives” who had become overly obsessed with radical Islam. He smeared the thinkers quoted on Breivik’s manifesto, such as Robert Spencer and Melanie Phillips, and suggested that their worldview was akin to the killer’s.

The implication is that these polemicists were guilty of a hate crime and that they bear indirect responsibility for Breivik’s actions. Indeed some will argue that because of the massacre in Norway, any criticism of immigration and multiculturalism should now be off limits.

But this is absurd reasoning. If we followed this prescription, we would cease debating animal rights, abortion or any number of controversial topics just because of the criminal actions of extremists. More importantly, there is no logical continuum between having a far right agenda and shooting dead dozens of white Norwegian teenagers. These were clearly the actions of a psychopath, rather than an over zealous political ideologue. To treat Breivik as a rational actor is therefore ridiculous.

Next came the disturbing suggestion that because the Church was not answerable for Breivik’s actions, Islam too should not be held to account for Muslim bombers. In a recent article, Boris Johnson stated emphatically that “we should not ‘blame “Islam” for all acts of terror committed by young Muslim males”. He pictured Breivik as a “pathetic” narcissist with deep feelings of personal inadequacy, before inviting us to view Islamists in the same way.

Again, this is overly simplistic. For one thing, mainstream commentators rarely blame Islam for the actions of Muslim terrorists. Instead they qualify their remarks by talking of ‘Islamist’ attacks and are usually mindful of not tarring all members of a community with the same brush.

In any case, Muslim terrorists are more than just insecure individuals with an opportunist attachment to a cause. Their war is a religious one which takes inspiration from the tenets and holy books of the faith.

Its followers, goaded by imams and ayatollahs, are taught that Islam mandates them to kill and subjugate ‘infidels’ in order to bring about a renewed caliphate.

They attend training camps, mosques and madrassas where they are brainwashed in the totalitarian tenets of jihad. And in countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, these religious teachings are mainstream.

By contrast, Breivik would have been hard pressed to find a church, summer school or youth camp supporting his crusade for white supremacy. No self-respecting pastor would call on Breivik to purge the "undesirables" in order to spread the Word more effectively. His actions were un-Christian in every sense.

But the most chilling reaction to the attacks came from Norway’s ambassador to Israel, Svein Sevye. In a recent interview, he contrasted the terror attacks in his own country and in Israel. Breivik, he said, “had an ideology that says that Norway, particularly the Labour Party, is foregoing Norwegian culture”. By contrast, his countrymen considered “the occupation to be the cause of the terror against Israel”. In other words, when Hamas organise a murderous rampage, Israelis only have themselves to blame.

Leaving aside the embarrassing historical inaccuracy, as shown by the vast number of terror attacks perpetrated before 1967, it is grossly provocative and profoundly immoral to pick and choose which terrorists to condemn.

Terrorism is always beyond the pale, whether its victims live in Oslo, London or Jerusalem. Regardless of the cause, there is no standpoint from which the deliberate and indiscriminate killing of civilians for political ends is ever justified. If there is any lesson from last month’s tragedy, it is surely that one.


31 December, 2013

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"Iraq may have been a perilous adventure but without it Britain and its allies would still face a protracted threat from Islamic extremism." (Iraq and 7th July - The Guardian)

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