People gather around a makeshift memorial outside the Domkirken church in Oslo on July 25, 2011 where a minute of silence was observed. Photographer: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP
OK, the connection between the Norwegian terrorism and science may not be immediately obvious. And I don’t refer here to the chemistry of his bomb manufacture (which he relates at length in his compendium).
No, I refer to his attitude towards science as demonstrated by the little tirade in the compendium about climate change (see Chapter 2.72: Green is the new red – Stop Enviro-communism.)
Here he presents climate science as having an agenda “to contribute to create as world government lead by the UN or in other ways increase the transfer of resources (redistribute resources) from the developed Western world to the third world.” He calls it the “Anthropogenic Global Warming scam.” He recommends a video starring our old friend Christopher Monckton. And presents the classical denier rave about “climategate.”
It’s all stuff we had heard before – and actually local climate change denier Ian Wishart presents this very same conspiracy in his book Air Con (which I reviewed in Alarmist con).
And that is the thing about his compendium. it mostly reads like a cut-and-paste from conservative websites, blogs and forums. Sure, he may have added a little in terms of a programme to assassinate many people throughout Europe, listing organisations and political parties he targets. And the explicit threat or programme of violence is not usually articulated in those conservative sources. But his whole justification is based on that conservatism and the conservative issues like anti-communism, climate change denial, promotion of patriarchy and theocracy and opposition to liberalism and feminism. These conservative issues have fed his hatred, advocacy of violence and assassination programme.
I am actually intrigued that almost all the local blogs who have in the past promoted the ideas covered by this compendium have been strangely silent on the terror in Norway. There hasn’t (so far) been a squeak of condemnation or comment from the usual list of climate change denier and conservative Christian blogs. It must be embarrassing for them to see such an inhuman terrorist advocating for the same issues they have in the past.
But there have been commentators who have argued in support of Breivik’s ideas. Usually they start by clarifying that they are opposed to the murder and terrorism, “, but . . . .!.” As a mate of mine used to say you can usually ignore everything that comes before the word “but.”
For example, a commenter here claims “the ’multi-cultural’ issue has provided the catalyst for this act.’ I bet conservatives throughout Europe are doing the same thing – opportunistically using this dreadful event to argue their extreme approach to the cultural problems in Europe. Fortunately the Norwegians have adopted a far more adult and humane response – and most people admire them for it.
This “catalyst” argument can, and probably will, be used on all these issues – feminism, religion, climate change, immigration, religious privilege, etc., – to divert the discussion onto conservative hobby horses. And away from the immense and real problem of hatred and terrorism.
And if we want to look for real catalysts none of these issues really qualify. The real catalyst for Breivik’s terror is the climate of conservative hatred that is so often promoted on these issues. The “them vs us” mentality promoted on issues like feminism, politics, reproductive rights, family, climate change, etc.
It’s not a terrifically big step to go from Christopher Monckton’s advocacy of prosecuting climate scientists and imprisoning the to the final solution – assassination of one’s political foes, even those with the same ethnicity and religion. Even children or teenagers (as in the Labour Party camp on UtÃ¸ya).
So you don’t have to
Breivik has been very clever in preparing and making his compendium freely available before his acts of terror. He obviously fantasised that these ideas could lead to popular support for a patriotic, conservative, European revolution.
I certainly hope it has the opposite reaction. Once people see these relatively populist conservative issues connected with sich inhumane terror, surely this will help discredit those ideas? (Perhaps that’s why the local conservative bloggers are so quiet). So in a sense I think it is worth becoming familiar with his programme.
Few people will bother reading this tedious 1500 page document but much of it will be repeated on the internet and in newspapers. I recommend anyone interested to follow JeffSharlet (@JeffSharlet) on twitter. he is currently reading, and briefly reporting on, that document. Follow the tag #ReadingBreivik. Sharlet is a published author – I recommend his books C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy and The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. Jeff will probably be writing some in-depth articles on Breivik and there is rumour of a Blogging Heads interview.
Breivik has made problems of “multi-culturalism” worse
Finally, Sam Harris makes some valid points in his blog post Christian Terrorism and Islamophobia. He is critical of the presentation of as a “Christian fundamentalist.” He is clearly a cultural Christian and advocates elements of theocracy and religious discrimination. But his writing don’t across as that of a fundamentalist. Clearly conservative and anti-Islam.
But that introduces another problem. There are religious and cultural problems in Europe. There is a lot of Islamophobia. The later makes proper discussion of these problems difficult. A simple discussion of religious privilege, problems of Sharia law, tax exemptions, faith schools, etc., can cause a naive liberal response involving charges of islamophobia.
So the diversionist tactic promoting the idea that the cause of this terrorism is the “catalyst” of Islam or “multi-culturalism” will only increase the reluctance to sensibly discuss these issues.
As Sam says: “the final irony of Breivik’s despicable life is that he has made that truth even more difficult to speak about.”