An abbreviated version of the following essay was published by FrontPage Mag.
The Trial of Anders Behring Breivik: Week One
The first week of the trial against the confessed mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik has been completed in Oslo. The way it has been carried out has intrigued visiting foreign journalists in both positive and negative ways. A representative of the television news channel CNN was impressed that Norwegians take “pride in the fact they are a society who will respect Breivik’s human rights, even when he showed no respect for the lives of others.”
Many are shocked to find out, though, that the maximum penalty one can get in Norway for any crime is 21 years in prison. That’s in total, not per murder, although there are admittedly mechanisms in place for keeping a person locked up indefinitely if he still poses a threat to society.
If Breivik is judged to be sane he will thus get just a few months in a comfortable jail for each of the 77 murders he committed. Is that a sign of a society that values human life, or is it a sign of a society putting the rights of criminals above those of their victims?
Friday April 20th was the worst day so far. That day the terrorist described in horrifying detail and with shocking indifference the dozens of individual murders he committed during his shooting spree on the island of Utøya outside Oslo. Yet he had cried publicly only a couple of days earlier when the court showed his own rather silly and unprofessional propaganda movie.
The political commentator John Olav Egeland said that Geir Lippestad and the other defense lawyers worked hard in court to make Breivik appear as rational as possible. The purpose of this was to have him declared sane, as well as “to spread the responsibility for the actions Breivik has done.”
I finished reading his manifesto a week before the trial began. I was struck by how much he has quoted the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia, and how little focus on this has been appeared in the mass media — as opposed to the fact that he cites some Islam-critical writers.
Calling Breivik “the Wikipedia terrorist” is perhaps an exaggeration, but he certainly uses this source very extensively, from discussing weapons and body armor, to the nuclear reactors he fantasizes about blowing up. He admitted during the trial that the English language version of Wikipedia has been his main source of education. It has probably shaped his strange and imprecise political vocabulary, too. For example, he employs the term “national anarchists,” which is not commonly used in major publications.
Breivik in his long statement in court, Breivik quoted in a slightly modified version the American President John F. Kennedy: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” This was also highlighted in his 1518 page so-called manifesto, in which he quoted another former US President, Thomas Jefferson, that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” These quotes are more militant than anything ever written by Robert Spencer, Bat Ye’or, Andrew Bostom, Melanie Phillips, or myself.
On page 1120, ABB cites the American Declaration of Independence from 1776 in favor of his views. This document was written primarily by Thomas Jefferson. He mentions the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, the right to bear arms, and thereafter refers to Mahatma Gandhi and the quote “Disobedience of the law of an evil state is therefore a duty.”
The Western mass media have widely portrayed those quoted in Breivik’s manifesto — against their will — as dangerous right-wing extremists. Do these alarming extremists include Thomas Jefferson and Gandhi?
On page 1164 Breivik quotes the Marxist leader Fidel Castro, who ruled Cuba for half a century, as stating that “I began the revolution with 82 men. If I had to do it again, I would do it with 10 or 15 individuals with absolute faith. It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and a plan of action.” Mr. Castro represents a totalitarian ideology, and although he is revolutionary Socialist, he has not been blamed for inspiring Breivik.
Much has been written about Breivik’s alleged ties to the English Defence League. The truth is that the EDL are quite marginal in Breivik’s manifesto. In the single longest mention he makes of them, on page 1436, he specifically denounces them as being a bunch of useless, non-violent sissies. He has repeated this view in court, but many notoriously dishonest journalists couldn’t care less about the facts and keep repeating these false allegations.
On page 1111, the author in his manifesto stresses the importance of finding “a nationalistic oriented (patriotic) lawyer,” not a person representing the ruling regime. If so, why did Breivik himself choose defense lawyer Geir Lippestad, who is an active member of the ruling Labor Party and was initially reluctant to take the case?
On page 1263 he writes that “Currently, 99,9% of individuals involved in the European resistance movements have never done anything illegal and will and should continue to operate within the law.” So how does he expect to win sympathy from these people, which he hopes he will get, by committing such hideous atrocities?
In a striking number of cases Breivik doesn’t make logical sense even when read on his own terms. In general, he comes off as logically incoherent, exceptionally self-centered and seemingly devoid of any conscience.
Anders Behring Breivik repeatedly stresses that he is against “racism,” yet later in the manifesto he suddenly decides that race does matter after all. This is just one of the many and sometimes large logical inconsistencies to be found throughout this puzzling text. His writings must therefore be taken with a grain of salt. Breivik is an uneducated poseur with a God complex, not a serious or complex thinker, and he should be treated accordingly.
Jan Oskar Engene, an Associate Professor in Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen specializing in terrorism, cautions against attempts made by commentators to reconstruct an elaborate ideology behind the terrorist’s acts. It’s not evident that Breivik the high-school dropout espouses any coherent political ideology.
Breivik is the anti-Nazi who admires neo-Nazis, the anti-Marxist who admires Marxist revolutionaries, the anti-Islamist who openly admires and emulates Islamic Jihadist terrorists, the non-religious person who thinks he will be canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church for murdering unarmed teenagers, a “perfect knight” who calls his sister a slut, and a modest man who believes that his candy-eating habits are of geopolitical importance.
Breivik is consistently inconsistent, or very nearly so. He contradicts himself so frequently that it’s hard to keep track of his basic ideas, if he has any at all apart from glorifying his own person through murder. One of the few ideas he is consistent about is that he admires the mentality and methods of Islamic Jihadist terrorists, from potential suicide attacks to their propaganda and the idea of posting videos of beheadings on the Internet.
ABB has stressed multiple times in very clear words that he wants to emulate the Islamic terror network al-Qaida, which he sees as a successful revolutionary organization and a blueprint for a similar, European version. On page 1367, the manifesto cites Mohammed that “War is deceit.” He discusses the practice of taqiyya (sacred lying) and notes that Muslims are “masters of deception.”
Breivik admires these Islamic traits, as well as the Marxist talent for organization. He drew on methods similar to the taqiyya practices of lies and dissimulation employed by Jihadist terrorists such as Mohammed Atta in order to remain undetected while planning his terror attacks.
He has learned a great deal from Muslims on how to stage deadly attacks in order to attract media attention. Breivik doesn’t hide this inspiration, either. On pages 1074-1075 of his manifesto/compendium, he explicitly writes about “Learning from the Muslims,” especially when it comes to “martyrs” and the treatment of these.
This connection is not at all marginal but has been repeatedly emphasized by Breivik himself, in his manifesto as well as during police interrogation and talks with psychiatrists. Muslim Holy Warriors and so-called martyrs derive their inspiration from the Koran, the hadith and other Islamic texts describing the Sunna or personal example of Mohammed and his early companions. Given that Breivik betrays great admiration for Muslim militants, and partly models himself after their behavior, this implies that one of his most important indirect inspirations is actually the Koran and other Islamic texts. Yet few mainstream journalists have highlighted this connection.
Anders Behring Breivik stated in court during the second day of the trial that it was important for the conflict in the long run to provoke a “witch-hunt” now. Mette Yvonne Larsen, one of the lawyers representing survivors and victim’s families, asked Breivik directly about who had inspired him for the terror attacks of 22/7. He replied that he had learned his methodology from al-Qaida and had drawn ideological inspiration from “all authors who support the use of violence.” He repeated that he wanted to provoke a witch-hunt against moderate conservatives in order to increase repression, polarization and radicalization. He considers this strategy to have proven very successful, in light of how many conservatives and Islam-critics have been treated afterwards.
Lawyer Frode Elgesem then introduced me (Fjordman) as a possible source of inspiration. Breivik replied that he is very different from people like me, and that “it’s ridiculous to conduct a witch-hunt against a moderate, non-violent democrat such as Fjordman who doesn’t even support violence.” It didn’t seem to strike him as odd that just a few minutes earlier he himself stated that he committed his atrocities specifically with the intention of having the political establishment and mass media initiate a witch-hunt against moderate, non-violent democrats.
In response to this, the outspoken Australian newspaper columnist, radio commentator and television host Andrew Bolt labeled certain members of the Western press “Breivik’s useful idiots,” since they have been conducting the very witch-hunt against conservatives that he wanted to trigger: “What does it say of those who exploited Breivik’s crime to pursue an ideological vendetta that they have followed precisely the script of a lunatic?”
Daniel Pipes is an American author and political commentator, the founder of the Middle East Forum and editor of its Middle East Quarterly journal, the son of Polish Jewish refugees with a PhD from Harvard University. Pipes published some very insightful comments just five days after the terror attacks where he noted that the damage Breivik did to the Counterjihad may well have been purposeful:
Daniel Pipes noted: “Beyond massacring innocent Norwegians, Behring Breivik damaged conservatism, the counterjihad, and (in particular) those authors he cited in his writings, including myself. A close reading of his manifesto suggests this may have been purposeful,” to undermine peaceful alternatives. Pipes concluded that “Breivik hopes to undermine anyone he perceives as obstructing his dreamed-for revolution. Temporarily, at least, he has succeeded.”
Breivik, in a highly revealing quote on page 1399 of his manifesto, mentions that he had some limited low-level participation in the right-wing Progress Party (FrP) in Oslo. He correctly anticipated that this would be used to discredit the party after his attacks and derived great satisfaction from this thought. He may be at least partially insane, but there is clearly a cold, cynical and manipulating aspect to him, too. Given the fact that he drags even his family and closest friends through the mud by implicating them by name, there is a strong possibility that Breivik deliberately wanted to hurt all those who were mentioned in his manifesto, one way or the other.
The historian Obernt Oftestad stated in an interview that the grief after Breivik’s atrocities has been cynically exploited by Multiculturalists and left-wing ideologues to shame and harass their critics into submission. In his opinion, this betrays a dangerous totalitarian mentality. In a lecture given before his retirement in February 2012, Oftestad warned that after July 22, a “witch-hunt” was undertaken against those who had voiced well-founded criticism of the official integration policies and/or Islam. This is meant metaphorically. Critics were not killed, but the underlying impulses of exorcism against evil thoughts as well as evil people were nonetheless related.
The term “witch-hunt” is harsh, but has also been used by the sociologist and artist Kjetil Rolness, who is hardly a conservative. Even respectable figures such as Per Edgar Kokkvold, the long-time secretary-general of the Norwegian Press Association, has been accused by public figures such as the Socialist writer Dag Herbjørnsrud of contributing to a climate of Islamophobic hate that allegedly created Breivik.
The American author Bruce Bawer has lived in Oslo for more than a decade. As he points out, criticizing Islam is gradually becoming a punishable offense in several European countries. Following Breivik’s rampage, many high-profile Leftist activists and writers stepped forward to claim that critics of Islam shared responsibility for his crimes. In February 2012 he published an essay in the business daily The Wall Street Journal, the largest newspaper in the USA with separate Asian and European versions, where he warned against this trend:
“Anthropologist Runar Døving agreed, declaring flatly, in a Sept. 2 interview with the Norwegian weekly Morgenbladet, that criticism of Islam should be censored. Mr. Døving admitted that his view of the public square was ‘authoritarian’ — the expression of certain ideas, he said, should simply not be allowed — and that he was ‘entirely in favor of what many people are now describing as a witch hunt,’ because ‘there needs to be an investigation of what was written before July 22’ so that we can ‘see the connection between words and actions.’ Indeed, a witch hunt is under way in Norway.” In the name of tolerance and social harmony, powerful members of the left-wing intelligentsia are seeking to silence critics by linking them to mass murder. In Bawer’s view, “This campaign has been carried out on a scale, and with an intensity, that is profoundly unsettling.”
It is hard to tell whether or not Breivik is insane. Perhaps one of the reasons why there are two contradictory psychiatric reports — one concluding that he is insane and suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, the other that he is a psychopath with a narcissistic personality disorder who can be held criminally accountable for his actions — is that he straddles the boundaries between irrational madness and the calculated evil displayed in his attacks.
As a traditionalist, I believe in the best aspects of European traditions, including that of personal responsibility. The responsibility for his terror attacks lies squarely with Breivik, and with Breivik alone. The triggers can be found in his psyche, his narcissism, and his total disregard for other human beings. These form a toxic combination within a delusional thought universe where he is a “perfect knight” and a leader of an imaginary pan-European terror network.
It is nevertheless true that a mentally unbalanced person living in a fantasy world may be affected by events in the real world. The repressed frustration caused by aggressive Islamic inroads and the largest migration waves in human history can feed an already existing paranoia in certain individuals. The brutality of Islamic terror groups can trigger a desire to emulate in a man who lacks empathy and has a morbid fascination with violence.
Western governments have for decades promoted open-border policies of mass immigration. They have aggressively sought to marginalize, harass or silence those who questioned the wisdom of such policies. As a result, millions of people throughout the Western world today feel like aliens in their own cities, and disenfranchised by a dysfunctional political system that they no longer believe takes care of their long-term interests. This growing reservoir of often justified anger was something Breivik’s twisted mind could tap into. The Western political, academic and media elites facilitated the rise of European frustration and resentment that may have contributed to radicalizing Breivik. He’s their Multicultural Frankenstein monster, but after having laid the fertile basis for such currents they washed their hands of the matter and perversely blamed their critics for their own mistakes.
Given the huge challenges facing Western nations due to the unprecedented scale of modern mass migration, it is remarkable how patient most Europeans have been for so long. Millions of them are now trying to organize themselves and make their voices heard within the confines of a democratic system. In this situation it is very unwise for Western leaders to try to suppress those who express their legitimate concerns in non-violent ways.
For a complete archive of Fjordman’s writings, see the multi-index listing in the Fjordman Files.