The state of mind of Anders Breivik is beyond understanding for a normal person. There’s been some discussion as to whether there are ‘signs of mental illness’ in the document that he provided to ‘explain’ himself, but asking the question is ridiculous — clearly there is a big piece missing from his brain, or soul, or whatever. One doesn’t need to be a psychologist to recognize a monster.
It’s probably unavoidable that there will be a few sociopaths like him in our societies. When the pathology is combined with intelligence, energy and resourcefulness, they can be tremendously dangerous. Sometimes they even become the leaders of nations, where they can do thousands of times more damage than Anders Breivik.
But our response to them ought not to be hysteria, but rational thought. And the reactions to Breivik have been anything but rational.
Voices from the Israel-obsessed Left claim that he was working for the Mossad, acting to punish Norway for its support of the Palestinian Arabs. These types are as crazy as Breivik, if somewhat less dangerous.
No, I’m talking about the ‘moderate’ voices in our media, who have pitched themselves into an abyss of illogic in response to this terrorist act. Illogic — and character assassination.
Here is what the respected columnist Eugene Robinson wrote in the Washington Post (and it will probably appear in my local paper this week):
The monster who admitted slaughtering at least 76 innocent victims in Norway was animated by the same blend of paranoia, xenophobia and alienation that fuels anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. Yes, it could happen here…
In a 1,500-page screed setting out his philosophy, Breivik referred favorably to the work of several well-known anti-Muslim polemicists in the United States — zealots who usually boast of their influence but now, for some reason, seek to deny it.
Breivik quoted Robert Spencer, a writer who runs a Web site called Jihad Watch, more than 60 times. Spencer is the author of such books as “Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam Is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs,” “Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t” and “The Truth about Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion.”
Robinson has just asserted, without any attempt at proof, that Robert Spencer’s opposition to Islam is based on “paranoia, xenophobia and alienation” which is the “same blend” as that of Breivik. But whether or not you agree with Spencer, who thinks that Islam is inherently expansionist, or with Daniel Pipes (whom Breivik also quoted a few times), who thinks that a radical interpretation of Islam is contending with a more traditional and less confrontational one, these are rational points of view.
They are based on analysis of Islamic writings and statements, and historical and current facts. They may be right or wrong, but they rational. Nobody knows what demons possessed Breivik, but he certainly did not get the idea of “executing traitors” from Spencer. Robinson’s blazing non sequitur constitutes defamation of Spencer and others.
Nevertheless, Robinson tries to prove that there is a direct connection:
At least one anti-Muslim blogger had the decency to acknowledge feeling “terrible” about being cited in Breivik’s writings. The anonymous “Baron Bodissey,” who runs a Web site called Gates of Vienna, wrote that Breivik “is a monster and deserves just as little pity as he gave to his innocent, unarmed victims.”
Unfortunately, the blogger went on to write that Breivik’s “total lack of respect for human life is not, however, something he can have picked up from me, or from any of the other Islam-critical writers I know. . . . Indeed, the lack of respect for human life is often one of the great shortcomings of Islamic culture that we have consistently pointed out.”
Think about the implications of that last sentence. If Muslims have no respect for human life, why should anyone respect their lives? Or, for that matter, the lives of the government officials who invite Muslims to live among us? Or the lives of the sons and daughters of such traitorous quislings?
The sentence in question says that a lack of respect for human life often — not necessarily, but often — characterizes Islamic culture. And I’m sure that the blogger in question would cite mass terror attacks and suicide bombers as evidence for that.
Now, I wouldn’t make a statement like that, even with the qualifier ‘often’. I would be much more specific about which Muslims I was referring to. Nevertheless, I see the point of it (if you don’t, note the Palestinian attitudes toward terrorism revealed in this survey).
But the leap to the idea that therefore one should not respect their lives, or anyone else’s, is not justified by logic or reason. It is a non-sequitur, not unlike Robinson’s attribution of devilish characteristics to Robert Spencer, and in particular the kind of non-sequitur that a deranged psychopath with murder on his mind might find useful. It was a peg for Breivik to hang his murderous hat on.
Robinson’s statement that the “implications” of the statement he quotes are that murder is justified, along with the accusations that Spencer and others are “prejudiced purveyors of anti-Islam vitriol” constitute an attempt to characterize legitimate political discourse as hate speech and to shut it down.
Robinson is actually relatively mild, compared to some others. But it’s not unexpected. After all, as Rahm Emanuel almost said, a massacre is a terrible thing to waste.