The terrorist attack in Norway that was called “the deadliest attack by a lone gunman anywhere in modern times” was committed by an individual who placed himself in the tradition of Charles Martel and other Christian defenders of Europe. If you can bear it, here is a boring 12-minute video he posted attacking “cultural Marxism,” multiculturalism and Muslims. And here is a 1500-page document in English that he wrote to explain himself (I haven’t read most of it).
Here are some things that are almost certain:
- No Christians anywhere will celebrate his actions and give out sweets in his honor
- Right-wing groups in Europe who are opposed to multiculturalism and worried by what they consider the threat of an Islamic takeover there will nevertheless not claim to ‘understand’ his actions
- He will not turn out to have received funds or other help from any government
- Unlike the 9/11 or the 7/7 attacks, this one does not advance the political objective of its perpetrator
Despite the fact that this is one of the most viciously executed acts of terrorism of recent years — and we’ve had plenty to compare it to — I think it will be entirely ineffective as a political act.
One of the objectives of political terrorism is to draw attention to the grievances of a group or movement. How many departments of Middle East studies have been created in the US since 2001? How much material about Islam appeared in American newspapers before then?
But political terrorism is systematic. It always carries the threat that the latest outrage is only the beginning. It is intended to create a “Stockholm syndrome” effect that paradoxically leads its victims to support the cause of their tormentors. Do you think the Israeli Left would be less strident in its irrational demands for national surrender if it weren’t for the serial murders that have traumatized Jews in the Middle East for the past century or so — the phenomenon called the “Oslo syndrome?”
I do not believe that any group will claim Breivik, nor will there be follow-up attacks. His appropriation of the symbolism of Christianity will evoke revulsion. His terrible action will be seen to be disconnected from any political purpose. It’s as if he murdered nearly 100 people to protest the price of milk.
His action will probably damage the anti-multiculturalist movement in Europe. Those who want to deny the importance of ideological and religious motivations for Islamic terrorism will say “you see, both sides have crazy sociopaths — the real enemy is extremism and terrorism.”
His manifesto is a disjointed, childish collection of ramblings, some of which make sense and some which do not. It calls for a new Crusade, and points out that the Church granted indulgences for Crusaders in the Eleventh Century. It includes detailed plans for deporting Muslims, protecting Christians in Muslim-majority nations, making body armor, making bombs, obtaining weapons, obtaining nuclear weapons (really), physical training, misleading enemies, fighting techniques, lists of targets and political strategies. It discusses the need for his defense attorney to provide him with a “Justiciar Knight” uniform to be worn at his trial. It also contains chilling descriptions of the tactics that he actually employed in his attack, such as dressing as a police officer.
Despite his ideological obsession, in his vicious, personal terrorist act he doesn’t represent anyone. He is closer to Charles Manson than to Mohammed Atta.