Humanity has always been violent. Criminal acts and atrocious crimes are the not the sole property of any one group, as anyone doing even a cursory review of European history (especially in the 20th Century) can attest. What happened in Norway was a crime of the most vile kind: an act of deranged terrorism where a man driven to madness and violence felt the need, even justification, to murder innocents just so his political and cultural concerns would gain notice.
The confessed killer, Oslo native Anders Breivik, offers as his twisted explanation for his actions a frustration over what he sees as his country’s cultural surrender to the ever growing influences of Islam and the Labor Party’s weakness in the face of this threat to his nation’s identity, traditions and values. (Hence the attack on a Labor Party retreat). The irony here is that Breivik probably did severe harm to his own cause by painting a growing, and legitimate, concern over the Islamification of Europe and the West as a whole with the hues of fringe lunacy.
But, Breivik’s horrific crimes notwithstanding, the rise of Islamic influence in the West from Oslo to Paris to Rome, and the clash of cultures it is creating throughout Europe, is still very much an issue. It has been discussed in logical and reasoned terms by writers from Mark Steyn, to Pamela Geller, to the late Oriana Fallaci and Robert Spencer as well as the focus of numerous websites like Jihadwatch.org. Furthermore the growing influence of pan-Islamism has been addressed by such notable politicians as German Chancellor Angela Merkel who recently admitted in a moment of stunning candor for hyper-sensitive Europe that her nation’s attempt as Islamic assimilation through the multi-cultural approach has been an abject failure.
As if on cue, The New York Times was quick to point out that sections of Breivik’s 1,500 page anti-Islamic ‘manifesto’ quotes some passages from Spencer’s books. Naturally, the left-leaning media, always anxious to paint those who cherish the ideals, history, culture and political expressions of the West as intolerant, hate-filled xenophobes, quickly gravitated to a false syllogism: Spencer was quoted by Breivik … Breivik killed 76 people … ergo Spencer and his like are partly to blame for the murders. Ostensibly, if you have publicly spoken out in defense of your civilization against the forces of misogynism, anti-Semitism, anti-liberalism, homophobia, intolerance towards any religion but one, etc. you may have blood on your hands because one crazed, viciously prejudiced madman distilled a call to violence from genuine concerns over the future of the West and the liberal ideals of inclusiveness, religious tolerance, justice, and equality before the law that we so value. (I guess I am guilty too even?)
This is not how free speech works. Or so we have been told by the “I don’t agree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it” crowd. One should be free to express their views without concern over their misuse and abuse by extremists in any of the backwaters inevitably found within the vast ocean of political discourse.
Still, something is fascinating about this story that is more than the macabre. Yes, terrorists come in all shapes, sizes, and ideological pretexts, and death from a hail neo-Nazi bullets is no less loathsome than from the edge of a jihadist blade. But what makes these attacks newsworthy beyond the staggering death toll is the fact that, despite the familiar m.o., the perpetrator was a self-professed, action-unproven “Christian,” not a Muslim. That is of course as much the story to the left as the dead themselves. Yet maybe the media should take a step back at this time and ask itself why is the non-Muslim angle so newsworthy? Could it be because, according to the website religionofpeace.com, Islam has been the motivation behind 17,498 acts of international terrorism since 9/11 to the present? That is a rate four-to-five each day, every day for almost ten years. Can any other group, save perhaps Mexican drug cartels, boast such a steady stream of violence against so many innocents? That bloody fact remains … Norway notwithstanding.
Okay. For sake of argument, let us even put forth a shaky notion that the anti-jihadist websites and books like Spencer’s Islam Unveiled and The Truth About Muhammed provided the eloquence to put Breivik’s rage and evil act into words. But there would be no such writings to peruse through but for a threat to Western identity that is just as alive and disconcerting today as it was a week ago. After all, if NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman can raise the specter of at least partial American complicity in the rise of Bin-Ladinism (May 3, 2011), then I at least expect someone at the Times to explore modern jihadist Islam’s role in fostering the growing misgivings about its power. What have Spencer, Steyn, Geller and others noticed to compel them to raise the alarm? All one need do is consider the rapidly changing face of Europe, especially its cities, to see that their concerns are not unfounded but rather based upon empirical realities as visible now as the mosque of Rome. Realities that drove Breivik to madness … not what he read.
Timothy McVeigh saw himself as a defender of the Constitution, yet I do not blame James Madison for Oklahoma City. Evil men have used the Bible to justify all sorts of despicable behaviors, but I do not feel the culpability rests with those who wrote the text. And I certainly think that to somehow pin partial blame for the acts of a crazed lunatic on the writings of those whose aim is not to inspire hatred and intolerance, but rather draw much-needed scrutiny to the growing power of the haters and intolerants, is a ludicrous notion. Worse, it could stifle a debate that is very much needed in the West today and whose core question remains: where is the line drawn beyond which accommodation of others in the name of tolerance becomes cultural, social and political suicide?
I pray that the free speech warriors of the left do not fall down their familiar rabbit hole of hypocrisy by giving any credence beyond mental illness to this Norwegian’s vile actions. The dead of Oslo and Utoya Island deserve better than to be used as a pawn to advance a political agenda. That was what Breivik was hoping to achieve.