I have been away from the Internet for the weekend, and return to find myself being fitted out for a supporting role in Friday’s evil slaughter in Norway. The mass murderer Breivik published a 1,500-page “manifesto.” It quotes me, as well as several friends of NR — Theodore Dalrymple, Daniel Pipes, Roger Scruton, Melanie Phillips, Daniel Hannan (plus various pieces from NR by Rod Dreher and others) — and many other people, including Churchill, Gandhi, Orwell, Jefferson, John Locke, Edmund Burke, Bernard Shaw, Mark Twain, not to mention the U.S. Declaration of Independence.* Those new “hate speech” codes the Left is already clamoring for might find it easier just to list the authors Europeans will still be allowed to read.
It is unclear how seriously this “manifesto” should be taken. Parts of it simply cut and paste chunks of the last big killer “manifesto” by Ted Kaczynski, with the occasional [insert-your-cause-here] word substitute replacing the Unabomber’s obsessions with Breivik’s. This would seem an odd technique to use for a sincerely meant political statement. The entire document is strangely anglocentric – in among the citations of NR and The Washington Times, there’s not a lot about Norway.
Nevertheless, Breivik’s manifesto seems to be determining the narrative in the anglophone media. The opening sentence from USA Today:
Islamophobia has reached a mass murder level in Norway as the confessed killer claims he sought to combat encroachment by Muslims into his country and Europe.
So, if a blonde blue-eyed Aryan Scandinavian kills dozens of other blonde blue-eyed Aryan Scandinavians, that’s now an “Islamophobic” mass murder? As far as we know, not a single Muslim was among the victims. Islamophobia seems an eccentric perspective to apply to this atrocity, and comes close to making the actual dead mere bit players in their own murder. Yet the Associated Press is on board:
Security Beefed Up At UK Mosques After Norway Massacre.
But again: No mosque was targeted in Norway. A member of the country’s second political party gunned down members of its first. But, in the merest evolution of post-9/11 syndrome, Muslims are now the preferred victims even in a story in which they are entirely absent. A Tweeter thinks that “turning this scumbag’s atrocity in Norway into a lesson about how Mark Steyn and his ilk are douchebags seems… opportunistic,” but that’s the least of it. Even by the elastic definitions of “Islamophobia,” the angle being pursued is bizarre and profoundly tasteless: A rambling Internet pdf is trumping the facts on the ground — trumping the specifics of what occurred, and the victims. This man Breivik may think he’s making history and bestriding the geopolitical currents and the clash of civilizations, but in the end he went and shot up his neighbors. Why let his self-aggrandizing bury the reality?
Any of us who write are obliged to weigh our words, and accept the consequences of them. But, when a Norwegian man is citing Locke and Burke as a prelude to gunning down dozens of Norwegian teenagers, he is lost in his own psychoses. Free societies can survive the occasional Breivik. If Norway responds to this as the Left appears to wish, by shriveling even further the bounds of public discourse, freedom will have a tougher time.