Breivik, Islamophobia, and the Destructive Culture Wars in the West

Some readers may have already seen the article by Bret Stephens that cites me.

In a superb new book, “Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of Millennial Experience,” Boston University’s Richard Landes notes just how pervasive this kind of impulse has been throughout history and across cultures, and how much its many strains—Christian, Marxist, Islamist, Nazi, environmentalist and so on—have in common. Breivik, Mr. Landes says, was of a piece: “Like many active cataclysmic apocalypticists, he believed that the socio-political world is in huge tension, like tectonic plates about to crack, and if he can set off a small explosion in the right place it will unleash far greater forces.” In this sense, Mr. Landes adds, “the thing he resembles most is the people he hates.”

Obviously, I’m pleased at the praise. I can’t, however, say that I like his list of millennial movements. If he’s going to put environmentalism in there he needs to include democracy and Zionism — all forms of millennialism although dramatically different from the death-cults worshipped by others on this list. To put environmentalism after Nazism is not really fair, either to environmentalism (except the most extreme varieties that feel only with the death of some six billion people can the planet be saved), or to my understanding of the varieties of the millennial experience, which includes a wide variety of actors, including both Francis of Assissi and Stalin.

The article continues:

What it is, is millenarian [in my terminology, "apocalyptic"]: the belief that all manner of redemptive possibilities lie on just the other side of a crucible of unspeakable chaos and suffering. At his arrest, Breivik called his acts “atrocious but necessary.” Stalin and other Marxists so despised by Breivik might have said the same thing about party purges or the liquidation of the kulaks.

Eloquently said. And probably no small number of Nazis who did not like the unsavory business of exterminating a whole people convinced themselves with similar arguments. Active cataclysmic apocalyptic is the most destructive ideological force the world has ever seen, and in the past, when those forest fires have “taken” (like the Taiping in China, chapter 7), tens of millions lie dead in their wake.

The article concludes:

Norway, Europe and probably the U.S. will now have anxious debates about xenophobia, populism and the rise of neofascism. These are worthy topics, but they are incidental to understanding what happened on Friday. What we witnessed was the irruption of an impulse—more psychological than political—that defines a broader swath of the ideological spectrum than most people would care to acknowledge.

I received the following email today from someone for whose intellectual integrity I have a great deal of respect.

I can’t agree in any way with the journalist’s conclusion that ‘xenophobia, populism and the rise of neofascism … are incidental to understanding what happened on Friday’. Certain (significant and influential, I grant you) elements of the left try to disassociate violent political Islam from the rest of the religion entirely, as if there were no connection; some of the commentariat seems to be doing exactly the same with respect to this guy and the new European populist right. Other than partisan point-scoring, I can’t see the how that helps in any way.

I initially agreed with this note, and was somewhat dismayed by Stephens’ use of “incidental” (even though in some senses it replaces the “right-left” split with my apocalyptic analysis, in which the psychological tendencies to be found on both – all – sides of the political divide are more significant than the the differences). But as I reread Stephens, I think he is on to something here.

This is not about xenophobia – I’m willing to bet that Breivik is not hostile to every stranger in Norway. The fear of Islamism and its military wing of global Jihad is an entirely legitimate concern, and to dismiss it as xenophobia is both dishonest and dangerous. It is an active cataclysmic apocalyptic movement aimed at a hierarchical millennium (i.e., it believes that massive destruction must occur and Jihadis are Allah’s agents in bringing that destruction about, in order to bring on a millennial kingdom in which Dar al Islam dominates the globe (my chapter 14).

This is also not populism, although clearly people who are not part of the elite in the public sphere are more ready to break with taboos that constrain intellectuals who want to avoid being called racist, in order to talk about the problems of Islam. But there are plenty of serious observers who see a serious problem. Bruce Brawer is not a populist.

This is also not about “Christian Fundamentalism” – a favorite trope of anti-Islamophobic discourse. As Massimo Introvigne, one of the more astute observers of new religions noted:

At first, the media called Anders Behring Breivik a Christian fundamentalist, some of them even a Roman Catholic. This shows the cavalier use of the word “fundamentalist” prevailing today in several quarters. In fact, Breivik is something different, as evidenced by his videos, his postings on document.no and his 1,500-page book 2083 – A European Declaration of Independence which, interestingly enough, was first made publicly available on the Internet by Kevin Slaughter, an ordained minister in Anton LaVey (1930-1997)’s Church of Satan which, by the way, has a sizeable following in Norway.

The eagerness to label him so betrays an almost irresistible meme among some, as evidenced in this mistake-filled paragraph by Peter Beinart.

It may be about neo-fascism, although given the highly selective use of fascism these days (which dates back to the 60s when anyone we didn’t like was a fascist, and today must not be applied to Islamism), that would take some serious – and worthwhile – discussion.

What I do think is that Breivik has given us all something to think about and worry about. I think those who have stepped out into public to warn about Islamism and global Jihad, despite the near-certainty that they will be smeared as racist Islamophobes, need to think about our rhetoric.

I am cited by Breivik in his interminable 1500-page manifesto.

In the view of blogger Richard Landes, the media play a critical role in the global Jihad’s success. The major media outlets “are the eyes and ears of modern civil societies. Without them we cannot know what is going on outside of our personal sphere, with them we can make our democratic choices in elections, assess foreign policy, and intervene humanely in the suffering around the globe. But as any paleontologist will tell you, any creature whose eyes and ears misinform it about the environment, will not long survive.”

That’s a line I’ve written many times, sincerely believe, and will stand behind in any forum, intellectual or polemical. And, in the past, I would have agreed with the analogy Breivik makes from my point:

This can be compared to being attacked by an angry and hungry polar bear, while your eyes and ears, the media, tell you that it’s a cute koala bear who just wants to be cuddled. Meanwhile, your brain has been indoctrinated to think happy thoughts about diversity and smile to all creatures, regardless of their nature or intentions. This is pretty much how the entire West is today. The heavy bias of our media and our education system constitutes a very real threat to our survival.

I’ve even used the saying “sharing your lunch with a polar bear.” And I have written in my book about Stephen Spielberg’s contribution to the idea that if we just hug them, the ET’s are eager to be our friends (chapter 13). But when someone like Breivik takes it literally (if you’re being attacked by a polar bear, you should shoot it), then I clearly need to be very careful how I use rhetoric and analogies.

On the other hand, if people who claim to represent the “left” (I think the whole “right-left” spectral analysis has become counterproductive, but here I’m addressing people who do think it’s meaningful), would engage in a little self-criticism (no more than they demand of Israel, for example), then I think we might begin to hear some “progressives” and “liberals” addressing their inability, unwillingness, to deal with the problems with Islam. It would be hard to argue that Breivik did not act in response to a threat he perceived, that he could not get the mainstream to pay attention to.

All those people who, in the mid-aughts, like Cherie Blair and Jenny Tonge among so many, thought that Palestinian terror was an understandable response to their hopelessn condition, for which Israeli was responsible, owe it to themselves to think: what did I to contribute to Breivik’s despair, with my insistence that anyone who sounded the alarm was an Islamophobe? How much have I contributed not only to the apocalyptic radicalization of Breivik, but to driving many people who would ordinarily not have gone there, into the arms of “right-wing” protofascist groups?

Of course that means going beyond the currently operative definitions of Islamophobia – which in principle is a “irrational” fear of Islam but in practice operates as a term for anyone who criticizes Muslims and Islam sharply. People who use this term to marginalize critics of Islam(ism) need to ask themselves how much their accusations of Islamophobia as a form of racism are motivated by another Islamophobia, the fear of criticizing Islam, a form of cowardice.

This is not just about infidels and Muslims. Many – indeed most – Muslims are in danger if global Jihad continues to expand its reach and its grip. The joke about apocalyptic politics runs that “my enemy’s enemy is my enemy.” Right now the “left” is treating people who are neither fascist nor xenophobic as the enemy, when in fact we are all on the same side – in favor of decency and dignity and treating the other (and being treated by the other) with respect. It’s time to stop the culture wars within the West (the narcissism of small differences) and deal with an apocalyptic enemy that threatens, even if it will eventually fail in its goals, to engulf us in war.

The Romans coined the expression si vis pacem para bellum (if you want peace, prepare for war). The opposite is also true, and a lesson that the obsessive peace camp in Israel, who believe that adopting the Palestinian narrative will bring peace, might well take to heart: si vis bellum, para pacem. You cannot make peace with apocalyptic enemies. But you can defeat them without descending to their level. You will certainly not defeat them with cowardice masquerading as generosity of soul.

36 Responses to Breivik, Islamophobia, and the Destructive Culture Wars in the West

  1. Edwin Franklin says:

    Your last paragraph is very perceptive,but I doubt it will reach those most in need of its wisdom.

  2. Speedy says:

    You are absolutely correct in saying that you cannot make peace with millenial movements like Islamism, but that is precisely why the good-hearted cannot face the problem of Islamist ambitions. Raised to believe that all problems can be solved through dialogue, compromise and good-will, westerners cannot endure the idea that there are cases where this is not possible. When dialogue is not feasible with adversaries whose ambitions are maximal, the only alternatives are either containment or destruction. Both those choices involve the use of violent methods.

    Since many, including our elite political classes and their sycophants in the MSM cannot face those choices, they instead choose to recharacterize the enemy as frustrated and impoverished despite all the evidence to the contrary. Then they go further and demonize the critics who point out the self-evident facts. One must be struck by continued attacks by the MSM on Daniel Pipes and the wonderful work of MEMRI. All MEMRI does is translate what Islamist and mainstream Islamic TV and print media say to their audiences. Yet, MEMRI is characterized as “right wing”. I take that to mean that anyone who is truthful is by definition, not trustworthy.

    • Wien1938 says:

      “I take that to mean that anyone who is truthful is by definition, not trustworthy.”
      Speaking truth to power now means spouting leftist slogans in public.

      Well said.

    • Cynic says:

      Yet, MEMRI is characterized as “right wing”. I take that to mean that anyone who is truthful is by definition, not trustworthy.

      No, just unacceptable because what MEMRI brings to the table messes with beliefs and the emotions of the cognitive dissonance are too much to stomach.

  3. Ben says:

    Alas, intelligent, reasonable, sober and responsible thinking (and writing) about this horror show can only go so far before crashing headlong into impermeable lunacy. For too many, informed by the NY Times and other excessively broadminded, agenda-toting media, the ultimate victims of this monster are, of course, the Muslims. How else can we blame islamophobes and antijihadists for this mass murder of … non-Muslim Norwegian children by … a self-described conservative Christian Norwegian man? Then again, maybe the logic of Norway’s ambassador to Israel should apply… Perhaps we really should consider just how much of Norway’s pain can be blamed on her dead children and their grieving parents and siblings. Maybe they didn’t do enough to see the antijihadists’ side or respect the sensibilities of islamophobes. Or perhaps Norway should simply ban the expression of any and all anti-muslim sentiment so that other supposedly conservative Christians won’t massacre other non-muslin children ever again.

  4. RN says:

    As someone who first heard your name from medieval scholarship, it was with shock and sadness that I first found your blog. It saddens me further to say that I am not in the least bit surprised to hear that Breivik cited you in his manifesto of hate.

    If I said one thing I would have to say a hundred. So I will only note that while you have clearly already constructed your cosseting shield of apologia, I hope – though without optimism – that you might privately reflect on the intensely destructive and oppressive structures of thought to which you contribute.

    • Richard Landes says:

      and just what are those “”intensely destructive and oppressive structures of thought”? and would you say that when Osama Bin Laden gave the USA a reading list of US authors like Carter Walt and Mearsheimer, were you writing them about the “intensely destructive and oppressive structures of thought” to which they contribute? or does this just go one way? and why the anonymous garb. i don’t hide my identity.

      i’m not too optimistic, but i hope you read my book on millennialism and reconsider your take on what i have to say. thanks for commenting tho. i always like to hear what people have to say, even if i might prefer a little more substance and a little less snide sniping.

      • Chris says:

        Let me help:

        “All those people who, in the mid-aughts, like Cherie Blair and Jenny Tonge among so many, thought that Palestinian terror was an understandable response to their hopelessn condition, for which Israeli was responsible, owe it to themselves to think: what did I to contribute to Breivik’s despair, with my insistence that anyone who sounded the alarm was an Islamophobe? How much have I contributed not only to the apocalyptic radicalization of Breivik, but to driving many people who would ordinarily not have gone there, into the arms of “right-wing” protofascist groups?”

        This is pathetic. I mean, really? They contributed to Breivik murdering those campers? Maybe if they simply would have embraced his insane hateful Islamophobia?

        Man, I can’t believe you aren’t ashamed of that paragraph.

        • Richard Landes says:

          my point was that if tonge and blair could blame israel for the palestinian’s despair and hence turn to terror, then the same logic should apply.

          can you please define what for you the limit between reasonable criticism of Islam and “hateful Islamophobia” is? or is there no possibility of the former?

    • Ben says:

      Poor RN. Shocked and saddened to find this blog. Saddened more to say he isn’t shocked by Breivik’s mention of it. (You and Breivik apparently read some of the same things, RN. How sad does THAT make you?)
      “If I said one thing I would have to say a hundred.” It doesn’t appear that you said a hundred things. Does that mean you didn’t say one thing? That is how it looks, but I can’t be sure – your talk of “cosseting shields of apologia” and private reflection on “intensely destructive and oppressive structures of thought” makes my teeth hurt and my eyes water.
      Regardless, this blog does not “contribute” to “intensely destructive and oppressive structures of thought”, it exposes them. If you had been courageous enough to hazard ANY specifics in your comment RN, it undoubtedly would have epitomized those very structures.

      • Chris says:

        “this blog does not “contribute” to “intensely destructive and oppressive structures of thought”, it exposes them. ”

        Obviously. It exposes the bloggers pathetic attempt deflect responsibility.

        I mean, you agree with this?

        “All those people who, in the mid-aughts, like Cherie Blair and Jenny Tonge among so many, thought that Palestinian terror was an understandable response to their hopelessn condition, for which Israeli was responsible, owe it to themselves to think: what did I to contribute to Breivik’s despair, with my insistence that anyone who sounded the alarm was an Islamophobe? How much have I contributed not only to the apocalyptic radicalization of Breivik, but to driving many people who would ordinarily not have gone there, into the arms of “right-wing” protofascist groups?”

        • Ben says:

          Chris,
          If by “deflect responsibility” you mean deflect responsibility from Breivik I might see your point. Blaming Breivik’s crimes against non-muslim Norwegian children on his own alleged islamaphobia is beyond stupid; blaming them on writers quoted by Breivik is beyond stupid squared. If it doesn’t prove Landes’ point, your comment certainly underscores the validity of his challenge. How is it that, on the one hand, a Dutch politician can be tried as a criminal ( or otherwise) because he produced a movie which contains 1) actual footage of terrorist acts perpetrated by muslims and 2) the specific language from the Koran quoted by those very muslims as justification for their specific acts, while, on the other hand, a three month old and four members of her family, including her parents, are slaughtered, and a high school student in a school bus is blown up by an anti-tank missle, by muslims while the rest of the world makes no effort to identify the murderers’ inspirations and assigns no blame to their philosophical guides and teachers? (It’s rhetorical, Chris. You can’t answer it. But I’m sure you can figure out a way to blame the victims.)

  5. Arun says:

    Worth thinking about?
    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2011/07/the-unintended-consequences-of-posting-about-extremist-violence.html

    ” Contrary to those whose own works were cited as justification by the Norway shooter/bomber, I recognize that words have not only meaning, but consequences and we should strive to be as precise as possible so as not to provide anyone with a loaded gun; even if it is just a conceptual one. “

    • Richard Landes says:

      it’s a worthy but impossible goal. the best you can do is be measured, careful and clear. but if someone reads you on his way off the deep end, there’s not a whole lot you can do.

      • Chris says:

        Yet people like Cherie Blair and Jenny Tonge should think about how they drove him to radicalism and murder.

        Don’t you really think you should withdrawal that?

        • Richard Landes says:

          you continue to get me wrong. if one can reason as did tonge and blair… then

          i’m asking people like you to pause for a moment and think about what a revolting idea it is to say, if the palestinians hate-monger and train their children to blow themselves up among israeli civilians, then it must be israel’s fault. and don’t tell me about palestinian genocidal hate-mongering because that’s islamophobic, it’s israel’s fault for taking away their simple desire to have their own state.

          you’re directing your moral outrage in precisely the wrong direction. of course to reconsider would mean stepping away from accusations and moral outrage and stepping into self-criticism which, i’m going to take a wild guess here, is not your specialty.

    • Cynic says:

      Then the NYT for its tendentious and misleading remarks about Spencer, because Breivik cut and pasted some of Spenser’s statements, must be held responsible if anything bad happens to Spenser.

  6. Sérgio says:

    “What I do think is that Breivik has given us all something to think about and worry about. I think those who have stepped out into public to warn about Islamism and global Jihad, despite the near-certainty that they will be smeared as racist Islamophobes, need to think about our rhetoric.”

    Richard,

    Don´t you think this is a type of self-censure? After all, anything could have triggerd that guy´s actions, from the Bible to video-games to your blogg to porn to Euclidean geometry (no, I doubt he´s ever read Euclid). You blog is definitely not hate-filled nor crime-inducing by any reasonable standard, and so does the Bible, porn and Euclid. That guy was just looking for “justification” and “validation” for his crazy views, and he could have distorted anything to fit his lunacy. I agree that some people should be careful with their rethoric, for instance, Islamists. But, for people like you, that´d be sending a wrong message, namely of surrender/appeasement.

    Regards.

  7. Rich Rostrom says:

    One thing I disagree with: there is a populist element. The Euro power elite rejects any serious effort to deal with the Islamist threat and the consequences of Moslem immigration. Breivik viewed the Norwegian Labor Party as part of that elite, and decided to attack them. That seems like a quasi-populist conclusion. Perhaps I misuse populism: one common usage is that the people’s wisdom should rule, not the assumptions of the elite. Breivik does not seem to think he is acting on behalf of a “silenced majority”. But definitely acting against the elite on behalf of the people in general.

  8. Richard Landes says:

    from a colleague
    I have been to Norway quite a lot of times, and I have to confess that I have never been confronted with a society so uniform in ideological terms. The taboos existing in other western societies do seem to have a heavier weight there; maybe this is due to the rigidity of the Protestant State Church (a factual prohibition, the absence of an open discussion of migration and its problems in the media, the warm nation-family spirit created by the social-democrats, combined with anti-European resentment etc.). After the second glass of wine (or what ever is at their disposal) the Norwegians start the usual undercover political incorrectness: interestingly enough, all on the level of jokes, because no one can be held responsible for the distance that is involved in a joke.

    Second observation: no country has more cruel detective stories, where many of the characteristics of your millennialism typologies can be found.

    And, third observation, almost no one who voted for the “right wing” party would ever acknowledge their “misdeed”. The pressure was quite high on that guy, and he reacted in a way more predictable than our media were able to grasp: he attacked the majority to which he is inextricably linked; by the very wish to eradicate the future of his country’s majority (and not any other particular group), he opted for the New Age that, once again, will result in uniformity (a crude Wiking-Templar style: Great Peace on Earth).I don’t think it is surprising that these phenomena occur in societies (Scandinavia, the Netherlands), where Protestant (or Calvinist) conformism is “à l’ordre du jour”.

  9. Kafka says:

    Another failure at reasoning. It’s just more “don’t blame me, but instead blame x and y”. So because you try to distance yourself (though you were cited in his work) and instead try to blame others (who weren’t cited in his work), I’ll go ahead and repeat what many others have already said about you.

    You were a part of Breivik’s worldview and ideology and your words of fear-mongering and villifying the “left” and the “multiculturalist liberals” associated and implicated the majority of Norwegian society for their traits of (at least) apparent acceptance and embrace of diversity. By portraying many Westerners’ fair and democratic attitudes as “doorways” for the boogeyman of a global jihadist conspiracy and eventual islamist europe, you put your everyday Norwegians in the same firing line for Breivik’s aim to stop Muslims from entering Europe. His choices of Oslo City Centre and Otoyo are sensible in this lens. One, an area of government, the other, a place where government officials frequently visit and young vibrant liberal social activists camp, make friends, and discuss humanitarian issues, like the illegal Israeli occupation. Your writings and that of some other islamophobes made those innocent victims the same boogeymen as Muslims in Breivik’s irrational paranoia. Obviously you did not call for violence but when you put an entire society and government at fault and claim they are either lying or ignorant, some may find violence as a solution unfortunately (as many comments on other islamophobic blogs and sites attest to).

    You may make the dubious argument of mentioning how many historical and philosophical figures were cited in Breivik’s manifesto, but ultimately the citations to the works of you and your fellow islamophobes is quite different. Islamophobia is your primary field, it’s what you usually write about and it’s what a lot of people associate you with. It gets you the readers and the controversy and for some islamophobic writers, the money. Gandhi, John Stuart Mills, and even Churchill are all known for and were primarily interested in, greater accomplishments, events and ideas. You and your ilk are not.

    • Ben says:

      Kafka,
      First you claim Landes is against the “left” and “multiculturalist liberals” then you call him an islamophobe. So it isn’t Islam that’s against the “left” and “multiculturalist liberals,” it’s Islamophobes. Go peddle that in those leftist bastions of multiculturalist liberalism Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan, Yemen…. I’m sure everyone you meet there will say yes, they agree, they get it, they understand, they’re with you, and they just wish they weren’t so darned misunderstood.
      Assuming Landes has, in your words, portrayed “many Westerners’ fair and democratic attitudes as ‘doorways’ for the boogeyman of a global jihadist conspiracy and eventual islamist europe,” why does that bother you? Asked differently, what is it about the Westerners’ fair and democratic attitudes you purport to champion that discourages or debars the boogeyman you describe? The answer is not a damn thing. That’s because the fair and democratic attitudes of Westerners include freedom, including freedom of expression, conscience, religion, etc. (You know all those freedoms that thrive throughout the muslim world.) But your beef isn’t really with how Landes and others portray the “fair and democratic attitudes” of the West; it’s really about their efforts to expose the ways and means of jihadists and islamists you regard as “boogeymen”.
      3 points in your post warrant more serious attention.
      1. Although you concede “Breivik’s irrational paranoia”, you nevertheless insist that Landes’ writings “made those innocent victims the same boogeymen as Muslims”. So which is it, Kafka? Did Breivik kill the children because he (Breivik) regarded them as leftists and multiculturalist liberals? Did Breivik kill the children because he (Breivik) hates muslims? Did Breivik kill the children because in their writing, Landes and others criticize leftists and multiculturalist liberals? Did Brievik kill the children because in their writing, Landes and others criticize muslims? How about this, Kafka? Breivik killed the children because, as you suggested, he (Breivik) is “irrationally paranoid”. If, in your estimation, Breivik is irrationally paranoid, then why blame his mass murder of non-muslim Norwegian children on anything anyone has written, or on anyone who has written anything, about muslims, liberals, capitalism, cigars, civil disobedience, or apple pie for that matter? Why isn’t it possible that Breivik was as inspired by the NY Times, Gandhi, and the Koran to kill a bunch of non-muslim Norwegian children as he was by written criticism of multiculturalist liberalism and islamism? Are you able to answer with certitude because you are able to think like an irrationally paranoid person?
      2. I see you (reliably, I’ll hazard) saw fit to bring Israel into this exercise. Maybe Breivik killed the non-muslim Norwegian children because maybe those children were talking about “the illegal Israeli occupation.” You think?
      3. You say: “When you put an entire society and government at fault and claim they are either lying or ignorant, some may find violence as a solution unfortunately….” So why, Kafka, don’t you address your sentiments to every media outlet in the muslim world wher all non-muslim societies and governments are “at fault” and are ignorant?

      • Cynic says:

        Sergio,

        Alan Dershowitz apparently referred to the discussions the day before the shootings as anti-Israel hatred. Maybe we could blame this for Breivik’s lunacy?
        Does anyone have any link to those discussions?

      • Cynic says:

        Ben,
        I liked your response and would like to include something that Breivik mentioned in his manifesto but doesn’t seem to get any mention and that is the rape of Norwegian girls, infidels at that and a knife to the heart of his culture, (the statistics of Muslims jailed for criminal acts in Norway and Denamark is mindboggling) which tipped him over the edge when he considers the Quisling attitude of the governing party to his roots.
        Most probably what also helped him into this maniacal act was the knowledge that for years now Fatah has been participating in these summer camps.

  10. Speedy says:

    There are a number of passages in several comments about Islamophobes and Islamophobia. I am curious about this appellation since it has become a new accusation that seems to apply willy-nilly to anyone who writes about the more distasteful aspects of Islam’s troubled relationship with the west. If anyone can provide a precise definition it would be most helpful to the discussion

  11. Lorenz Gude says:

    I don’t think being more careful of ones rhetoric will work or avoid the sort of blame you are inevitably getting because you are cited in Breivik’s manefesto. I think what should be avoided is incitement to violence. For example our President has said ‘you don’t bring a knife to a gunfight’ and made the colorful assertion that he saved Wall Street from the pitchforks. Both fall well short of incitement and are part of civil discourse as is your writing. Breivik does something else and I don’t think the problem is that he ends up taking the polar bear analogy literally. The problem is that his thinking jumps all the way from being opposed to immigration to actually using terrorism with the goal of restarting the Crusades. It reminds me of a sad story I read about when I used to teach Media Studies of the boy who put his eye out because he thought he would get a bionic eye like the Six Million Dollar man. My point is that we can almost always depend even on children not to take things literally. Breivik is an adult and you are not responsible for his actions.

  12. [...] I understand where my persistent, somewhat repetitive, commenter, Chris, comes from. Another illustration of the problem. He comes from Andrew Sullivan who quoted the [...]

  13. The murderous killing done by Breivik was extremely harmful. Killing, in general, is very harmful and wrong, and the murderous killing done by Breivik may be used to further obfuscate the nature of, and even the existence of, the racist genocidally anti-Jewish Islamic supremacist political movement and the Western appeasement of, and collusion with, the racist genocidally anti-Jewish Islamic supremacist political movement.

    The term Islamophobia was deliberately invented, as a strategic political tactic, by the Islamic supremacist racist genocidally anti-Jewish regime in Iran.

    The commenter Chris is such a person who, in the 1930′s, would have been one of the many Western people who sympathized with, and excused, and defended, the Nazi regime of Germany, and who attacked people who tried protest, and make known the nature of, the Nazis (such Western people who included the head members of administrations of prestigious Western universities (such as Harvard)), and who, if the superficial form of such bigotry at that time was that of the superficial form of such bigotry at this time, would have used a term such as “Naziphobia” in the same way that the commenter Chris has used the term “Islamophobia”.

    —-

    By the way,

    The following is an article which presents one of the beneficial aspects of the nature of the culture of Israel and of Jewish culture in general (exceeding magnanimity).

    Israel offers aid to Norway after massacre
    http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=453&r=1

    (To *NORWAY* (whose government, and whose society, are, respectively, one of the most racist deceitful anti-Jewish anti-Israeli Western governments, and one of the most racist indoctrinated anti-Jewish anti-Israeli societies, in the world))

    —-

    The unbeneficial aspects of the nature of the culture of Israel (and the unbeneficial aspects of the nature of Jewish culture in general) largely consist of unmindful appeasing tolerance of, and acceptance of, vicious perverse false accusations against the Jewish people, and unmindful appeasing tolerance of, and acceptance of, perverse untrue terminology about the Jewish people and about anti-Jewish racists who are attacking the Jewish people.

    —-

    This comment is harsh (and is what may be pejoratively referred to, by anti-Jewish racists, and by timid Jewish people, as “rhetorical”) because I am vexed that so many of the members of culturally Christian-European (Christian and post-Christian) societies (people such as the commenter Chris) are anti-Jewish racists (ego-worshipping ego-protecting imbecilic dishonest malicious sanctimonious hypocrites).)

    I’ve had enough.

    It’s time for those of us who are Jewish to start to verbally stand up for ourselves, like normal human beings, against anti-Jewish racists (including anti-Jewish racists such as the commenter Chris). What does it take for Jewish people to, like normal human beings, verbally defend ourselves against a racist, intentionally genocidal, multi-faceted, sophisticated, and crude, onslaught against ourselves? Apparently what it takes is even more than all that has ever been done to the Jewish people, including the mass-murder of almost all of the Jewish people in Europe by, in some cases directly, and in other cases indirectly, the Western world as a whole – the culturally Christian-European world as a whole.

    What will it take for Jewish people to verbally defend ourselves like normal human beings?

    In not verbally standing up for ourselves like normal human beings, there is everything to lose, and, in the past, by Jewish people not verbally standing up for themselves like normal human beings, everything has been lost.

    In verbally standing up for ourselves like normal human beings, there is everything to save.

    And, Chris, and all other people who hold views that are similar to those that Chris has expressed in comments on this blog,

    I am Buddhist.

    I am liberal.

    I oppose the holding of the ignorant intransigent contemptuous antipathetic racist wrong views that you are currently holding about the Jewish people and about the country of the Jewish people, Israel, and I oppose the holding of the ignorant patronizing sympathetic racist wrong views that you are currently holding about Arab people, and that, because Islam (a totalitarian, supremacist, imperialist, racist anti-Jewish, religious ideology, political ideology, and system of government) is an originally Arab (and an Arab supremacist, and Arab imperialist) religious ideology, political ideology, and system of government), you are holding about Muslims in general and about Islam.

    The modern Islamic supremacist political movement is a totalitarian, supremacist, imperialist, genocidally anti-Jewish, political movement, and began in the 1920′s, and its ideology is a combination of the following ideologies.

    O Racist anti-Jewish, totalitarian, supremacist, imperialist, orthodox authoritative Islam

    O The racist European conspiracy-theory ideology about the Jewish people that is propagated in the racist European anti-Jewish fictional book “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” which was referred to in, and whose racist conspiracy-theory ideology about the Jewish people was propagated in, Adolf Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf” (whose title means “My Struggle” (similarly, the name of Islamic supremacist imperialist offensive strategic propagandic, political diplomatic, financial, and military, war is “Jihad” – “Struggle”)).

    All adherents of European and Middle Eastern totalitarian supremacist genocidally anti-Jewish religious and political ideologies believe that they are engaging in a noble “struggle” against whom they view as being “The Evil All-Powerful Secretly-World-Controlling Jews”.*

    The modern Islamic supremacist political movement began officially with the founding of the racist genocidally anti-Jewish Islamic supremacist Sunni Muslim political organization the Muslim Brotherhood, in 1928, in Egypt, by Hassan al-Banna, who was an admirer of Adolf Hitler.

    The founder of the ‘Palestinian movement’, Amin al-Husseini, was an early leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and, from 1941 to 1945, resided in Germany, and was an adjoined official of the German National Socialist (Nationalsozialistische (Nazi)) regime of Germany, and, with his colleague Adolf Eichmann, was a co-architect of the mass-murder of the Jewish people in Europe by the Nazi regime of Germany, and, from 1941 to 1945, from the most powerful shortwave radio station in Germany, Radio Zeesen, broadcasted orthodox-authoritative-Islam-based, “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion”-based, genocidally anti-Jewish, and anti-American, anti-British, anti-democracy, pro-Nazi, radio programs in Arab, and Turkish, and Farsi (the Persian language), to all of the countries in the Middle East, which were radio programs that became very popular in Muslim societies in the the Middle East, and which were radio programs of which Ruhollah Khomeini, the then-future founder of the Shia branch of the modern Islamic supremacist political movement, was, as a young man in Iran, a dedicated and regular listener.

    Amin al-Husseini, as the head of the Arab Higher Committee, co-ordinated the Muslim Arab self-proclaimedly intendedly genocidal attack on Israel in 1948 by the armies of several Muslim Arab states.

    Amin al-Husseini was the mentor of, and an uncle of, Egyptian-born Yasser Arafat (Mohammed Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini), who, under the guidance of Amin al-Husseini, in Egypt, in 1958, founded Fatah.

    Note: * The most prominent developer of the ideology Socialism, Karl Marx (an ethnically Jewish-European misanthropic anti-Jewish racist who was the son of an ethnically Jewish-European Christian convert), expanded the concept of “The Evil All-Powerful Secretly-World-Controlling Jews” to refer to whom Karl Marx referred to as “Capitalists” which is a concept of a group of people who Karl Marx referred to as being a small group of evil people who controlled the world for their own benefit and to the detriment of all of the other people in the world, who were people who Karl Marx referred to as being the noble people of the world. Karl Marx expressed the view that the Jewish people were inherently, by nature, the penultimate, and original, manifestations of “Capitalists”). The ideology that Karl Marx developed, Marxism (like Christianity, which was also developed by an ethnically Jewish, severe-Stockholm-Syndrome-affected, racist anti-Jewish man (Paul (Saul (Sol)) of Tarsus), is a racist anti-Jewish perverse derivation of the beneficial principal of aversion to injustice, which is the main, and most beneficial, principal of Jewish culture.

    The blog “Marx & Friends in their own words” (http://marxwords.blogspot.com) contains many examples of malicious explicit racist anti-Jewish writings by Karl Marx. The fact that the extreme anti-Jewish racism of Karl Marx has been almost completely obfuscated is a testament to the anti-Jewish racism that is a deeply engrained part of the culture of culturally Christian-European (Christian and post-Christian) societies, and is a testament also to the deep profound Stockholm-Syndrome that almost all Jewish people are experiencing to varying degrees, and that almost all Jewish people have experienced, to varying degrees, for many hundreds of years.

    In order to get an idea of the magnitude and severity of Western anti-Jewish racism, and in order to get an idea of the magnitude and severity of the Stockholm-Syndrome that almost all Jewish people are experiencing to varying degrees, substitute the concept of “Jewish people” with the concept of “African-American people (“Black people”)”, or with the concept of any other ethnic or cultural social group, in thinking about the making of the false accusations that are made against the Jewish people by culturally Christian-European (Christian and post-Christian) people (including the making of the false accusations that are made against the country of the Jewish people by culturally Christian-European (Christian and post-Christian) people), and in about thinking the appeasing by, and the verbal attacking against fellow members of one’s own ethnic and cultural social group by, Jewish people. The making of the accusations that are made against the Jewish people by culturally Christian-European (Christian and post-Christian) people (including the making of the false accusations that are made against the country of the Jewish people by culturally Christian-European (Christian and post-Christian) people) are inconceivable if thought of as their being made against any other ethnic or cultural social group (including their being made against the country of any other ethnic or cultural social group). The appeasing by, and the verbal attacking against fellow members of one’s own ethnic and cultural social group by, Jewish people is inconceivable if thought of as being engaged in by so many members of any other ethnic or cultural social group.

    My fellow Jewish people,

    Be mindful. Wake up. Verbally defend yourselves against racists who are attacking the Jewish people. Protect yourselves by mindfully, firmly, clearly, speaking the truth.

    Conquer anger
    with lack of anger;
    bad, with good;
    stinginess, with a gift;
    a liar, with truth.

    – The Buddha

    I strive to not feel anger, and to endure with patience, but it is often difficult for me to not feel anger, and to endure with patience, but I strive to be mindful, and to not feel anger, and to endure with patience.

    The non-doing of any evil,
    the performance of what’s skillful,
    the cleansing of one’s own mind:
    this is the teaching
    of the Awakened.

    Patient endurance:
    the foremost austerity.
    Unbinding:
    the foremost,
    so say the Awakened.
    He who injures another
    is no contemplative.
    He who mistreats another,
    no monk.

    Not disparaging,
    not injuring,
    restraint in line with the Patimokkha,
    moderation in food,
    dwelling in seclusion,
    commitment to the heightened mind:
    this is the teaching of the Awakened.

    – The Buddha

    Access to Insight – Readings in Theravada Buddhism
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org

    Dhammapada (“The Path of Dhamma” (a collection of short sayings by the Buddha)), Chapter One: Yamakavagga (“Pairs”)
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.01.budd.html

  14. igout says:

    It’s your business, RL, but in my opinion you’re wasting your time trying to explain yourself. You’re not dealing with people of good will and objectivity, but with a sort of hybrid of the malevolence of Stalin’s secret police and the stupefying persistence of robo-phone mail. Nothing will ever satisfy except that you and the rest shut up, which I encourage you not to do, not ever.

    • Richard Landes says:

      it is my business and i always operate on the principle that people are capable of self-criticism, even if it’s (extremely) unlikely. but i’m more optimistic about their audiences. personally i think that at the beginning of the teens (’10s), there’s a widespread disenchantment with both PCPs, so dominant in the aughts (’00s). so i think there’s more openness now than there was.

      • Ben says:

        Richard,
        Fouad Ajami’s excellent piece in yesterday’s WSJ about Obama’s foreign policy speaks of the importance of optimism in (and its present day absence from) American foreign policy. Having been accused of contributing to Breivik’s mass murder, any optimism you can muster about the audiences of those who cannot tolerate self-criticism (including your accusers) and their openness to reason can only be described as inspired, but by what? Your knowledge of what we humans are capable of doing to each other in our darkest hours? Your awareness of how the masses can be, and so often are, bent to the will of charismatic tyrants and misanthropes? (Or is it that you just find being an “islamaphobic anti-multiculturalist-liberal” that uplifting?)

        • Richard Landes says:

          as an historian of millennialism (i.e., of outrageous hope) i am familiar with some of the dynamics. studies show that pessimists are more often right about the future, but optimists accomplish more. i think you have to risk disappointment if you want to accomplish anything, and while it’s easy (and dangerous) to be a silly optimists (see liberal cognitive egocentrism) and to be a pessimist, it’s hardest to be an intelligent optimist.
          i’m fully aware of what people/societies/crowds are capable of doing, but i’ve thrown my lot in with civil polities and they are exercises in hope. my daughters have contempt for me but i love the song “White Flag” but it really strikes a chord with me.
          Rosenzweig has some interesting comments in Star of Redemption about how love is impossible to experience without having been disappointed.

  15. igout says:

    You may be right. To judge by the comments section in the London Telegraph, more so than the paper itself, the majority of people make a sharp distinction between Breivik’s correct diagnosis of the problem and his terrible Rx.

  16. ErisGuy says:

    “To put environmentalism after Nazism is not really fair, either to environmentalism (except the most extreme varieties that feel only with the death of some six billion people can the planet be saved)”

    Not fair, perhaps; predictive, maybe. Patience–time will tell. From my time in Washington (the Seattle one, not the D.C. one), the ‘extreme varieties’ bear the same relation to the moderate varieties as violent jihadis to Islam.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>