Within a few hours of Breivik’s horrendous, despicable acts of murder someone assigned him to the Muslim terrorist fringe, and when it was clear that he wasn’t that, someone assigned him to the Christian fundamentalist right wing fringe. Labeling and classifying are how we make sense of things, and so such assignments are understandable and predictable. But these assignments miss something colossally important about Breivik. Proving he’s neither Muslim nor Christian also misses the point.
The problem here is not Breivik’s supposed Christian orientation, for his own writing makes it abundantly clear he has no idea what Christianity really means. He has convinced himself he’s a medieval crusader, and that’s just not normal. So I’d like to suggest we learn to assign such terrorists, and Loughner belongs in this same group, neither to the right nor to the left, and that we also avoid connecting them to a religion. Breivik fits no such box.
These sorts of folks, and their numbers are minuscule in the world, can’t be explained by normal categories because they do not live in the normal world. They are deeply disturbed, anti-social, racially-charged, hate-filled, paranoid, delusional human beings who gravitate toward groups where they can find the emotional sensation of like-minded hate-filled folks and where they can find ideas that feed their hatred and morbid paranoia about the world. They almost always discover there is no one quite like them or, if there are, so few that they know they are all alone in their delusional perceptions of what the world is like, what color it ought to be, and what it most needs.
These anti-social delusional humans dwell in a world of their own making and they write things up in order to gather their hate-filled racist theories into some kind of bundle of meaning, and their writings never make sense to normal people. No matter what they say, they don’t make sense.
Making sense of people like Breivik is precisely the wrong thing to do. Posting a picture of him is what makes this so obvious: he looks normal. He isn’t normal, and assigning into normal categories fails every time.