Agreeing with the Devil

When Jared Lee Loughner killed six people and seriously wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tuscon, it started an argument about the use of violent rhetoric in American politics. But Loughner is clearly unhinged, and his actions appear to be primarily a result of his own insanity.

With Anders Breivik, the influence is much more clear. He references American right-wing figures specifically in his manifesto. Much of his rhetoric could be cribbed from the anti-Islamic right. The difference is that Breivik went a step farther by believing that he could start a shooting war between civilizations by committing an atrocity.

Just to make that connection even more clear, some right wing figure are stepping forward to agree with Breivik’s motivations, if not his actions.

Pat Buchannan:

… awful as this atrocity was, native-born and homegrown terrorism is not the macro-threat to the continent.

That threat comes from a burgeoning Muslim presence in a Europe that has never known mass immigration, its failure to assimilate, its growing alienation, and its sometime sympathy for Islamic militants and terrorists.

Europe faces today an authentic and historic crisis.


As for a climactic conflict between a once-Christian West and an Islamic world that is growing in numbers and advancing inexorably into Europe for the third time in 14 centuries, on this one, Breivik may be right.

Brian Fischer:

Much of his analysis of cultural trends in Europe and the danger created by Islamic immigration and infiltration is accurate. But clear thinking Westerners and every Christian I know believes these problems can be solved through public policy rather than mass murder.

Breivik’s angst was caused by the presence of so many Muslims in Norway and Europe, which he correctly observes is leading to “cultural annihilation.” But he blames their presence not on the Muslims themselves but on the “cultural Marxists” and their obsession with diversity and unrestricted Islamic immigration. So he went after the Marxists rather than the Muslims.

Ross Douthat is a bit more subtle, but argues much of the same point:

For decades, Europe’s governing classes insisted that only racists worried about immigration, only bigots doubted the success of multiculturalism and only fascists cared about national identity. Now that a true far-right radical has perpetrated a terrible atrocity, it will be easy to return to those comforting illusions.

But extremists only grow stronger when a political system pretends that problems don’t exist. Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic have an obligation to acknowledge that Anders Behring Breivik is a distinctively right-wing kind of monster. But they also have an obligation to the realities that this monster’s terrible atrocity threatens to obscure.

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  • Custador

    “That threat comes from a burgeoning Muslim presence in a Europe that has never known mass immigration, its failure to assimilate…” [Emphasis mine]

    Patty boy isn’t much of a scholar of history, is he? Immigration is Europe’s default state of being, and has been for centuries. And you know what? After two or three generations, everybody assimilates, adapts to each other, fits in, and becomes the next generation of racist xenophobes.

    On the other hand: Is Pat saying that Muslims should come to America instead because it’s got an even stronger history of immigration?

  • Left Coast Atheist

    You merely put up these people’s comments juxtaposed to the terrorist, but it is awful close to the opposite side of the argument from authority coin. Just as something is not necessarily true if say, Albert Einstein said it, likewise something is not necessarily untrue if Hitler said it. The argument needs to be weighed on it’s own merits regardless of it’s source.

    • Custador

      Anders Breivik’s arguments and “justifications” are absolute bullshit. They were bullshit when he wrote them down, and they’re bullshit when clueless American pundits repeat them. The argument has been weighed on its merits – many, many times. The point is that a bunch of clueless idiots who have never bothered to develop an understanding of any European cultures are parroting the arguments of a single European psychopath as if we all should agree with him.

      • Jez Caudle

        In the UK religious minorities have been treated differently and allowed to get away with things that the majority white population can not. For example Kosher and Halal meat and the fact that Sikh’s are not required to wear a motocycle helmet if they have a turban. Everyone else riding a motocycle is required by law to wear a helmet.

        In the UK certain immigrant groups have made no effort to assimilate, learn English, eat our bland food etc. My local council spends over £300,000 on translation services. Some of the people they translate for have been living in the country for over 30 years.

        Now I’m not suggesting that Brits that go abroad are any better. There are whole swathes of France and Spain that have been taken over by the British and turned into a little Britain. But the problem with the left in the UK is that it will have ago at Brits that fail to assimilate but never non-whites – because that is racist, even when totally justified: honour killings, forced marriages, drugging of daughters, flying them off to Pakistan and marrying them off, homophobia, the oppression of women etc.

        So we have a white population being chided for being racist – when they are not necessarily being so. And ethnic groups being treated differently. When your local play group is being closed down due to cuts but the local council is spending money on translation services – wouldn’t you be a little bit annoyed?

        Far right groups jump on these illogical and unfair practises. The fact that they spout the same rubbish as militant Islam is neither here nor there. They don’t believe in equality and push their own religion – nationalism. This only leads to bitter conflict amongst themselves as British racists believe they are the best in the world and fall out with the French racists who believe that they are the best in the world.

        The fact that we can all trace our ancestors back to Africa is never taken into account.

        The answer of course to militant Islam, Christianity, nationalism etc is a good dose of Atheism and embracing science. Science can be questioned and changed and relies on evidence. Not the ramblings of some paranoid schizophrenic 7th century pedophile or the non-existent Jesus Christ or the equally shite “racial” ideas.

        • Custador

          I’m sorry, but what do you mean by “getting away with” Kosher and Halal meat? I eat very little “traditional” British food myself. Barring roast beef dinners, most of it is bland crap. Variety in diet is a great side effect of immigration. Give me an Indian or a Cantonese or a Thai or an Italian or a Kurdish meal 99 times out of 100, please!

          As I said earlier, assimilation takes time. It’s done over two or three generations. Individuals born to another country will always identify with it as home; they don’t think of themselves as British. But their kids might. And their grand-children certainly will.

          • wazza

            halal and kosher killing prevents the use of more modern technologies designed to kill without suffering. I think that’s what’s referred to.

          • Jez Caudle

            Getting away with a cruel and barbaric method of slaughter – Halal and Kosher. Anyone else doing it could be prosecuted in the UK. But it is protected because of religion. I like to ask Muslims and Jews why their all knowing God didn’t ever mention the use of captive bolt and/or electric shocks in the slaughtering of animals. Surely their God, who knows the past, present and future could have given them some guidance ahead of time knowing full well that the technology would become available?

            I don’t mind immigration/migration. Every person on Earth not living in the horn of Africa is the descendent of a migrant. I have no problems with different cultures doing things differently. The financial aspects of Sharia Law I quite like, the regulation of human interactions I don’t.

            The extreme right wing take certain truths, mix in a whole load of fear and some prejudices, sprinkle a few lies on the top and hey presto – you have a manifesto and people being shot and bombed. The left in Europe for too long has played the “racist” card when immigrants are quite clearly in the wrong. So much so that nobody dare criticise any aspect of foreign cultures for fear of being branded a racist. The upshot of this is that the only people who appear to be telling the truth are the far right – some truth but mostly lies. And the lies are then believed.

            So what we need here is some equality. It is either okay to slaughter animals in a certain manner or it isn’t. You either don a helmet when riding a motor bike or you don’t.

            I could go on about the failure of the left that has created the conditions where the far right can flourish – but this is a religious discussion area, so I won’t except within the area of Islamaphobia.

            The left failed to defend Salman Rushdie when he wrote the Satanic Verses. Failed to act over the Danish Cartoons. In both cases not defending free speech and rational thinking and accusing the authors of intolerance and bigotry.

            As written on this very blog the difference between the far right and militant Islam is none. Yet when militant Islamists gathered at Trafalgar Square a few years ago, all 10 of them, the left were nowhere to be seen. If the people calling for the whole of the state to be subordinated to a certain set of beliefs had been white males we would have had The SWP, Tony Ben, Trade Unionists and students down there marching past and shouting insults.

            Organised lefty organisations in the UK got into bed with Islam over the Iraq war and the desire to tackle “Islamaphobia”. They shared platforms with nasty misogynists while claiming to be Marxists – although they are not – who believe that “religion is the opium of the people”. So when a group of Islamist extremists turned up in the Luton to shout at returning soldiers there were no lefties there and the far right EDL was born.

            If we free thinkers, us rationalists and lovers of freedom really want to defeat the far right then we should simply stick to our guns. If something is wrong then it is wrong and we should say so and not make excuses for others based on their skin colour or religion. If a group of people are being unfairly picked on then we should defend them regardless of their skin colour or religion. In many instances we will be attacking and defending the same people at the same time. We also need to point out the duplicity of the far right and how they want to impose their religion, nationalism, and their backward reactionary beliefs on us.

            • Custador

              No, I’m sorry, but speaking as somebody who grew up on a farm and has not only seen slaughterhouses at work, but has actually killed my own livestock for the table: You’re wrong. Halal / Kosher are no more or less cruel than any other method. You think a taser to the head actually stuns a full grown pig or cow? It doesn’t, trust me. Ever seen them hanging live chickens upside down by their legs to get fed through the machine that takes their heads off? Ever seen it miss and cut off a wing instead? I have. String a lamb up, cut its throat and it’s dead in seconds. End of.

            • Ian

              NOTE: I am an American but I do not believe I have reached any false conclusions based upon my reasoning about how the British system functions or why the laws were made.

              I think you are missing the point that there ARE regulations governing the processing of meat. (Furthermore I would add that those regulations are based upon the idea that it is less brutal, you are free to disagree with the lawmakers conclusion on the issue though) And that certain groups get exceptions to those regulations based upon a religious belief. A religious belief with no real world grounding.

              Generally I tend to agree too, far too many concessions are made to religious institutions. As an American it bothers me greatly that churches are not taxed. Yes they do charity but that is also a recruitment drive. Church is big business and I am sick of them getting exceptions in ANY field based upon superstition.

            • Hamish Milne

              The Halal/Kosher thing is a moot point. The crux of Jez’s argument is that in UK law, exemptions are made for specific religious groups. In addition to the examples he mentioned, we have face coverings. You can’t go into a supermarket with a motorbike helmet on. You can go in wearing a burqa. That is a specific exemption for specific religious groups. Not only can they go into shops with it on, it is a criminal offence to try to stop them or insist they remove it.

              Another is circumcision. Or as I like to call it: ritualised genital mutilation. In a non-medical situation, one cannot go round chopping body parts or otherwise mutilating babies, except if they are Jewish and it is the foreskin of a male. IMO ritual circumcision is one of the worst things in the whole of civilised society today.

              And don’t think this doesn’t have consequences. A teenager went into a Connexions centre with a hood on. They insisted he remove it as it was obscuring his face. Since is was ‘necessary’ for his ‘Jedi’ religion, he actually managed to sue them for millions and won.

              I am a secular person, so I strongly believe all these exceptions should be abolished. We are atheists: we should treat all religion with equal disdain!

  • zakintosh

    It seems odd to me that instead of going out and killing Muslims, the nutcase went and killed 76 young Christians. What kind of real anti-Muslim does that? [Sorry. I am not saying that's what he should have done ... but it would have sounded more reasonable for an anti-Muslim to have done than what he did do.]

    Breivik is crazier than crazy. We need to understand that and hope that there are no more of his type being raised there or anywhere.

    • Custador

      “the nutcase went and killed 76 young Christians”

      What?! No he did fucking not! I’m not saying that some of the people he killed might not have been Christians, but if they were that was entirely coincidental to the real reason he killed them: Because of their left-wing politics. He attacked a Labour Party youth rally. It had nothing whatsoever to do with their religion, Christian or otherwise. It was because he saw them as tolerant of Muslim migrants and permissive on immigration policy, and he’s a xenophobic, racist psychopath who thought he was punishing them for the error of their liberal ways.

      • John C

        Custy is correct here.

  • Xanthe Wyse

    I’m confused how the term insanity applies to psychopaths with regards to the law – if he pleads ‘insane’ does he get a lighter sentence? He fully knew what he was doing – it was premeditated murder

    • Custador

      I’m not sure about Norway, but in Britain an insanity plea would mean they could lock him up indefinitely, until he was deemed to be sane. In his case, that would certainly be never. I believe that Norway’s longest prison sentence for murder is 21 years, but they’re pushing for crimes against humanity so they can lock him up for 30 years. He’d still be out before his 63rd birthday, assuming he survived prison.

      • messiestobjects

        Although the maximum penalty is indeed 21 years, Norwegian’s law also provides the option for indefinite extensions of the same, which are decided upon every 5 years, if the perpetrator is considered a threat still. So theoretically, he could be in jail for the rest of his life.

      • Sunny Day

        21 years for murder, but doesn’t he have 80+ charges of murder?

        • Custador

          It’s some legal peculiarity of Norway :-/

        • Len

          Maybe 80+ x 21 years would be fitting.

        • Michael

          In Norway there is a maximum sentence for any crime or combination of crimes of 21 years. But as said above, this can be extended indefinitely at the end of the period if the inmate is deemed a threat to society.

          It’s a pretty strange way of doing things to be honest.

          • wazza

            it seems like it’d work, though. You don’t know how much they will change in that time, and if they don’t, extend it!

            • Michael

              Except that it relies on some official to determine how “dangerous” a particular person is based on some cursory overview of their behavior in prison.

              I don’t think the American system is great either, but it’s hard to believe the Norwegian one could be at all fair.

    • wazza

      psychopathy as a condition does not meet the criteria for an insanity plea. Legal insanity means actually not being aware of what you are doing, or that what you are doing is wrong. Psychopaths are aware, but don’t care (for complicated reasons related to fear responses to the threat of punishment). In fact, studies in the US have found that 25% of the prison population are psychopaths.


    Both appalling and predictable.

  • Bill

    Not to Godwin this right away, but read Pat’s statement and imagine him showing sympathy for Hitler not Breivik. Replace the word Muslim with Jews, and Islamic with Zionist.

    How much outrage would be directed at him right now?

    The intolerance and violence inherent in his statement is sickening. The fact that he has a voice in the national media every day is appalling.

  • vasaroti

    off topic…
    We keep seeing these handsome pics of Breivik, but the guy I saw on the news ( through the police car window as he was being taken to court) has less hair and looked much heavier. I have noticed that many conservative nutters gradually trend toward a blancmange appearance.