When Anders Behring Breivik killed 76 people on Friday, many dismissed him as an axe-grinding lunatic, an insane aberration. But with astounding lucidity, he details in his 1500 page manifesto the perceived invasion of “quite frankly inferior cultures and ethics,” going on to fault the “cultural Marxists” for policies that undermine Norwegian homogeneity.
Though a repugnant ideology, this stance is popularly considered “not insane,” and Breivik had no shortage of far-right and anti-immigrant doctrines with which to align.
To the chagrin of the political right, many have faulted conservative thinkers for their association with a supposed madman; needless to say, this crude analysis amounts to transparent political pandering, and laying blame for such atrocity on any person other than the killer himself is the most irresponsible kind of partisanship.
But it remains to be said that, while the nationalist right has overwhelmingly denounced the violence, they show a surprising tolerance for Breivik’s ideas—some in Italy have even endorsed his manifesto as being “in defense of western civilization” and “extremely good.” In this sense, it’s not appropriate to ask if Breivik is a madman, but rather if he’s not merely partaking in and helping to promote a broader pathos, one that denigrates the existence of non-European “cultures and ethics” to the point of extreme reaction—sometimes intense violence.
When Pat Buchanan asserted that Breivik shouldn’t be called “insane,” he was probably right to do so. Buchanan, for his part, sits on a similarly anti-immigrant and Islamophobic platform, so much so that he couldn’t resist plugging his xenophobic stance while discussing the killings in Norway:
“But, 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 […] Behring Breivik may be right.”
If Buchanan had questioned Breivik’s sanity, then his own words would have to be similarly delusional; instead, he relies on the capability of a sane person with sane opinions to undertake a disgusting act, all the while lamenting the witch hunt right-wing groups will now undergo.
Nationalist commentators have echoed this notion, like the writers at the anti-immigrant blog VDARE.com, one place where the Buchanan article was posted. Peter Brimelow, the site’s founder, stated that Breivik’s actions were “an utter catastrophe,” and Steve Sailer, another contributor to that site, has called for the longest possible prison sentence.
However, VDARE writer James Fulford drew a comparison to 9/11, and complained that, while Muslims were staunchly defended by the US government to prevent undue hostility after the events, no such benefit awaits nationalist thinkers.
This bad publicity has been the major concern for the far-right in the wake of the attacks, now tasked with distancing itself from the actions of a man whose opinions it propagates.
The online magazine Alternative Right, which supports racial theories of crime and IQ, has played this line tenuously. In a recent post, writer Andy Nowicki stated that “[Behring Breivik’s] actions are too extreme to be viewed as representative of anyone but himself,” and that the issue of the killings is “beyond politics.” The site’s founder, Dick Spencer, went as far as to call Breivik “deranged.” And yet, this disgust is quickly redacted, as Spencer cites the importance of the killer’s manifesto, stating “we should most definitely study Behring Breivik’s European Declaration of Independence.” He then quotes renowned anti-Semite Kevin MacDonald at length, whom himself dubbed Breivik as “a serious political thinker.”
Not all have claimed the issue is “beyond politics,” however, as indicated by the openly white-nationalist blog Occidental Dissent (OD). Though Hunter Wallace, the site’s proprietor, gave the obligatory disclaimer that Breivik is “not one of our people,” he goes on to malign Muslim immigration to Europe and asks “Can you blame him?” Fellow OD writer William Rome went a step further, calling the murdered children “brats” and “traitors,” then proceeded to renounce violence in his own way:
“I know when it [revolution] finally comes it will be violent and unpredictable. I’m not looking foreward [sic] to the day it comes but I know it’s coming and I know it won’t take the form of democratic elections or academic debates.”
Strangely, the most extreme opinion might be the most germane. Breivik did act atrociously, but he also acted in a calculated manner, marching his ideology to its only known conclusion.
To say that the killings and the politics remain separate issues, to claim that one can maintain thoughts of radical exclusion without advocating a form of violence, is not only naïve, but it is intentionally deceitful. William Rome, in his own hate-mongering, accurately diagnoses the pathogenic behavior of the far-right’s “sanity”: these policies only fulfill themselves with and through unspeakable acts, and to propagate them is to await more violence.