Saturday, July 23, 2011

Anders Behring Breivik — No Clear Ideological Program

I linked previously to the New York Times's report: "Right-Wing Extremist Charged in Norway." The Times altered the headline at the newspaper's website, "Christian Extremist Charged in Norway" (and Memeorandum, at 7:50pm, had "Death Toll Rises to 92 in Norway Attacks"). And now it's altered it again, "Oslo Suspect Wrote of Fear of Islam and Plan for War." The Old Gray Lady is notorious for altering its news reporting, without citing changes, in furtherance of its progressive political agenda, so that's a glimpse on the witch hunt reporting that we're already seeing. FWIW, here's this from the introduction at the report:
OSLO, Norway — The Norwegian man charged Saturday with a pair of attacks in Oslo that killed at least 92 people left behind a detailed manifesto outlining his preparations and calling for a Christian civil war to defend Europe against the threat of Muslim domination, according to Norwegian and American officials familiar with the investigation.
Also, the Wall Street Journal has this, "Suspect Identified With Far Right." After a boilerplate lede, the report indicates:
While Oslo police have remained largely silent about Mr. Breivik's possible motives and background, the 32-year-old described himself on a now-shut down Facebook page as a Christian conservative with hobbies in hunting and body-building. He also had at one time been a member of the youth movement of the Norwegian Progress Party, which is widely considered as a right-wing populist party.
Populist parties are generally oriented toward elite opposition and economic injustice. Outright racist appeals are generally secondary or a function of economic dislocation. And in the European context "far-right" parties conjure images of the Nazis or the French National Front under Jean-Marie Le Pen. And for that matter, Norway's Progress Party has been shifting toward a moderate neo-liberal economic program for over a decade, attempting to downplay party schisms over immigration. So for all the media reporting, it's not definitely accurate to cite Behring Breivik as a "right wing extremist." He doesn't evince a coherent or systemic ideological program. I've read through portions of his Internet postings, translated from Norwegian. See: "This is a complete list of comments Anders Behring Breivik has left at" Positions that would normally be considered extreme right wing, especially in the traditional European context, aren't in evidence:
Anyway, we are not in a position where we can pick and choose our partners. That's why we have to ensure that we influence other culturally conservatives to take our anti-racist pro-homosexual, pro-Israeli line of thought. When this direction has been taken we can take it to the next level.
That's interesting, especially the anti-racist and pro-gay statements, and of course historic European right-wing ideologies were implacably anti-Semitic. And get this, at Telegraph UK:
Eyewitness reports from the island of Utoya, where the shootings took place, have also described a tall, blond haired, blue-eyed Norwegian man dressed as a police officer.

On the Facebook page attributed to him, Mr Breivik describes himself as a Christian and a conservative. It listed his interests as hunting, body building and freemasonry. His profile also listed him as single. The page has since been taken down.
The odd point is Behring Breivik's identification with freemasonry, which would contradict the media claims of him being at Christian zealot. New York Daily News also stresses freemasonry, "Who is Anders Behring Breivik? Norway shooting suspect's profile emerges."

All in all, most media reporting is lazy and incoherent. And to top it off, James Alan Fox, a criminology professor at Northeastern University, identifies Behring Breivik as a clinical mass murderer rather than an ideological terrorist. See, "Norway massacre fits the mold":
As details surface in the days and weeks ahead about Friday's massacre in Norway and about Anders Behring Breivik, the man believed to have perpetrated the bloodbath, we will hopefully be able to make some sense of what now seems so unfathomable. However, even with the sketchy information uncovered in the immediate aftermath of the shooting/bombing, the crime and the accused fit the mass murder mold in many respects. ...

Mass murderers do not typically see themselves as criminal, but instead as the victim of injustice. They often consider themselves as a heroic champion for right over wrong and their crimes as absolutely justified.

In sum, while no doubt Anders Behring Breivik dabbled in conservative politics and social movements, it's not the case that he had a clear cut ideological agenda. He identified as culturally conservative, but he did not attach his beliefs to classic racial supremacy theories or historic anti-Jewish movements of genocidal purity ("right-wing" by definition). He combined a frustration with the growth of Norway's multiculturalism with what would normally be seen as tolerance toward social and religious minorities. The latter points are tendencies that are championed by progressives. For Behring Breivik to exhibit these things, along with expressions of freemason beliefs, and a "hatred" of the modern institutional church, indicates a more complex pyschological profile than MSM outlets have portrayed. We saw a similar pattern of conclusion-jumping almost immediately upon the Jared Loughner shooting in Tuscon early this year.

RELATED: See the interesting discussion from Dana Loesch, at Big Journalism, "A Quick Lesson for Media on the Definition of “Right Wing”."

Also, from Mike McNally at Pajamas Media, "Can the Left Resist the Temptation to Exploit the Norway Attacks?"