Monday, July 25, 2011

Same crap, different packaging

I saw it dozens of times over the last few days -- someone pointing out that the murderous dork who blew up Oslo and shot dozens of people at a youth conference was a "conservative Christian." Google it and you get about 102,000 hits this morning. Well, 102,001 after I post this.

As I thought about this, it didn't make much sense. There's nothing especially conservative or Christian in blowing up government buildings or killing young people in cold blood. It makes for a nice narrative, but nice narratives are always suspect.

And while I have no stomach for reading the 1500 page screed that Anders Breivik posted on the internet, other people get paid to do so and we learn things, as in this report (H/T Instapundit)

Parts of the manifesto written by the suspect in Norway's terrorist attack were taken almost word for word from the writings of "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski.

The passages copied by Anders Behring Breivik appear in the first few pages of Kaczynski's manifesto. Breivik changed a Kaczynski screed on leftism and what he considered to be leftists' "feelings of inferiority" — mainly by substituting the words "multiculturalism" or "cultural Marxism" for "leftism."
Not only that, he did a little plagiarism:

He used at least one portion verbatim: "Feminists are desperately anxious to prove that women are as strong and capable as men. Clearly they are nagged by a fear that women may NOT be as strong and as capable as men."

I broke out Eric Hoffer yesterday for a reason. Hoffer wrote the seminal work The True Believer some 50 years ago now, in which he detailed the habits of mind of the fanatic. One of the key points that Hoffer makes is that the cause espoused is less important than the striving for the cause. The habits of mind are what drive the fanatic. Or, to let Hoffer speak for himself:

However different the holy causes people die for, they perhaps die basically for the same thing.
And the people who die at the hands of a fanatic die for the same reason.


W.B. Picklesworth said...

I'm sure journalists and lefty-bloggers know this, but the connection between terrorism and Islam is more than just a label. The Islam, in these cases, is the actual cause or justification, for the terrorist action.

Now in the cases of "Christian violence" I'm not sure I've seen that connection made. It seems, instead, that the perpetrator was incidentally Christian.

Now I'm not particularly concerned to defend Christian honor. Defending that honor doesn't advance the kingdom of God one iota. But it does seem a necessary pursuit to doggedly point out the pure hypocrisy of the media on this. After all, if the connection between radical Islam and terrorism is severed, then we become even less able to do anything about it.

Bike Bubba said...

It will be interesting to see whether his "Christian fundamentalism" went beyond posting on websites and plagiarizing the Unabomber. I have seen a few churches where a virtual cult of paranoia was indulged, but this goes well beyond what I'd expect.

Now will the media even know enough to ask the questions?

Question #2; isn't it horrific that in the capital of Norway,built on a fjord, nobody did any "outside the box" thinking to get a Medevac helicopter, military helicopter, or private boat/military boat to go those few hundred meters to the crime scene? I can understand a delay like this in the boondocks near the Arctic Circle, but in the capital? Huh?

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more.

perhaps Mark should have included this part of Hoffer's observation:

"Though there are obvious differences between the fanatical Christian, the fanatical Mohammedan, the fanatical nationalists, the fanatical Communist and the fanatical Nazi, it is yet true that the fanaticism which animates them may be viewed and treated as one."

Of course there is a connection to Christianism and conservatism, but that doesn't mean those beliefs and/or ideologies are to be blamed in any way for these acts. Breivik's crazy needed an outlet and I suspect this clown would have done this in the name of Islam or Marxism or the Red Brigade or any other number of isms or belief systems. He settled on what was familiar. As for the media, it needs to slap a label on's what they do.

And before you guys get too indignant about "journalists and lefty bloggers" you might want to take into account that a number of folks in the right-wing blogosphere immediately and erroneously laid this at the feet of Islamists. (For examples, see Jennifer Rubin and your old buddy John Hinderaker).

Pray for the victims, and the son of a b***** that did this. That's what we were taught to do. It's the only way to make sense out of the senseless.


Mr. D said...


The hypocrisy of the media falls under the "habits of mind" category as well. But you do have to respond to it each time.


Your second question is the one that I find most troubling about this whole event. The response was wholly inadequate and the Norwegian authorities are going to have to rethink a lot of their assumptions.


Where I'd part company with you is on this:

As for the media, it needs to slap a label on's what they do.

It's what we all do, but we have a responsibility to challenge that tendency, every time it happens. I have no problem with calling out Jennifer Rubin or John Hinderaker, but there's a difference between guessing wrong and trying to maintain a false narrative. I'd also gently remind you that Islamic groups falsely claimed responsibility for the attacks in the immediate aftermath. As we learn more about Breivik, I'll hope that we see those who claimed he is a conservative Christian will walk some of that back, although I doubt it will happen.

Bike Bubba said...

It's worth noting, regarding the claim that Breivik was a fundamental Christian, that apparently his manifesto gives copious praise to none less than Darwin and specifically disavows the idea of personal faith on his part, but rather desires a culture going after Christian moral culture.

(whatever that is....Christianity without a risen Savior seems like some awfully thin gruel!)

So Breivik a fundamentalist? Hardly. He doesn't even qualify as evangelical, Catholic, or theologically liberal, although his views might qualify him as a bishop in some apostate Anglican areas. He's an agnostic secularist, most closely.

Anonymous said...

In the end deranged lunacism knows no ethnic, racial, religeous or other bounds. At any given time, there are any given number of wackos out there who would love to perpetrate a similar act of violence against other innocent people. These people exist on all sides of every diametrically opposed issue. All we can do is hope that these types of people are exposed prior to the exection of their acts.

W.B. Picklesworth said...


To falsely surmise that an atrocity is the work of radical Islamists isn't a crime I'm particularly worried about. Lack of fairness on my part or disinclination to get at the truth? No. The simple fact is that the guilt is so often there that massacres like what happened in Norway are simply the exception that proves the rule. In today's world, at any rate. I hope that changes, but I'm not going to pretend, and I hope nobody else does either, that Islam is the victim in all of this. It has a hell of a lot to answer for.

Night Writer said...

Worth noting is that Hitler professed his Christianity and love for its traditions while actively cultivating the Church in his rise to power. Whereupon he began to nationalize and destroy the Church, replacing or co-opting leadership and rewriting the texts to remove "jewishness" and any ideal of sacrificial love as being weak and "Un-German". The German Church was to preach a strong, vital Fuhrer in the image of the country's pagan pre-history.

Actions, not labels, always tell the true story. The problem is, labels are just so darn handy because few read the fine print.

Anonymous said...

I was hardly defending Islamism. At this historical moment, it is carrying most of the water on religious and political crazy. and
it does have have a hell of a lot to answer for, but what large religion doesn't?


W.B. Picklesworth said...


Earthly perfection certainly isn't a problem that most religions have. I'll give you that. I guess I just get peeved that a false equivalence gets set up. Not because this reflects badly on Christianity (God knows we do enough things to embarrass ourselves), but because it's just untruthful. And as I reflect on the matter, I realize that this is a change from my first comment. It's mostly the lack of concern for the truth that bothers me.

In any event, you were certainly correct in suggesting that prayer for the victims and the perpetrator is a refuge and provider of some meaning (at least for us.)