As a former reporter, I have lived long enough to not be easily shocked. I have covered murders and other crimes. Yet, I was surprised by scale of death and suffering in the bombing in Oslo and the horrific shootings at Utoya in Norway on June 22nd. As of now, the death toll stands at 86 people, eight dead in a bombing in Oslo and perhaps 68 dead at a Labor Party youth camp on the isle of Utoya. This tragedy can be likened to both 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing in that fanaticism lead to the lost of innocent life.
Initially, some in the U.S. media attributed the attacks to Muslim terrorists as events unfolded. Conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin initially linked the attacks to Muslim extremists on her blog at the Washington Post as did conservative CNN commentator Erick Erickson. However, the attacks were the work of a man of Norwegian descent, Anders Behring Breivik, who issued a manifesto condemning Muslims, “cultural Marxists, and liberalism in general for creating a Europe that he sees as becoming alien to traditional European cultures. Indeed, many of the phrases in Breivik’s long manifesto were lifted from the manifesto of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who also opposed many of the changes in modern society.
What leads a person to choose to kill dozens of people? Hate. The phrase cultural Marxism is a popular one among the American neo Nazi movement. Chip Berlet, a noted observer of right wing extremism, addresses Breivik’s extremism in a recent post.
Anders Behring Breivik, charged in the terror attacks in Oslo, Norway, compiled a 1,500-page Manifesto under the name “Andrew Berwick” that cites to the U.S. Free Congress Foundation and LaRouchite publications. The manifesto states that “Political Correctness” should be called “Cultural Marxism” and is the reason for political leaders allowing mass Muslim migration into Europe. Breivik’s core thesis is borrowed from William S. Lind’s antisemitic conspiracy theory about “Cultural Marxism.”
Breivik described himself in online posts as a cultural conservative and a Christian conservative who felt that Protestantism had lost its way and that Christianity should recombine under the banner of a reconstituted and traditionalist Catholic Church. These views are almost identical to the views of the late Paul Weyrich, founder of the Christian Right epicenter in the United States, the Free Congress Foundation. Weyrich and his colleague William S. Lind developed an aggressive theory of Cultural Conservatism as a way to save Western Culture. Lind addressed the right-wing group Accuracy in Academia in February 2000. See also: What is Cultural Marxism? by William S. Lind.
The concepts within cultural conservatism are a confluence of traditionalist claims from Europe and the United States. Major US groups send representatives to Europe, and there is a general meet up at the conferences of The World Congress of Families. See background here: “Exporting ‘Traditional Values’: The World Congress of Families.” This vein of culural conservatism warns of a “Demographic Winter” a term which is a coded racist warning that Muslims are outbreeding “white people” in Europe and the United States.
To my mind, what I read of Breivik’s manifesto seemed little different than what I would find on the site Stormfront, the website of the American Nazi Party. However, attacks on immigrants, fear of people of different faiths, and of different ideologies is no longer just part of the political fringe. It is easy enough to tune into cable television and find people attacking Muslims, liberals and others as not being patriotic.
I am reminded of what Samuel Johnson wrote about people who hid their agendas behind a flag and claim that they alone are true patriots. “Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.”
I have heard that during the Kennedy administration, John F. Kennedy and Barry Goldwater discussed being on the same train and visit different cities during the presidential election of 1964. Does anyone believe that such a thing is possible in an era when the birthplace and faith of a sitting American president have been questioned on the airwaves and by members of Congress? We have people who make a living off of spreading fear of the other, whether it is liberals, secular humanists, immigrants, or Muslims.
In a chart analyzing citations in Breivik’s manifesto, Think Progress notes that he cited several people on the right known for spreading fear of Muslims, including Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.
None of this surprises Frank Schaeffer, author of Crazy for God and Sex, Mom and God. His father was Dr. Francis Schaeffer, whose writings greatly influenced the Christian Right. He has stated that the language his father used to question the legitimacy of a government that allowed abortion has been taken up by others.
In a recent article at Alternet.org, Christian Jihad? Why We Should Worry About Right-Wing Terror Attacks Like Norway’s in the US, the younger Schaeffer says that there is a connection between people like his father, their political followers in office, and those who take the words of writers and politicians as a call to arms.
There is an indirect but deadly connection between the “intellectual” fig-leaf providers/leaders like my late father and periodic upheavals like the loony American Right’s sometimes-violent reaction to the election of Barack Obama, killings in Norway and what the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party is about to do to us in forcing a default on our loans, and thus destroying the US economy in a way bin Laden could only have dreamed of doing.
No, your average member of some moronic gun toting Michigan militia is not reading books by my late father Francis Schaeffer where he called for the overthrow of the government because of Roe v Wade and the legalization of abortion. Nor have they heard of people like Robert George. And the killer in Norway may or may not have read my father’s books.
But Michele Bachmann is reading my father’s books. And she was trained in far right Reconstructionist theory at the Oral Roberts law school by one of Dad’s followers.
Bachmann says she got into politics because of reading my father’s work. And she is one of his extremist followers.
Currently, some of the pundits who initially blamed the attacks on Muslims are still trying to drag Muslims into the attacks, even though Brievik is opposed to Islam.
For example, in Erick Erickson’s own words:
With Christians, it is rather rare to see a self-described Christian engage in heinous terrorist acts. In fact, in as much as there is an Arab Street filled with muslims more often than not cheering on the latest terrorist act of radical Islamists, you will be very hard pressed to find a Christian who does not condemn the act regardless of the faith of the person doing the killing.
But then why is the left so gleeful that the Norwegian is a “conservative Christian” and why do they feel it so necessary to rub it in when they’re downright apathetic and hostile to the notion of radical Islam being rather mainstream within Islam when terrorist Christianity is largely nonexistent except among a few crazies?
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Bible is quite on point about this.
Secular leftists and Islamists are both of this world. Christians may be traveling through, but we are most definitely not of the world. In fact, Christ commands us to throw off our ties to this world. But the things of this world love this world and hate the things of God. That’s why secular leftism can embrace both activist homosexuals and activist muslims when the latter would, when true to their faith, be happy to kill the former.
I thought that this was inappropriate, but it pales in comparison to the words of former Fox News host Glenn Beck, who compared the Labour Party youth camp to Hitler Youth camps in Nazi Germany. This is a man who has smeared George Soros as a Nazi collaborator, criticized Reform Judaism, and seems to have a mastery of hyperbole and marketing his views.
There was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like, you know, the Hitler Youth or whatever. I mean, who does a camp for kids that’s all about politics? Disturbing.
Glenn Beck was associated, by the way, had a 9/12 Patriot camp for children. I suppose that Mr. Beck is trying to make the world safe for hypocrisy.
I believe that Erickson and Beck are being wrong and hateful. As someone familiar with Jewish and Christian Scriptures, I believe that Erickson is inaccurate and bearing false witness against others, to portray them as less patriotic, less religious and as lesser persons. NO one I know is glad that the killer in Norway is a Christian – we wish that this awful tragedy never happened. Yet, Erickson continues the pattern that has been previously cited — accuse someone of being hateful to hide one’s own hate.
I was raised to believe in an America where people are judged by their actions. I would ask Erickson and others not to paint with a broad brush, as they do not like the thought that someone who calls himself a conservative Christian could commit terrorist acts. Indeed, Breivik is now being referred to in many media accounts as an attacker or a crazy person, not a terrorist. Timothy McVeigh was a terrorist who went to war against his own government. It seems that there are too many people in this world, like McVeigh and Breivik, who want to have political discourse replaced by violence.
During my life, I have known many Muslim Americans, Jewish Americans, and Christian Americans who proved to be compassionate people committed to democratic values. There are Muslim doctors, Muslim soldiers and others who want to feel that this is as much of their country as their neighbor’s America. Instead of painting people with a broad bush based on stereotypes, we need to have a dialog with one another, so that the stereotypes that too many espouse can be countered with exposure to facts and real human beings. The best way to combat hate is with knowledge, compassion and understanding. It is my hope that our society and others will reject the type of politics espoused by Breivik and McVeigh. To my mind, true Americans are those who treat others as they wish to be treated themselves.
If we have grievances with our government, I believe that we should follow the model of Dr. Martin Luther King — work peacefully within the system to create a more just and compassionate society. We have seen this have some success recently in Wisconsin, where hundreds of thousands protested the actions of their governor and the state legislature. Their citizen activism has lead to recall elections, and even the governor may face one next year. Rather than claiming that government has no value or is illegitimate if it does not incorporate all of our values, we have seen Americans and others – such as the protesters in Egypt – demand peaceful change in their societies. I believe that approach will be on the winning side of history, while fanatics like Timothy McVeigh, Osama bin Laden, and Anders Behring Breivik will be examples of the evils of our time that were ultimately rejected by people seeking peaceful and democratic change.