The Crusader

Anders Breivik as ideological blowback

by , July 25, 2011

It had to happen: the rise of a “counter-jihadist” terrorist outfit that is the mirror image of al-Qaeda. That it first arose in Norway, rather than, say, in the US, is just a coincidence, although I’m sure Anders Behring Breivik, the perpetrator of the Norwegian mass murder in Utoya, has his American collaborators, as he claimed in his manifesto, “2083: A Declaration of European Independence,” [.pdf] and an accompanying video. Indeed, a good many of the sources he cites in “2083” – which is basically a compendium of previously published works by others – are American. Material from David Horowitz’s website, Frontpagemag.com, figures prominently, along with articles taken verbatim from the Horowitz-affiliated “Jihad Watch,” run by professional hater and make-believe “scholar” Robert Spencer. 

Breivik’s “book” is a mishmash, half diary of his careful preparations for the attack thrown together with anti-Muslim materials and boilerplate conservative rhetoric about the importance of faith, family, and community – Breivik lifts an entire section of a screed on “Cultural Conservatism” by the late Paul Weyrich – totaling well over a thousand pages. Thankfully, we don’t have to plough through this disjointed “compendium,” as he calls it – which shows signs of being hastily thrown together in preparation for his international debut as the Norwegian Timothy McVeigh, just like his Facebook page and his Twitter account. Breivik created a much more coherent video version which gives us a lot more clues about why he murdered 90-plus (at last count) of his fellow Norwegians in the name of fighting Islam. 

In the video, Breivik targets the Enemy, which he calls “cultural Marxism.” So you thought communism failed with the fall of the Soviet Union and the liberation of Eastern Europe? Wrong! In reality – according to Breivik – the Marxists, under the banner of the Frankfurt School theorists, infiltrated the mainstream political parties, academia, and even exercised a dominant influence on the “global capitalists.” Their goal: the eradication of European cultural identity, to be subsumed under a multi-culturalist “EUSSR.” The present rulers of the West are cultural “traitors,” who are conspiring openly with Islamists to reestablish the old Ottoman Empire in Europe and pave the way for the “Islamization” of the entire continent.  

The second part of the video details the threat posed by an inherently aggressive and implacable Islam, the long history of Islamic imperialism, and the submission of the subject peoples to “dhimmitude.” This section relies heavily on the writings of the professional Islamophobes such as Robert Spencer, Bat Ye’or, Andrew G. Bostom, Bernard Lewis, etc., that reads like the table of contents for a routine edition of Horowitz’s online magazine. It is neoconservatism, of the old cold war variety, with the only difference being that International Islam has taken the place of International Communism as our unsleeping foe.  

Part three of the video is the most successful and creative: it presents a pantheon of heroes – every European military figure or ruler who ever fought a battle against the Ottomans – from Charles Martel to Vlad the Impaler, and even including Czar Nicholas II. I have to add that all this is accompanied by soaring “Celtic”-sounding music, like something out of the Lord of the Rings score: interspersed with images of Crusaders, and such historical figures as El Cid, Richard the Lionhearted, and events such as the Battle of Tours and the Ottoman siege of Vienna, this section links the sympathetic viewer to a usable past, an heroic tradition of which he can feel a part. This segues easily into the fourth and final part, which is chiefly exhortatory – a call to action. The cultural Marxist “traitors” must be hunted down and exterminated: he is very clear about this. A Cultural Marxist Hunting Permit is depicted, so as to make Breivik’s strategic principle unmistakable. These new “Crusaders,” then, are to be an army of assassins – a “Christian” Western version of al-Qaeda. 

The similarity of Osama bin Laden’s vision and Breivik’s is remarkable, right down to the glorification of martyrdom which prefaces part three of the video. It is as if someone had sat down and deliberately limned bin Laden and the theoreticians of jihadism, inverting the ends but consciously imitating the means and the Manichean mindset. This is where the real passion comes across, where the viewer is asked to identify himself as an heroic figure – all this kind of appeal lacks is a promise of virgins in the afterlife. However, the powerful emotional punch packed by this very effective propaganda ploy contrasts sharply with the odd, jerrybuilt nature of Breivik’s rationale for his murderous enterprise – as if the involved ideological narrative is almost an afterthought to the actual deed. After all, Breivik rails endlessly against Muslims – but winds up murdering Norwegians, none of whom were Muslim. I don’t quite know what to make of this, except that the whole thing seems rather contrived, although to what end is unclear. 

What is clear, however, is that the “Knights Templar Europe” is not merely the imaginary construct of a deranged mind, but an actual organization that seems to have been founded at a meeting in London which Breivik attended in 2002. He claims to have collaborators, and he specifically mentions one “European-American” who attended the founding meeting. Norwegian police are saying he acted alone, but this seems impossible: he began preparations for the attack in 2009, and the sheer logistics of carrying out such an operation – undetected – would argue that he had help.  

It also appears as if Breivik has links to the English Defense League, a virulent gang of violent skinheads who target Muslims and have been gaining strength in the Clockwork Orange-y Britain of today. Financed by British businessman Alan Lake, the EDL has been endorsed by the American “counter-jihadists” grouped around “Stop the Islamization of America” and its European affiliate: Breivik’s agenda was eerily prefigured by Lake, who stated on Norwegian television that “such people should be executed,” referring to British Muslims and presumably others he considers “seditious.”

For years, neoconservatives have been telling us the decadent West is no match for the holy warriors of Islam, and what is needed is a revival of the Crusader spirit so that we can defeat our Eternal Enemy once and for all. We in the West must be put on a permanent war footing, they tell us, in order to put “an end to evil,” as two of them put it in a book title. Like the neocons, Breivik and the EDL are staunch supporters of Israel: the Israeli flag flies at EDL rallies, and the Jewish state comes in for undiluted praise in the Knights Templar manifesto.  

Before Breivik was identified as the culprit, neocon columnist Jennifer Rubin rushed into print with an assessment by two of her fellow neocon “experts” – Gary Schmitt and Thomas Joscelyn – that this was the work of al-Qaeda, and concluded: 

“This is a sobering reminder for those who think it’s too expensive to wage a war against jihadists…. Some irresponsible lawmakers on both sides of the aisle…would have us believe that enormous defense cuts would not affect our national security. Obama would have us believe that al-Qaeda is almost caput and that we can wrap up things in Afghanistan. All of these are rationalizations for doing something very rash, namely curbing our ability to defend the United States and our allies in a very dangerous world.” 

Well, it is a sobering reminder, but not in the way Rubin intended: it’s a reminder that ideas have consequences. It’s not surprising someone took neoconservative propaganda seriously enough to go the terrorist route: Breivik is merely carrying out the program advocated by the David Horowitz’s, the Robert Spencers, the Pam Gellers of this sad and sorry world. The one difference is that Breivik and his fellow Knights are taking direct action, without bothering to employ the agency of government.

Read more by Justin Raimondo