In the wake of the horrific Oslo bombing and subsequent mass murder at a Norwegian Labor party youth camp, the ideological motivation of Anders Behring Breivik has come under some very close scrutiny, and a debate is in progress about how much the anti-Muslim bloggers who supposedly inspired the killer have to take responsibility. Robert Spencer, an associate of David Horowitz and his misnamed “Freedom Center,” has come under the media microscope, along with Pamela “Shrieking Harpy” Geller – who used the killings as an opportunity to promote her new book – and in particular the “Gates of Vienna” (GoV) blog, which published many essays by the now-infamous blogger known as “Fjordman.” All of these charming folks were cited in Breivik’s manifesto [.pdf], which was released hours before the crime.
Naturally, the GoV types have have been jumping up and down in a frenzy of denial and refuse to take any responsibility for Breivik. Spencer, Geller, and “Baron Bodissey,” proprietor of GoV, are all now crying “persecution” over the media frenzy surrounding their ideas and activities, and denouncing the whole thing as a plot to discredit “freedom fighters” like themselves. Do they have a point?
In spite of the fact that my previous columns on the Norway massacre clearly assigned them their share of guilt in this matter, I thought it best to reexamine the issue in light of their vigorous denials, especially in view of their argument that most of their accusers hadn’t even read their various essays and blog posts and are unfamiliar with the various web sites cited numerous times by Breivik’s cobbled together “manifesto.”
Okay, I thought, let’s give them the benefit of a doubt. After all, although I am – unfortunately – all too familiar with the web sites of both Geller and Horowitz, I hadn’t done anything but skim the contents of “Gates of Vienna,” which is co-published by a couple in Fairfax, Virginia. So I went to the site, and the top post was indeed a plea for reason in an atmosphere of hysteria:
“Non-violent people who support lefty causes are not required to denounce or repudiate those who commit violence on behalf of causes they share. Nobody ever blames them for inspiring the violence. They are not described in the popular press as “indirectly responsible” for it. ”And that’s because they aren’t. Nobody who sincerely opposes violence and works for change solely through peaceful means is responsible for violence committed in the name of a cause they otherwise support. ”Only people who advocate, promote, incite, or commit violence are responsible for that violence. Period.”
A different standard, however, applies to conservatives, says “Baron Bodissey.” So answering the charges being hurled by “the left” is “a mug’s game,” and the Baron “refuses to participate,” as should all “counter-jihadists.”
I absolutely agree that “only those who advocate, promote, incite, or commit violence are responsible for that violence.” The critics of the “counter-jihadists” have argued, however, that the ideas advocated and promoted by such sites as GoV are inherently violent, and, furthermore, that is their intent. Or, as I put it in one of my columns, “Spencer and Geller are the theory, Breivik is the practice.” But is this argument really fair? After all, libertarianism says that all governments everywhere are nothing less (or more) than criminal gangs, the enemies of freedom and progress – and so, given this premise, isn’t libertarianism the theory, and, say, Tim McVeigh the practice?
When it is put like that, the question is a real clarifier: after all, as Gore Vidal showed in his essay on McVeigh, the perpetrator of the Oklahoma City bombing, which killed and maimed innocent people, was an opponent of Big Government with decidedly libertarian leanings. So aren’t libertarians responsible, in some sense, for the death and destruction he wreaked?
Well, no – because no libertarian with any standing has ever advocated violence against the State. Instead, libertarians have sought to educate the public, run for office, and engage in constitutionally protected peaceful activities to promote their ideas. At the time, libertarians answered attacks by the left (and others) by pointing this out, to little avail. President Bill Clinton and his supporters in the Democratic party went out of their way to demonize anyone who could be tagged as “anti-government’ to smear their political opponents. I even wrote a pamphlet attacking this propaganda campaign, and trying to set the record straight. So I can sympathize, at least to some extent, with a similar effort on the part of sincere “counter-jihadists” to separate themselves from a clearly deranged “comrade” gone astray. So I continued to read the post at GoV, which invited me to discover the truth for myself:
“I realize that asking people not to believe what they read in the papers is like asking sheep not to eat grass. But here goes… ”Many of you have been pointed to this “hate blog” by various media sources. Your newspapers and TV outlets have described what we are all about, and have told you what you must think of us. Then they sent you here so that you could gaze at the monster yourself. ”But now that you are actually here, you don’t have to take their word for it. You can read it for yourself. Check out the links on the sidebar …”
Okay, so I did just that – and what did I find?
I found, prominently displayed, “On Vigilantism, Part I,” an essay by someone who calls himself (herself?) “El Inglés,” dated April 5, 2010. It starts out with an amazingly accurate prediction:
“I have argued in an earlier series of essays, appropriately titled ‘On the Failure of Law Enforcement’, that the law enforcement institutions of European countries faced with ever-larger Muslim populations are incapable, in a deep, structural sense, of adequately addressing the criminality of those populations while they continue to operate under extant paradigms. If this conclusion is accepted, then one arrives without particular difficulty at a further conclusion: that vigilante activity is likely to emerge in response. This being the case, I propose to present in this essay a speculative initial analysis of the likely characteristics of the vigilantes and vigilantism that will soon be seen in Europe as a consequence of pressures we are all too familiar with.”
How interesting: Breivik’s inspirers anticipated his actions, on some level, and wrote about it a full year before they occurred. However, what I thought would be a polemic against vigilantism turned out to be anything but.
Instead, what followed was, as the subtitle put it, an examination of “strategic options, realistic and unrealistic.” The author argues that one could engage in mass violence aimed at, say, “Somali gang members in the UK” but this would have certain disadvantages in the absence of “a complete breakdown of civil order.” The “apparatus of state” – which is depicted as unwilling to “enforce the law with respect to criminal minorities” – is the major obstacle (and major enemy) of would-be anti-Muslim vigilantes, and given this kind of powerful adversary, “El Inglés” asks, “what objectives are serious vigilantes likely to set themselves?”
The chilling answer is clear enough. The author lists several “realistic” objectives that vigilantes might achieve, first being a modification of the State’s response (or lack of it) to alleged “Muslim criminals”:
“Altering the response of the apparatus of state to Muslim crime may well emerge as one of the most obvious motivations for vigilante activity. If one is concerned about Somali drug-dealing and the lack of effective response by the state, then executing a few Somali drug-dealers and then calling a national newspaper with a) the justification for the killing and b) the calibre of the handgun used in the executions (for purposes of establishing one’s identity) will be likely to focus a certain amount of attention on the problem. Governments seem to be very good at pretending that certain types of crime do not exist apart from in the imaginations of bigots and meanies like the current author, but there are undoubtedly ways of suggesting the opposite that will be difficult for them to ignore.”
Scary, yes, but it gets scarier. Another “realistic” objective of anti-Muslim vigilantes is “polarization”:
“I have argued in past essays that it is extremely unlikely that extant political elites and mainstream political parties will be up to the task of dealing with the existential problems Islam and Muslims pose to Europe. If this argument proves to be correct, then it is highly probable that non-state actors will emerge who believe they can do so. Should such an organization exist in embryonic form in some European country (and if they do not, they soon will), then polarizing the situation beyond the point of repair and trying to force a confrontation while the demographic situation favours natives to the greatest extent possible may come to be seen as a valid objective.”
Like the ultra-left of the 1960s, in both the US and Europe, the ultra-rightists of the new millennium want their violence to signify the advent of a Manichean struggle of Good vs. Evil. They want to force the attention of the sleeping West on the “problem” of Islam by shocking them out of their torpor before it’s too late. Like the Narodniks of Tsarist Russia, or the Weathermen of Nixon’s America, they hope their violence will produce a crisis in which the old regime will be toppled – and they’ll come out on top.
This is an old story: extreme ideologists have often resorted to this strategy, with predictably disastrous results, both for them and for their innocent victims. However, what’s new about this particular story is that a blogger on GoV, well in advance of Breivik’s monstrous act, predicted with near absolute certainty that organizations such as Breivik’s “Knights Templar” would spring up and commit “polarizing” crimes. Not only that, but they would do so in the context of Breivik’s insistence that time is not on the counter-jihadists’ side, and that a demographic time bomb is about to go off – if bombs like the one Breivik planted didn’t detonate first.
I have no doubt that Norwegian law enforcement, if and when they become aware of this particular blog post on GoV, would be very interested to learn the author’s identity. For it certainly seems that if anyone had a clue as to the existence of Breivik’s plot before he went on his rampage, then surely “El Inglés” is a prime suspect.
It gets more blood-curdling as one wades through the miasma of hate and eagerly-anticipated violence, especially as the author’s style tries to mimic the “objective” prose of a scientific study or scholarly research paper. Thus the most disturbingly violent acts are examined, one by one, as “tactical options – suicidal and homicidal.” They include, in order of escalating violence, “warnings” – “Of course, in the absence of a willingness to resort to the other options we will consider below, this will be a hollow threat indeed” – “property damage,” “beatings/maimings,” and “executions.”
The author’s advice to would-be vigilantes engaged in damaging the property of Muslim “criminals” in their midst is to “pick one’s target well.” The first rule of vigilantism, Gates of Vienna-style, is don’t pick on anyone likely to fight back: “The objective of vigilante behaviour is to prevent repetitions of the undesirable behaviour,” but
“Smashing the windscreen of the neighbourhood [presumably Muslim] drug lord is likely to have slightly different effects, as a drug lord is a) unlikely to mend his wicked ways over a broken windscreen, and b) very likely to search out the vigilante(s) in question and seek redress for the damage to his vehicle.”
Beatings and maimings, in the view of the author, are much more likely to advance the vigilante’s goals and the counter-jihadist cause. “El Inglés” cites the example of the IRA, which “kneecapped” “serious criminals and recidivists” in areas where they were strong. However, the big problem was that they existed in those communities on the sufferance of local residents: “Brutality cannot be inflicted arbitrarily on the members of a community whose favour one needs.”
Fortunately, in the author’s view, such brutality can be inflicted arbitrarily on Muslim immigrants, who can be separated out from the general population:
“In contrast, any group of European vigilantes intent on taking the law into their own hands vis-à-vis Muslim crime would not suffer this restriction. Exceptional brutality will always have the potential to repel supporters and potential supporters, but it stands to reason that vigilantes in, say, Denmark, visiting impromptu justice on Arab street thugs in Copenhagen will have a much higher threshold of violence they have to cross before such revulsion starts to work against them. Indeed, everyday Danes tired of the Muslim crime now contaminating their country may well look to such people as their saviours, affording them support of various types. This will open up the potential for exceptional violence.”
One doesn’t have to interpret this, because there is no doubt where the author – and the editors of Gates of Vienna, who have published dozens of similar essays by “El Inglés” – stand. They seek to advance the threshold of violence, step by step, from the street thuggery of the English Defense League to the “exceptional violence” epitomized by Breivik’s mass execution of “traitors.” Speaking of which, the final “tactical option” entertained by “El Inglés” is, indeed, “executions.”
I know, this is gross, but bear with me a bit longer.
After a few preliminaries about the ineffectiveness of dealing with Muslim “criminals” in nonviolent ways, the author concludes
“The efficacy of non-lethal violence in persuading these people to behave themselves in a more civilized manner is likely to be close to be zero. This leaves vigilantes with only one obvious option, which is to kill off the people in question. This will have the twin effects of a) making it impossible for them to engage in further crime, and b) creating at least some possibility that others like them might decide on a change of career.”
Let us stop, here, catch our breath, and note how this fits in with the tactics employed by Breivik: he chose as a target a youth camp run by the ruling Norwegian Labor party, which he considers a party of Quislings. The camp was traditionally attended by the most promising of the Labor Party’s future leaders: in planning his atrocity, did Breivik hope such an act might make others like them “decide on a change of career”? I’d be unsurprised to learn that this particular passage inspired Breivik in his choice of targets, but, in any case, it looks very much like the folks at Gates of Vienna and Breivik are on exactly the same wavelength.
What is shocking about the writing of “El Inglés” is the supremely casual, cold-blooded way in which the most violent acts are discussed: it is a terrorist tract written in the style of the directions on a box of Stovetop Stuffing. Executions are “the nuclear option for vigilantes,” avers “El Inglés,” but
“This should not be taken to imply that it will be a last resort for anti-Muslim vigilantes. It seems likely that any serious would-be vigilante will think his options through carefully enough in advance to realize that certain types of action are likely to be ineffective. Those who think that knocking on the door of the local Pakistani heroin-dealer’s door and advising him to see the error of his ways will constitute effective vigilante action will not last long enough to have much of an effect on the proceedings either way. People of good faith can only hope that such folk recognize their lack of suitability for vigilante action in advance, and support the struggle against the Islamization of their countries in other ways.”
If you aren’t a warrior, like the author, or Breivik, then don’t bother with half-way measures. To the Gates of Vienna crowd, why should murder – even mass murder of children – be a last resort, when the future of Europe is at stake? It was Breivik’s first resort: in spite of his statements about how he was maneuvered out of running for office on the Progress Party ticket – an anti-immigrant, anti-libertarian grouping – news reports have him only attending five or six meetings of the party’s youth group, where he is barely remembered.
This essay by “El Inglés” seems to be an eerie premonition of Breivik’s murderous crime, not as a warning but as an encouragement. And it gets eerier as we progress through the morass of hateful verbiage, in its presentiment of Breivik’s meticulous preparations – particularly when it comes to his manifesto, released hours prior to the massacre, and accompanying video.
In the third and final section of his essay, entitled “Image is Everything,” “El Inglés” advises the potential anti-Muslim terrorist that “The likely importance of a good PR campaign to serious vigilantes cannot be overestimated.” Don’t beat, maim, and murder without issuing “a robust, well-argued, and entirely unapologetic presentation of the vigilante case against both the disproportionate criminality of Muslims and the neglect of the issue by the government.”
Breivik surely took this lesson to heart, supposedly spending years compiling his manifesto. At 1,500-plus pages it is certainly “robust,” although I don’t know how one could call it well-argued: its theme of imminent Muslim victory over the West is simply asserted. It is, however, certainly as unapologetic as its author. Breivik clearly hoped his manifesto would give him the kind of good public relations envisioned by “El Inglés” as entirely possible:
“If the actions of vigilantes can successfully be presented as mindless acts of tribally-motivated violence, then the response of the apparatus of state will simply be to crack down on them with its full resources. If, on the other hand, they can effectively engage in counter-PR, then everything will change.”
Here is where Breivik – and “El Inglés” – miscalculated. The response to Breivik’s heinous act has been near-universal revulsion, a reaction that has only been heightened by his vigorous efforts to justify it. But when you’re so trapped inside a self-constructed ideological box that you can’t see any moral problem in beating, maiming, and murdering people, then your mental processes soon go the way of your long-lost moral sense.
Nothing underscores this better than the bizarre manner in which “El Inglés” illustrates his point by positing two different hypothetical examples of anti-Muslim terrorist acts. Both involve storming and taking a house of prostitution run by Pakistani pimps, who are holding British girls in white slavery on British soil:
“Both groups pick the same house, storm it in identical fashion, kill exactly the same people in exactly the same way, and make a successful getaway. Here though, they part company. Group A, in response to the consequent furore and police investigation, issue a video statement to the effect that all Pakistanis are scum and have to be destroyed. Government and police officials are quietly delighted. … [T]hey pull out all the stops in pursuing the vigilantes. Soon thereafter, an acquaintance of one of the vigilantes who has had some doubts about said vigilante and his respect for the law contacts the police with his concerns. The police devote themselves to this new lead and eventually convict the members of the group for murder and other crimes.”
Obviously not the “professional” way to go about executing one’s political enemies, now is it? Ah, but Group B – now these guys are real pros all the way:
“Group B, in contrast, is much more thoughtful than Group A about how exactly it should present itself and its activities to the world. Its members wait for a week after the killings, observing the debate, seeing what is said about them, about the probable motivations for their actions, and their probable identities. Throughout this week, they are putting the final touches to an official statement, a lengthy explanation and justification of their actions. The statement is burnt onto a number of CDs, and copies are sent to every major newspaper in the country, all major TV channels, the local police force, the BBC, the Home Office, and Scotland Yard. The content of the statement is as follows…”
What follows is a detailed list of the appropriate contents for a manifesto such as was written and compiled by Breivik, calling for a “general description of the criminality and dysfunctionality” of Muslims in Europe, “including analysis of their crime and incarceration rates (both disproportionately high), their seditious and terrorist tendencies, and social pathologies….” Also recommended: “A description of the repeated, consistent, and long term attempts of politicians, journalists, and police officers to deny there was a problem.” Also required: “A declaration to the effect that the current unofficial tolerance” of Muslim subversion “will no longer be endured.” In short, this reads like a summary of Breivik’s manifesto [.pdf], entitled “2083: A European Declaration of Independence.”
I won’t dwell on the horrific rhetoric and “strategic” prescriptions of “El Inglés” much longer, except to say this is pretty conclusive evidence of the complicity of “counter-jihadists” in Breivik’s crime, and not just in the indirect sense. The positively spooky conjuring of some group of anti-Muslim “vigilantes” who will come into existence “soon” is no doubt something the Norwegian (and British) authorities will want to investigate: if they haven’t already interviewed the editors of the Gates of Vienna, my guess is they soon will.
I would also note that, in the comments section to “On Vigilantism, Part I,” the very first comment is by the now infamous blogger known as “Fjordman,” who was rumored to be somehow involved, and has since revealed his true identity and gone into hiding. Does he condemn the casual references to beating, maiming, and killing? Not at all. Instead he writes:
“A thought-provoking essay from Inglés, as usual. May I also suggest that we cultivate a form of pan-European ethnic solidarity when it comes to stopping and reversing Third World immigration and removing the Globalist traitor class. Perhaps we can call it “white Zionism.” Since European group solidarity appears to be what the powers-that-be fear the most, perhaps that’s what we should give them. ”An initial step might be boycotting the World Cup in South Africa, in response to the ongoing slaughter of whites there.”
No one on that thread raised any objections, either: there was some discussion of the value of “random bombings” of mosques, and various other targets. The last comment was a simple question:
“Where is Part Two, Inglès??”
There is no “Part Two” posted on Gates of Vienna – unless, of course, it is the news of Breivik’s massacre.