During those hours when we all thought this was a jihadist attack, one thought that crossed my mind was that this would change the political map of Norway. For years, the Progress Party, which is the second largest of Norway’s seven or eight major parties, has led the way in calling for more responsible policies on the immigration and integration of people from Muslim countries — and has been demonized as a bunch of right-wing extremist xenophobes who hate Muslims. I assumed that after this attack, Norwegians would vote in a Progress Party-led government in the next elections. Now it appears that the man who committed all these murders is a former member of the Progress Party and is, indeed, a right-wing extremist xenophobe who harbors (according to Dagbladet) a “violent hatred for Muslims” and multiculturalism, and who targeted the Labor Party youth camp because he blames the ruling Labor Party for the Islamization of Norway. Norway’s political future looks very different now, in short, than it did 24 hours ago.
It gets worse. Anders Behring Breivik, it turns out, was a frequent commenter at a website, document.no, that is run by a friend of mine in Norway, Hans Rustad, and that is concerned largely with the Islamization of Norway. Hans’s website is down right now — I don’t know why — except for a page on which he has posted a collection of all of Breivik’s postings on the site, going back to 2009. On September 14, 2009, he wrote: “Bawer is probably not the right person to work as a bridge-builder. He is a liberal anti-jihadist and not a cultural conservative in many areas. I have my suspicions that he is TOO paranoid (I am thinking of his homosexual orientation). It can seem that he fears that ‘cultural conservatives’ will become a threat to homosexuals in the future. He refuses therefore to take the opportunity to influence this in a positive direction. This seems entirely irrational.”
On October 31, 2009, he wrote that several things needed to be done in the next twenty years in order to prevent the Islamization of Norway, among them: “Initiate a collaboration with the conservative forces in the Norwegian church. I know that the libertarian forces in the European anti-jihad movement (Bruce Bawer among others, and some other libertarians) will have a problem with this, but conservative forces in the church are in fact one of our best allies. Our main opponents must not be jihadists but the jihadists’ facilitators — namely the multiculturalists.” And on November 6, 2009, he wrote: “It is tragicomic that an important NGO like Human-Etisk Forbund [the Norwegian Humanist Association] has been taken over by a cultural Marxist when it should be run by a liberal anti-jihadist like Bruce Bawer.”
It is chilling to read my own name in postings by this mass murderer. And it is deeply depressing to see this evil, twisted creature become the face of Islam criticism in Norway. Norwegian television journalists who in the first hours of the crisis were palpably uncomfortable about the prospect of having to talk about Islamic terrorism are now eagerly discussing the dangers of “Islamophobia” and “conservative ideology” and are drawing connections between the madness and fanaticism of Breivik and the platform of the Progress Party. Yesterday’s events, then, represent a double tragedy for Norway. Not only has it lost almost one hundred people, including dozens of young people, in a senseless rampage of violence. But I fear that legitimate criticism of Islam, which remains a very real threat to freedom in Norway and the West, has been profoundly discredited, in the eyes of many Norwegians, by association with this murderous lunatic.
Author’s note: In response to readers who have misunderstood what I was trying to say, I have rewritten the last sentence, which I acknowledge was misleading. Please excuse my imprecision. It is hard to write well even under the best of circumstances, but the last couple of days have been the worst circumstances of my life.