Here is what is now failing to be addressed. Bawer writes:
Norway, like the rest of Europe, is in serious trouble. Millions of European Muslims live in rigidly patriarchal families in rapidly growing enclaves where women are second-class citizens, and where non-Muslims dare not venture. Surveys show that an unsettling percentage of Muslims in Europe reject Western values, despise the countries they live in, support the execution of homosexuals, and want to replace democracy with Shariah law. (According to a poll conducted by the Telegraph, 40% of British Muslims want Shariah implemented in predominantly Muslim parts of the United Kingdom.)
Are we now not supposed to point these things out, because one madman who claims he acts out of valid concerns takes the kind of action that makes him as evil as those he supposedly wants to politically fight? If Breivik was indeed really concerned with these developments, what he has done has harmed his own avowed cause, and allowed radical Islam to grow even deeper roots in the West, since leaders will now view any concern as an example of irrational Islamophobia.
What the Left is seeking to do, therefore, as Bawer puts it, is make Anders Breivik a “poster boy” for those who criticize radical Islam. This is similar to the days of Joe McCarthy, when more people began to see the would-be victims of McCarthyism as all innocent, even though by adopting that pose, many actual spies managed to get away without anything being done to them, out of our fear that they might have had their rights taken away unjustly. It became more of a slander to call someone a McCarthyite than to call a Red a Red, which resulted only in charges that one was unfairly Red-baiting.
Finally, does anyone remember the 1978 massacre by the self-proclaimed Marxist leader of the People’s Temple, Rev. Jim Jones, in Guyana? An astounding 918 people, many women and young children, were forced to commit “revolutionary suicide” by the maniacal Marxist, whose project was building a socialist utopia in Guyana and whose Temple in San Francisco had been praised by Rosalynn Carter, Jerry Brown, Walter Mondale, and scores of leftists who were active in the SF area.
Jones’ Temple led to the mayoralty victory of George Moscone, who then made Jones head of SF’s housing authority. Jones regularly read to his members from the works of North Korea’s Kim Il Jong, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, and, of course, the Soviet Union’s totalitarian leader, Joseph Stalin. A self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist, Jones freely borrowed his ideology from those folks and from the later West Coast New Left, including the Black Panther Party.
I do not seem to recall any American leftists at the time acknowledging that his actions and beliefs stemmed from their ideas and beliefs, although it obviously had. None made the kind of public statement John Podhoretz of Commentary magazine made yesterday, that we had to acknowledge Breivik “is exactly the kind of psychotic ideologue of the Right so many in this country instantly assumed Jared Loughner, the schizophrenic who shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was — and this fact seems to have inspired a bizarre score-settling glee.”
That he does take his views from the Right does not, therefore, mean that those views are all wrong — since those writers he had studied have condemned his actions in their entirety. Why should these murders give the left-wing activists such pleasure, Podhoretz righgtfully asks? And in a masterful New York Times op-ed today, columnist Ross Douthat writes that “The darkest aspects of his ideology belong strictly to the neo-fascist fringe. But many of his beliefs and arguments echo the rhetoric of mainstream cultural conservatives, in Europe and America alike.” It is fair, however, he notes, to call “Breivik a right-winger.” We must not be afraid to acknowledge that, and to be candid in letting people know from where he got some of his ideas.
But people like Robert Spencer or Bruce Bawer are no more responsible for Brevik’s actions than the Beatles were for the grisly murders carried out by Charles Manson, who said he had been inspired by their music. Douthat points out:
His compendium quotes repeatedly from conservative writers on both sides of the Atlantic, and it’s filled with attacks on familiar right-wing targets:
Secularism and political correctness; the European Union and the sexual revolution; radical Islam and the academic left.
Indeed, stripped of their context, some of his critiques of multiculturalism and immigration resemble arguments that have been advanced, not just by Europe’s far-right parties, but by mainstream conservative leaders such as David Cameron in Britain, Angela Merkel in Germany and Nicolas Sarkozy in France.
How should European conservatives react? Not with the pretense that there’s somehow no connection whatsoever between Breivik’s extremism and the broader continental right. While his crimes should be denounced and disowned, their ideological pedigree has to be admitted.
But this doesn’t mean that conservatives need to surrender their convictions. The horror in Norway no more discredits Merkel’s views on Muslim assimilation than Ted Kaczynski’s bombs discredited Al Gore’s views on the dark side of industrialization.
Al Gore’s ideas can be discredited on their own, as many have done. It cannot be accomplished, as some tried at the time, by trying to discredit Gore because the Unabomber used his words for his own purposes. As wrong as Gore might be, it is not because a madman said he agreed with him and took the kind of terrorist action that Gore never supported.
The point is that the conservatives, as Douthat says, are right in their warnings. The tragedy of the madman’s murders in Norway, as horrible as they are, must not allow us to ignore the big picture. If we do, he has indeed won more than he intended. So I hereby second Douthat’s argument:
Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic have an obligation to acknowledge that Anders Behring Breivik is a distinctively right-wing kind of monster. But they also have an obligation to the realities that this monster’s terrible atrocity threatens to obscure.