Belmont Club

Univeral Guilt is Universal Condemnation

CNN’s Tim Lister writes that Andres Breivik showed a compulsive interest in those who warned that mindless multiculturalism was making the world a more dangerous place. Lister notes that Breivik read writers like “Fjordman”, Jihad Watch, Brussels Journal, TheReligionofPeace and Atlas Shrugs.  He explores the issue of whether these writers somehow contributed to Breivik’s murderous act. Lister quotes Daniel Greenfield who says that “trying to apply rational standards to Breivik is futile”. He also cites Mark Steyn’s observation that:

“This man Breivik may think he’s making history and bestriding the geopolitical currents and the clash of civilizations, but in the end he went and shot up his neighbors. Why let his self-aggrandizing bury the reality?” Steyn wrote Monday.

But Lister notes that others disagree and references Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic who says Pamela Geller should understand that “free speech means free speech. But she should be aware now that violent people look to her for guidance, and she should write with that in mind.” In other words, the guilt is there and no denying it. But as the process of guilt by citation expands it turns out that for Goldberg’s words to be valid they should also apply to Cardinal Pell of Sydney and John Howard of Australia.

The Australian left has been combing through Breivik’s manuscript for citations. Among those they found who are being accused to fueling the murderous rampage are “Herald Sun journalist Andrew Bolt … ‘the deliberately provocative language with which Quadrant and other right-wing forums are awash'”. Quadrant’s editor Keith Windschuttle writes that no one is exempt from the dragnet.

Anyone who goes through the rest of the killer’s manifesto will find him quoting several other Australians approvingly, including John Howard, Peter Costello and George Pell.

Tar and feather them. Ride them out on a rail. These individuals have a combined audience of millions. All the worse. That no one has heretofore gotten up and started a machine-gun rampage in Martin Place is surpassingly strange but not mysterious since no appeal to rationality or reductio ad absurdum is involved in the cogitations of a Left who, the heirs to an ideology which killed millions always believes it is morally superior to persons who are cited — however distantly and unwillingly  — by a madman.

So the logical response to this 21st century intellectual purge might well to be say “since you’ve brought the subject of incitement up let’s talk about it and look at your record.” The best thing to do with a pointed finger is to grab it and break it in the middle joint. Why not? Where there is nothing to be gained by a rational exchange there is no point in its pursuit.

But where have we seen this uncompromising attitude before? Why it is precisely the attitude that Breivik wanted — a world divided along lines of accusation and force — and it is ironic, though not surprising that the Left should serve his purposes, not unwittingly but deliberately. Or if not, at least stupidly. Under the kind of reasoning advanced by the Left, there can be no middle ground. Anyone who raises the issue of Islamic terrorist cells in the West — and the evidence of their existence is abundant — or was read on the Internet by a fruitcake, must now of necessity be a Nazi.

In that view Oslo means the discussion of certain issues must now be regarded with the greatest of trepidation. Where such discussion is not inherently hateful it is provocative and ought to be suppressed, lest it be misunderstood by lunatics or those with hearing disabilities. Thus it is either the politically correct way or the highway. That road certainly leads to civil war which was the avowed goal of Andres Breivik in the first place. He is succeeding much better than he has a right to, but not in the way he thought.

It now remains to be seen whether there are any men of goodwill left in a West for whom a bright ideological line in the sand does not bar communication.  For whom Jaw Jaw is better than Point Point. The polarization of Western politics along party lines has been in progress on for decades. There may be dispute over who is to be blame, but the fact is not in doubt.

Now it has reached the point where speech itself is an object of suspicion. “Free speech means free speech,” is the apparently generous premise. But the next clause takes it all back suggesting ‘but it ought not to be for the likes of Pamela Geller.’ Or Keith Windschuttle or John Howard or Cardinal Pell. Yet walls are perilous. While the Left routinely builds them to isolate their foes, they should always remember the barrier goes in both directions.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.

And the soundproofed ones are worst of all.

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