Much has been written about the implications of the horrible massacre in Norway. After the initial automatic knee jerk assumption that the murderer must have been an Islamist terrorist, the discovery that he was one of Norway’s ‘own’ – albeit an extreme right wing white supremacist – sent shock waves throughout Norway, whose mourning was so dignified and full of quiet determination.
I want to make a three key points about the lessons of this atrocity which cost the lives of 76 people. Firstly, European states and societies need to get over their post 9/11 automatic assumptions that ‘terrorist’ acts are always perpetrated only by Islamists. Such assumptions lead to the racialization of Muslim and Arab-looking people, and to tighter immigration, asylum and travel controls throughout Europe, and, as in this case, miss the point entirely, at a heavy cost of innocent lives.
My second point relates to the Norwegian-ness of the assassin. I agree with what a Norwegian writer has written, that ‘the heart of darkness lies buried deep within ourselves’. Throughout Europe, it is European extremists – Dutch, Danish, Swedish, and others – who are acting against the much maligned politics of multiculturalism. However, as Gavan Titley and Alana Lentin write, (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/26/anders-behring-breivik-multicultural-failure) , it is the success of multiculturalism, rather than its alleged ‘failure’ that spurs white racists like Anders Behring Breivik to act so violently against what they see as the danger to ‘the nation’ from foreigners, and particularly Muslim foreigners. ‘Racism’, they write, ‘is often justified as an aberrant reaction to understandable provocation; the focus on “multiculturalism” in the aftermath of the Oslo tragedy draws attention to contemporary racism’s most elastic alibi. The “failure of multiculturalism” is an article of faith in European politics and, like all acts of faith, it depends on the acceptance of an underlying mystery’.
Their main argument is that the heart of darkness lies not merely in the extreme right, but within ‘our’ white, Christian, European selves, who construct ‘Islam’ as the enemy, close up Fortress Europe to immigrants, ban burqas and hijabs, and blame ‘them’ for all of society’s own social ills. Mainstream politicians are happy to go on about the excesses of multiculturalism and the dangers of Islam, but they cannot be exonerated from blame. Breivik’s online rants against multiculturalism and immigration to justify his crime were available for all to see – he was an inveterate blogger who made no secret of his intentions.
My third point is that Breivik, apart from his anti feminist rants (he has blogged as ‘fjordman’ saying that ‘feminism leads to the oppression of women’) and his insistence that anti-white sentiments (‘Caucasophobia’) is racism, is also, wait for it, a staunch Zionist. In The Brussell Journal: The Voice of Conservatism in Europe (http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/1965), he explained that ‘Europe should support Israel’, not to defend real Israeli Jews (many of whom, as things stand at present, are perpetrators rather than victims), but rather to heal European’s own ‘self inflicted civilizational wounds’.
My argument, then,is that Breivik’s deadly insistence that ‘it’s multiculturalism who dunnit’ and that Europeans need to heal their ‘civilizational wounds’ by supporting the militant state of Israel and by punishing immigrants, Muslims and their European supporters, is ultimately nothing less than the true reflection of Europe’s own racist face in the mirror.