By Sarah Posner
If you haven't already, go read Mark Juergensmeyer's feature for us on Anders Behring Breivik, in which he compares him to Timothy McVeigh and concludes "both were Christian terrorists." Both, Juergensmeyer writes, "thought their acts of mass destruction would trigger a great battle to rescue society from the liberal forces of multiculturalism that allowed non-Christians and non-Whites positions of acceptability."
Is Breivik a Christian terrorist? Is the central question of Juergensmeyer's piece? As he notes, Breivik was "much more concerned about politics, race and history than about scripture and religious belief."
Chip Berlet succinctly frames Breivik's "core thesis" as "white Christian nationalism vs. multiculturalism."
Indeed Breivik sought to reconstitute a former crusades military force, one that would rescue a "pure" race from incursions by Muslims, who Breivik contends are aided by his enemy, the "multiculturalists," or "cultural Marxists," or proponents of "political correctness." (Berlet argues that much of this scapegoating of "multiculturalism" echoes the writings of American conservatives William Lind and Paul Weyrich.) In the section of the manifesto in which Breivik conducts an interview with himself, he maintains (as Juergensmeyer notes) that he'd accept an atheist into his "armed resistance" group the Knights Templar, as long as it is an atheist "who wants to preserve at least the basics of the European Christian cultural legacy." The Knights Templar, he writes, is "not a religious organisation but rather a Christian 'culturalist' military order." He continues, it is "essential to understand the difference between a 'Christian fundamentalist theocracy' (everything we do not want) and a secular European society based on our Christian cultural heritage (what we do want)."
Breivik blames the "multiculturalists," and, in a twist that I touched on yesterday, also blames Hitler for giving rise to these "politically correct elites." These "elites," he argues, in their zeal to prevent another Holocaust, not only blind themselves to what Breivik calls "Islamic atrocities," which he maintains are worse than Hitler's holocaust, but have simultaneously engaged in a "deliberate scheme to feminise/pacify" European youth. "Multiculturalism is an anti-Western hate ideology aimed at undermining the indigenous peoples of Europe and destroying European civilisation and culture," the manifesto reads. As a result of multiculturalism, Europe has few "cultural defenses," writes Breivik, from "any force which would want to conquer us," that is, Muslims. Thus, Breivik goes on, "the Islamic Ummah" is "currently colonising us, facilitated by our traitorous cultural Marxist/multiculturalist elites." He describes "Islamic conquest" of Europe as "demographic warfare."
As Jeff Sharlet noted yesterday on Twitter (his feed, by the way, is worth following as he reads Breivik's 1,500 page screed), the "Demographic Winter" paranoias, well documented by Kathryn Joyce, are a staple of Christian right panics about declining Christian population. As Joyce has written, though, the World Congress of Families, a purveyor of population hysteria, works on an interfaith basis with non-Christians, including conservative Muslims. Still, though, the demographic winter panic feeds on both anti-feminist and anti-Muslim strains of thought (the former by arguing that feminism and reproductive freedom have led to declining religious zeal and declining birth rates; the latter that as a result of the former, Muslims are surpassing Christians in population growth).
As Rick Santorum, fresh off of a David Horowitz speaking engagement, told me in 2007, Europe has given into secularists and have thefore lost the culture war, and therefore lack the strength to confront "jihadists:"
if you look at Europe, Europe is not fighting by and large. And the reason they’re not fighting is because they’ve lost the culture war. They are a post-Christian country, they are not a people of faith, their churches are empty, they are people who are not reproducing at any rate to sustain a population. I think the number I heard is every 32 years the population, the European population of Europe will be reduced by 50%. That’s how bad their birthrates are. This is in many respects a dying continent from the standpoint of European-Europeans. And if we lose faith, and we lose the culture war and become a completely secular, materialistic society, then we will go the way of the Europeans and we will have no heart to face these people. The problem with the Europeans is that they are completely secular folks, by and large, who see the world through the eyes of reason. Well, these people don’t – these people reject reason. These people say that their lives are governed by faith, period, by the rule of law. That was handed down in Shariah. And it is all-encompassing and it is perfect and it is not to be added to. And that there is no room for this.
(Breivik also cites, quotes, and copies from Horowitz's Front Page magazine, as well as other American anti-Muslim writing, in his manifesto.)
I'm not saying, of course, that Santorum advocates terrorism or intends violence. But, as Scott Shane writes at the Times today, Breivik's manifesto has placed attention squarely on many of the American Islamphobes he expresses admiration for, or quotes extensively from. Two, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, protest too much that their agitation is to blame, with Geller asserting, "If anyone incited him to violence, it was Islamic supremacists."
The idea that Europe has given in to Islam, and has already been or is at risk of being "Islamicized," due to liberals' failure to recognize a threat, is a common Islamophobic trope. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, a question from a student from the group Youth for Western Civilization at Liberty University at a panel titled "The Shariah Challenge to the West," was taken as a serious line of inquiry: "Are we going to see a rise of Islamic Europe, and America just sits there on its own... are we actually going to win?"