Concerning Anders Breivik
By, Richard Terrell, Emeritus Professor of Art
When I looked at the “manifesto” of Anders Breivik, the Oslo mass murderer/terrorist, I noticed with interest his reading list. I have on my own bookshelves many books by the same authors, among them the following: Robert Spencer, Steven Emerson, Melanie Phillips, Daniel Pipes, Bernard Lewis, Andrew Bostom, Bat Ye’or, and a good number of others in the same vein. My immediate thought was an expectation that we would see a rush to implicate such authors in Breivik’s action by an Islamophile media establishment bonded to multiculturalist dogmas. Sure enough, it did not take long for the guilt-by-association game and a downplaying of the dangers of contemporary Islamic jihad.
- Robert Spencer and Mark Steyn have been cited by the New York Times as among the writers of concern fueling “anti-Muslim” violence.
- The Lincoln Journal Star printed a political cartoon showing the “old face” of terrorism (a caricature of Osama bin Laden) in comparison to the “new face” of terrorism (a caricature/portrait of Anders Breivik).
I’ve no doubt that these immediate responses will gather steam in the days ahead, along with the false exploitation of Breivik’s alleged “Christianity.” As a reader of writers who show up on Breivik’s reading list, and as a Christian layperson, I would seek to make two main points.
- The authors Breivik sites no where advocate violence. They engage in the great confrontation of ideas. They warn of Islamic influence in western societies out of a legitimate concern for the loss (through Islamic intimidation tactics and demonstrated violence) of our traditions of free inquiry and artistic expression, among other liberties we tend to take for granted. Their books are copiously documented by references to original Islamic sources which allow promoters of the jihad culture to speak for themselves.
- Even if we grant Breivik legitimacy in the alleged identification as “Christian” (something he denies) one observation may be readily established: Breivik acted in clear violation of the principles of the New Testament as well as the law of Moses forbidding pre-meditated murder. In contrast, Islamic scriptures and other authoritative writings clearly allow for it if aimed at “infidels” or apostates. It is therefore clear, and a major irony, that Mr.Breivik acted out of an inspiration that comes from the example set by the very people he regards as enemies.
We may hope that the false associations promoted by a lazy and corrupt media establishment will not intimidate people from investigating the character and history of Islamic jihad and reading the works of people who courageously ask the difficult cultural questions that face free societies today.
Richard Terrell is Emeritus Professor of Art, from a College in Nebraska. His field is in the disciplines of fine arts and humanity.