Every Dog Has His Day

Not ‘white power’, apparently, but the military salute of the Templars

The trial of Anders Behring Breivik continues. His assertion that there has been ‘systematic deconstruction of the Norwegian and European culture from multiculturalism’ is by no means original, as is his muddled, anti-Marxist ideology, but his solution, an apparent attempt to murder over five hundred innocent people in cold blood  including a plan to behead a former prime Minister – the traditional medieval punishment for traitors – and without a shred of remorse, assuredly is. His calm, moonlike face and deep-set eyes surely conceal the mind of a psychopath or a self-trained urban terrorist – opinions currently differ about his sanity. The gentle, almost convivially civilised atmosphere in the courtroom of the inoffensive Norwegians is a testament to the depth of organisational charity possessed by its government and legal system. He is allowed his day in Court with all civility. 

He complains, inter alia, about the pervasive and creeping rise of Islam, concerning which, a few thoughts of my own follow. 

Observing Islamic culture from the relative safety of SW3 is rather different to daily exposure to it as an expat, but it might be instructive to imagine for a moment that one might have a conversation with oneself while overlooking Fulham Road with a glass of Amontillado to hand. Islam is heterogeneous but the unacceptable nature of some of its manifestations, both in the West and in Muslim-majority countries is what draws non-Muslims to its attention. We don’t understand suicide bombers – promises of immediate Paradise plus seventy-two houris notwithstanding – the word is probably a mistranslation of ‘white grapes’, but, for now we can move on. We get upset about reports of non-Muslims being killed, or about women enduring appalling punishments, and feel that we, or our governments, should respond in some way.

So what should our attitude be toward “bad” Islam, which one might conveniently call the “I” word, a term embracing terrorism; intolerance and active persecution of other religions; inequality and mistreatment of women; imposition of extreme sharia law without recourse to a democratic judicial process and opposition to freedom of expression?
What choices are available?

1. There is no point in ordinary people holding or propagating any opinion about it, because there is nothing we can do about except direct our votes in our own countries’ elections to the parties with the best policy on the matter, assuming we hold an opinion on what constitutes ‘best policy’.

2. The West, past and present, including its Christianity, is so irredeemably wicked that we have forfeited any right to make a judgment about any other system or culture. This is a little like chopping off the branch on which we sit.

3. Radical cultural relativism. No system is any better or worse than any other, and if “I” word proponents do things differently from the way we do, then that is their business and none of ours, and it is arrogant for us to think otherwise. Fine as long as both sides get a voice.

4. Patience. Eventually everyone, including “I” word supporters, will come around to seeing that liberal, pluralist democracy and some sort of market economy is best, but they have to come to that decision for themselves, and though it might take decades or centuries, there is nothing we can do to hurry up the process, and it is always counterproductive if we try.

No, they won’t. Despite periods of co-existence and with few exceptions, ‘once an Islamic country, always an Islamic country’. They can afford to be patient.

5. Respect for democracy. Muslims, given the opportunity, sometimes give the majority vote to (what seem to us) repressive, militaristic and illiberal parties, as happened in Gaza and seems to be happening as an outcome of the so-called Arab Spring. We may need to allow democracy to self-destruct in other countries; but we have a responsibility to preserve it in our own and a right to make decisions accordingly. This may require refusing admission to a group that either has a history of not assimilating or holds an undemocratic or aggressive article of faith with evident sincerity. In the US they expect assimilation, and by and large they get it. In the spirit of Ellis Island, they still welcome and open their hearts to Muslim or any other immigrants who wish to embrace secular and free political principles, while alert to the possibility of failures outweighing success stories.

Respect for sovereign national borders is a two-way street. Must we fear for our lives because foreigners object to cartoons in our newspapers? With regard to the principle of national sovereignty, there is only so much an American or a Canadian, for example, can say to European countries like France whose standard operating procedure .with immigrants is not assimilation but pillarisation. I wouldn’t want them to be among those democracies that self-destruct because of Trojan horses.

6. Military intervention. It is possible that the mostly detestable governments in Iraq and Afghanistan will survive, and evolve into something viable and acceptable (just as the Seoul regime in South Korea, originally scarcely better than communism in the North, emerged eventually as a liberal and prosperous democracy), but that looks very unlikely at the moment. When a society consistently violates the underpinning principles of international law and justice, do we have a right or a responsibility to intervene and to what extent? Libya represents a partial success story, perhaps, and Syria is, of course, ongoing.

7. Perhaps we just have to face the fact that appalling things go on under strict I-regimes, but take the attitude that they are none of the West’s business, and all that Western countries can do is protect themselves through measures such as screening of immigrants and airline security, and let them all go to hell in a handbasket. An attractive proposition perhaps but completely unworkable because we’re all addicted to oil.

8. As far as possible, maintain friendly relations, both for our own economic benefit and in order to exert discreet pressure for incremental human rights improvements. Precisely our position with China. Time will tell.

9.Write to or email offending governments, or support human rights advocacy groups which are doing so. George Smiley called this ‘jumping up and down and calling it ‘progress’. However, better this than Breivik’s ultimate solution. 

It is perhaps not without significance however that the media feeding frenzy surrounding the court in Oslo has had a curious and disturbing spin off. The Norwegian anti-immigrant organization ‘Stop the Islamisation of Norway’ (SIAN) received several donations – up to $9000,  it would seem – and more members signed up after the terror trial began this week.

As Hannibal Lecter once remarked “We live in a primitive time, don’t we?”

2 thoughts on “Every Dog Has His Day

  1. As usual your logical mind puts order to what seems to be utter chaos. I am particularly offended by Brevik because he seems to have punched a gaping hole into one of my societal theories regarding violent crime.
    Norway is by most accounts a splendid place to live. They have zero debt, a thriving economy, and a society that is the envy of most countries in the world.
    I haven't read much about Brevik's upbringing. I am sure criminologists will publish more than a few dissertations after studying him like a specimen in a petri dish.
    He seems to me on first glance to fit into that niche of small “big men” who lashed out at the world once they found a sufficient cause to do so.
    We have seen his kind before in the US. More frequently than I'd like to admit. Timothy McVeigh comes to mind, God rest his soul, and Charles Manson. Then there was the “unabomber.” We have had the “Son of Sam” and the “Zodiac Killer.” Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy and others come to mind as well. Of course they didn't plan to get caught and none of them made any real political appeals other than Manson who wanted a race war to bring on a new age in America. McVeigh and Bundy were put to death and Dahmer was put to death by a fellow inmate. Justice done I'd say.
    I like the fact that Manson is still around and every few years we get a reminder of his horror. The press fusses about the possibility of his parole, he managed to escape the death penalty by a hiccup in the constitutionality of the death penalty in the California courts. Today he'd be toast. Somehow, however, the pictures we get of the man rotting in his cell are quite fulfilling. He is in hell. Despite all the pathetic supporters he still has, his day as a rock star are long gone. Each year fewer and fewer people know who he is and his crimes, although horrific, seem to blend into the horrors of the modern world like just another speedbump on the highway of pain and suffering.
    Brevik is still coming to terms it seems with what he has done. It is a horrible crime. Whether he will be found competent at the end of the day is yet to be seen.
    I seriously question his sanity given his “plan.” Kill a bunch of children and other innocents to bring attention to his “cause.” Why not do something elsewhere and to the proported “invaders.” After all a Serb Nationalist started World War I with a properly chosen target and a bit of luck on the day of the assassination.
    As for his premise that Islam is taking over Europe one might say its only natural because the “other religions” and secular humanism have resulted in a zero or declining birthrate in European countries and much of the developing world.
    Just as racist Californians bemoan the takeover of “Spanish speakers” in their schools, cities, and prisons yet still support the industries that hire “undocumented workers” from south of the border, it seems that many like Brevik are just frustrated by the system that makes them feel like strangers in their own land.
    At the end of the day he appears to be little more than a criminal who is insane, or not very bright. He seems to have cooked this thing up by himself, for himself, as his entry into his own fantasy world of chivalry. Watching him tear up as he heard his manifesto read in court made me sick. Hopefully he will live a long time in jail or psychiatric care so he can endure the pain of guilt and more importantly irrelevance as each year passes and his fifteen minutes of fame gets buried deeper and deeper into the past.


  2. Breivik is an aberration, which the world needs from time to time to recalibrate its moral compass. I myself don't care to distress myself by imagining him and his kind in some kind of dungeon like Hannibal Lecter – his own demons will howl and gibber quite loudly enough in the years to come to drive him into the abyss.


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