It has been a bit of a while since my last post – not that there hasn’t been plenty of things to potentially write about. However I felt I had to shake myself out of my slumber to write something on the recent tragedy in
Camden Square Norway, and the madness of gunman Anders Behring Breivik.
There’s no need to go over the details: this was a tale of cold, calculated carnage – the work of a man whose mind was completely set. A man whose actions were horrific beyond question, yet whose motivations have since become the subject of crazy media speculation and at times bizarre conclusions.
As soon as Breivik’s identity and background became known, the crazy media speculation machine cranked into action. First there was the long-distance analysis of his 1,518-page “manifesto” – written in almost perfect English – which provided the world’s hacks with a veritable basketcase’s basketcase of information from which to draw their conclusions. Breivik’s ramblings ranged from the evils of multiculturalism, the dangers of Islam and how marvellous Japan is to his somewhat eclectic musical tastes, his admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin and the merits of body-building. He also waxed lyrical about television presenter and newspaper columnist Jeremy Clarkson, of all people.
As far as I can see it this madman’s magnum opus is at best an insight into the workings of a highly intelligent but at the same time unstable mind, yet the media and countless numbers of Twitter-twits have been obsessed with taking every little otherwise irrelevant statement, factoid and bullshit proclamation and twisting them into line with their own narrow interpretations.
Circulating within hours of the story breaking were the claims that there was a connection between Breivik and the English Defence League, a band of headless-chicken rabble-rousers with no political clout beyond the grimy streets of nondescript working-class towns and the terraces of lower-league football grounds. On account of Breivik having attended a couple of EDL meetings in London or elsewhere (for this read a couple of pints at the back of the Pony and Trap in Sydenham, Blackburn or Newcastle-upon-Tyne) and engaging in superficial correspondence on Facebook with EDL members, many commentators – predictably, on the left – started to throw about the crazy idea that the EDL was full of Knights Templar (or is that Simon Templar?) radicals bent on a campaign of (inter)national revolution.
This tub-thumping campaign of misinformation and gossip has largely been confined to the Guardian and professional rabble-rousers like Nick Lowles, the editor of Searchlight – a scurrilous publication that has over the years targeted anyone to the right of Josef Stalin. While Lowles seems to believe that there is “clear evidence” of a connection between the Anders Behring Breivik and the EDL, I would beg to differ: in fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that Lowles’ definition of “evidence” would have been warmly appreciated by the poison dwarves who organised Uncle Joe’s show trials. Yagoda, Yezhov, Beria – those wonderful socialist fellows.
That the EDL were described quite bluntly as too “multi-kulti” and “naïve” by Breivik himself should have killed any attempt at creating any sort of association between them stone dead, but this was clearly lost on those who value the lurid headline and cheap propaganda shot more than the simple truth.
This silliness is unfortunately not confined to likes of Nick Lowles; it can also be seen in this short excerpt of Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman interviewing – or should that be constantly haranguing, interrupting and browbeating – EDL leader Stephen Lennon. In what is a painful three and a half minutes, the sharp-tongued Paxman lays into his somewhat inexperienced victim in an attempt to make capital of the fact that Breivik had six-hundred Facebook “friends” who were members of the EDL – while conveniently side-stepping Lennon’s more pertinent counter-questions and cutting him short at almost every opportunity.
Of course, having six-hundred facebook friends is neither here nor there and hardly constitutes any real evidence of anything, let alone a terrorist conspiracy: I could just as easily Facebook-befriend – by this, do nothing more than make a series of simple one-click online requests – to six hundred members of the Socialist Workers’ Party; all I’d need is an appropriate avatar (hmm, something nice and obvious like an image of “Che”) and they’d all be adding me without question.
You can make the rest up yourself.
The same myopic focus has also been directed at the American right, which even in spite of the curious blend of insularity, Christian rapture mania and general kookishness at its fringe would be not the sort of movement that would agree with the cold-blooded slaughter of unarmed teenagers. Then there is the neo-Nazi connection, which is arguably even more difficult to understand: not only does the pro-Zionist Breivik list Adolf Hitler among a list of more contemporary criminals and whatnot, he can also be seen looking almost coquettish in a bright turquoise masonic apron – not the sort of look that would immediately garner the support of a knuckleheaded neo-Nazi brought up on a diet of weird and wonderful stories of dark and mysterious esoterical conspiracies involving the Illuminati.
Breivik describes Hitler as “the Great Satan”, and offers the following:
Whenever someone asks if I am a national socialist I am deeply offended. If there is one historical figure and past Germanic leader I hate it is Adolf Hitler. If I could travel in a time-machine to Berlin in 1933, I would be the first person to go – with the purpose of killing him. Why? No person has ever committed a more horrible crime against his tribe than Hitler.
“Andrew Berwick” (Anders Behring Breivik), 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, p. 1162
He witters on, but I’ll spare you; so much for Breivik being some kind of Nazi, neo- or otherwise.
By far the funniest snippet however is Breivik’s professed support for Jeremy Clarkson – which is no doubt going to make every single headcase tune in to the next edition of Top Gear just to listen in to the loud-mouthed Yorkshireman’s hitherto unnoticed subliminal messages of hate. For “the Citroën is crap and the Peugeot is a rustbucket”, read “French society is on the brink of collapse and Carla Bruni is releasing a new album”; for “the previously secure Volvo has safety issues”, read “Sweden’s once-safe cities are not pleasant to walk through at night”; for “this BMW is not a reliable as the previous model”, read “the German economy is on the slide and the only thing than can save it is another Night of the Long Knives”. Or whatever you wish – I could go on, you get the idea.
It is also worthwhile noting that Breivik also enjoyed playing Call of Duty – or according to the Telegraph, “an online computer war game that included scenes where players kill unarmed civilians”. Such a connection is obviously terrifying, as it clearly suggests that hundreds of thousands of CoD players around the world – male, female, young, old, white, black, brown, green – are locking and loading right now as I write this.
For all of this nonsense that sits amidst the tragedy, we should and must not allow this criminal outrage to drag us away from reality. Anders Behring Breivik may have poured his own peculiar brand of poison into what was already muddy bathwater, but this does not mean that we should be throwing the baby out with it.
To truly gain an understanding of what might have tipped an otherwise nondescript man like Anders Behring Breivik over the edge, we also need to understand that there are social issues that need to be addressed – something that the likes of Jeremy Paxman is paid large sums of taxpayers’ money to pretend not to comprehend.