Recently it has emerged that Anders Breivik- who is suspected of killing at least 76 people in two attacks in Norway last Friday- was an avid user of online "counter-jihad" forums. At one such site called document.no he claimed in 2009 that he was now working "full time to develop/promote further the Vienna school of thought that Fjordman, Bat Ye'or…and many others have already contributed so much to."
The "Vienna school of thought" refers to the outlook promoted by the blog "Gates of Vienna" (GoV), which is the most avid advocate of the "Eurabia" thesis first formulated by Bat Ye'or and promoted in detail by an anonymous Norwegian blogger known as "Fjordman." On multiple occasions, Breivik has advertised Fjordman's work, most notably in describing his article "Defeating Eurabia" as "the perfect Christmas gift for family and friends."
To what extent, if at all, should these various "anti-jihadist" blogs- particularly the writings of Fjordman- that have so influenced Breivik be regarded as having a share of responsibility for the carnage? To preface, I am not referring here to writers like Daniel Pipes, who is cited by Breivik but does not subscribe to his hostility to Islam as a whole.
Of course, the first instinct might be to assert that attempting to draw such connections is merely "smear-by-association." After all, GoV itself has condemned Breivik's murderous rampage and has affirmed that "at no time has any part of the Counterjihad advocated violence, and its raison d'être is to eschew violence, to preserve law and order, and to uphold the rights of the individual."
Yet here is a simple analogy. Islamist groups like Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT) also condemn violence to achieve political ends in principle, but eagerly propagate the narrative that the West and non-Muslim world in general are actively conspiring to wage war against Islam. At the same time, these organizations constantly insist on the right and need for Muslims to assert their rights and "resist" the Western "occupiers."
Once these theories are accepted, it is not hard to see how an Islamist might reach the conclusion that the only way to overturn the conspiracy against him is to resort to violence; especially in the form of a mass-casualty attack that strikes as much terror into the heart of the enemy. Do we exculpate the likes of HuT for incidents like the July 7, 2005 bombings in London?
And so it is with the "Eurabia" thesis. This theory goes well beyond simply noting the fact that many on the liberal-left and in government have been naïve about the behavior and intentions of non-violent Islamists in Europe. Rather, their Eurabia hypothesis posits that the entire political left and European elites are conspiring with Islamists or the Muslim world to turn Europe into an Islamized continent, forming a joint Euro-Arab axis against Israel and the United States. Not all anti-Islam blogs adhere to the Eurabia theory: for example, "The Hesperado" prefers to see liberals and political elites as only naïve and well-intentioned, and therefore amenable to reasoned argument.
Fjordman has taken the Eurabia conspiracy further, seeing Western governments' policies on immigration and multiculturalism as part of an attempt to foster "White Masochism" in the European natives. Hence, Fjordman urges whites to assert their rights to have "a place of our own where we can prosper…without being stripped of our heritage in order to placate people who moved to our countries of their own free will. We…are under no obligation to commit collective suicide and serve as a dumping ground for other countries."
He even has the temerity to accuse Western governments of practicing "reversed Nazism" since their policies are "based on the assumption that whites should have fewer rights than others and can be colonized or culturally eradicated with impunity. I don't see why I should either be a "Nazi" or embrace and celebrate my extinction."
It is clear how acceptance of Fjordman's theories- warning of "reversed Nazism," "collective suicide," "cultural eradication" and "colonization" by (Muslim) immigrants- can inculcate a dangerously paranoid mindset, with numerous parallels to HuT's outlook (namely in the idea that the supposed victims must stand up for themselves in the face of an existential threat). Reading Fjordman and GoV, one gets the impression that the halls of power are dominated by sinister leftists and cultural Marxists, that co-existence with the Left is impossible, and that we must be at war with the establishment to prevent the dire threat of decline, creating a sense of what The Hesperado terms "Gnostic alienation" from the West.
Far from being a shooting spree of someone mentally ill, Breivik's attacks were evidently well calculated. Attacking the government in Oslo and the youths of the Labor Party he felt would be future leaders of his country, Breivik sincerely hoped he would free Norway from the grips of what he saw as a giant social experiment in multiculturalism, mass immigration and Islamization. If Fjordman and GoV sincerely believe in the magnitude and nature of the danger they describe, violence to reverse the Islamization trend appears to be a necessary and logical consequence. Otherwise, the outlook of these blogs descends into hypocritical incoherence.
In the end, responsibility lies with Breivik and his conscious decision to commit these atrocities. However, Fjordman, GoV and other promoters of the Eurabia conspiracy theory ought to re-consider their claims, and how they might be interpreted. Above all, demonization and personal vilification of one's political opponents needs to be abandoned.