It is certainly true that on the face of it he has much in common with some recent Islamic suicide bombers. He is disturbed by female emancipation, and thinks women would be better off in the home. He seems to be pretty down on homosexuality. Above all – and in this he strongly resembles an Islamist – he believes that his own religious leaders are deeply decadent and have deviated from orthodoxy. He is repelled, like so many Muslim terrorists, by anything that resembles the mingling of cultures.
People will say that we are looking at the mirror image, in fact, of an Islamic terrorist – a man driven by an identical but opposite ideological mania. There is certainly a symmetry here, and yet in both cases, Breivik and the Muslim bomber, I don’t think that ideology is really at the heart of the problem. Yesterday the television reporters found an acquaintance of his from Norway, a fellow called Ulav Andersson, who said that he had known Breivik pretty well. He was surprised by all the Knights of Templar stuff, because he had never really been religious, and he wasn’t aware that he had been interested in politics.
“He didn’t seem opinionated at all,” he said. He just became chippy and irritable, said Ulav Andersson, when some girl he had a crush on jilted him in favour of a man of Pakistani origin.
It wasn’t about immigration, or Eurabia, or the hadith, or the Eurocrats’ plot against the people. It wasn’t really about ideology or religion. It was all about him, and his feeling of inadequacy in relation to the female sex. The same point can be made (and has been made) about so many of the young Muslim terrorists. The fundamental reasons for their callous behaviour lie deep in their own sense of rejection and alienation. It is the ideology that gives them the ostensible cause, that potentiates the poison in their bloodstream, that gives them an excuse to dramatise the resentment that they feel in the most powerful way – and to kill.
There is an important lesson, therefore, in the case of Anders Breivik. He killed in the name of Christianity – and yet of course we don’t blame Christians or “Christendom”. Nor, by the same token, should we blame “Islam” for all acts of terror committed by young Muslim males. Sometimes there come along pathetic young men who have a sense of powerlessness and rejection, and take a terrible revenge on the world. Sometimes there are people who feel so weak that they need to kill in order to feel strong. They don’t need an ideology to behave as they do.
Michael Ryan had no ideology in Hungerford; Thomas Hamilton had no ideology in Dunblane. To try to advance any other explanation for their actions – to try to advance complicated “social” factors, or to examine the impact of multiculturalism in Scandinavia – is simply to play their self-important game. Anders Breivik may have constructed a portentous 1,500 page manifesto, but like so many others of his type he was essentially a narcissist and egomaniac who could not cope with being snubbed. We should spend less time thinking about him, and much more on the victims and their families.