Anders Breivik and the War Against Ourselves

Breivik is a sobering reminder that the war we're fighting has no face or home. The war we're fighting is against unthinking, bilious rage.

In all of the horrific and heartbreaking coverage of Friday's violence in Norway, where Anders Behring Breivik allegedly bombed an Oslo government building before mowing down teenagers and twentysomethings at a nearby youth camp, the quote that made me close my browser and stop reading wasn't a gory description or a pulse-raising anecdote. It was this comment in the New York Times from 20-year-old Norweigan woman Hanne Remmen: "It’s worse because it was a Norwegian boy who killed all of those people."

We never want to believe that humans have the capacity for this type of cold, calculated violence. When a random, horrible act occurs, we want to believe it was committed by someone very distant. A monster who doesn't share our cultural values. Someone—something—other. Remmen's comment, that acts of violence are more understandable if they're committed by perceived cultural outsiders, goes a long way toward explaining the persistence of ingrained anti-Muslim views and some of our assumptions about terrorism.

Have there been acts of violence perpetrated by terrorists motivated by extreme Muslim beliefs? Yes, of course. We all know the prominent examples here: al-Qaeda, Osama, 9/11, etc. Indeed, jihadists were the first culprit many of us considered when news of the bombings broke. In the immediate aftermath of the rampage, The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin, conservative author of the "Right Turn" blog, even penned a long screed proclaiming, "This is a sobering reminder for those who think it’s too expensive to wage a war against jihadists." But then, much to Rubin's dismay, there was no jihadist.

It turns out that Anders Breivik is a far-right Christian fundamentalist. He was wildly anti-immigration, particularly Muslim immigration, and, in his epic self-published manifesto (PDF) he derided Western Europe's move toward "Marxism," "multiculturalism," and "Islamisation." In short, he was a conservative bigot who didn't want brown people coming into his world. On Friday, he allegedly took out his aggression on the liberal Labour Party, first bombing the prime minister's offices before stalking and executing members of the party's youth arm, the Workers' Youth League, at their retreat on Utoya Island. In all, the attacks left an unconfirmed 93 people dead.

Though none will admit it, many liberals have already taken to gloating—you can see it in their snarking and sniping comments beneath Rubin's horribly misguided essay (and its equally misguided follow-up). Breivik is the liberal's perfect villain, a child murderer exemplifying what many progressives have been saying for years now: Extreme fear and hatred of Islam is just as dangerous as Islamic extremists. People like Rubin were quick to dismiss that fact, and that's when Breivik came home to roost.

It's easy to gloat right now. It's easy for liberals to mock right-wing zealots. It's easy for atheists to mock the faithful. It's easy for Muslims to mock Christians. But what we forget, amid all that mocking, is that that sort of demeaning hatred is why Norway is reeling in the first place, why nearly 100 Norwegians, many of them children, are today dead too soon.

This isn't to say that people shouldn't learn lessons from Breivik's attack. In fact, it should be remembered forever, like 9/11, and talked about in classrooms from elementary to college. But to use people's lives, the loss of them specifically, as leverage to try prove a political point is downright sick. There were no wins or losses on Friday. There was only loss.

If anything, the takeaway from the Norway shooting shouldn't be that liberals are right and conservatives are wrong; it should be that irrational people are wrong. Breivik wasn't just a conservative, he was also an anti-Muslim racist murderer. To lump him in with the 34 percent of Americans who identify as Republican is just as dumb as lumping in all Muslims with the likes of Osama bin Laden. Despicable acts are despicable acts, and they aren't solely the doing of Muslims or Christians or white people or brown people. Terrorism is the realm of the irrational, and hatred is king there.

Rubin was totally wrong when she said Breivik's alleged attack was "a sobering reminder for those who think it’s too expensive to wage a war against jihadists." Rather, Breivik is a sobering reminder that the war we're fighting has no face or home or language. The war we're fighting is against unthinking, bilious rage. And the first step to defeating that rage is by not turning people like Breivik into points on a scoreboard. That's a scarier war than one fought against jihadists, because in that war we are often our own enemies.

Image: AFP

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.


In the category of "claims to fame nobody wants," the United States can now add "exporter of white supremacist ideology" to its repertoire. Super.

Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, made this claim in a briefing at The Washington Institute in Washington, D.C. "For almost two decades, the United States has pointed abroad at countries who are exporters of extreme Islamist ideology," Travers said. "We are now being seen as the exporter of white supremacist ideology. That's a reality with which we are going to have to deal."

Keep Reading Show less

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News