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July 26, 2011

Walter Russel Mead on Brevik's Massacre

He strains to find a deeper meaning in the demonic attack and I don't think he's successful.

I'm not sure you can find a deeper meaning. There have always been vicious murderers, since the dawn of time. 10,000 years ago, before there was a name for them, there were undoubtedly serial killers. And throughout most of history -- until the most modern period -- warfare against armed men was just the prelude to the fruits of victory, rape and slaughter of the unarmed and underage.

From reading the serial stupidities of Tom Friedman (a confirmed member of the "Puritans without God" religion Mead mentions below) I've gotten pretty skeptical of these "link things to technological progress" think-pieces.

But this passage rang true.

The dominant tone among American intellectuals – Puritans without God by and large – is as deterministically Calvinist as any New England divine would have wished. The New England Calvinists believed that everything that happened had been planned and predestined by God from eternity. Late nineteenth and early twentieth century American progressive intellectuals threw God under the bus, but kept the machine. The universe is a closed system, every effect is related logically and inevitably to a cause, and with a sufficient amount of knowledge and enough computing power, the future of anything can be predicted. To this they grafted American optimism: the belief based on our national historical experience that things get better over time. They called the results “social science.”

The left strains to find a parallel in this to Islamist massacres. They'd like to do so, as it's always been a wonderful two-fer for them: Such a parallel permits them to ignore the fact that Islamism really is different, and continue parroting their multi-culti bromides; and, even more importantly, it gins up the necessary hate against their political rivals on the (non-murderous, non-crazed) right.

But Brevik's manifesto was the document of one man, not millions; no government (which is ultimately the expression of the people's mores and beliefs) enabled him and set him out to butcher innocents; no well-connected spy agency, acting at the behest of public officials, armed and trained him and gave him maps and uniforms.

In Pakistan, the Taliban are slaughtering Pakistani police and this is considered not a crime but a political struggle between the Islamists and the less-crazed moderates. Cops are murdered with the blessing of a substantial fraction of the population -- one third, perhaps, maybe one half.

This could not go on in any society in which an overwhelming majority rejected murder as an instrument of political expression. Such outrages can only happen when the "issue" of Is murder wrong? remains an open and hotly-debated point.

Brevik will get the maximum sentence in Norway (a pitifully short time, I've read, but that's what Norway has chosen). There will be the occasional lunatics that make a folk hero out of him, as confirmed leftist novelist Gore Vidal made of Timothy McVeigh, but 99.99% of Norway will wish him to hell, and not proclaim him a prophet of heaven.

But even so the right will be charged with a crime committed by a sociopath.

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posted by Ace at 02:31 PM

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