Overall I think the Judge at Breivik’s first court appearance was right to adopt a closed door policy. I did however find myself strangely ambivalent about this issue.
Knowing that the Norwegian courts usually avoid closed sessions, it felt a little as if Breivik’s actions had provoked a change in the usual open behaviour of the Norwegian court.. Though against this needed to be balanced the clear media agenda Breivik brings with him, and on balance it feels like the right decision, to close the doors on the media.
It seems clear to me that Breivik hopes to influence other loners, to follow his example, and isolating him from tools to promote his propaganda is the right strategy.
I found myself wondering cynically if Rupert and James Murdoch, were feeling relieved that something more newsworthy than their own troubles had occupied the headlines. This may or may not be true, however it also led me to the thought that, this close to the tragedy of Friday in Norway, that containing Breivik’s media agenda until the experience is not so raw in peoples minds, and responses not so emotional, represents a good strategic response.
It seems to me that acts of terrorism, whether enacted by an individual or by a group, always represent an act of war. Not because those who pursue terrorism deserve to thought of in the same category as a nation state. But because the response of those attacked should be to identify the enemy strategy and attack it withy the same vigour that they would a generals on a battle field.
Breivik seems to me to have a clear strategy, to use his insane act to promote his insane ideas, to other insane people. It has been noted in various places that Breivik’s ‘manifesto’ plagiarised the writings of the ‘Unabomber’ Theodore Kaczynski, and this is probably as revealing as anything else, including Breiviks ‘facebook page’. This is the aspect of his strategy to attack, his attempt to publicise himself.
Whilst I do think that Breiviks superficial motivation grew directly out of his anti-Islamic ideas and the association he appears to have made between these and ‘Cultural Marxism’, and that the anti-Islamists have questions to answer about the discrimination inherent in the ideology they are constructing around their opposition to Islam. I also think that underlying all this for Breivik there is something far more corrosive and difficult.
At the moment Breivik clearly feels powerful and important, his writing in his ‘manifesto’ suggests strongly that as he approached ‘the day’ he felt very good. This reveals something which is not always obvious about malignant personalities such as his, particularly when they seem so superficially narcissistic, in reality they feel anything but good, or important or significant, rather they feel insignificant.
I would ask the reader to consider, how unimportant he really feels, if it requires an act of such overwhelming brutality and shock value in order for him to feel significant. It was this feeling of unimportance which allowed him to plot and plan, and gather his materials to himself, everything about him was unnoticeable. Just as the Unabomber hid in a cabin far away from society, Breivik hid in plain sight not by pretending to be unimportant, but because that is genuinely how he feels, an unimportant person who can’t effect anything.
At the end of this I still find myself wondering if the anti-Islamists will at any point be able to reflect on how they drew such a malign personality as this to their cause. At the moment they seem to be in denial, I wonder if they will ever be able to emerge from it. Perhaps they will not be able to, perhaps a part of their agenda is that they themselves do not feel important, or significant, as compared to the Muslims they encounter, perhaps they do not feel able to demand respect for themselves and what they believe and feel and think as aspects of themselves. Perhaps they can only feel respected, by attacking the other, perhaps it was this that allowed Breivik to feel they were kindred spirits.
The future cannot lie with the idea that the Terrorists in the Middle East represent Islam, they represent themselves, they merely try to use Islam to justify their actions. Just as Breivik and the Unabomber represent themselves, only using whichever ideology they have chosen to justify their actions.
And for all acts of Terrorism there is no justification. In a few weeks, for most of the world Breivik will be old news, then perhaps reporting restrictions might be lifted and those of us who want to prevent people like him from even becoming people like him, can study the way his irrational and insane thinking works. Helping us gain insight into how other terrorists think.
In the end Breivik has more in common with Al Zwahiri and Bin Laden, than he does with Wilders and Spencer, and this demonstrates how wrong the anti-Islamists really are, the enemy is not Islam, it’s the Terrorists.