The terror attacks in Oslo were appalling. The random bomb explosion, the deliberate massacre of seventy-seven young people at a summer camp, were examples of the worst kind of anti-social violence. The grief they have caused will go on and on for a long time – for as long as all those so cruelly bereaved live to remember it.
The killer Anders Breivik differs from the 9/11 killers only in that he did not commit suicide and relishes the opportunity a trial will give him to air the views which he says motivated his attack. However, the guy is clearly barmy. He is confused and incoherent, if he imagines that bombing government offices and killing white Norwegians who were not immigrants or followers of any foreign faith, will do anything at all to discourage immigration or the threat to Western Europe of becoming islamified. Many lawyers claim their clients are insane, but in this case, there can be no doubt that Breivik is totally bonkers.
The left-wing press was of course quick to exploit his weird manifesto in order to discredit all those who do believe that there is a threat to European democracy from militant Islam. And there is a growing disquiet in the UK about this problem, not placated by the recent events in Tower Hamlets and elsewhere, where a group calling itself Muslims Against the Crusades proclaimed (a few weeks before Breitvik’s crazed attacks) that they would be imposing Sharia Law on their local communities. The governing parties, who are all committed to a path of multi-culturalism, have so far been too embarrassed to acknowledge this development or respond to it in any articulate way.
There are many groups and some political parties which seek by peaceful, democratic means to oppose the growth and spread of Islam in Western Europe, and the left-wing would dearly love to vilify all of them, classing them alongside Breitvik and his maniacal behaviour. I think they are making a mistake. Many of those same left-wingers supported the demonstrations in London last December against rising tuition fees. They were with the demonstrators in opposing education cuts and critical of the government policy that will discourage youngsters from poorer backgrounds from going to university – but does that mean they condone all the extremist behaviour and antics of every anarchist or drugged-up student who took part in the demonstrations? Do they condone setting fire to buildings, smashing windows or looting shops? Do they condone the behaviour of Charlie Gilmour, the son of a pop-star, who was gaoled in July for admitting he went on the demo under the influence of drink and drugs, and caused criminal damage?
Would it be fair to suggest that the behaviour of these loutish demonstrators in any way discredited the political arguments against the rise in tuition fees? Does everybody who believes education should be free, and openly available, share the guilt and shame of the rioters? I think it is not fair and I think it would not be logical either. A few days ago I was talking to a left-winger who said he thought it would be a good idea to kidnap the children of the Duke of Westminster in order to raise a ransom and use the money for public services. Does that discredit everybody who opposes the cuts? I hope not, because I also oppose them. I just disagree (rather strongly) about methods and tactics
In the same way, the case against creeping islamification in Europe should not be damaged by the behaviour of one person who claimed to be motivated by such beliefs but was simply insane. Breivik’s supposed links with any parties or organisations in other countries have been wildly exaggerated and it seems more and more clear that he acted alone. The political views of those who use persuasion and democratic means to further their cause should be respected no less, and listened to with as much attention as anybody else’s.