Sunday, November 27, 2011

Anders Behring Breivik, the Left, and Me

Daniel Pipes
July 30, 2011
updated Nov 25, 2011

The left-wing website, ThinkProgress, searched 2083 — A European Declaration of Independence, the manifesto of Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, and came up with a listing of his citing conservatives. Robert Spencer leads with the most mentions, followed by Bat Ye'or, myself, and MEMRI. This exercise, which received wide attention, prompts two observation:

The Leftist most cited by Behring Breivik in his manifesto, 51 times: György Lukács.
While Behring Breivik mentioned we on the Right, he did likewise with the philosophical Left (György Lukács, Karl Marx, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Antonio Gramsci) and Leftist politicians (Tony Blair, Barack Obama). He also mentioned Islamists (Osama bin Laden, Anwar Shaaban). If the Right shaped his mind, so clearly did various totalitarians. ThinkProgress (purposefully?) skewed the results by only citing conservatives. Over 140 press and blog analyses mention Behring Breivik citing me in his manifesto. Unsurprisingly, the great majority of these are hostile, offense being more fun than defense. I do find it surprising, however, that Leftists far more actively than Islamists sought to tie Spencer, Bat Ye'or, myself, et al. to Behring Breivik. While Islamists had little to say on this topic, such publications as Time, The Guardian, Le Devoir, ThinkProgress, Counterpunch, and World Socialist Web Site attempted to pin responsibility for the atrocity on us, as did the populist (The American Conservative) and fascist (David Duke) Right. How to explain this? Perhaps that Islamists are less attuned to the politics of destruction than is the Left.

(July 30, 2011)

Nov. 21, 2011 update: Four months after the Behring Breivik atrocity, the tables are turned and someone from the other side of the political spectrum has some sort of role in shaping the thoughts of a would-be terrorist, as Omri Ceren explains in "Is Stephen Walt Responsible for Inspiring Terror Suspect Jose Pimentel?":

ABC News disclosed last night that arrested New York City terror suspect Jose Pimentel "spent much of his time on the Internet… and maintained a radical website called TrueIslam1." TrueIslam1 has a number of sections, most of them handed over to Islam and jihad. There are two only sections that deal straightforwardly with politics: one labeled "Politics" and one labeled "The U.S.A."

Both sections have different articles and both of course still contain plenty of Islamic theology – ergo the concept of political Islam – but they have one thing in common. They both have links to free downloads of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer's book The Israel Lobby. Other than those links there doesn't appear to be any overlapping content between the two sections. Apparently, Pimentel thought Walt and Mearsheimer's feverish opus was something that needed to be read and distributed.

Ceren goes on to quote Walt's assault on Pamela Geller or Robert Spencer in the aftermath of Behring Breivik's massacre ("it seems clear from Breivik's manifesto that these writers did have a considerable impact on his worldview, even if they did not advocate the horrific response that he chose").

Ceren is, so far as I know, the only writer to point out Walt's culpability, a contrast to the Left's jumping on Spencer, me, and others.

I should be one of those touting Walt's role in the Pimentel case but this prospect leaves me dull and uninspired. I simply lack that Leftist politics-of-personal-destruction spirit.

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