Does it matter what political agenda motivated Anders Behring Breivik, who is allegedly responsible for two attacks in Norway that killed some 93 people? In some sense, no. He’s a mass murderer, and he deserves society’s severest punishment (which in Norway is apparently 21 years in prison, or approximately three months for each murder). But as with each such attack, there’s been a rush to blame some ideological faction or other. As usual these days, some writers didn’t bother waiting for evidence before assuming that the perpetrator was Islamic and rushing into print with condemnation of people who would make cuts in a U.S. defense budget as large as the rest of the world combined or begin to wind down the Afghan war after 10 years (!).
But surely NPR takes the cake for the most ridiculous name-dropping. This morning Linda Wertheimer, who has 40 years of journalistic experience at NPR, interviewed Goran Skaalmo of the Norwegian Business Daily about Breivik. At about 3:20 of the audio, Wertheimer asks Skaalmo:
I was reminded of the American writer Ann [sic] Rand, in that he talks in his manifesto about the government being too soft, too sort of politically afraid to draw the kind of nationalist lines that he calls for.
Say what? When did Ayn Rand ever call for a hard, nationalist government? She was an immigrant, of course, and Breivik was greatly motivated by anti-immigration sentiment. She was staunchly individualist, just the opposite of nationalism. And she favored a government strictly limited to the protection of individual rights. Wertheimer reaches new depths in stupid Ayn Rand references.
A Norwegian newspaper’s report on Breivik (in an automatic Google translation) includes this telling line:
In one of the posts he states that politics today no longer revolves around socialism against capitalism, but that the fight is between nationalism and internationalism.
His online posts and his 1500-page online book seem to point to a fairly consistent nationalist, anti-immigrant, anti-Islamic “cultural conservative” defense of Europe’s “Judeo-Christian culture.”
Meanwhile, Norwegian bloggers have discovered that he lifted large passages from the 35,000-word manifesto of the anti-capitalist “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski.