The bombing in downtown Oslo and the shooting massacre at a youth camp outside the capital were intended to start a revolution to inspire Norwegians to retake their country from Muslims and other immigrants, the suspect said.
What was your reaction, and given the heated rhetoric on Muslims and multiculturalism in this country, what are your thoughts on preventing such acts here?
Last Friday Andres Behring Breivik became the latest in an infamous list of religiously motivated murderers. Early reports claimed Breivik was a “right wing Christian”; in actuality he appears to be unconnected to any branch of the Christian church. As his trial unfolds, I suspect we’ll learn that Breivik’s deepest religious affections center around what he believes to be pure Norwegian culture.
In 1948 Nathuram Vinayak Godse, a committed Hindu, assassinated India’s hero, Mahatma Gandhi, in part because Gandhi wasn’t Hindu enough. In 1969 Charles Manson, in the name of a perverted Scientology, ordered his disciples to commit multiple murders in Southern California. In 2002, John Allen Muhammad, a convert to the Nation of Islam, went on a “jihad” sniper spree in the Washington, DC area, gunning down ten people.
All of these crimes (and innumerable more we might include) are hideous. None of them can fairly be employed to attack religious belief or to make the false claim that humanity’s worst crimes have been committed in the name of God. Many have correctly pointed out that the twentieth century’s most astounding atrocities were committed by irreligious men and nations.
History reveals that all nations, cultures, and religions are capable of producing madmen and terrorists. This fact speaks more clearly to the nature of men and women than it does any particular religion.
As I’ve argued in this space before, we must fiercely defend our open society from those who would attempt to muzzle religious or political speech. Simultaneously, we must be entirely intolerant of violence or other acts of terrorism, regardless of the source. Immigration of Muslims or others cannot be restricted (Mr. Breivik’s goal). Conversely, conspiracy against our nation or any of its citizens cannot be permitted.
The cost of securing and maintaining our political and religious freedoms has always been high. The American experiment, imperfect as it is, has demonstrated that it’s an expense worth paying.