Statement from News and Letters Committees on the events in Norway:
24 July 2011
The death toll currently stands at 93 in the mass murder carried out by Norwegian Rightist Anders Behring Breivik on July 22. Most of the victims were young people attending the Norwegian Labor Party’s summer camp. Breivik cold-bloodedly fired upon hundreds of innocent teens for at least 90 minutes before surrendering himself to police.
This was the worst incident of mass murder by a single gunman in modern history, and it was entirely motivated by a very specific and widespread ideology.
Breivik was opposed to the Norwegian Labor Party government’s policies on immigration. He hated Muslims, specifically. That the Utoya summer camp included anti-xenophobia workshops would have helped to drive his rage.
If Breivik had been unknown to Norwegian police–who are known for carefully tracking local neo-Nazi groups–it is because he was hidden in plain sight. He had made no secret of his anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant views, publishing them openly over the internet and advocating them at public meetings. He was not a fan of Hitler, but rather of the supposedly more “respectable” U.S. Tea Party, and Geert Wilders’ Dutch Party for Freedom. This is hatred become “mainstream.”
This mainstreaming of hate is an excrescence of capitalism in deep crisis. A system that can only produce a future of endless war, austerity and alienation will find its fit ideologies. This happened in Yugoslavia, for instance, when the crisis of state-capitalism calling itself Communism wasn’t met with a revolutionary alternative.
FROM BOSNIA TO UTOYA ISLAND
What stands behind Anders Behring Breivik’s cold-blooded rampage is an ideological campaign that reaches back to the Bosnian genocide of the 1990s. It also reaches straight into the politics of the modern Right. Breivik was acting out the exterminationist rhetoric that fills Right-wing websites and rallies. He hated “multiculturalism.”
“Before we can start our crusade we must do our duty by decimating cultural Marxism,” he wrote. (He explicitly echoes the “Obama is a Marxist” Tea Party crowds.)
Breivik is a devout follower of the so-called “counter-jihadi” websites and authors who specialize in demonizing all Muslims. His rhetoric is their rhetoric. These figures include authors like Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, and the pseudonymous “Fjordman” (Breivik’s favorite author) and websites like Gates of Vienna and Document.no (where Breivik often posted his own writings). These are the same circles that created the false “Ground Zero mosque” controversy before the 2010 elections. They are all defenders and apologists of the Bosnian genocide.
Geert Wilders runs from the “Ground Zero mosque” to the illegal Israeli settlements of the West Bank, promoting the international spread of this filth. When Republican Presidential hopeful Herman Cain attacks long-established mosques in Tennessee, he is tapping this same vein of poison.
What Breivik hopes to achieve through this massacre is simply to publicize his genocidal body of ideas. He has written his own book which he will be wanting to promote through the medium of his trial, calling for a million deaths in Europe. He actually called his mass murder a “marketing method.” As unbelievable as the events in Norway seem, Breivik was only acting out the genocidal violence that is implicit in the anti-Muslim (and often, by extension, anti-immigrant, anti-“other” in general) arguments that are heard commonly on today’s Right.
As many have pointed out, it is reminiscent as well of U.S. white supremacists like Timothy McVeigh forever fantasizing about the genocidal “race war” they intend to spark.
THERE MUST BE ACCOUNTABILITY
It is only too common to hear people say that the issue in Bosnia was that the “Muslims” had better public relations than the “Serbs,” as if there was never a struggle to defend a multi-ethnic Bosnian identity and as if there were two sides equally at fault.
This was never true, and it only becomes more vitally necessary to keep the record straight as time passes. As we wrote in News & Letters in May 1993:
Nothing more exposes the lie of this fabrication than the fact that the very first shots fired in Sarajevo on April 6, 1992 were those fired against a mass demonstration of Serb, Croat and Muslim Slavs standing together against Milosevic’s designs. No less than 200,000 marched together that month shouting, “We want to live together!” Nor was it only in Sarajevo that mass opposition to the war erupted. In June there were huge demonstrations–nearly half a million–against Milosevic in Belgrade itself.
The destruction of the multinational heritage for which Bosnia was renowned was accomplished only by the conscious and deliberate campaign we have witnessed over the whole past year: the merciless shelling of every town and village Serbian missiles could reach; the starvation of thousands in besieged towns while food and medical supplies wait in trucks a few miles away; millions making forced marches to towns that might offer refuge, shelled as they walked and dying of exposure on the way; prisoner camps that match the Nazis’; and the unprecedented mass rapes of tens of thousands of women as a war policy. (Bosnia-Herzegovina: Achilles Heel of Western ‘Civilization,’ p. 21-22; News & Letters, 1996.)
The indecisive character of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic’s trial, the contradictory judgments by the International Court of Justice on genocide, and the example of a convicted war criminal like Veselin Sljivancanin serving 8 days in prison for each person murdered, indicate that Europe has so far failed to come to terms with the meaning of the genocide in Bosnia. The recent arrests of war crimes fugitives Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic, in Serbia, along with the mass murders in Norway, will test that further.
The truth about the Srebrenica genocide? It is seen in Anders Behring Breivik murdering scores of youth on Utoya island. This retrogressive, neo-fascist ideology of a capitalism in deep crisis must be opposed everywhere, on every level.