Robert Spencer calls Anders Breivik “insane”; says the Counter-Jihad movement is about spreading “equal justice and the human rights of all people”

Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch quotes a news article about the Breivik trial:

Insisting “universal human rights” gave him the mandate to carry out his acts, he described himself as a “militant nationalist” and, using the pronoun “we” to suggest he was part of a larger group, added: “We have drawn from al-Qaida and militant Islamists.”

“You can see al-Qaida as the most successful militant group in the world,” Breivik told the court during questioning on the second day of the trial.

About which Spencer remarks:

Breivik says he was inspired by al-Qaeda. All you sick Islamic supremacists and Leftists who blamed me for him can leave your apologies in the comments field below.

Spencer continues:

Clearly this individual is insane. And just as clearly, he has absolutely nothing to do with the counter-jihad struggle for equal justice and the human rights of all people.

What’s insane about Breivik? Are Al Qaeda members insane, since they practice the evil strategy that Breivik imitated? Was Muhammad Atta insane, or an extremely devoted and effective jihad warrior? Is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed insane? Are all Muslims who support terrorism insane?

Spencer’s knee-jerk description of Breivik as “insane” shows once again how, outside his own area of expertise, where he makes an important contribution which I respect, he is a shockingly mediocre liberal thinker. He has no thoughts, no insights, that go outside standard liberal reactions to things and the standard liberal slogans. Thus he defines the counter-jihad as a struggle for “equal justice and the human rights of all people.” Not a struggle to defend our civilization, our liberty, our very existence, from Islam, but a struggle for universal liberalism—including liberalism for all Muslims (“equal justice and the human rights of all people.”)! And how does Spencer expect to bring about human rights for all Muslims, except by installing Western liberalism in Muslim countries? Hmm, haven’t we been trying that?

So notwithstanding my criticisms of Spencer as a liberal, which I first stated almost ten years ago, and for which he called me various names and sought to discredit and marginalize me as a liar, a smearer, a character assassin, insane, etc., he has not changed one iota, neither in seeing the liberal nature of his own beliefs nor in moving away from them. Liberal phraseology from the era of Jimmy Carter (the president who put “human rights” into the center of our political lexicon, and with whom Spencer had a friendly get-together in the 1980s—the photo is proudly posted at Spencer’s site) still forms the core of his political belief system. Because he is conservative on one issue—opposing Islamization—and is hated by liberals for it, he thinks that makes him a hard right-winger, and therefore my assertion that he is a liberal is the mark of an insane person or a liar whose only possible motive is to harm Spencer out of some nasty personal motive.

Further, it is because Spencer is a liberal that he never proposes any effective means of stopping, let alone reversing, the Islamization of the West, because such true resistance to Islam and the ejection of Islam from our society would require dropping the liberal belief that all people including Muslims have equal rights and must be treated the same.

What I am saying here is not aimed at making people dislike or reject Robert Spencer as a person. It is aimed at getting people to see the deep-seated and completely unreflected-on liberalism that still controls the thinking of most self-described conservatives, including Spencer, and to persuade people that short of a rejection of such liberalism there is no hope of saving or restoring the West.

To put the issue in the nutshell: If you believe, as Spencer does, that the highest principle is equal freedom or equal rights, you are a liberal, and you will not be able to oppose the current liberal order that is leading to Western suicide. If you believe that the highest principle is the good,—the good both in the ethical and spiritual sense and in the sense of the good of a particular society and culture, namely our own—then you are a conservative, or rather a traditionalist (since the word conservative is so mushy as to be practically meaningless without constant qualification). As Jim Kalb put it recently to me, the turning point against liberalism will come when people stop believing that freedom is the highest principle, and instead affirm that the good is the highest principle. Once this change occurs in their thinking, all the other changes leading from liberalism to traditionalism will logically follow.

* * *

Also peruse the comments in the Jihad Watch thread. There is nothing that sounds remotely conservative. One after another, his commenters are liberals in their basic thinking and reactions—liberals against Islamization.

However, in one bright spot, a commenter named LemonLime lays out a rational argument countering Spencer’s thoughtless statement that Breivik is insane.

- end of initial entry -

Doug H. writes:

Sometimes I think your are too hard on Spencer, but as usual you show your genius. Breivik is clearly not insane. He methodically executed his plan based on a very accurate analysis of the situation that exists which is destroying the West. These methods were brutal and very immoral in my judgment, but that doesn’t make him insane.

I really hope you can put your reasoning into a book at some point. There are some concepts you discuss that I can’t completely grasp. I find that reading your arguments causes me to think on a deeper level as evidenced by the couple of times you have pointed out errors in my over simplifications of some situations.

John Dempsey writes:

Did you read LemonLime’s reply to another commenter that directly proceeds his comment that you linked? It seems that he puts you and others (Fjordman, El Ingles, Conservative Swede, Baron Bodissey) that speak truth about Leftism into the same category as Breivik. He states:

“The only difference is that Breivik actually wanted to do something concrete against this dire emergency; rather than sit around and blog about it.”

LA replies:

I don’t mind that remark, since Breivik’s “actually wanted to do” was a leap into criminality and mass murder which obviously puts him in another class of phenomena from myself.

And anyone who does believe that there is only one small step’s difference between someone who opposes liberalism and Islam, and someone who carries out or advocates the mass murder of liberals and Muslims, is himself simply a liberal who automatically equates any criticism of a liberal-favored group with a Nazi-like intent to murder that group.

John Dempsey replies:
He states that your and Breivik’s obsession are the same. He even continues:

“they can hardly be exculpated just because they failed to put their irresponsibly lurid hyperbole into the action which logically flows from their feverish rhetoric.”

LA replies:

Oh, I missed that. That is bad. What a fool.

This is the liberal vision. These are the two moral alternatives liberalism gives us. Either you believe that all people are the equal, the same, and to be merged in the same society, or you want to mass-murder all groups different from your own. Either you’re a liberal, or you’re a Nazi.

LA adds (8:22 p.m.):

Here’s what I misconstrued in my too-rapid skimming of LemonLime’s comment. I didn’t realize that his refutation of Spencer’s statement that Breivik is insane, which I welcomed, was actually part of his larger argument that Breivik represents a coherent philosophy, and that this coherent philosophy is that of the Islam critics such as Spencer, Bodissey, me, etc. We Islam critics are different from Breivik only in that he is a consistent believer in the Islam-critical belief system, which he carries out to its logical conclusion, while we mere Islam-critics cowardly pull away from the logical conclusions of our beliefs. Again, this is sheer liberalism, which says that the logical conclusion of any refusal totally to embrace and include a different group is the desire to mass-murder that group. Because I would not want Africans immigrating to America, that means I want to kill all Africans, and if I don’t advocate killing all Africans, that is only because I am being weak and inconsistent. Of course, we never say that my refusal to let strangers move into my apartment means that I want to kill them. We only say this when the refusal involves non-whites and non-Westerners.

LA continues:

Also I see that many commenters are taking LemonLime apart for his equation of Islam critics with mass murderers. It seems he has a reputation for this kind of thing. So there is much more to this thread than I initially thought. Who has the interest or patience to read threads with scores or hundreds of comments? Not I.

Svein Sellanraa (a regular contributor at The Orthosphere) writes:

Interestingly, Spencer’s claims don’t quite succeed even on their own terms, as Breivik is himself a bit of a liberal: he’s a secularist (although describing himself as a “cultural Christian”), and has called for a “pro-gay, anti-racist right.” The man’s a neocon on steroids. This, of course, in addition to being an evil, contemptible, self-pitying wretch who seems to have only a tenuous grasp on the political ideas and historical events he invokes to justify his atrocities.

(Sorry if I sound overly agitated, but the trial has of course received intensive media coverage here in Norway—large chunks of it are even being broadcast live on TV and the Internet, albeit with the most upsetting details censored out—and it’s having this effect on everyone I know.)

LA replies:

Can you explain why the court is giving the mass murderer such leeway to lay out his political philosophy justifying mass murder? Why not just try him on the facts?

Jim Kalb replies to LA’s earier comment on liberalism and traditionalism:

In America everything has to be freedom and equality. People just can’t help themselves. That’s true even of intelligent Catholics who genuinely want to be orthodox and loyal to the Church.

April 22

Svein Sellanraa replies to LA:

That’s a good question. First, though, a caveat: As I’m not a lawyer, I cannot completely guarantee the accuracy of my answer.

One of the main purposes of the trial—more so than determining whether or not Breivik actually committed the attacks, since he freely admits to them, and since the evidence is so overwhelming anyway—is to decide whether he can actually be held legally responsible for them. There’s some controversy about this question, as two contradicting official reports have been written on Breivik’s psyche and his legal responsibility. (You and your readers may already know this—I can’t remember if you’ve posted about it or not.) The first report declared him a paranoid schizophrenic, and thus criminally insane. This was an extremely controversial conclusion (and rightly so, in my opinion), so a second report was commissioned. That report concluded that Breivik was a pathological narcissist, but not criminally insane. I think all the detailed questions about Breivik’s motives and ideology, like those about his childhood and teenage years, are designed to test the rationality and sanity of his thinking, and to determine whether he fully understands what he’s done.

LA replies:

Interesting. So is this a trial that is now happening, or a preliminary proceeding to determine whether he is mentally fit to stand trial? Since it’s already scheduled for ten weeks, it sounds like the trial itself. But if they have not yet determined whether he is fit, how can they be having the trial?

Svein Sellanraa replies:

What’s going on now is the actual trial. As I understand it, it’s less a question of whether he’s fit to stand trial than of whether he was psychotic at the time of the attacks. The last word on that question won’t come until the final verdict, and depending on which of the psychiatric reports is upheld, he will be sent either to a mental hospital or to an ordinary prison. Absurdly enough, by the way, the longest prison sentence one can get under Norwegian law is 21 years, although criminals who pose an especially grave threat to society can be detained indefinitely, to be released only if or when they mend their ways. If Breivik isn’t found criminally insane, he’ll probably be detained in this way, and might thus spend the rest of his life in prison.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 20, 2012 10:17 AM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):