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     Jul 26, 2011

A time to be silent and mourn
By Spengler

There are moments when we should suppress the impulse to make sense of things. Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik, like the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh or the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, or Baruch Goldstein, the perpetrator of the 1994 massacre at the Cave of the Patriarchs, is an horrific aberration.

Breivik - whose rampage killed 93 people - no more represents the anti-immigration parties of Western Europe than McVeigh exemplified the American revulsion at big government, or Goldstein expressed the attitudes of religious Zionists who have resettled Judea and Samaria.

There is a streak of human depravity that defies any effort to fit it into the pattern of events. It is suicide writ large, a propensity for self-destruction that wants to take with it as much of the world as

available technology makes feasible. If divine grace is inexplicable, so is the radical rejection of grace. "Everything that arises is only worth its own destruction," Mephistopheles told Faust, as he explained his grudge against all that exists.

There exist political currents that wield the weapons des Schreckens und Entsetzens - of terror and horror - as a matter of policy. The Ingush and Chechyan terrorists who murdered 380 Russian schoolchildren in 2004 in North Ossetia, or the Hamas gunners who aimed an anti-tank missile last April at an Israeli school bus, did so with the conviction that the mass murder of children would advance their political agenda by horrifying their opponents into submission.

But there is a world of difference between the organized use of horror by terrorist movements and the depraved actions of individuals whose capacity for evil challenges our capacity to comprehend.

Breivik, McVeigh, Kaczynski and Goldstein are not sociological phenomena, but radical anomalies, horrific reproaches to the pretense that we can make ultimate sense of the human condition.

Contrary to first reports, we know that Breivik is not a fundamentalist Christian, nor a Christian of any sort, but rather a hater of his own countrymen, whom he murdered in place of the Muslims he reportedly feared.

The late and unmourned McVeigh belonged to no American political current; his car bomb murdered 168 innocents in Oklahoma City in 1995 because McVeigh bore a grudge against the world. Kaczynski the Unabomber raved against the depredations of industrial society in a way that repulsed even the lunatic fringe of the environmental movement. The deranged Goldstein elicited the condemnation of every leader of Jewish life.

The whole of the civilized world mourns with the people of Norway, and weeps at the murder of scores of their children. It cheapens our grief to identity Breivik - who planned to celebrate his murders with upscale call girls and vintage champagne - as a Christian. And it denigrates Norway’s terrible loss to instrumentalize the event.

Breivik’s murders have no bearing on Europe’s debate over immigration. Did Germany’s placid and centrist Chancellor Angela Merkel encourage mass murder when she told a conference of her party, the Christian Democratic Union, that the multicultural experiment had failed?

The great plague of our times is repudiation of life. Not since late antiquity, when Hellenes and then the Romans exposed their children rather than bothering to raise them, have so many nations eschewed the task of raising a new generation. By the middle of this century, two of every three Italians, and three of every four Japanese, will be an elderly dependent, according to the 2010 revision of the United Nations Population Prospects, assuming that today’s fertility trends continue.

Grief - wrenching, uncomprehending and mute grief - is the response that life elicits to the appalling deaths of so many people, so many of them children. Our silence and our tears in the face of repudiation of life bears witness to life.

There are moments when all that life can offer is pain in response to an offense of this magnitude. We honor life by our refusal to relativize absolute evil - by refusing to explain it away as a political phenomenon. There is a time to be an analyst, and a time to be a human being. This is a time to mourn with the people of Norway.

Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman. Comment on this article in Spengler's Expat Bar forum.

(Copyright 2011 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)


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