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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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