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Norwegian Shooting Suspect's 'Manifesto' Inspired By American Right-Wing Thinkers

Norwegian shooter/bomber Anders Behring Breivik left behind a 1,500-page "manifesto," and its ideas bear an eerie similarity to American right-wing thought.

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Even after the massacre in Norway, right-wing pundits in the U.S. have come out in defense of Breivik’s analysis, if not actions. On Monday, Pat Buchanan wrote at  The American Conservative, quote, "As for a climactic conflict between a once-Christian West and an Islamic world that is growing in numbers and advancing inexorably into Europe for the third time in 14 centuries, on this one, Breivik may be right," unquote.

For more, we’re joined by someone who’s made his way through much of the 1,500-page manifesto. Jeff Sharlet is author of the bestselling book  The Family, contributing editor for  Harper’s Magazine and Rolling Stone, author of  C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy and, most recently,  Sweet Heaven When I Die: Faith, Faithlessness, and the Country In Between. Professor Sharlet joins us from Dartmouth College, where he teaches English.

Welcome to  Democracy Now!, Jeff. Well, how far have you gotten into Breivik’s manifesto?

JEFF SHARLET: I’ve been reading it slowly over the week, and one of the things that got me started was that, you know, almost immediately, a lot of conservative pundits and even sort of mainstream journalists were declaring—summarizing this 1,500-page document. And, you know, sort of startled: how did they read this in a few hours like that? So I’ve made my way through most of it, but it’s a massive document, and it requires a lot of work, because sometimes—he says he’s lifting from a lot of sources, many of them American. Sometimes he identifies them, as with Robert Spencer, a popular anti-Islamic blogger. Sometimes he doesn’t, as with William Lind, a prominent conservative critic whose attack on what he sees as political correctness as a sign of Western decadence he lifts kind of whole cloth without attribution. So, you really have to kind of read the text and then really double-check and see where it’s coming from. I mean, even some of the most extreme things, you’re then stunned to see—for instance, his Bible battle verses that he uses as he’s preparing for combat. You know, you think this is really fringe, and in fact it comes from Joseph Farah and WorldNetDaily, a very popular conservative website in the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: What were you most shocked by, Jeff Sharlet, as you tweet your way through this manifesto, sharing what you are learning? For example, talk about Spencer. He mentions him, what, more than 150 times throughout the pages.

JEFF SHARLET: Yeah, and already—"apologists" seems like too strong a word, but these conservatives are going and saying, "Oh, that’s not fair to draw a connection"—will say, "Oh, he doesn’t mention Spencer. People he’s quoting mention Spencer," particular, another popular anti-Islamic blogger named Fjordman, who he quotes extensively. But that’s the nature of this text, and that’s—and Breivik is not a stupid man, and he talks about that, how he’s collaging this text, so he’s constantly coming back to Spencer as his sort of dominant authority on what Islam is. And, you know, if you depend on—if you believe Spencer’s understanding of Islam, other people might be taking up arms, too. It’s a little bit like reading  Leviticus and then saying, "Oh, well, I know what Christians are all about, and all Christians are off hunting for witches, literally, and killing people." I mean, it’s—the irony of Robert Spencer is he takes an absolute literalist and kind of ahistorical examination of Islam and then builds up this great monster, and that’s what Breivik goes to for his authority. And not just Spencer, but Pamela Geller, Rich Lowry from the  National Review.

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