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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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JEFF SHARLET: So that kind of vision really comes—

AMY GOODMAN: Interestingly, Colson talks about Christian conservatism and the culture war in Norway, is that right? And talk about the connection of, what you write about, the Family to Norway.

JEFF SHARLET: Yeah. Norway is unusual, actually, in having had—several years ago, their prime minister was a very active member of the Family. And the Norwegian press did a much better job than the American press, and putting this on the front page for weeks, in a sort of minor scandal, when they discovered all these sort of connections of this—of the previous Conservative Norwegian government to this American Christian right group. And around that same time—

AMY GOODMAN: And the Family is...?

JEFF SHARLET: Oh, I’m sorry. The Family is a prominent—another one of these—another prominent American Christian right organization, headquartered in Washington, really dedicated more to this kind of—certainly not this Breivik kind of stuff, but more to the idea of a kind of Christian government. Colson converted to Christianity through this organization, was long identified with it, and at one point was looking at Norway and said he was greatly heartened by the rise of a new Christian conservatism in Norway, and talked about the Viking spirit that was rising. The founder of the Family was a Norwegian, who’s in fact named his autobiography  Modern Viking. And you sort of see that same sensibility in Breivik, who sees himself as a Viking rising again to fight—to fight, you know, what he sees as a Muslim horde.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, this in no way is to link any of the people you’ve just talked about to the violence that has just taken place, this massacre that has—

JEFF SHARLET: Absolutely not. And I think that—

AMY GOODMAN: —just taken place in Norway.

JEFF SHARLET: No, absolutely not. And I think that’s incredibly important for us to remember, you know, anyone who cares about free speech, and also anyone who has ever written anything and seen it interpreted in a way that they didn’t like. You know, Breivik pulled the trigger. Robert Spencer didn’t shoot anybody. Chuck Colson didn’t shoot anybody. And they didn’t call for shooting anybody.

They do produce a rhetoric that kind of walks right up to the edge of things. I mean, if you are out there, like Robert Spencer or some of these other American conservatives, and saying, "Islam is a religion of violence. There can be no accommodation with it. They are trying to destroy us," you know, and then you sort of say, "And what to do about it? I don’t know. You decide." Well, Breivik decided. Breivik took a kind of logical next step from that rhetoric. And that’s part of why I think it’s troubling when people sort of attempt to dismiss him as a madman and not deal with the politics that are very much a part of our, unfortunately, mainstream political discourse, that walk right up to the edge of violence.

Or, you know, in the case of U.S. war in the Middle East—you know, I’ve reported on this in the past, and we talked about this on the show here before—a number of senior American officers, Lieutenant General Bruce Fister, described the war in Iraq and Afghanistan as "a spiritual war of the greatest magnitude." There was video of the top American Army chaplain in Afghanistan saying that we’re there fighting in Afghanistan for Christianity.

So, it’s important to recognize that none of these writers are responsible for this, but they are engaging in a rhetoric that sort of walks right up to that step of violence, and Breivik took the step. And it’s a little disingenuous for them to say, "Well, we never imagined anyone would do that."

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