Last month, two court-appointed forensic psychiatrists concluded that ideological mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik — who killed 77 Norwegians in July — is insane. Other experts disagree. One poll found that 48 percent of Norwegians believe he has no severe psychiatric disorder. Breivik himself was insulted that anyone would question his sanity.
But if Breivik is declared schizophrenic, can anyone who commits extreme violent acts based on ideology be considered normal? There are answers to this question: The Venezuelan terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez – better known as Carlos the Jackal – is serving a life sentence in a French jail. Mohammed Bouyeri’s Muslim worldview led him to murder Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004. He received a life sentence.
The question regarding the sanity of terrorists should be posed primarily in the Muslim world. How many of those who killed and mutilated thousands of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan are normal? The same question is valid concerning the tens of millions of jihadi Muslims and their spiritual guides who support suicide bombings. How normal are Palestinian leaders who glorify the murderers of Israeli children and women?
Some observers suspect that declaring Breivik insane is Norway’s way of trying to absolve itself from his acts. The argument then becomes, “A real Norwegian would never commit such murderous acts and as Breivik is insane, he is nothing like us.” Thus the country can perpetuate the myth of the “Good Norwegians.”
The focus, of course, should be directed on far more important issues than Breivik’s sanity. His murders have been used by the Norwegian left and others of similar conviction elsewhere to attack some of those quoted in Breivik’s lengthy “ideological” treatise as if they were enablers of his acts. These include people like the author Bat Yeor who wrote about Eurabia, the Dutch Freedom Party Leader Geert Wilders and the American author Bruce Bawer, who lives in Norway.
“The bullets came from the right” was the message, while it should have been “The bullets came from the insane.” Bawer has announced that his book The New Quislings, about the “Norwegian left’s exploitation” of the Breivik murders, will soon be published.
A few days before Breivik was declared insane, Norwegian Deputy Minister of Defense Roger Ingebrigtsen spoke at the University of Ottawa on strategic military issues. He strayed from his topic, however, and discussed Breivik’s manifesto, which he called “a lengthy and incoherent document drawing upon influences of cultural conservatism, right wing populism, ultra-nationalism, Islamophobia and right-wing Zionism.”
Many members of the Norwegian political and cultural elite excel in demonizing others. Israel has become their favorite target. The Labor party youth movement teaches children as young as fourteen to hate Israel. That was the case at its Utoya camp where Breivik committed his despicable crimes. When the murderer started shooting, some youngsters thought they were being shown a demonstration of how Israeli soldiers shoot at Palestinian civilians.
One master of anti-Israel hatemongering is Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere. This Labor Party politician recently accused Israel of “water-boarding” torture because it withheld funds from the Palestinians.
Norway’s largest publisher, Cappellen Damm, recently published a book for small children that incites against Israel, which is falsely accused of withholding water from the people of Gaza. The Cultural Council of Procurement has approved the book’s distribution to Norwegian libraries.
This week Norwegian Church Minister Rigmor Aasrud (Labor) will visit an exhibition in East Jerusalem showcasing Norwegian artist Hakon Gullvag, who is well known for his anti-Israel paintings. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry sponsored an exhibition last year of Hakon’s artwork in Damascus, Beirut and Amman. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Labor) has commended Gullvag for his Israel-hate paintings. remarking that they put the plight of the Palestinian children on the agenda.
The widespread demonization of Israel by Norwegian government leaders and social elites has helped create an atmosphere in Oslo where a third of Jewish children in high schools are verbally or physically attacked at least two or three times a month.
After the Breivik murders, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said that Norway’s answer to the murders would be more openness and more democracy. But the authorities have done nothing to foster this. On the contrary, there is now even more intimidation of politically incorrect spokespeople than was the case before the Breivik murders.
All of which confirms that Norway would greatly benefit from comment and critique on the part of fair-minded foreigners who will not be intimidated by the country’s “progressive” establishment.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. His book “Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews,” can be downloaded free of charge at http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/showpage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=84&FID=726&PID=0.