Sunday, July 31, 2011

Breivik sows fear of wider white backlash against immigrants

While Breivik's bloody slaughter of teenagers at a summer camp was repugnant to all decent people, it is also true that a good proportion of decent people quietly share some of his political views. Support for right-wing politics is on the rise across Europe, fuelled by economic hard times and fear of Islam. A rise in the number of extremists on its fringe is expected as a result.

Breivik had intended his massacre to be a "wake-up call" to Europe about what he saw as the danger of a Muslim takeover. Instead, it has become a different kind of wake-up call, warning a Europe that had been preoccupied with the threat of Islamic terrorism that blond, Christian, home-grown threats can be just as deadly.

Many Norwegians say the only comfort over the massacre eight days ago is that Breivik must be crazy, a freak of nature, a psychopath; a product not of politics and culture but of a murderously disordered mind. "He could not possibly be sane and do what he has done," one person after another will tell you.

But those who study such things say this isn't so. The "lone wolf" terrorist is rarely mad or psychopathic, says Will Hartley, the editor of Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre in Washington.

"Terrorists tend to be better adjusted [psychologically] than the average. They often have a surfeit of qualities that would otherwise make them respectable, such as empathy and the ability to act altruistically. Their background is often surprising - with the 7/7 bombings in London, one of the terrorists was a social worker who worked with children."

A terrorism expert at the Norwegian Institute of Foreign Affairs, Helge Luras, says Breivik's internet manifesto suggests he pumped himself full of steroids to heighten his aggression, and listened to music through earphones so he would not be moved by the pleas of his victims.

"So he's not a psychopath or lacking in emotion or empathy. In the manifesto he talks about how it will be difficult to kill these people in this manner because he has empathy. Psychopaths don't struggle with that," he says.

Breivik's meticulous planning over nine years, and his attention to detail, suggest he is well and truly in touch with the real world, if markedly paranoid.

"Breivik was doing a mass murder as a form of fundamentalist PR," says Matthew Feldman, a lecturer in history at the University of Northampton in Britain and an expert on the extreme right.

He is convinced that Breivik killed to get publicity for his online manifesto and video, posted just hours before he set off a car bomb and hunted teenagers with a sub-machinegun.

"If he had posted them two weeks earlier, they would have sunk without trace. It was a publicity stunt. At the same time, the documents, video and killings were the first salvo in what he thought would be a European civil war."

Feldman sees the fundamentalist Breivik, calling on heroic figures from Christianity's distant past, as the western equivalent of the Muslim terrorist: believing that ideas are more important than human life, that violence will lead to revolutionary change, and that martyrs must offer their lives in defence of their besieged culture. "It's a kind of crusading 'Christianism' that is the mirror image of jihadi Islamism," he told the Herald.

According to his 1500-page manifesto - much of it cut and pasted from others - Breivik believes that European governments are letting Muslims take over Europe through mass immigration, which is diluting the culture. He claims to be part of an organisation called the "Knights Templar" dedicated to fighting for Europe. The original Knights Templar took part in the mediaeval Crusades to take the Holy Land back from Muslims.

His manifesto suggests he killed the young people of Norway's Labour Party at their summer camp on Utoya island because Labour deserved "the death penalty" for its multicultural policies and friendly approach to immigration, which were a "betrayal" of Europe.

Analysts concede that, even within the bizarre world of terrorism, Breivik is an unusual specimen. Most terrorists work in groups, partly because it is mutual reinforcement that leads to the gradual acceptance of radical ideas, and partly because competitive dynamics help push individuals into violence.

But, while police are investigating Breivik's claims of two more cells and international contact with bodies such as the English Defence League - denied by the league - it seems at this stage that he conceived and carried out his massacre alone.

Hartley says this suggests he is highly self-reliant and has a massive ego, full of the importance of his own ideas, like America's Unabomber. "He's not mentally ill but he may have delusional fantasies. He likes to picture himself in the uniform and cross of the Knights Templar; there is an element of role-play, of conveying himself as knight in a long line of European crusader heroes who fought for their religion."

He warns that solo operators such as Breivik are almost impossible to detect before they act. This is a big problem, because European police have been warning that exactly this kind of terrorist is becoming more likely.

The internet provides the would-be terrorist with anonymity, global reach on information and the ability to spread material quickly and widely. Feldman says there have been two recent right-wing lone-wolf cases in England, one involving a member of the white-supremacist Aryan Strike Force who made the deadly chemical ricin. "With the right amount of dedication, a credit card and a modem, you can make weapons of mass destruction from your home computer.''

Breivik claims he learnt to make a car bomb by spending 200 hours on the internet over two weeks.

In Europe, Islamism has been the major focus of terrorism fears since September 11, 2001. Europol's 2011 report on terrorism warned of a continuing "high and diverse" threat of Islamist terrorists, with 179 arrests in 2010 over plots to cause mass casualties. This was a 50 per cent increase on the year before. And it warned that more "lone actors with EU citizenship" were becoming involved in Islamist terrorism, with fewer plots controlled by leaders from outside the EU.

But the Europol report also warned that the threat of right-wing extremists was intensifying, and noted: "If the unrest in North Africa leads to a major influx of immigrants into Europe, right-wing terrorism might gain a new lease of life by articulating more widespread apprehension about immigration."

Immigration is a focus of every mainstream right-wing party in Europe, although most have worked hard to eradicate any clear sign of racism. Of course, the left argues that debating "immigration" is simply "dog-whistle politics": those being called recognise it as code for "race". But among extremists, Feldman says, there is no room for doubt: "The 20th century scapegoating of Muslims is something everyone on the far right can agree on."

Right-wing parties have become a more powerful presence in mainstream politics across a range of countries. In Russia, Hartley says: "They are conventional nationalists, against migration from the former Soviet socialist republics."

"The British National Party has actually secured seats on councils and things like that, and is much closer to giving the conventional parties a run for their money in elections."

Britain also has the English Defence League, cited by Breivik as an organisation with which he connected, which has chapters across many European countries and a Norwegian Facebook page with 13,000 members.

On the Continent, right-wing groups are gaining traction from Hungary to Italy but their rise is particularly apparent in northern European countries such as Norway that previously had liberal immigration policies.

The rapid arrival of refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants, many of them Muslims, led to a significant backlash in Denmark, where the Danish People's Party has 25 out of 179 seats in parliament, and the Netherlands, where Geert Wilders's Party for Freedom won 15.5 per cent of the vote in the 2010 general election. Wilders once compared the Koran, the holy book of Islam, to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. In Sweden, a man was arrested in November last year in Malmo in connection with more than a dozen unsolved shootings of immigrants, including one fatality. The far-right Sweden Democrats entered parliament for the first time in September last year after winning 5.7 per cent of the vote.

The right is getting better at recruitment in the digital age. A spokesman for Europol, Gerald Hesztera, told the Herald that right-wing extremists were now more professional in their use of the internet, with stylish websites and clever use of social media.

"White Power" music groups hold concerts organised over the internet that attract hundreds of young people to listen to xenophobic songs with hate-filled lyrics, he says. "They have a general ideology of white supremacy and they are rock groups with a racist, sometimes fascist orientation. Right-wing skinheads go to these concerts all over Europe."

Forty-nine per cent of Norwegians questioned in a recent poll said they thought immigration had gone too far and too fast, Luras says. This is not a reaction to immigration but the way it has always been in Norway. "People said pretty much the same thing in a poll in '87," he says.

"This is not just something peculiar to Europe. This need for group cohesion and the issue of borders is so ingrained in humans. It ensured our survival in the very early phases. This is still with us and it creates problems in a phase of globalisation but we are genetically what we were 20,000 years ago.''

The right-wing Progress Party now holds about a quarter of seats in Norway's parliament and is seen to have increased its support because of its criticism of immigration, which has become more restricted as politicians began to take note of the public mood. This week, the party - which is not as far to the right as those in other nations - was at pains to distance itself from Breivik, who was a member when he was younger.

In typically Norwegian fashion - political debate here is strong but so is the tradition of consensus - leaders of all the main parties agreed to suspend partisan politics for several weeks, and this week met at the Progress Party's headquarters to discuss how best to manage the election coming up in September.

Breivik wanted to change the course of history. He thought he would light a fuse that would set fire to Europe.

Hartley says he has damaged the mainstream right wing because now some of its rhetoric is linked with his violence: "He reminds everyone of what they have been trying to bury, and now the right is being tarred as racist in the media because of his focus on Muslims."

But Breivik could turn out to be inspirational to some who, like him, feel the system is rigged against the right and prevents ordinary people from expressing views considered politically incorrect, Hartley says.

Luras warns the drivers for right-wing support - stagnating economies and pressure on borders - will continue and Europe should be "prepared and concerned" about its rise.

"It doesn't mean that it would lead to terrorism but my sense at the moment is that Mr Breivik is the beginning of what may be a cult figure for some. He has described in detail how the movement should arise to be inspired by himself, and some will be inspired."

Luras says the level of hero-worship will depend on whether Breivik cracks in prison: "If he can keep up the appearance that he is superhuman, able to stand completely on his own, still believing in himself even though he is in a cell, then the cult will definitely be created. "I will be very surprised in 10 years if, looking back, not a single terrorist act has occurred connected to Mr Breivik."


Por La Raza, Nada

While virtually all President Obama will talk about is the debt ceiling, he took a short break to give an address before the National Council of La Raza on Monday. Calling the audience his “Hermanos y hermanas,” he trumpeted his support of the DREAM Act amnesty, stated his opposition to Arizona’s SB 1070 and all state level immigration laws, and touted his Hispanic appointments—citing Ambassador to the Dominican Republic Raul Yzaguirre, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Obama did not mention one other Hispanic appointment, former La Raza vice president Cecilia Munoz who serves as his Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and his public liaison to Hispanics. In appointing Munoz, Obama violated his own pledge not to allow former lobbyists positions where they control money they formerly controlled, and gave Munoz a special waiver.

While our nation is going broke, the National Council of La Raza is doing just fine. Since Obama and Munoz took up the white house, they have seen their funding skyrocket, nearly tripling from 4.5 to 11 million dollars in 2010. Judicial Watch also found out that the La Raza affiliate, Chicanos por la Causa received over 18 million dollars of tax dollars. That group was the primary plaintiff against Arizona’s law against illegal employers.

And it is not as if La Raza is lacking funds. Between their various sister organizations, they have over 200 million dollars in assets, much of it paid for by corporate America, and Chicanos por la Causa have nearly 100 million dollars.

Although some of La Raza’s government funding was earmarked by congress, virtually all of it was doled out by the Obama administration. Sixty percent of La Raza's take came from the Department of Labor—run by Hilda Solis. They lobbied hard for her appointment and honored her with an award. She paid them back—with millions of our tax dollars.

Even if we were running trillion dollar surpluses, there is no reason why La Raza should get a dime of taxpayer dollars. Here are just a few reasons why.

“La Raza” means “The Race,” specifically the Latino race. Could you imagine if the government were giving millions of dollars to a group called “The National Council of the White Race”?

La Raza counts the pro-reconquista Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (Chicano Student Movement of Aztlán) as an affiliate and helps fund the organization. MeCHA’s slogan is "Por La Raza todo, Fuera de La Raza nada," meaning “For the Race everything, outside the Race nothing.”

La Raza opposes free speech and has tried to get Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, and other opponents of illegal immigration kicked off the air. Their president Janet Murguia said “when free speech transforms into hate speech, we've got to draw that line.” La Raza has said calling illegal aliens “criminals” is “hate speech.”

La Raza has lobbied for every single amnesty, against immigration enforcement, for Obamacare, and against English as an official language

Barack Obama managed to address the issue of the debt briefly during his talk to La Raza. He stated, “Every day, NCLR and your affiliates hear from families figuring out how to stretch every dollar a little bit further, what sacrifices they’ve got to make, how they're going to budget only what’s truly important. So they should expect the same thing from Washington.”

While 11 million dollars is a tiny fraction of our trillion dollar a year deficit, funding this pro-amnesty propaganda outfit is not “truly important.”

Republicans in the House have passed legislation to defund left wing groups such as Planned Parenthood and ACORN. The National Council of La Raza should be be next. To slightly alter their MeCHA pals' slogan, when it comes to our tax dollars: “Por La Raza, Nada!”


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