Oslo’s Terrorist and Postmodern Polarization

Ours is not a God of desperation.  The Almighty has no need to bless the terrorism perpetrated by Anders Breivik of Norway for the purpose of provoking a restoration of piety and Judeo-Christian civilization in Europe.  However idealistic Mr. Breivik’s motives may have been, he adopted methods more akin to King Herod’s than to the deeds of Charles Martel and other historical heroes lauded in Breivik’s manifesto.

The massacre in Oslo was more comparable to the mass infanticide in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16-18) in that both atrocities were inflicted on innocent victims for reasons of state.  Herod’s act of terrorism was committed in order to keep the Herodian Dynasty on the throne, whereas Breivik’s stated motive was to help save Europe.

Although revolution against the postmodern regimes in Europe might be justifiable at some point, immoral solutions can be way worse than the malady.  Examples would include vigilante-like actions, backed by no respectable authority.

The cruelty which Breivik tries to justify in his manifesto is but one of many dreadful byproducts of the polarization afflicting Euro-American society in this, the postmodern era.  Postmodernism has proved to be a curse in a host of ways.

To take a little liberty with a professorial formula, I submit that postmodernist regimes have provoked rage among traditionally minded citizens, begetting a blinding compulsion to strike back.  This impulse in turn “releases a dangerous by-product: violence, brutality, ruthlessness, even sadism: the struggle against evil releases new, unknown forces of evil.”  [Feliks Gross, The Seizure of Political Power in a Century of Revolutions (1958), p. 323.]  Terrorists like Timothy McVeigh of the USA and Breivik of Norway showed no qualms about targeting men, women and children who were in no appreciable way aiding and abetting the regime. 

There is a lesson in all this mayhem:  In contemplating any sort of resistance to the postmodernist regime, let us repudiate absolutely any plan that is open to terrorist methods.

Terrorism is intrinsically wrong.  Whether their victims are innocent or guilty, military or civilian, is not for the terrorist a matter of conscience or concern.  They suppose themselves free to do evil so that what they perceive to be beneficial may spring from the sinful act.  This twisted logic violates the constraints implicit for Christians in Romans 3:8, where St. Paul firmly condemns the proposition, “do evil as a means to good.”  It should come as no surprise, then, that Brevik and his militia organization, Knights Templar Europe, state explicitly that “logic and reason will always take precedence over biblical texts.”

Though Breivik’s extreme hostility to immigrants is contrary to Catholic principles of charity, he does seem to have it right in decrying the pernicious influence of political correctness in European multiculturalism.  The mainstreaming of abortion, homosexuality, and militant secularism into a formerly Christian culture is all too familiar on both sides of the Atlantic.  But despite the extensive reading indicated by his copious citations, Breivik neglected to heed the historian, D.J. Goodspeed, who observes:  “There may even be a sense in which the means of obtaining redress is as important as the redress itself, or in which any separation of the two is merely artificial.”  [Goodspeed, The Conspirators: A Study of the Coup d’Etat (1962), pp. 221-22.]

When accomplished rightly – i.e. by means that are morally upright – insurrectionary solutions are less prone to breed a lasting legacy of moral callousness and insensitivity.  As Edmund Burke put the danger:  “[Y]ou impair the object by your very endeavors to preserve it.  The thing you fought for is not the thing which you recover; but deprecated, sunk, wasted, and consumed in the contest”  (Burke, 3/22/1775).

In the year of Lexington and Concord, George Washington and John Adams were uncertain of victory in our revolt against the mighty British Empire.  Yet both statesmen wrote (paraphrasing Joseph Addison) about their determination to conduct the campaign in such a way that the continental army might deserve to win.

‘Tis not in mortals to command success,
But we’ll do more, Sempronius; we’ll deserve it.
     Addison, Cato (1713), act 1, scene 2

Not only are Breivik’s methods atrociously immoral, and unsolicitous of Divine Providence, but so are his personal morals.  He boasted in writing that he planned to procure the services of a prostitute a week prior to his attack in Oslo, noting that it would merely be “a relatively small sin.”  Also, though opposing abortion in general, he supports abortion when “the baby has mental or physical disabilities.”  We need to bring forward such facts when the media tries (as it has done) to link our religion to Breivik’s foul ways.

Neither are Breivik’s theological principles (as distinguished from his morals) consistent with genuine Christianity.  “Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God,” writes Breivik. “We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian.”
Clearly, then, a Catholic or any Christian considering insurrectionary solutions to postmodern maladies in Europe (or in North America) should indignantly recoil rather than don the Christian facade, or entertain the political methods, espoused by the Knights Templar Europe.  Unlike the Knights Templar of old, Breivik and his KTE comrades are neither chivalrous nor truly Christian.

Bob Struble is a retired history teacher, and a writer of books, articles and poems. He is Lecturer for the Knights of Columbus in Bremerton WA, and is an associate editor at Catholic Lane.