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TYRRELL: Adolf and Anders

Liberals err when attributing Christian motives to mass murderers

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Think of Anders Behring Breivik, the man who bombed a government building in Norway before proceeding coldbloodedly to massacre scores of defenseless young people on a secluded island several miles away, as an Adolf Hitler of one. The first Adolf Hitler was a Hitler to millions. He captured an entire nation and terrified the world for years.

One imagines that the two, if ever they could have a quiet talk together, would have much to agree on. Both were meticulous planners, though I dare say Mr. Breivik was Hitler's superior. He would not delay an invasion of Russia. Both harbored grudges against threats to their culture from the foreign-born and what Mr. Breivik called the "cultural Marxists." I can well imagine the Fuhrer admiring Mr. Breivik's taste in uniforms, his Aryan features and his longing for his viking past. Both were mama's boys.

The New York Times on Sunday rushed into print the front-page headline, "As Horrors Emerge, Norway Charges Christian Extremist." Within hours, applying the appellation "Christian" to the assassin subsided, and by Tuesday, the newspaper settled on identifying Mr. Breivik with an organization that may or may not exist beyond his deranged mind - the Knights Templar. That was a military force in the Middle Ages that went on a crusade. I doubt Mr. Breivik is any kind of Christian, but rather a fanatical pagan, a viking. On that, he and Hitler might congratulate themselves. Both were pre-Christian savages.

Mr. Breivik hated Muslims and other immigrants entering into Norway, and now the amazing liberals are linking him to almost any critic of immigration or of Islam, even critics of illegal immigration and of militant Islam - terrorists, for instance. I find these liberals amazing because most have never shown any sympathy for any of the West's organized religions, at least not religions that demand anything from their believers. I suppose a religion that suggested adherents practice yoga, Pilates or perhaps vegetarianism might appeal to them. Yet I cannot see them respecting an obligation to attend Sunday church or honor a celibate priesthood or defend female-male marriage or any other requirement associated with an established religion of the West.

What is the American liberals' position on Shariah law? There are places in Europe and, I dare say, America where Muslims are insisting on the practice of Shariah with all of its strictures against women's rights and, come to think of it, against the traditional democratic freedoms that our Founding Fathers fought for and brought into the law of the land. On other matters, from purchasing alcohol to practicing homosexuality, Shariah law is opposed.

Europe, for people of faith and people of no faith (though they replace religious rigor with substitutes, say, global warming) is in serious trouble. This week, writing from Norway as a critic of Islamic fundamentalism, Bruce Bawer asserted in the Wall Street Journal, "Millions of European Muslims live in rigidly patriarchal families in growing enclaves where women are second-class citizens, and where non-Muslims dare not venture. Surveys show that an unsettling percentage of Muslims in Europe reject Western values, despise the countries they live in, support the execution of homosexuals, and want to replace democracy with Shariah law."

Mr. Bawer does not strike me as anyone whom liberals have to worry about. Yet maybe they do. Still, after all the liberals' dithering, it is sobering to think that Mr. Breivik shared so much with Hitler. Hitler captured the loyalty of a nation. Mr. Breivik was a loner. How many more would-be Breiviks and Hitlers are out there? I doubt the liberals' dithering could ever thwart the grand designs of an Anders Behring Breivik or an Adolf Hitler. For that, you need a Churchill or a Roosevelt, a pre-modern liberal.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His new book is "After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery" (Thomas Nelson, 2010).

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