The Trail of Evil Can Europe's Populists Be Blamed for Anders Breivik's Crusade?
Part 2: How Does an Average Citizen Turn into a Mass-Murderer?
Breivik is a child of the middle class, the son of a diplomat and a nurse. After his parents were divorced, he grew up with his mother and stepfather. He lived with his mother again for a period before the attack in Skoyen, a neighborhood in western Oslo where there are few Muslim immigrants. It's a pleasant neighborhood with flowerboxes and Thuja hedges, not far from the fjord. Breivik had lunch with his mother every other Sunday, say the neighbors.
It is in that neighborhood, where he grew up and where his mother lived until she was taken away on the night of the attack, where people are particularly appalled by the events. Before the massacre, locals thought of Breivik simply as "Anders," just another young man from the neighborhood.
An elderly woman with gray curls and pink lipstick is sitting on a chair, leaning against a flowered cushion, in Café Valentin behind Möllhausen Torg, a small shopping center with a supermarket and a flower shop.
The woman, who prefers not to mention her name, says that Breivik's mother is her best friend. She calls it a tragedy, this thing that the son has done to her best friend. The mother, she says, was proud of her son. He was quiet and reserved, and he had never had any problems or been a troublemaker. Perhaps he was a little too shy, the mother had once told her friend in confidence, but she was also quick to point out that it was probably a sign of great intelligence.
"I don't know," says the elderly woman. "He was too quiet. And he was very much alone. Always."
Breivik's mother doesn't even have a computer in her apartment, not even a mobile phone, says the woman. The mother told her that young Anders was a real technology buff, something she had respected and encouraged. "She did everything for her children. There was nothing they didn't have." The woman talked to her friend about Anders' loneliness, his reclusive nature and his visits on Sundays. She said she thought it was odd that he wasn't in a relationship and never brought home friends. But the mother dismissed her friend's concerns, saying that he just happened to be shy and that he would grow out of it.
It was by no means obvious that Breivik saw himself as a chosen one, a "Knight Templar," a member of a Christian conservative avant-garde, named after the medieval order of knights that not only protected pilgrims to Jerusalem, but also used violence to spread the Christian faith in the Holy Land. Breivik claims that in April 2002 he went to London to attend the re-founding of the Knights Templar, an international network dedicated to the fight against a global Muslim conspiracy and its "cultural Marxist" backers.
This sounds odd, and yet a website operated by Paul Ray, a founding member of the anti-Islamic English Defense League, displayed photos of two men posing in Templar T-shirts featuring a red cross on a white background. One of the men in the image is Nick G., a former neo-Nazi from the Bavarian town of Marktredwitz. A film from Malta has also surfaced in which Ray, Nick G. and a third man, seemingly evoking the Knights Templar, pose next to a suit of armor. Ray has told the Telegraph newspaper that while he may have been Breivik's inspiration, that was the extent of his involvement. Nick G. confirmed that the "Knights Templar" movement exists, but he refers to the Oslo killer as a "lunatic" who has "brainwashed himself." He characterizes Breivik's alleged "initiation" in London as "pure fantasy."
It is one of the few trails that lead from Breivik's confused intellectual world into reality. It remains to be seen how many others exist.
Europe's Declining Morals
Breivik compiled, concocted and wrote some outlandish things. He wrote speeches for Knights Templar to give in court if they happened to be arrested. To describe the deterioration of morals in Europe, he used conversations on Facebook to compute a quotient for the sexual morality of women in 17 European countries and the United States. Scandinavia was at the bottom of his ranking, while Maltese women were apparently the least licentious.
In general, Breivik writes in his manifesto, women should have three options: "be a nun, be a prostitute, or marry a man and bear children." This, he writes, would lead to an increase in the birth rate.
For those who simply cannot do without it, Breivik envisions a sex enclave, a sort of Las Vegas in the desert, whose residents can be as profligate as they wish -- an idea that sounds more like a swinger club than 1950s patriarchy.
None of it sounds rational. Breivik's thought system sounds neither logical nor convincing. This is the question that is on everyone's mind, from the courts to those who seek to interpret and somehow cope with his murderous crime. How normal is Anders Behring Breivik? Some might find it comforting to call him a lunatic, but is he one?
- Part 1: Can Europe's Populists Be Blamed for Anders Breivik's Crusade?
- Part 2: How Does an Average Citizen Turn into a Mass-Murderer?
- Part 3: Is Breivik a Psychopath?
- Part 4: How Does the Perpetrator Justify His Crimes?
- Part 5: Where Did Breivik Derive His Ideas From?
- Part 6: Who Are the People Who Influenced Breivik Intellectually?
- Part 7: How Do Right-Wing Bloggers Defend Themselves Against Accusations that They Bear Part of the Blame?
- Part 8: Is Breivik Different from Other Terrorists Such as Islamists and Anarchists?
- Part 9: Why Didn't Anyone Notice What Breivik Was Planning?