Norway shooter and the Oklahoma City bomber

The world was stunned Friday by a double tragedy in Norway: An explosion in the nation's capital, Oslo, left seven dead, while a shooting spree on the nearby island of Utoya reportedly claimed the lives of 86, mainly teenagers from a Labor Party youth camp. Though many at first suspected the involvement of international terrorism, both acts of violence have now since been pegged to a 32-year-old Norwegian man named Anders Behring Breivik. Breivik has confessed to orchestrating both attacks, and says he acted alone. (Though he made further statements in a court hearing today -- where he pleaded not guilty -- that have stoked fears about two more possible terror cells in the country.) Breivik has called his actions "atrocious," but also "necessary."

The facts we've learned about Breivik in the days since the massacre paint a portrait of a disturbed and isolated man. Unearthed documents have shown that Breivik -- the son of a retired Norwegian diplomat -- was fiercely xenophobic, railing against Muslims, women, and cultural and political "leftists." Indeed, ABC News notes that, after his arrest, he told Norway's acting national police chief that he "wanted to attack Norwegian society in order to change it" and that "he wanted to transform the Western world." He also called for a "conservative revolution [... and] armed resistance against the cultural Marxists/multiculturalist regimes of Western Europe."

Per the Wall Street Journal:

In bombing those government buildings and hunting down those campers, Breivik was not taking out people randomly. He considered the Labor Party, Norway's dominant party since World War II, responsible for policies that are leading to the Islamization of Europe—and thus guilty of treason.

The Oslo bombing was intended to be an execution of the party's current leaders. The massacre at the camp—where young would-be politicians gathered to hear speeches by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland—was meant to destroy its next generation of leaders.

[. . .]

The most shocking testament to Breivik's twisted worldview, however, is a 1,500 page document that he titled "2083: A European Declaration of Independence," and that reveals Breivik's infatuation with American cultural conflicts. (At one point, he lambasted American liberals' "War on Christmas.") Its sections allegedly included the following: "What your government, the academia and the media are hiding from you," "Documenting EU's deliberate strategy to Islamize Europe" and "How the feminists' 'War Against the Boys' paved the way for Islam." The man cited a number of American, Canadian and English writers in his manifesto -- including Robert Spencer, who runs the website Jihad Watch Web, on 64 occasions, the New York Times points out.

[. . .]

The Daily Beast's Michelle Goldberg, meanwhile, notes the strain of misogyny running through Breivik's work:

Rarely has the connection between sexual anxiety and right-wing nationalism been made quite so clear. Indeed, Breivik's hatred of women rivals his hatred of Islam, and is intimately linked to it. Some reports have suggested that during his rampage on Utoya, he targeted the most beautiful girl first. This was about sex even more than religion.

Goldberg also points to statements Breivik has made complaining about the influence of his diplomat stepmother, whom he faults with instituting a "super-liberal, matriarchal upbringing, [that] contributed to feminise me to a certain degree." Likewise, he wrote, "The female manipulation of males has been institutionalised during the last decades and is a partial cause of the feminisation of men in women." (Peter, Finochiarro, “What we know abou the Norway shooter,” Salon, 25 July 2011)

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From Lloyd DeMause's "Psychogenic Theory of History":

Consider a typical example of a traumatized child growing up and joining others in fashioning a historical group-fantasy. Timothy McVeigh, one of the Oklahoma City bombers, experienced continuous maternal abandonment as a child, according to neighbors and relatives, as his restless mother, who regularly cheated on her husband, kept leaving the family for weeks at a time. Timothy asked friends, "Is it something I did?" when trying to understand why his mother wasn't there. When he was ten, he became interested in guns and became a survivalist, collecting rifles in case Communists took over the country. When he was sixteen and his mother left him for good, he began to refer to her as "a bitch" and as "that no-good whore." Neighbors reported he was often like two people, "angry and screaming one minute, then switching to quite normal" for no apparent reason. In the army, when he failed the Green Beret test -- another rejection -- he quit in disgust and began hanging out with Right-wing militarists. After going to Waco to watch how the government had abandoned the children during the siege, he went to Oklahoma City to act out a scene in a Rightist novel where a group packed a truck with a homemade bomb and set it off at F.B.I. headquarters. But four months before he acted out this rage against authority (his mother), McVeigh visited the day care center in the building, pretending he had children he wanted to enroll. Thus he picked out a site where children who had been left by their mothers would be blown up too, thus punishing abandoned children representatives of himself restaging his own abandonment and the carrying out the punishment he thought he deserved for his rage at his mother.

[. . .]

The raging part of Timothy McVeigh, elaborated by militia group-fantasies, often made him seem, said others, like two people. The process was similar to that observed in the creation of alters, or alternate personalities, in people who have Multiple Personality Disorders, a diagnosis recently renamed Dissociated Identity Disorders. Dissociation is defined as "a loss of the usual interrlationships between various groups of mental processes with resultant almost independent function of the one group that has been separated from the rest," and is involved in such pathological syndromes as hypnosis, depersonalization, fugue, sleepwalking, possession and visionary experiences. A Dissociated Identity Disorder has three criteria: (a) the personalities seem to be distinct and lasting, (b) the dominant personality at any particular time determines the individual's behavior, and (c) each personality is complex and organized with its own unique behavior patterns. There are four possible core dissociative symptoms: amnesia, depersonalization, derealization and identity confusion. Severe, repeated child abuse and neglect almost always lie behind the full D.I.D. disorder. Kluft says, "Most multiples, as children, have been physically brutalized, psychologically assaulted, sexually violated, and affectively overwhelmed." As Ross puts it, a multiple personality disorder is a little girl imagining that the abuse is happening to someone else. The imaging is so intense and subjectively compelling, and is reinforced so many times by the ongoing trauma, that the created identities seem to take on a life of their own, though they are all parts of one person.

[. . .]

The social alter is the inheritor of earlier dissociated persecutory feelings and has as one of its roles the setting up of group punishments that are "object lessons" to us all. McVeigh's staging of the Oklahoma City explosion was carefully arranged to have "abandoned" children like himself punished along with the more conscious aim of punishing bad authorities. The formula for restaging early traumas is: (1) Fuse with your persecutory alter ("Terrifying Mommy"), (2) find a savior alter ("Grandiose Self") whom you follow to (3) kill the victim alter ("Bad Child"). Empathy for victim scapegoats is lost because they are so full of our negative projections and are seen as bad children-growing, striving, wanting too much. The larger the success and new freedoms a society must face -- the more its progress overreaches its childrearing evolution -- the larger the historical punishment it must stage. When an American Senator, voting for more nuclear weapons, said that even if a nuclear Holocaust was unleashed it wouldn't be too bad because we would "win" it ("If we have to start over with another Adam and Eve, I want them to be Americans"), the weird trance logic can only be understood if nuclear war is seen as an "object lesson," enabling us to "start afresh with a clean slate."

Link: What we know about the Norway shooter (Salon)


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