In a provocative essay at the website Gates of Vienna, I once asked whether the mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik could be labeled the “Nordic Muhammad.” The first pair of forensic psychiatrists who evaluated Breivik compared his self-image to religious literature. He claimed to be a “perfect” man worthy of emulation. John L. Esposito, one of the most pro-Islamic writers in the Western world, states that Muhammad can be seen as the “living Koran.” He is viewed by Muslims as a perfect man worthy of emulation, almost like Breivik imagined himself to be.
Yet, fortunately for us, Breivik did not found a new religion. Perhaps a more appropriate question to ask is whether Breivik, with his sadistic cruelty and bloodthirstiness, is a Nordic equivalent of Che Guevara.
On page 1164 of his confused manifesto, Breivik quoted the Marxist leader Fidel Castro, who ruled Cuba for more than half a century: “I began the revolution with 82 men. If I had to do it again, I would do it with 10 or 15 individuals with absolute faith. It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and a plan of action.” Mr. Castro represents a violent totalitarian ideology, but although he is a revolutionary Socialist he has not been blamed by the mass media for inspiring Breivik. That is reserved for so-called “Islamophobes.”
On April 23 2012, during the trial in Oslo, Breivik compared himself to the Marxist militants and revolutionary Socialists Fidel Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara. The latter has become a popular icon of rebellion and anti-capitalism among segments of the political Left throughout the Western world, his image decorating posters and t-shirts and used to sell everything from coffee mugs to key chains. ABB claimed that his alleged Knights Templar militant network had as much legitimacy as these Marxists did in their violent struggle to overthrow the ruling regimes.
This was, as usual, not emphasized much by journalists with Socialist sympathies. The Socialist Left Party, part of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s coalition government, have resisted calls for a boycott of the Communist dictatorship in Cuba, but at the same time wanted to boycott goods from democratic Israel. Much the same may be said about the Labor Party’s intimate and powerful partner, the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO).
When Breivik greeted the court several times with a clenched fist, the press described this as a “right-wing extremist salute,” without mentioning that virtually the same gesture has been used by the Black Panthers and modern Socialist rulers such as Hugo Chavez in Latin America or the Marxist terrorist Carlos the Jackal.
Peter Neumann, the Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation in London, claims that Breivik has changed our view of “lone wolf” terrorists radicalized by the Internet. The historian Nikolai Brandal, however, labels him a “hybrid terrorist” who sought inspiration from many different sources. During his court testimony, Brandal found it noteworthy that Breivik employs the term “urban guerrilla” for his style of warfare. This term was popularized in the 1960s, partly by the revolutionary international Socialist Che Guevara.
Che Guevara played a major role in the cooperation between Fidel Castro’s Communist-ruled Cuba and the Soviet Union, thereby contributing to the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962 that almost triggered a full-scale intercontinental nuclear war between the two superpowers of the era, the USA and the Soviet Union.
Che actually regretted that it didn’t come to nuclear war, proclaiming that “If the nuclear missiles had remained [in Cuba] we would have fired them against the heart of the U.S. including New York City. The victory of Socialism is well worth millions of atomic victims!” He also said some extremely negative things about black people as well as homosexuals, statements that are usually covered up by his left-wing cheerleaders today.
The writer Rubén Palma, who was originally born and raised in Chile but has lived in Denmark for the past four decades, has looked into some little-quoted, but well-documented, material about Che Guevara.
The French Marxist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, an apologist for the murderous Communist regime of Josef Stalin, at one point called Che Guevara “the most complete human being of our time.” The Oscar-winning American film director and screenwriter Steven Soderbergh has worked with A-list Hollywood movie stars such as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts. He also made the two part-film Che in 2008, which was more than four hours long and described the protagonist in largely positive terms.
Che Guevara publicly bragged about executing as many opponents of the glorious Socialist revolution as he deemed necessary, stating that “Our fight is a fight to the death!” Yet as Rubén Palma dryly notes, this turned out to be mainly a struggle against unarmed opponents tied to a pole, or a fight to other people’s death. That was Che’s specialty. In Palma’s view, newer material on Che Guevara shows clearly how his skills as a military leader have often been dramatically exaggerated – and his callous and violent personality meticulously hidden.
During a speech in 1967, Che praised the “uncompromising hatred” that transforms a man into a determined, effective and cold-blooded “killing machine.” Already in his diary in 1952, he had fantasies about how he would in the future storm barricades and trenches, “behead” any enemy he could lay his hands on and dip his weapon in their blood. He felt excited by the mere thought of this, and that was written while he was a medical student. Clearly, the “do no harm” doctrine of the Hippocratic Oath, so central to Western medicine, meant little to him.
Che became an active member of the Purging Commission, which as the name implies was designed to get rid of enemies of the Socialist revolution. From 1957 to 1959, he ordered dozens of summary executions – many of which were carried out by him own hand. During his years as a revolutionary, he was responsible for hundreds of murders, which he often watched or participated in while drinking alcohol and smoking cigars. Che has been described as a hateful and cruel man who enjoyed terrorizing and demeaning prisoners or their relatives.
The best thing I can say about Che Guevara is that, unlike Anders Behring Breivik, he participated in several real struggles against armed opponents who actually shot back. He published a manual entitled Guerrilla Warfare in 1961, although critics claim that his alleged skills as a military strategist have been greatly exaggerated.
What is undisputed, however, is that in Cuba and elsewhere, Che personally participated in dozens of executions, usually without trial, of unarmed men and women. He talked about “fighting to the death,” but it turned out to be other people’s death he was referring to. It is commonly accepted that when he was finally captured in Bolivia in 1967, Che shouted “Don’t shoot! I am Che Guevara and worth more to you alive than dead.”
During his massacre at Utøya Anders Behring Breivik executed unarmed opponents, just as Che enjoyed doing. Also like Che, he surrendered when finally faced with armed opponents who were in a position to kill him. Breivik has claimed that he planned to become a “martyr” and did not expect to survive his attacks.
Perhaps, but this explanation does not sound entirely credible. The risks to himself with his attacks were greater than zero, but not terribly great, either, since he attacked unarmed people who were totally unprepared for a fight, mentally as well as physically. Given the fact that Breivik the narcissist seems to relish media attention surrounding his person, I consider it at least as likely that he wanted to survive. Other observers agree.
If he had wanted to be killed, he could easily have done so. Somewhat belatedly, he was eventually confronted by armed police at the island. Americans have observed a phenomenon they call “suicide by cop,” whereby a person who wants to die provokes armed police into shooting him. Breivik still had ammunition left when the police finally showed up. If he had wanted to make a final stand and go down in a blaze of bullets, he could have done so. But he didn’t. When finally faced with armed opponents who could and would take him out, he meekly surrendered.
Breivik the military dilettante exhibited many of the same violent fantasies as Che, including even the possibility of beheading his victims, and displayed cruel sadism when executing dozens of unarmed victims. Also just like Che Guevara, his fight to the death turned out to be a fight to other people’s death, whereas he himself in the end surrendered to people who could actually shoot back. Due to his toxic combination of cruelty, hypocrisy and cowardice, Anders Behring Breivik could be labeled the “Nordic Che Guevara.”
Fortunately, even though Breivik was for a while a peripheral member of the Progress Party in Oslo, we haven’t seen many coffee mugs or t-shirts bearing his portrait among members of the political Right. For some reason, celebration of mass murderers and terrorists seems to be more widespread in segments of the political Left.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.