It was Hannah Arendt who coined the phrase ‘the banality of evil’ in reference Adolf Eichmann, a cog in the machine of the Holocaust. It’s rather a pity in a way because it really should have been invented specifically to describe Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer who killed seventy-seven people in a hate-filled rampage last July
Hate-filled; is that right? Actually I’m not quite sure, not quite sure that this man is capable of any authentic emotion, not quite sure if he is able to understand anything beyond his own shallow and narcissistic fantasies. He was sentenced to twenty-one years in prison last Friday, the maximum allowed for under Norwegian law, though the indicators are that he will never be released. The sentence made no impact on him; all he could do was smirk, happy that he was not declared insane.
His crime began with a bang; his trial ended with a whimper. There he was, the living symbol of the most crushing forms of mediocrity - mundane, tiresome and downright boring. After sentence was passed he made to get on his soap box, saying that the only regret he had was that he had not killed more people. Bubble and squeak it went, until the judge, who clearly had had enough, cut him off and sent him down. The rest is silence
Or, rather, it would have been silence. It took a Frenchman to echo in the void; it took Richard Millet, an author, I understand, of some repute, to tell the world that Breivik was “without doubt what Norway deserves.” Least he be misunderstood he rushed to say that he did not approve of his actions. No, he merely described them as “formal perfection…in their literary dimension”. Yes, I know; your guess is as good as mine. This, it would seem, is what accomplished authors accomplish in France.
He accomplished these precious sentiments recently in an essay entitled Eloge littéraire d'Anders Breivik – Literary Elegy of Anders Breivik - , a justification after the act. Breivik, he says, “is as much a child of a broken family as of an ideological and racial fracture caused by immigration from outside Europe over the last 20 years.”
On and on and on he goes, a perfect storm of verbal mush. The Norwegian is “an exemplary product of Western decadence” and a “child of the ideologico-racial fracture that extra-European immigration has introduced in Europe.” He sees the resulting “loss of national identity” and “Islamisation of Europe” decaying “Christian roots” everywhere. Hold tight – you a’int herad nothin yet.
I think there are genuine issue to be addressed over the negative effects of multiculturalism and mass immigration; these are issues that I have addressed myself, here and elsewhere. But for an act of callous stupidity and disregard for human life to be give a post hoc justification is – how can I say? – well, it’s what passes for literary merit…in France.
Incidentally, Breivik’s victims are neatly summed up as “mixed-raced, globalized, uncultivated, social-democrat petit bourgeois.” So, now you know; not human beings just mixed-raced, globalized, uncultivated, social-democrat petit bourgeois.
Meanwhile the author is rather basking in his notoriety, a little like the Norwegian without literary merit. “I’m one of the most hated French authors. It’s an interesting position that makes me an exceptional being”, he said recently, very much in the same self-regarding style as his fellow narcissist in Norway. No, Richard, you are not an exceptional being, just another mediocrity. You are not even the act, just the shadow of the act, the true inner core of banality.