Yesterday, Breivik made a couple of points about why his detractors want him to be found insane, some of which were surprisingly astute. (And some that were hilariously misdirected, but still not entirely wrong.)
- No one would question his sanity if he were a "bearded jihadist." Now, Breivik is wrong about the reason that this double-standard exists, but he's right that it needs to be pointed out: Timothy McVeigh and David Koresh were batshit nuts, but Osama was a coolly-rational evil genius. Indeed, we've been told that all "militant" or "extremist" Muslims - not just the "crazy" ones! - are capable of killing large numbers of people, and that such violence is the predictable - if not logical - result of having been raised that way. But those positions can't both be right - either the Muslim and Christian extremists are equally nuts, or they're not. But that similarity needs to be denied, repeatedly but softly, so that we can maintain that shaky line between "us" and "them". (We - and by "we", I mean mainstream white America/Canada/Europe - don't even really entertain the possibility, do we?)
- That he needs to be found insane, because it would "delegitimize everything [he] stand[s] for". Quite right, even if he gets the reasoning wrong. If he's insane, then we can deny the existence of racism among "sane" white people, and racism becomes something entirely exceptional and restricted to society's fringe.
- That racism is responsible for the differential treatment. Yes, though - and I'm sure I don't have to explain why - he's completely wrong about what kind of racism is at play, here.
What Breivik's observations illustrate especially well - unknowingly and unintentionally, of course - is just how invested Euro-American society is in disavowing its own racism. And the need to find him insane? That's just a symptom of the problem.