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I couldn’t make myself write about it: my reactions or my thoughts. From the beginning I have been struck by what a non-entity he is, and delving into analysis only gave disappointing results. Each time I tried to add my two-pennies’ worth I came up with – nothing. And that was awful because that nothing-person, that uneducated nobody, killed 77 people in cold blood. Had he only had the tinsiest bit of charisma, had his arguments been even a little bit good, made some sort of sense, then – well, I’m not sure exactly what then, but as I followed the first two weeks of the trial online via Norwegian media, I was left with this awful feeling of emptiness. 77 people were killed by Nobody.

Then, today, some of my intelligent and wonderful friends on Facebook posted a link to this, and this woman, Professor Janne Haaland Matlary, said exactly what I’ve been quietly thinking. I’m actually going to take the liberty of translating Klassekampen‘s article:

Couldn’t care less about Breivik’s ideology

Warning: Professor of Political Science, Janne Haaland Matlary, thinks that Anders Behring Breivik is historically and politically uninteresting. She warns her colleagues against wasting their time analysing the mass murderer.

“His political influence is zero, the person behind the actions is a zero, why spend so much time and media attention on him?”

This is what the well-known professor of political science, Janne Haaland Matlary, says to Klassekampen. Now she advices her colleagues not to appear as so-called “expert witnesses” in the media.

“It’s poor use of one’s working hours to provide serious analysis of something so primitive. If we take him seriously, we just contribute to give him more attention – which is his real motivation.

It is clear that he believes in his own vision, but this serves more as an alibi for mass murder than political motivation. His ideas are banal while his actions are evil and terrible – why dwell on this?”

Not interesting

Matlary’s view is that Breivik is politically and historically uninteresting, and that political scientists and historians neither can nor should contribute with analysis.

“Compared with other terrorist attacks outside Norway this is without political interest. His political understanding and reasoning is primitive and uninteresting: there is no one who really believes there is a Muslim invasion of Europe. So this is not something worth examining for a political scientist.

The terror is also without political persuasion in Norway as such. It is not ideologically interesting, for either the political Right or Left, simply because he has such crazy ideas that completely lack realism. He lives in a fantasy world and is as such without public interest.”

– But can’t experts contribute with the knowledge that there are others that share his political understanding and views?

“There is no empirical evidence to support any of his views. His world is Manichean – he juxtaposes Muslims and Christians and creates bizarre dividing lines partly based on race theory. His analysis is so stupid and primitive and completely lacks a realistic reference frame, and he has no movement behind him.”

Careful experts

The University of Oslo has set up a list of people who can comment on the court case for the media. At the Department of Political Science there is no wish to add people to the list.

“We were contacted by the information department and asked if we wanted to contribute to the list of experts with names and contact details. At that point I contacted 3-4 of the people already on the list and said it was not a good idea to join as we are not general experts on this entire case,” says institute leader Øystein Østerud.

He is of the opinion that the case has been coloured by the use of quasi-experts and does not want political scientists from the university to contribute to this.

“The goal must be that those best suited contribute, rather than that we create a list of experts that are to make statements on this and that”, he says. He points to the intern Anders Ravik Jupskås as a positive example of how this can be done.

Not political terror

Matlary emphasises that her criticism first and foremost is directed at the media, and not at colleagues who chip in as experts. She still feels that political science has little to contribute with.

“In this case it is the psychiatrists that have the most insight to give and there is not as much to be gained from political science. To us, Islamic terror, or the IRA-terrorist who is motivated by political goals, is of far greater interest. Breivik’s goal is himself,” she states.

“The case is influenced by journalists who constantly have to come up with something new. Foreign press covered the first week and pretty much wrapped it up after that. Ten weeks of daily news coverage only contributes to the fame of the killer.”

– Is it not a little too easy to claim that Breivik is a primitive loser?

“I think this is the reality. He never even completed school, has no real job, stayed at home in the boys room – in short: he is not a successful 33-year-old. So he compensated by creating his virtual world. He is without doubt mentally ill and evil, an extreme narcissist who enjoys all the media attention.”

***

What Matlary says here pretty much sums up my thoughts. Not many thoughts I must admit. Thoughts that can be summed up as – “He’s a complete non-entity, a nobody, and this court case should have been held behind closed doors.” And then the strange feeling that those killed on the 22 July 2011 had deserved to be killed by somebody with at least something going for him – and that’s a nutty thought because they should never have been killed in the first place, but – do you get this strange sentiment?

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