Aug. 10th, 2011

hradzka: (plane)
As I read his manifesto, I realized Anders Breivik was reminding me of Malcolm X.

Not on any moral or tactical level, of course; black Muslim violence, Malcolm's assassination included, was largely internal or schismatic (though according to multiple sources, Malcolm had to be talked out of putting together a hit squad to kill Los Angeles police officers in response to their raid of an Nation of Islam mosque in which the cops shot seven people, one of whom was paralyzed and one of whom was killed). No, what Breivik was reminding me of was Malcolm X during his transition away from the NOI and into his own organization Muslim Mosque Incorporated, away from Elijah Muhammed and into Sunni Islam, away from separatism and into the civil rights movement he'd often belittled. It's a transition marvelously covered (as is all of Malcolm's life) in the late Manning Marable's magnum opus MALCOLM X: A LIFE OF REINVENTION. Terrific book, BTW, really fascinating. That time in Malcolm's life sees him adrift, issuing contradictory statements from one day to the next, and my inclination was to see it as Malcolm not knowing what the hell he was doing. Marable, who admired Malcolm more than I do (and obviously knew him a hell of a lot better), had a different take: Malcolm, he argued, was evolving. Evolving a lot. Evolving wildly, desperately, he didn't know what he was changing into, but he was changing into *something,* and as a result of feeling this out he necessarily came off as politically incoherent.

I don't know if I buy that with regard to Malcolm, but the idea stuck, and reading Breivik's manifesto, I felt almost a sense of deja vu. Here's my take on Anders Breivik. )

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