Breivik’s Demographic Warfare and the American Right’s Demographic Winter

In my previous post, I noted how Anders Breivik’s “demographic warfare” appears to be informed by the American Christian right’s hysteria over “demographic winter,” citing the work of Kathryn Joyce.

A closer examination reveals another shared belief: the significance of the 1683 Battle of Vienna.

As Mark Juergensmeyer points out in his feature piece for RD:

The title of Breivik’s manifesto, which was posted on the internet on that day, is “2083”—the date Breivik suggested would be the culmination of a 70-year war that began with his action. Yet 70 years from 2011 would be 2081; why did he date the final purge of Muslims from Norway to be two years later, in 2083? I found the answer on page 242 of Breivik’s manifesto, where he explains that on 1683 at the Battle of Vienna, the Ottoman Empire’s military was defeated in a protracted struggle, thereby insuring that most of Europe would not become part of the Muslim empire. The date in Breivik’s title is the 400th anniversary of that decisive battle, and in Breivik’s mind he was re-creating the historic efforts to save Europe from what he imagined to be the evils of Islam.

(emphasis added). In a 2008 investigation of the World Congress of Families, Joyce reported:

The fourth conference of the WCF, in Warsaw last May, provided much of the commentary for the Demographic Winter film. And little wonder: besides [Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society president] Carlson, Family First Foundation’s board of directors is composed entirely of WCF leaders and speakers, all of whom gathered in Warsaw’s grand Palace of Culture and Science, the old Polish Communist Party headquarters, with more than 3,000 other religious conservatives, to hear predictions about Europe as a sinking ship, a Titanic nearly lost to the repercussions of the sexual revolution. But for the first time in a long time, the “natural family” has a white knight in Europe: brave Poland, the anti-Sweden. Following Pope John Paul II’s philosophy that particular countries can change the course of Europe, Poland has been heralded in US profamily literature as the likely salvation of the continent: a heavily Catholic bastion of conservatism amid the gay-friendly EU. Under the leadership of the Kaczynski brothers—extremist twins in office as president and prime minister—the country has shifted far to the right, embracing a social conservatism that aggressively targets gays, Jews, women’s rights and foreigners, and that in 2006 went so far as to propose that Jesus be named honorary king of Poland.

To Carlson, this proves Poland is “an island of profamily values” amid the tides of “Christo-phobic” “population-control types” who dominate the rest of the continent. Poland, he says, could provide an important counterbalance to European modernity and become a launching point for “a profamily resistance,” and thereby “save Europe again”: a not-so-coded reference to the Battle of Vienna in 1683, where Polish King John III Sobieski led a “Holy League” army of Christian soldiers against the Ottoman Empire, culminating in a decisive victory for Christendom over the invading Muslim troops. The profamily movement’s bald reference to this ancient holy war informs new conservative foot soldiers who see today’s immigration conflicts as “a new phase of a very old war.” And so the WCF chose Poland as the site of last spring’s massing of the troops, drawing thousands of leaders from across the spectrum of religious-right activism: from US evangelical and Catholic nonprofits to Eastern European Catholic and orthodox antiabortion and anti-gay rights groups, to bureaucrats from European, EU and US governments, taking policy notes to bring back home.

(emphasis added)

The Howard Center and the WCF see themselves as culture warriors against liberalism broadly and the sexual revolution more specifically, protecting America (and the world, for that matter) from forces that would undermine its numbers and its might. For a specific example here at home, the Howard Center has decried family planning, including federal funding for contraception under Title X (which has been under attack by the Republican Party under the guise of “defunding Planned Parenthood) as “the U.S. war on American fertility.”

Obviously the WCF isn’t advocating massacring people. But “saving Europe again” by evoking the Battle of Vienna is a theme that became the frame for Breivik’s manifesto, triggered by the same paranoia that anti-Christian forces seek domination over the continent.

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