The Weimar Republic was democracy’s temporary bridge leading Germans from the shoals of empire to the cataracts of tyranny. It tried to govern on the basis of values it didn’t share with its people – or they with each other. Consensus wasn’t Weimar’s strong suit, and neither was coercion, which made it an asylum without straitjackets.
In this, if nothing else, it resembled the EU – or Barack Obama’s America.
Some lament that Breivik is a rightwing nutcase; others rub their hands in glee. Both are wasting their time. Misdeeds don’t invalidate ideas any more than ideas validate misdeeds. When people who are wrong try to discredit people who are right on the basis of something the lunatic Norwegian said in the days when he was only shooting off his mouth, remember that 2×2=4, even if the Unabomber says so.
And with all due respect, Melanie Phillips is wrong, if enormously well intentioned and decent. Not everyone shares her particular temperament, or position in life; alas, it was just a matter of time. I’m only shocked it took this long to happen.