It’s hard to believe that a country as tolerant as Norway can produce such a rotten apple, but even in peaceful, progressive countries like Norway, Sweden and Denmark hate and fear can still exist. Emotional and political acts of terrorism aren’t all that surprising in countries like the U.S., where much of their culture and history comes from the intolerance of others, but it just goes to show that even in the most tolerant of societies like Norway there can live a misguided, hateful and racist man.
On Friday, suspect Anders Behring Breivik set off a car bomb in front of a government building in the Norwegian capital of Oslo, killing 8, before donning a police uniform and going on a two hour shooting spree at a youth retreat for the Labour Party on Utoya Island, where he killed at least 68 people, most of them teenagers.
Breivik is a highly organized and motivated political terrorist whose actions are reminiscent of right wing extremist Timothy Mcveigh, the Oklahoma City bomber. Mcveigh may have killed more people, but he did so in a very impersonal way. Breivik shot and killed more than 68 people and wounded just as many on Utova Island, in the most personal and direct way possible. To my mind that makes him far worse than Mcveigh.
It was fairly clear from the onset that the rampage was a politically motivated domestic attack given the targets and timing, even though many news agencies reported that Al-Qaeda and Muslim terrorists were the prime suspects. An ironically false assertion given that Anders Breivik’s driving motivation was his obsession with Europe’s lax immigration laws regarding Muslims.
While all the details have yet to emerge, Breivik said after he admitted to the attacks that he was motivated by a desire to bring about a revolution in Norwegian society and that the attacks should serve as a warning to the ruling Labour Government. A manifesto he published online ranted against Muslim immigration to Europe and vowed revenge on “indigenous Europeans,” whom he accused of betraying their heritage. It said that they would be punished for their “treasonous acts.”
So Norway, home to the Nobel Peace Prize has experienced its worst attack on its soil since the Second World War, all because of the fear based racism and hate inspired ideology of one man. A man who will no doubt join the company of fellow right wing murderers Timothy McVeigh, Jared Lee Loughner, James Earl Ray and even John Wilkes Booth in the annals of infamy.
Right-wing extremist ideology has roots in nationalism and racism and has been growing rapidly in Europe, in large part due to Muslim immigration and islamophobia. Far right parties in Europe have been gaining ground in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland based on these same points. However those same parties which promote nationalism do not condone violence as a way of making their point. I’m not sure they realize that the promotion of nationalism is in essence the promotion of racism.
Far right extremists are bonded together by the two extremes of both love and hate. The love of their country, the love of their culture or religion and a desire to protect both by any means necessary. If they feel that either of these institutions are under threat, then they will act, often with violence, and without regret or the realization that they did something wrong. Unfortunately their love of god and country blinds them, and leads them to believe that anyone not like them is a danger; as a result we see their hate and intolerance so often ending in some sort of violent act.
To believe that a country’s culture is in jeopardy due to Muslim immigration is pure paranoia, a paranoia that is present whenever there is an influx of foreigners and it dates back to the immigration of Europeans to North America in the 1860s. The masses always adapt, it just takes a generation.
I believe there isn’t much that can be done to prevent attacks like the one that transpired in Norway from happening again, other than preaching tolerance whenever possible. We can’t stop psycho right-wing extremists from committing mass murder just as we can’t stop loony leftists from blowing up arms manufacturing plants. All we can do as a society is talk to each other with the hope of reaching some kind of understanding, and if that doesn’t workâ€¦ we can always speak with our vote.
“You will not destroy us. You will not destroy our democracy and our ideals for a better world. We are a small nation and a proud nation. No one will bomb us into silence. No one will shoot us into silence. No one can stop us from being Norway.” – Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg
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