Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Norway. Anders Breivik. Awfulness

A lot of people sat back at the end of last week, scratched their heads and asked WTF? Norway, little peaceful Norway, with its fjords and people who sound funny when they talk was suddenly not so bloody innocent anymore. Quite the opposite. They’d been hit with was referred to Down Under as a terrorist attack. Problem is when the terrorist is a blonde, blue-eyed, well-educated young Norwegian man it gets a hell of a lot more confusing and hard to deal with. It’s easier to hate an Arab looking man who commits such a crime than it is to hate someone who basically looks like you.

Terrorism is about choice. It’s about making the choice to hurt others to make your own point come across in an all too loud way.

There’s no doubt that Anders Breivik made a choice and that it was a choice that had dire consequences for many and that it an impact not only on Norway and its neighbouring countries but much of the rest of the world (as we tend to define it anyway – I doubt too many people in famine and war stricken Africa would care).

Anders Breivik’s choice was not made selfishly; it was made in fear. To tie ones identity so strongly to the perceived identity of a country, so strongly that you can’t accommodate people choosing to live in a different way, is bloody dangerous. This kind of fear is not only seen in Norway, it’s prevalent in a lot of countries and it stands firmly in the way of a fairer world.

Norway has one of the highest standards of living in the world. The fear of losing that in the face of a changing world and the possibility that Norway will soon run out of the oil that has kept them so rich is no doubt growing.

You would be kidding yourself if you didn’t think that Scandinavia has people that are right extremists or even Neo-Nazis. I remember when I grew up how they reared their ugly heads in a close to where I was living.

It was May 1st, a day traditionally reserved for celebrations of the more socialistic and labour day variety. Thousands of people had gathered in the town’s square. On the opposite side of one of the surrounding street a small troupe of neo-Nazi skinheads had decided to have a demonstration shouting their own slogans.

The results was that every shop around quickly ran out of eggs and tomatoes to pelt the skinheads with. They were subsequently chased through town and ended up locking themselves in the train station toilets to get away from the hoard of people who had taken up chase. The police had to escort them out of there and we never heard of them again. Not because the Swedish police were like the KGB or anything but because they learned a thing or two that day. If all neo-Nazis are as silly as these guys we have nothing to worry about but it’s not quite that easy.

Even if we’re not in Norway, or even Scandinavia, we need to pay attention to what happened in Oslo and on Utoya last Friday. It could happen where you live too. For some people the fear of losing something that isn’t even clearly defined becomes so strong that they feel the need to fight back. Immigration has happened throughout human history. How about we get over our fear of it?

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