Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hate and Fear in Norway

Does it seem that whenever we encounter examples of right wing terrorism--whether it's the Oklahoma City bombing or this weeks' horrific massacre in Norway--that the media is more apt to dismiss such actions as the product of a lone deranged actor? In this case, it was interesting to watch the initial reaction from conservative sources turn from outrage--when they assumed the killer was a Muslim jihadist, to a much more subdued reaction--once it was learned that the suspect is a right wing Christian fundamentalist.

What still seems to be getting glossed over in the coverage, however, is the clear political motivation of the attack. This summer camp in Norway that was the scene of a brutal massacre on Friday was not just any camp. This was not just a random act of violence by an unbalanced individual. Well, unbalanced he may be, but random, no way.  The camp he chose to attack was a camp for politically active youth who are followers, and future leaders, of the ruling Labor Party. It would be as if someone attacked a group of Democratic interns in Washington, or any other gathering of politically committed young people. From all indications, the killer deliberately chose this camp, which met at this particular time, because it suited his goal of striking out at multi-culturalism. In other words, his targets were the ideas of tolerance, liberalism, and diversity.

Here's a quote that jumped out at me from one of the campers: "We don't deserve to die. We're just normal youth. We participate in politics. We want to make the world a better place. I missed the part where WE became the bad guys."  (LA Times)

To dismiss this kind of horrific violence, which was deliberately aimed at the most idealistic and politically committed of young people, as simply the work of a deranged lunatic is to some extent to excuse it. We should not excuse it. We should try to understand where this kind of hatred comes from, and we should condemn every form of it, before it rises to the level of massacre.


  1. What? Christians are capable of unspeakable violence that stems from intolerance?

    Parish the thought.

  2. The shooter was raised in a secular household.