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Reactions to Norway

by on July 23, 2011

Norway is what we think of as a good country: the Legatum Prosperity Index places Norway as the top country in prosperity; Happiness and the Human Development Index also places Norway as the happiest country.  Numerous other measures of happiness also rank Norway as the best, or one of the best, places.  However, that does not stop  yesterday, when attacks by a single person killed almost a hundred people in Norway.  Violence does not create peace, and sometimes in peace there is violence.

While  police are studying the suspect (there is only one), the media is laying blame and creating an atmosphere of guilty-and-we-know-why.  Some things are likely to be accurate, such as,

It was revealed that the 32-year-old former member of the country’s conservative Progress Party – who had become ever more extreme in his hatred of Muslims, left wingers and the country’s political establishment – had ordered six tonnes of fertiliser in May to be used in the bombing. While police continued to interrogate Breivik, who was charged with the mass killings, evidence of his increasingly far right world view emerged from an article he had posted on several Scandinavian websites, including Nordisk – a site frequented by neo-Nazis, far right radicals and Islamophobes since 2009.

Other information is mere speculation. Was he inspired by Al-Qaeda? Or because 400 Norwegian troops are in Afghanistan? “Meanwhile, the Sun’s headline this morning (23-July-2011) screams ‘NORWAY’S 9/11’, and above the headline in red capitals ‘AL-QAEDA’ MASSACRE. It seems Murdoch’s Sun has already made up its mind.”

The way international terrorism is portrayed in the media leaves a lot to be desired. For example, why do the media refer to a group as Islamic or Islamist even when that group is operating in a Muslim country and targeting fellow Muslims, thus leaving the impression that the victims are non-Muslim? Why not simply use the name they give to themselves? A few months ago I gave a talk to sixth formers in a school in which I mentioned that more Muslims have been victims of al-Qaeda inspired terrorism than non-Muslims; there was astonishment at this fact.

Never mind that the suspect is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Norwegian with connections to the far-right political parties.

Norway, as already mentioned, is a land of peace. Peace is not only an intangible, happy, feeling, or a lack of war. It’s also a way of life.  “From what I saw, there is — or was — no more open and trusting place left in the West, if not the world….People often leave the keys in their cars — and their cars running — while doing chores elsewhere.”  There are, and have been, such places in America.  They disappear by the wayside as the groves give way to housing developments that turn into foreclosed property.  It makes me wonder what will happen in Norway.

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