|News Reviews from 2011|
Norway Massacre (Aug 2011)
by Mark Iddon
After detonating the murderous device, and under the cover of the chaos and devastation, he drove 40 miles to the East Coast to took a ferry to the island of Utoya with his weaponry in a holdall whilst dressed in a police uniform. He then went on an 80 minute killing spree shooting children and teenagers, at close range, who were attending an annual summer camp of the ruling centre right party.
The Prime Minister, Jens Stoltemberg, was due to speak the next day and a former Prime Minister had visited earlier that day. There were some survivors who have spoken of the carnage and things they saw that they wish they would never have had to witness. A further 69 people died on the island bringing the total dead to 77 in the worst horror that Norway had experienced since the Second World War. At 6.27pm Breivik made his way back to the landing pier where he was met by police, he laid down his weapons and was placed under arrest seemingly without remorse or emotion. During his spree he was said to have been humming and smiling and at one point exclaimed ‘Victory is mine’.
Norway is normally a peaceful country and this event was quite extra ordinary. At first there was speculation about whether it was due to the actions of Muslim extremists but it soon became apparent that this was to be attributed to a young white middle class male, the son of a retired diplomat, albeit a loner with some archaic views regarding foreigners and women.
This introduction is to consider for discussion three issues around the causes and implications of the horrific events in Norway as follows; multiculturalism, freedom and surveillance and the rise of the far right.
Breivik’s manifesto alleges that his grievance was with those who promote a multicultural agenda of the liberal left political persuasion who he had classified as traitors for allowing greater prominence and integration of ‘other cultures’ into Norwegian life. It seems strange that someone should feel so enraged to vent such anger towards those of a view that suggests equality. The multicultural ethos is presented as an equality of cultural values and promotes the respect of difference. However, if we look more critically at the doctrine we wonder if Breivik perceived that respect for Muslims is at the expense of what he saw as the marginalisation of his own identity as a white western middle class male. With multiculturalism, there is a problem that the preoccupation and relativism of identity and difference take precedence over the universal bond that unites us as human beings and deserving of equality. Could it be that the disenfranchised Breivik was so enraged because his sense of identity was compromised by the incorporation of a relativist multicultural outlook?
Freedom and Surveillance
As Norway is such a peaceful country and has not had to deal with terrorist threat, to the same extend as the UK, that the virtues of a free and open society have been maintained. It is a country which has asserted its independence by declining to become members of the European Union. Some commentators have noted that Norway was possibly an easy target for such an atrocity because it does not have such tight security and surveillance measures in place as other European countries. It is as if the adoption of restrictive practices is stopping events such as this happing on a more frequent basis throughout the rest of Europe. Jens Stoltemberg, the Norwegian Prime Minister, in the aftermath declared that ‘we will not be intimidated by violence’ in response to suggestions that increased security measures are implemented. It can only be hoped that Norwegians can stay resilient to pressure to step up security as they refuse to live in a constant state of alert and suspicion that has eroded liberty in other European countries. Indeed the ubiquitous CCTV camera and frequent security checks, let alone consideration of compulsory identity cards have arguably created more fear and suspicion of others which results in further division and alienation. How, therefore, do we ensure that freedom and liberty are not compromised because of murderous consequences of one unhinged madman.
Some useful background readings
Don't turn Norway into Europe's 11 September by Brendan O'Neill, spiked, 25 July 2011