One year ago today, Norway was struck by terrorism. Not an act of mass murder carried out by Al Qaeda, not by some other Islamist group like many thought at first, but by a homegrown, blond, blue-eyed Norwegian by the name Anders Bering Breivik.
In the year since then, much soul-searching has been going on. Primarily in Norway, of course, but in the rest of Scandinavia as well. How did Breivik become such an emotional cripple, that murdering dozens of innocent teenagers was not only possible, but to this day justifiable in his twisted world view? And what happened to the political discourse in the aftermath.
I won’t go into too many details. Today is not about that kind of thing, but about the memory of those who died one year ago today, in such a meaningless, horrific way. The murderer is still on trial in Norway, but the sentencing is due quite soon. At first, the Norwegians hoped he could be sentenced before the first anniversary, but that has become impossible. There was simply too much evidence to go through in court. Too many terrible stories of frightened children’s last moments. Survivors telling the most tragic tales of how they saw friends gunned down, unable to do anything to stop the madness. In my opinion, it speaks to the eternal credit of the Norwegian court-system, that they gave EVERY witness time to talk at length. Things were never rushed or forced. It had to happen this way to allow healing processes to begin for those who lost loved ones and for those who were there.
But can such wounds ever truly be healed? It is doubtful.
At first, the rage was powerful and a poisonous atmosphere quickly spread amongst people, calling for what can only be described as a public lynching. This, I suppose, is human nature. We are outraged by things like what happened at Utøya. Outraged and incapable of truly grasping it, and so we lash out in a way which is … in a way … undignified, and playing right into the hands of the perpetrator. He would have loved to become a martyr for his sick cause … he had written about how he dreamt of running from a hundred police-men, smoking guns in hand, killing with every shot as he ducked and weaved through the streets to escape. He would have relished his martyrdom.
He didn’t get it. Thankfully.
In a civilized country even the most uncivilized elements must have equal protection under the law, and Breivik is never going to be a free man again for as long as he lives. He failed in his stated aim to start a European civil war, where the extreme right would eradicate anyone who thought differently than them. He failed in destroying the political structure of his own country. In fact, he failed at everything, except the murder of innocent people.
Of course, in his view, they were not innocent but … frankly … his views and his opinions are invalid. If he had spoken them, we could have ignored them. Instead, he chose to kill to make his point.
For that reason, we must not forget him. He wants to be remembered, but he wants to be remembered as a hero. A great freedom fighter who did a brutal, but in his opinion necessary, thing to save his country. Not unlike people like Timothy McVeigh in the US, and the Red Army Faction in Germany. People like that should be remembered for the evil they did and stood for. Held up as examples of what the rest of us must strive not to become, and what we must steer our societies away from.
The Norwegians, wisely, are doing so. They refused to bend their knee to a butcher like Breivik, and refused to change their ways. Tens of thousands would gather outside the court while he was on trial, and sing a children’s song he had specifically said he hated, called “Children of the rainbow”, which is a song about accepting each other’s differences. They would sing it over and over again, loud enough for him to hear it even inside the court-room, and according to his lawyer, he found it extremely uncomfortable.
Let him be uncomfortable, while true Norwegians, regardless of skin-colour, ethnic background, political views or personal circumstances, stood shoulder by shoulder in defiance of his evil.
The children who died at Utøya, and the adults who lost their lives there, trying to protect them, and the people who died in the government building Breivik bombed, died senseless, tragic, unnessecary deaths. But they have become symbols of something great and good, and Norwegians have taken it to heart.
The rest of us should do so as well.
I ask all of you to please observe a moment of silence after reading this, in respect for those who died. If you are the type to pray, send a kind thought to the bereaved and pray for them.
Breivik lost. We all know we are going to see other attacks in our lifetimes. Terrorism is an ancient problem and it is unlikely to be eradicated in our lifetime, if ever. But Breivik lost. And as long as we do not let people like him change who we are, as long as we do not degenerate into what they want us to become, they can never win.
Thank you for your time.
This entry was posted on Sunday, July 22nd, 2012 at 11:09 am and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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