So, I was in the middle on a long rambling post on the closing of the Shuttle Program. Then a bomb went off in Oslo, and what I first thought was a shootout between the police and terrorists at a roadblock turned out to be a massacre of children by a lone gunman with a convincing police uniform, automatic weapons and a stunning lack of empathy. I just can’t let this go without writing something about it.
As it happened I have lived in Oslo before and know several people living in the city. Most of them Norwegians. Currently I live in Dublin, capital of Ireland and this is not a region without its troubles. But this was simply stunning to Irish as well to Norwegian spectators. When I saw the all but universal response to the incident was shock and sympathy it dawned on me. This was a single man who had killed possibly more than 90 people (later adjusted to 76 which is still staggering), by a bomb and shootings. However most by shootings. It will probably sound banal, but I felt at that moment I was looking into the face of evil. This man had detonated a Tim McVeigh-Oklahoma City-style fertilizer car bomb right outside the main government building in Oslo. The prime ministers office is at the top of that wrecked building. “Only” seven people (as we know so far) are killed as it was after office hours in the middle of summer recess. That may actually have been planned as well. Because this is mainly a diversion.
The real attack is at a Labor Party youth camp at Utoya. Now this man has decided that his main enemy is the ruling Labor Party. So why didn’t he go after the people in the government building? He wants to literally kill the party: To kill the young promising members, the new generation. As it first would seem, he did go a long way to succeed. Several of the youngsters killed had already made themselves noted as politicians and youth activists, and all who survived by hiding, playing dead and dumb luck (she shot several prone kids and people swimming away, none were safe) will be traumatized.
The killer, Andreas Behring Breivik, has confessed the killings. He has also written a 1500 page rambling manifesto. And of course everybody were surprised (and some of us more than a little shamefaced) when it became clear the Muslim bogeyman was not the one behind it this time. Many others will write about that, I won’t go into any of that here. What I will mention is the response of Norwegians, both officials and ordinary people.
In France, the UK, and Israel (as well as the US) attacks like these are met by new security measures. A Palestinian stabs a us driver in Israel and rams the bus into traffic, Israel puts a gridiron cage around the drivers compartment. A bomb goes off in a dustbin in Paris, all dustbins are removed. London turns it back on Liberalist traditions and blankets the City area with CCTV cameras after hooligan violence and car bombs. And of course the vengeance that will not be denied. After 9/11, President Bush said “We will hunt them down”. After the attacks, the Norwegian prime minister Stoltenberg said, “We will retaliate with more democracy”.
The gunman was arrested alive, interrogated by police and will stand trial. A trial following existing Norwegian law. with a lawyer. The lawyer appointed to defend the gunman has a support group on Facebook. Not because anybody applauds the attacks, but because that is how a democratic state works. You don’t set up a military tribunal, you don’t make up retroactive laws on the fly so you can shoot him. The gunman deliberately attacked Norways core – democracy and tolerance – in order to create an atmosphere of hatred, mainly against Islam. Of course, a man who killed more people while seeing the white in their eyes than anybody in Norway since WWII (if then) would not want a war against Islam to be with convincing leaflets. So Norway collectively rose together and said: We will not tolerate this. You will not make us hate. You will not even make us hate you.
By Norwegian standards, no individual committing such an act regardless of inspiration or ideology will be considered sane. So he will probably b committed to a closed ward till the end of his days. Otherwise the maximum penalty he will be given will be 30 years for crimes against humanity. Now by international standards that is amazingly low, but it is the law. He will be judged by the law, not by vengeance. I came over a link to a weird theta healer guy on Youtube. He said “The world does not know how much it owes Norway”. His reasoning was that never before had such a heinous act been followed by so much love and compassion by people. He hoped that Norway would set an example by responding to atrocities with justice, compassion and even love. Now few people today love this psychopathic terrorist, but most Norwegians regard this as an attempt to scare them from democracy, to close one of the most open societies in the world today. But they’re not playing ball. This was an attack on democracy, it will be defeated by democracy. In a courtroom, with a legal council and a jury of his peers. Not shot while escaping, waterboarded in some hidden cellar, or quietly hidden away in a labor camp. I truly hope this sets precedence. I hope this will do a little to prevent violent retaliation to the next atrocity. If so, all that death will not have been in vain.