Tragedy in Norway

As usual on such occasions, I haven’t had much to say about the horrific events in Norway. It’s generally better, in such circumstances, to pause for reflection, and certainly some who rushed to judgement have gone badly wrong in doing so, here as on previous occasions. This is not the time for judgement, but that time will come.

84 thoughts on “Tragedy in Norway

  1. A very sad business and the toll proportionately greater for a small nation than September 11 was for the US.

    From the comments I have heard on the radio, the Norwegians sound as though they are committed to not over reacting or letting the tragedy radically alter their values or way of life. I have also been impressed by the apparent absence of scapegoating or quick search for those to blame, not even thirst for the blood of the culprit. Nothing can bring back what was taken after something like this, a terrible senseless waste of lives.

    Compounded this weekend by one more tragically shortened life, that of Amy Winehouse.

  2. This guy could belong to a gun club and own multiple weapons and buy 6 tonnes of ammonia nitrate without raising any suspicion. Without presuming what ‘anti-terrorism’ laws apply in Norway, you would have to be concerned at the rigor of their application anywhere.

  3. It was interesting reading Andrew Bolt’s initial take on things. At first his angle was that it was just one more argument against Islamic immigration. When subsequent reports revealed the shooter was a blonde christian, suddenly it became a cautionary tale against gun control (because no one could shoot back). The tireless commitment of this man to push an ideological barrow in the face of all human decency is impressive.

  4. gerard :
    A blonde Christian obsessed with Islamic immigration, no less.

    I can hardly wait for Geraldine Doogue’s ‘Compass’ program to tackle this aspect of Christianity.

    Or are these pundits not willing to take the good with the bad?

  5. i wonder what the “public information industry”would have made of the call to political assassination directed at our Prime Minister if it had been directed at any person connected with the opposing political parties?

  6. @gerard
    Whatever the reason somehow it becomes the fault of Muslims.

    If the US had not reacted to 9/11 with their WOT and full blown invasion of Iarq would the world be in a better economic state? It is hard to find any positive outcomes for their robust foreign policy.

  7. The right wing rush to judgement/shift the blame has been bad enough but I find the left wing hand wringing and outright concern trolling of “let’s not be beastly to the fascists” variety equally concerning. All over the world the Right backed up by certain corporations and parts of the media has been running campaigns of vilification and threatened violence against even the mildest of left wing positions. It’s hardly a surprise that it has spilled over into actual violence and personally I don’t see why we shouldn’t be pointing an accusing finger at those who have created and enabled this monster and developing a process of getting rid of them – breaking up News Ltd would be a good start, just to encourage the others.

  8. @Sam

    Typical Bolt. The US has been such a success story with everyone having the right to shoot back. Sure has stopped gun violence in that country.

    @pablo

    He got himself a farm, which, presumably would be enough to get fertiliser in many countries including the US even with post-911 anti-terrorism laws. Unfortunately, owning multiple weapons is far to easy in a lot of countries. In my opinion, one gun is one too many for a member of the public.

    That said, it is very difficult to protect society from every reasonably intelligent and surreptitious individual intent on mayhem. And the costs from attempting to do so can be the loss of the type of society you would want to protect, as well as resulting in the creation of more of those you want to protect society against.

    How many terrorists have some of the post-911 reactions to terrorism recruited?

    Interestingly, their own research indicates that a significant number of the many innocent people the Americans warehoused in Gitmo and eventually let go, immediately joined the terrorists. I suppose that should not be surprising. As a result, the Americans don’t think it safe to release their Gitmo detainees regardless of whether they were/are innocent.

    And in Australia we have the travesty of further persecution of David Hicks by our government when he can hardly be considered to have been convicted of anything by a properly constituted court.

    David Hicks was given a choice ‘confess’ and be released according to a set schedule. Or refuse to ‘confess’ and never be released. Also, his book can hardly be looked at as the proceeds of his crime. The interest in his book is not due to anything he did before he was detained; the interest resides in the American crime of kidnapping him and holding him indefinitely and without charge in a territory the Americans effectively annexed in an earlier American preemptive war (or more accurately an imperial war of conquest to assert dominion over the Americas), the war with Spain.

  9. @PeterM

    Yes. I agree with Brian Toohey. Calls to assassinate any of our politicians (or anyone else for that matter) should not be ignored by the AFP. Unsound minds can take that sort of talk as a validation. Those sorts of threats should be treated far more seriously than the way every dope who tries to crack a tasteless joke on an airline is currently treated.

  10. On the evidence so far there is little evidence to support the “fundamentalist Christian label” but a fair amount to associate him with the farther reaches of anti-Islamic cultural politics.

    Use of the label of “fundamentalist Christian” is often a media short hand for I don’t really know.

    Norway has a form of church state relationship in which about 80% of the population are members of the state church and the two are still linked. Does anyone know if he is a member of the state church? Has any reporter actually tried to find out? Is it relevant?

    I don’t know the answer to those questions – so a halt to the rush to judgement seems called for.

    Let’s wait and see and then have a sensible discussion.

  11. Doug @15, it seems that Breivik was obsessively Christian as a matter of cultural/tribal identity rather than in terms of adherence to any particular interpretation of Christian doctrine. See:

    http://www.smh.com.au/world/norway-killer-boasts-of-more-solo-martyr-cells-20110725-1hx72.html

    It is possible to see a parallel between Breivik’s Christian identity politics and sectarian hostility to Muslims, and the Protestant identity politics and sectarian hostility towards Catholics which existed in Australia until relatively recently (although of course, and thankfully, no Australian Protestant ever went to Breivik’s extremes).

  12. They describe themselves as “Christian Nationalists” (see Stormfront for example).

    Greenwald describes how the New York Times initially made the editorial decision that this incident was not to be called “terrorism”, because it was not committed by Muslims.

    Terrorism specialists said that even if the authorities ultimately ruled out terrorism as the cause of Friday’s assaults, other kinds of groups or individuals were mimicking al-Qaida’s signature brutality and multiple attacks.

    “If it does turn out to be someone with more political motivations, it shows these groups are learning from what they see from al-Qaida,” said Brian Fishman, a counterterrorism researcher at the New America Foundation in Washington.

  13. Gun control, gun control, gun control.

    There are no good reasons for a private citizen to own a gun and have it in daily possession unless it is directly related to occupational needs. The only two occupations I can think of are farmer and vermin shooter. Even then, for a farmer the weapon should be a rifle only, .22 calibre short, single shot and/or perhaps a 10 guage shotgun. A vermin shooter may need a semi-automatic .22 long. All private target and sports shooting weapons should be locked in police controlled armouries when not in regulated use. Ammunition supplies ought to be strictly controlled too.

    Of course, this case in Norway illustrates that with even strict controls a badly mis-motivated individual may be able to circumvent controls. However, I doubt that weapons and ammunition rules are tight enough in Norway as some reports say he had semi-automatic weapons including handguns.

  14. @Doug

    Why do we always get this sort of denialist smoke.

    You only have to do a simple Google search for example:

    Breivik fundamentalist

    and you will find that Police describe him as a ‘right-wing Christian fundamentalist’.

    Obviously their use of the label is NOT short-hand for “I don’t really know”.

    Where is your evidence that the Norwegian police “don’t really know”????

    If you Google:

    Breivik Lodge

    to get plenty of evidence of his fundamentalist christian linkages.

    In Italy these lodges have been linked with false-flag bombings and in Australia with political subversion of the public service, based on a misuse of religion.

  15. @Ikonoclast

    Couldn’t agree more. There is absolutely no need for a private citizen to own a gun. Hunters, as required, could be allowed possession of a rifle as and when they need one for hunting but they should not be allowed to continue that possession out of hours.
    There was another example in the US in the last few days. Someone got angry in an argument, pulled out their gun, several people dead, several people injured, including the gunman who shot himself in the head.

    Guns don’t kill people; people with guns kill people.

  16. @ Iko & Freelanda, I couldn’t disagree more.
    Freelander chimes in with the usual outburst, Iko has at least pretended to think about it.

    I respectfully suggest you are both wrong.

  17. Obviously Christian terrorism, not necessarily fundamentalist.

    Breivik writes:

    I explained to God that unless he wanted the Marxist-Islamic alliance and the certain Islamic takeover of Europe to completely annihilate European Christendom within the next hundred years he must ensure that the warriors fighting for the preservation of European Christendom prevail.

    See: Breivik

    So the motivation could be more mundane ChristianityJewish Bible-based ideology similar to the Zionist Stern Gang and various so-called Christian Militias.

    Alan Jones has been quick to introduce violent threats against politicians he does not agree with.

  18. yesterdays opinion section in the australian opinionewspaper had somebody saying that if there were more guns available then the shooters would be less likely to shoot.

    it’s not the ones who are willing to die for their religion/ideology that worry me,it’s the ones who are willing and able to kill or torture for their religion/ideology.(some of whom look so sweet and soulful, sound almost sane)

  19. @Steve at the Pub

    This thread is not the place for it but I suggest that Steve at the Pub use a longer topics thread or a sandpit (next time prof JQ opens one) to air his gun views so a proper debate can be had on the topic. I would relish a real debate instead of SATPs usual mere smug assumption of knowledgeable superiority without production of supporting evidence or argument of any kind.

    I also haven’t forgotten a previous post of SATP’s which was pro-torture and in which he boasted of having used torture himself. Perhaps STAP would like to expand on that topic also.

  20. Iko, good work, you brought upyour personal gun views on this thread then object (attempt censoring) of a reply. Your inner brownshirt really shows through sometime.

    Torture? I’m surprised you don’t relish using it on me, being as I’m possessing “incorrect” & “smug assumptions” about gun control, etc etc. Or do you relish the thought of it being used upon me?

    Enough OT talk.

    Is this feller a Mass Murderer, or a Terrorist?
    In the abscence of an organisation or support network to imply further menace, I’m inclined to plonk for “mass murderer”. He’s killed a lot of people, but won’t be killing any more.

    Words have meanings, “terrorist” is NOT the word for everyone who kills random strangers in public.

    Fear now felt by anyone at a political youth camp notwithstanding, there is no overt group or mechanism for this killer’s exploit to be replicated.

    Certainly there is no widespread community or group support for his actions.
    Example: If a group of Israeli youth were shot dead by strangers at a summer camp there is all liklihood that the killers, would find refuge & succour not far away. The killers could be anybody, there would be a wide pool of persons willing to carry out such an act.

    Likewise were it to happen to a camp of practicing christian youth in a strongly islamic country.

    Likewise if it were 20 years ago & a camp of protestant youth in Northern Ireland. Willing perpetrators aplenty, chances of replication high, succour for the killers from willing strangers.

    I suggest that none of those factors (succour after the fact from willing strangers, large pool of willing – if not able- perpetrators) & chances of [organised] replication are almost nil.

  21. Interesting that people that you would definitely not want with a gun in their hand pop up against gun control. That the relatively newly Murdoched WSJ spout’s support for a new ‘crusade’ simply adds to my hope that News Corp’s current trouble will mean its demise (although I am afraid it will not). FoxNews must in part be responsible for the Tea partied Congress that may yet bring GFC II. The way journalists in Oz have also bleated in unison against the media undergoing critical examination is also typical.

    As for the fundamentalism of the culprit in Norway, ridiculous that anyone disputes such an ordinary interpretation of his words and actions. What is wrong with that description of the intention to spark a will to wipe the followers of a major non-christian religion off the face of the earth? Maybe we should call it him a ‘perfectly reasonable mainstream secular proposition proposer’? Would Doug be happy then?

  22. SATP @ 26.

    It appears that the alleged bomber/gunman planted the bomb in Oslo with the intention of decimating the nation’s current leadership (on the centre-left), then went shooting on the island with the intention of decimating the nation’s potential centre-left future leaders. It’s also been reported that he has said he intended to assassinate the former Norwegian PM, Gro Harlem Brundtland, on the island.

    All indications are that he did not go out and kill random strangers in public, but instead specifically targeted a specific sector of the country’s political establishment.

    The alleged bomber / gunman has stated in court that there are other “cells” of his “terrorist organisation” still at large in Norway. What could his intention be with that statement, other than to ‘strike terror’ into the hearts of others and make them fearful?

  23. Roy: Good point. However talking tough from a prison cell is one thing. Let’s see if these other “cells” in this “terrorist organisation” manifest themselves.

  24. From Breivik’s alleged YouTube video I gather that he believes Europe’s biggest challenge is what he calls “Islamic colonization”.

    He blames this “Islamic colonization” on “cultural Marxists”.

    “Cultural Marxists” are (1) Marxists properly, (2) “Suicidal humanists”, and (3) “Capitalist globalists”.

    His strategy to expel Muslims (and other foreigners) from Europe starts by “decimating cultural Marxists”, especially soft-targets (categories A and B, in the video). Obviously, he considered those kids in Utoya island “cultural Marxists”.

    He claims to be part of a larger movement, where others would also be charged with targeting “cultural Marxists” in other European countries.

    Once “cultural Marxists” are decimated, his Knight Templar movement would proceed against Muslims.

    Matthew Goodwin (The Guardian, 24-07-11) seems to believe Breivik’s focus on religion and cultural issues is at least partially an attempt to make his ideas more acceptable: an openly racist movement would not appeal to non-Nordic Europeans (Slavs, Mediterranean).

    My opinion here: anyone who has ever supported multiculturalism could be a target for this guy and his fellow terrorists (if they exist). Let’s hope his movement has no roots in Australia.

  25. @ Sam and May:

    I wonder if people such as Bolt who hold such views are able to think through the consequences of anything.

    I don’t think you have to have John Nash’s beautiful mind to realise that were it the case that people generally went around armed with guns, someone who wished to kill scores of people would not attempt to do so by wandering around shooting at people, since they would be killed before they achieved their goal. Instead, they would adopt one of the many other tactics used by terrorists and mass murders, such as planting bombs or setting themselves up as snipers. Given what we know, the most likely outcome would have been that the youth camp was bombed as well as central Oslo.

    So, widespread gun ownership would not prevent such atrocities, but simply change the manner in which they are carried out. And we’d be left, as Freelander said, with the horrifying consequences of people having the ability to easily and impulsively kill anyone with whom they had a minor disagreement.

  26. @Steve at the Pub

    The Oxford Dictionary (online) defines terrorism as

    “the unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.”

    The key words here are unofficial, unauthorized and political. Breivik’s motives were clearly political. On the other hand, other mass murderers, like say Martin Bryant, while unauthorized, were not political, so he is not a terrorist. Neither were the Stasi, who were pursuing political aims but were authorized.

    Brevik is a terrorist, pure and simple.

  27. Steve.

    During interrogation, Breivik claimed membership in an “international Christian military order” that “fights” against “Islamic suppression”. This order allegedly is called the “Knights Templar” and, according to his manifesto, has between fifteen and eighty “ordinated knights” besides an unknown number of “civilian members”.[84]

    The order, whose full name is the “Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici” or PCCTS, is said to have been established in London in April, 2002, as a “re-founding” of the twelfth-century crusading order. The new organisation supposedly was established to take political and military control of Western Europe, with its members being armed as an “anti-Jihad crusader-organisation”. It reportedly was established by nine men: two Englishmen, a Frenchman, a German, a Dutchman, a Greek, a Russian, a Norwegian, and a Serb. The main initiator apparently was the Serb, whom Breivik claims to have visited in Liberia and whom he referred to as a “war hero”.

    Breivik said that his own code name was “Sigurd Jorsalfar” (recalling the twelfth-century King Sigurd I of Norway, himself a Crusader) and that his “mentor” was “Richard Lionheart”. Breivik asserted that Norway had “4,848 traitors” who had to die.[3]

    In his manifesto, Breivik wrote that “[t]he PCCTS, Knights Templar is . . . . not a religious organization but rather a Christian ‘culturalist’ military order.”[4]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anders_Behring_Breivik#PCCTS.2C_.22Knights_Templar.22_order

  28. Gerard: Your point is?

    Uncle Milton: Being as I refuse to recognise any dictionary other than the Oxford dictionary, I accept their definition. Though my instinct is that Oxford is allowing a euphemism to become a real definition.
    Thus it sorta looks like he is a terrorist. Albeit one with a very short reign of terror (an hour or two).

    Until there are further attacks I’m not going to fear him as I would the IRA, Alcohider, Gemma is la Meyer, Tamil Tigers et al.

    The biggest risk is off the cuff copycats.

    This man carried out a well planned & very well executed military operation. Perhaps he does have assistance or an organisation lurking somewhere. We’ll find out with time.

    I struggle with his rationale. Has a gripe about wholesale quantities of Islamic immigration, so bumps off a mob of naive christian political junkies.

  29. @Steve at the Pub

    Far from attempting to censor SATP in any way (and I could not as I do not run this blog), I suggested he expand on his views in a separate long comments thread or sandpit thread. There, I said, we could debate the issues more fully.

    Also, here is the link to SATPs post where he claims on this very blog to have employed torture himself.

    https://johnquiggin.com/2011/05/04/quick-update-on-torture/comment-page-1/#comment-147900

    This is an interesting claim. Please feel free to expand on this claim SATP.

  30. Some remarkably sensible comments here. I think a renewed debate about gun control is probably inevitable. Personally I share the view that gun control won’t stop a determined and motivated killer (nor probably most hot headed killings). Motive trumps means in finding the perpetrator of most crimes and I suspect motive also trumps means in deciding whether the crime happens in the first place. Clearly this crime was planned in detail.

    In terms of institutional factors I’m inclined to see this as the work of a lone crazy person intoxicated with some dark ideas about saving society from itself. However let’s see what the policy investigation finds.

  31. Thus it sorta looks like he is a terrorist. Albeit one with a very short reign of terror (an hour or two).

    Yeah, not much of a terrorist at all, really.

    Just like some people are certainly pretty inadequate human beings.

  32. my point should be obvious Steve – he belongs to a political organization, you said that he didn’t and that therefore he’s not a terrorist. Maybe this organization doesn’t meet your True Scotsman test although I suspect that if these “Templars” were Muslims you wouldn’t be here arguing that this guy, who published a 1500 page political manifesto prior to his bombing and shooting rampage against political targets was not, in fact, a “terrorist”.

    As for his rationale, he’s not bumping off a mob a “naive christian political junkies”. He’s bumping off the next generation of leadership of Norway’s Labor Party, the mainstream Left which he associates (fairly reasonably) with the immigration policy that he hates. The Muslims aren’t write the “Eurabian” immigration laws; the left-wing politicans do that. For further information regarding the connection between the Western Left and Islam, just read Mark Steyn, Glenn Beck, Andrew Bolt and other professional, unarmed bigots.

  33. Pr Q said:

    This is not the time for judgement, but that time will come.

    To both sides of the EU Culture War: Judge, and prepare for judgement.

    Over the past decade or so the growth of cultural diversity in Europe has been accompanied by terrorism by both unassimilated ethnics and now unreconstructed nativists. And a complementary polarisation of parties between Euro-liberals and nationalists.

    And to make matters worse, Europe itself is developing an economic schism between its thrifty-nerdy North and spend-thrift-lazy South. Which no amount of high-level elite meetings in Brussels can paper over.

    I’d say that the post-Cold War European settlement needs to be hammered out again, this time in consultation with the general populus.

  34. Wasn’t that an astute remark from Paul Norton, 16.
    Further Gerard and others appear to identify that Breivik, like many righties is troubled by something called “cultural marxism”. Seems a nebulous concept (except to a rightie?), my suspicion is that at bottom its a subjective reaction against what many here would call a theory ofthe “fair go”, with its roots in unflexive tribalism of the sort encouraged by Murdoch and the Ayn Rand right globally as they arrogate the very powers of god unto themselves.
    Watching Brievik on the news, his photo is deceptive, what I saw was an unreleivedly arrogant fascist- this is further indicated in the not guilty plea and the rationale offered as to that. The report suggested the max he can expect in the way of penalty, if he’s found guilty, is twenty years.
    Nonetheless, he might find trying to be Rupert Murdoch without Rupert Murdoch’s clout, is still costly.
    But it is the most significant terrorist act in the real senses since 11/9, because it’s a declaration of open season on those who dare even disagree with their medieval notions in the west, also.
    In a way there are synergies with the vicious Republican attempt to shut down the USA unless the cost for Wall st2007 and Cheney’s oil wars falls forth with on the ordinary people, or Abbott’s obscurantist attacks on Co2 alleviation in aid of corporatism and anti scientific superstition.
    Satp- go to bed, mate!

  35. Pr Q said:

    It’s generally better, in such circumstances, to pause for reflection, and certainly some who rushed to judgement have gone badly wrong in doing so, here as on previous occasions.

    World-historic events have never stopped me from an instantaneous rush to judgement. Why stop now?

    One obvious conclusion that I am prepared to jump to: Nordic-bombers massacre is another in the long line of helter-skelter “performance art” terrorism. Anticipated by Georges Sorel who theorised and celebrated the “energizing myths” of violent revolutionary acts. Followed later by such luminaries as Oswald, Charles Manson, the Unabomber and Timothy McVeigh.

    You could probably add Osama Bin Laden to that list.

    What they all had in common was spectacular success in their terrorist tactics followed by equally spectacular failure in their political strategy – the general public revolted against the evil terrorist more than inept or venal rulers.

    I therefore predict that the Progress Party and other Nordic parties of the “Far Right” will have to tone down their policies or suffer set-backs in coming elections. So Nordic-bomber’s brilliantly executed attack will only succeed in putting his nationalistic cause back, perhaps forever.

    This tactical brilliance-strategic nonsense ying-yang is sort of a feature of aggressive Nordic nationalism, Junker-Nazi militarism being the paradigmatic example. Finland being the exception that proves the rule – totally defensive.

  36. Steve,

    Why the contortions to avoid the obvious- this was terrorism. A ‘military operation’?? WTF? Which military did he belong to and what was the war?

    As to his rationale, if we can call it that – the horrific Muzzie hordes are just the symptom. The real problem are the traitorous ‘cultural marxists’ who let them in and tainted the pure European culture. For their crimes they must be killed, or as ABB put ‘they must be hunted down and executed’.

    ABB claimed to have contacts in Australia. Given the inflamed rhetoric on some well known blogs, I’m not surprised.

  37. @Doug
    According to his writings, he is a member of the of the Lutheran State Church, but he thinks it is to liberal, and he would like it to move closer to the Catholic Church. He’s surely a very conservative Christian, and where the demarcation between ‘very conservative’ and ‘fundamentalist’ is, is hard to say. It might be the same. In a Norwegian context, a fundamentalist Christian is typically someone who belongs to the fairly small minority who disapproves of female clergy. Don’t know if Brevik does or not, but he dislikes priest wearing jeans and supporting Palestinians.

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