By now you’ve all heard the terrible news. A “a blonde blue-eyed Norwegian with reported Christian fundamentalist, anti-Muslim views” went on a bombing and shooting spree in Norway killing 92 people, many of them children.
The hand-wringing started almost immediately. how could this have happened in civilized Norway, where multiculturalism and tolerance are a part of children’s education from the very beginning, where the social welfare system has eliminated any trace of the truly indigent and marginalized poor, etc.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg says Norway will respond with “more democracy, more openness to show that we will not be stopped by this kind of violence.” That’s all well and good, but considering this attack came from a Norwegian. This was a call for sanity amidst totally natural and expected calls for brutal vengeance from the domestic and international public.
But another sentiment that is working its way around Norway is best summed up by this quote from Norwegian cartoonist Øystein Runde:
My bodily reaction was a sudden wish to have him torn apart by horses. But that is my feelings. Fear. Rage. Disgust. This rage for vengeance is not what makes us human. It is the victory of abstract thought, of faith, that makes us human.
Wrong. Dead wrong. Deadly wrong. The kind of wrong that will get people killed. He’s trying to show how civilized he is, and wants his country to be, by not responding out of vengeance. But in doing so, he dehumanizes people who feel fear, rage, and disgust. And in a culture where multiculturalism begins in kindergarten and messages of tolerance saturate the media, it creates an environment where the outsiders feel there is no place for them in society. And every time that happens, and anywhere that happens, you get violence against society.
Norway, and Scandinavia in general, have had some very serious cultural problems along these lines for a long time. Norway’s greatest cultural export at present is death metal, and associated with the death metal scene have been a number of church burnings and murders tied to the openly racist, violently anti-gay, anti-Christian messages of many of the bands.
While the bomber in this case wasn’t from this scene, his racism resonates with theirs:
Everyone always holds a Norwegian passport is fully Norwegian” … Which means that even Somalis (with a Norwegian passport) who chews qat all day, beats his wife and sends half his benefits to al-Shabaab should be viewed as a fully that.
If anyone in this country dares to look at the Somali as anything other than a full Norwegian they are called racist and get a public black mark. And you say that everyone who disagrees with their extreme kultural-marxist world view – the utopian, global citizen definition – is a racist?
(translation via metafilter)
The underlying all of this is a fear of immigrants and of immigration. It’s the same with the rise in the popularity in hateful music in Norway and elsewhere, the popularity of which coincided with increasing immigration from North Africa and the Middle East. But why? Why are they afraid? No one asks them, why, instead they just tell them the feelings are wrong, or “not human.”
Marginalization begets reactionaries. The fear, rage, and disgust expressed by the killer and expressed by many in Norway’s metal the music scene are all human feelings. Real feelings. It isn’t a pose. And these feelings are as much a part of the human experience as the more enlightened concepts of rationality and reason. To suppress the former is to cause it to turn violently against the latter.
When you ban the neo-Nazi political parties in Germany, you get neo-Nazi violence. When you declare certain thoughts an opinions as Un-Norwegian, or un-American, you turn the people who have those thoughts into anti-Norwegians and anti-Americans.
The lunatic fringe, the extremists, they are humans too. Their rage and fear may be wrong, or run counter to the social norms and morality of society, but they are still real. And they come from a real sense of dispossession and alienation. We don’t like how those feelings are getting expressed, but that doesn’t mean it’s wise to ignore them. It’s better to understand the root of them. What is really behind the fear of immigration?
You want to stop bombings like this, you want to stop neo-Nazi violence, and death metal church burnings, and abortion clinic bombings and all the rest, you need to stop telling these people that what they are feeling isn’t human, and instead engage them directly and ask “What is really wrong? What are you really worried about?”