Exactly the wrong response to the Norway bombings

Posted on by Pastabagel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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?”

 

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198 Responses to Exactly the wrong response to the Norway bombings

  1. barrkel says:

    You’re absolutely wrong in two ways.

    First, you hold this wrong idea that suppressing emotions causes them to burst out more strongly. That’s not how it works. Letting emotions run their course is exactly how you strengthen the “emotions running their course” circuit in your brain. Emotions become stronger by letting them play out, not by suppressing them. Sure, when you suppress them, there will be some release somewhere, in some odd way, but outside of unhinged lunatics, that release will be less strong than letting the emotions run their course explicitly. The best course of action is to deal with the underlying provocation and its reaction, if it can be identified and reasonably addressed. But there will always be lunatics you can’t do much about; modern information dissemination means intelligent lunatics will be able to amplify their lunacy, not a whole lot you can do about it.

    Secondly, it is absolutely the case that the right response to terrorism is rationality and not emotion of any kind. Terrorism only has power by provoking fear, vengeance, over-reaction above all. The strategically best response to terrorism is no reaction whatsoever. You sound, above all, like an American who learned nothing from Al Qaeda and who would again choose to get hopelessly stuck in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    • Pastabagel says:

      All of these critiques of me being an American calling for revenge display an odd inability to read what I wrote. Just because I criticize the positions I quoted in my article does not mean I’m advocating the opposite. I am not calling for revenge or any of that. I am saying that the feelings that motivated him are legitimate feelings, even if his expressions of them in racist or hateful tirades are not. What you guys want is to ignore that these things happen. That is wrong.

      These racists are not some fringe element. They are a product of the culture, like any other. The reason you need to engage these people is because you need to understand what is wrong in your culture that causes people to react so violently an antagonistically.

      Their attitude may be self-destructive to them, but the fact that they have that attitude is a symptom of society at large. You want to move forward, expect that you are leaving people behind, and be prepared to deal with that.

      And all these accusations of me giving a typical American response might want to remember that this didn’t happen in America. It happened in Norway, where things like this “never” happen, except when you look more closely and discover that they are happening all the time there, albeit far less visibly.

      • DataShade says:

        It happened in Norway, where things like this “never” happen, except when you look more closely and discover that they are happening all the time there, albeit far less visibly.

        Yes, you can see this kind of anti-muslim violence in Norway all the time, ever since it was anti-Christian violence.

        • AnonymousAtLarge says:

          lulz

          WE COME FROM THE LAND OF THE ICE AND SNOW…

          • DataShade says:

            Well, the response to an influx of foreign culture back then was torturing missionaries and burning missions, then being chased out of the country by the King’s armies. A lot of the “immigrants” were either criminal/political exiles, or disgruntled tribesmen fleeing the rise of state power – a state empowered by wealth from trade, knowledge spurred by cultural exchange, free and open borders, and a unified code of law.

            As such, they were necessarily looking for a place without the rule of law, a place with no cultures they would be forced to respect but their own, etc.

      • W.Kasper says:

        I’m afraid this post veered to the wrong side of offensive. Norway is far from the oasis of totalitarian multiculturalism you like paint it as. Like most other European nations, it has a very active and violent neo-Nazi ‘community’. It had an active extreme Right way before they had mass immigration from Asia and Africa, and still has lower rates of immigration than places where massacres like this haven’t happened. Mainstream propaganda in Europe has been feeding hate speech since 9-11 to a very worrying degree. “Messages of tolerance” do NOT “saturate the media” in any European nation, any more than they do in American media. Far, far from it.

        Even in the supposedly “fair and tolerant” UK we get anti-Muslim ‘terror’ scaremongering day in, day out. One idiotic comment by a London cleric and all media channels treat a whole religion like a clear and present threat. This has been encouraged by three Prime Ministers in row, and has become common parlance among a wide range of failing, unpopular European leaders from all corners, including demonising Gypsies in France, Jews in Poland, and Muslims and immigrants everywhere (including those from other parts of Europe). Even teaching “tolerance” in schools is half-assed and rudimentary. The social segregation of races and religions – exasperated by an increasingly ‘enclosed’ housing market – overrules formal equality policies in schools and workplaces. The ‘centre’ has been dragged so far to the Right, that the extreme Right is now closer the mainstream than it has been since 1945. We have mass circulation newspapers explicitly catering for racist audiences – trying to out-do the Right-wing rhetoric of the Murdoch press to carve a niche.

        “Legitimate feelings” (?) are driven by ideological factors. If a psycho with murderous urges wants to see himself as ‘alternative’ to mainstream mores, he’s simply has to push those mores just a little further than what has now become familiar rhetoric. As I understand it, his victims were overwhelmingly white and Christian. Those kids were bright, ambitious ‘most likely tos’ being nurtured by the Socialist Party – socialism being another press boogeyman, in accordance with the financial agendas of its owners. As demonstrated by his documented comments eleswhere, the killer’s motives were narcissistic, and driven by a sense of ‘betrayal’ at the hands of a mainstream party that was insufficiently fascistic for his own fucked-up sense of self.

        He expressed admiration for thuggish, violent organisations like the English Defence League (with strong associations to football and anti-Catholic violence) that mainstream parties increasingly state they must ‘reach out to’. Indeed, it’s clear he was too narcissistic to engage with this organisations physically – rather fetishise their ‘ideas’ for his own self-absorbed ends. Their membership rates of these groups haven’t significantly increased in recent years. However, their mainstream platform has, and with that support for their opinions. If you think the murder of 90 children is the fault of governments for not giving a healthy ‘outlet’ for homicidal resentment, then that’s an argument that belongs on Fox News. This post was as bent and ignorant as a Michael Savage broadcast. Isn’t he always warning us to listen to the bigoted frustrations of white male losers before they ‘rise up’? If he murdered 90 women, would that be the fault of government’s imposing ‘feminist agendas’ without a compensatory ‘outlet’ for violent misogyny?

        Seriously, you need to do some basic homework before you apply ill-thought-through ‘theories’ to events – and nations – you have a very limited understanding of.

        • W.Kasper says:

          And if you can think outside ‘America uber alles’ white male rage just for a minute, here’s my tuppence on the media strategies/hypocrisies of the whole tragic spectacle:

          http://perelebrun.blogspot.com/2011/07/racial-profiling.html

        • Fifi says:

          “Mainstream propaganda in Europe has been feeding hate speech since 9-11 to a very worrying degree. “Messages of tolerance” do NOT “saturate the media” in any European nation, any more than they do in American media. Far, far from it.”

          Agreed, can we blame this on Rupert Murdoch too? (I’m being slightly facetious but not entirely since his involvement in the UK media is quite directly responsible for spreading a lot of the NeoCon ideas we see the gunman promoting and have become mainstream in the US via FoxNews and the Tea Party.)

          • JohnJ says:

            That’s as ridiculous as blaming Al Gore for the Unabomber. Does the Unabomber mean that environmentalism is bad? Let me know when you’re ready to apply a consistent standard to everyone who engages in terrorism.

          • Fifi says:

            JohnJ – You missed the “facetious” part. I’m not blaming Murdoch personally for the shooter’s actions or his beliefs, obviously that would be silly. What I was doing was pointing out Murdoch’s role in promoting certain ideas into the mainstream via the media outlets he owns in the UK and US.

          • JohnJ says:

            That’s really odd coming from someone who just asked to get past this silly left-right divide.

  2. stellachiara says:

    Agreed. I love the Norwegians for wanting to be peaceful and “good,” but that’s not the sum total of what we are as humans. I travel to Norway relatively often, and every time I’m there I wonder how it is that these people are descended from Vikings. Freaking Vikings! There is none of that left now – everything is so milquetoast it makes me want to tear my hair out. I think Norway could use a little more Viking, and I think your thoughts are definitely a propos to that.

    • DataShade says:

      Uh, the popular image of the Viking is, basically, the “death throes” of pre-Christian Nordic life. The people who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, adapt to change went on violent rampages, killing, looting, raping whatever they could get their hands on as their country went through some major political changes – Harald Fairhair’s attempt to unify the country which came with strict laws, taxes, and exile for disagreeable citizens, and when later kings tried to convert the nation to Christianity it sparked a lot of resentment and yearnings for “the good old days.”

      But that’s just it: the Viking image has never been the true face of Norway, it’s only ever been the refuge of the arch-conservative, the reactionary, the savage, the people who refused to grow and adapt with the times. It’s the same as honor killings or rioting because your favorite sports team lost. It’s an illogical choice from a rational point of view that is nonetheless the only possible choice for the people who have the combination of self-centeredness, empathetic blindness, and entitlement that Alone would call “narcissistic” – I deserve better, but it’s not my fault, my culture is supposed to reward my feelings, I’m so angry.

      • mwigdahl says:

        Uh, the popular image of the Sioux warrior is, basically, the “death throes” of pre-Christian American Indian life. The people who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, adapt to change went on violent rampages, killing, looting, raping whatever they could get their hands on as their nation went through some major political changes – Andrew Jackson’s attempt to civilize the country which came with strict laws, taxes, and exile for disagreeable natives, and when later Presidents tried to convert the Indians to Christianity it sparked a lot of resentment and yearnings for “the good old days.”

        But that’s just it: the warrior image has never been the true face of the American Indian, it’s only ever been the refuge of the arch-conservative, the reactionary, the savage, the people who refused to grow and adapt with the times. It’s the same as honor killings or rioting because your favorite sports team lost. It’s an illogical choice from a rational point of view that is nonetheless the only possible choice for the people who have the combination of self-centeredness, empathetic blindness, and entitlement that Alone would call “narcissistic” – I deserve better, but it’s not my fault, my culture is supposed to reward my feelings, I’m so angry.

        Now how do you like your screed, DataShade? Or is oppression qualitatively different when the dispossessed are nonwhite?

        Disclaimer for the willfully ignorant — nothing here should be construed as supporting the insane acts of the Norwegian murderer. I’m just spotlighting a bit of hypocrisy. Nothing to see here, move along…

        • boeotarch says:

          The Indians got a lot of raw deals in their time, but the idea that America was going to just hang out east of the Appalachians and leave the central plains for a couple million hunter-gatherers is an absurd one. They were going to get integrated or kicked out, the hard way or the easy way- the Sioux and Apache chose the hard way, and even though it was futile you’ve got to admire their fortitude. What I think is fucked up is that the Cherokee really did everything in their power to integrate smoothly and peacefully, but they still got kicked out because, well, they were in Georgia. What more can I say.

          • Fifi says:

            beotarch – Saying “the idea that America was going to just hang out est of the Appalachians” is a bit odd, what do you mean by “America” in this context? And do you believe that there weren’t aboriginal peoples west of the Appalachians?

          • boeotarch says:

            I’m aware that all parts of North America were populated before white settlement, I was using “America” to refer to the United States prior to expanding into the Great Plains. I’m also aware that our borders went well past the Appalachians at independence, I was just being colorful. Sometimes I forget how literally you have to take things on these here internets.
            My point was that trying to compare a power struggle within a culture between centralized authority and fuedal reactionaries (Norway at the close of the Viking Age), to what was basically a land dispute between various cultures (Anglo-American westward expansion) really isn’t a brilliant point to make. Plus, Native Americans are just everbody’s favorite downtrodden people and as a history buff a lot of the assumptions and generalizations made about that period bug me.

        • DataShade says:

          Now how do you like your screed, DataShade? Or is oppression qualitatively different when the dispossessed are nonwhite?

          Not based on race, based on why. How is this hard to understand? The US Government broke treaties, stole land, committed the kinds of atrocities – internment, germ warfare, etc – that we’d call “Holocaust” when used by white Germans on white Jews; Jackson’s motivation was the enrichment of his citizens at the expense of all outsiders. Meanwhile, Harald Fairhair tried to curtail the border skirmishes and sea-raiding used by poor nobles and hill-country ruffians to enrich themselves at the expense of others, and, according to everything I’ve read, encouraged the prominence of the Things (ie, a rudimentary parliamentary democracy) over the authority of the petty kings who claimed lordship over each minor province.

          The oppression of the (neo-)viking is much more like “The War of Northern Oppression” than it is like the Trail of Tears.

          Enjoy your Battle Flag vinyl applique and/or bumper sticker, and if you ever meet someone who’s introduced to you as a “Sioux,” you should probably ask their tribe just to be safe – some of them consider “Sioux” to be about as polite as “whitey.”

  3. boeotarch says:

    Wait, so people who want to lash out violently and irrationally in response to perceived threats shouldn’t be told that their attitude is self-destructive and wrong? Because it pretty much is. Human achievement is ultimately built on reason and self-control. You want catharsis, go see a movie.

    • DataShade says:

      I agree with you, but anyone who doesn’t perceive of themselves as a child or your follower won’t take criticism like that, so, if you’re calling yourself rational and enlightened, you need to take your enemy’s flaws into account.

    • mwigdahl says:

      I think the point is to engage in discussion (not necessarily compromise, there are other outlets to make people believe they are being heard) before the situation escalates into lashing out violently and irrationally.

    • Fifi says:

      “Because it pretty much is. Human achievement is ultimately built on reason and self-control.”

      Eh, if only that was true! It’s a nice thought but many of the things humanity has historically “achieved” have involved slavery, passion/emotional drive and aren’t really the result of reason and self control. Depends what one considers a human achievement I guess but power – the means to achieve things – is often quite unreasonable and about controlling others (sometimes even as a means to avoid controlling oneself, as if often the case with people who have a NPD). Unfortunately people are attracted to certainty and it’s the most unreasonable people who are the most sure of something a lot of the time (hence why people with NPD are attractive as leaders, even if they’re not actually good leaders).

      • boeotarch says:

        @DataShade: That was mostly aimed at Pastabagel, since the Norwegian guy’s statement boiled down to “Yes, I hate him too, but let’s all be cool and not do anything rash” and he/she reacted to that as if making reasonable statements is the worst, most dangerous provocation you can make. Which has me kinda like, “what? Seriously?”

        @Fifi: Slavery was about wealth and politics long before it was about race, since people have been enslaving their neighbors since time immemorial. But anyway, when it comes to power, or more specifically the successful use of power, the outcome is usually a mix of technical advantages (technology, doctrine, know-how) and pure dumb luck. So I agree that people’s motivations are fundamentally irrational, but success is usually predicted by rational principles. That’s what I’m getting at, “going with your gut” is no substitute for, you know, knowledge and technical skills.

        • Fifi says:

          “Slavery was about wealth and politics long before it was about race, since people have been enslaving their neighbors since time immemorial. But anyway, when it comes to power, or more specifically the successful use of power, the outcome is usually a mix of technical advantages (technology, doctrine, know-how) and pure dumb luck. So I agree that people’s motivations are fundamentally irrational, but success is usually predicted by rational principles. That’s what I’m getting at, “going with your gut” is no substitute for, you know, knowledge and technical skills.”

          I agree about slavery not just being about race, though I think it’s related to class, or maintaining or creating class, in many ways (it’s a class or caste system). As an aside, there’s a very interesting British documentary about the history of luxury that doesn’t deal with race but it does talk about luxury as a signifier of class (and power…I’ll see if I can dig up the name for you). But then, what is class about other than retaining power/privilege? (Unearned or born into class and power.) The reality is that social and political power is often inherited not earned in our world. That’s not to say that power balances can’t and don’t change, or that individuals or collectives can’t rise to power, or that we can’t create systems that are more balanced. It’s just to point out that we still live in a world where inherited power exists and where there are still class/opportunity barriers related to the class/situation one was born into.

        • DataShade says:

          Oh, I disagree with Pastabagel, I just think I understand the difference between what meaning he wanted to convey and what he actually said. That, or, like I said elsewhere, he gets too easily wrapped up in ironic mimicry of his opponents and starts talking like a crazy person.

  4. pumpizmus says:

    This post is so stereotypically American surge of revengeful emotion, it’s not even funny.
    I hope you don’t own a gun.

    • Pastabagel says:

      What revengeful emotion am I expressing?

      • pumpizmus says:

        Ok, reading yours and others comments and giving the post a third read I know understand more of what you meant.
        Sorry for my comment, but to explain what sparked it and to answer your question – you judged:

        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.

        I understood that your view was: Bad things happend to us because we hadn’t used our ability to control what happens to us enough. But now we’re gonna show .
        I could be wrong. I generalized this view to be American, because this is how they are observed often, although it’s common everywhere.

        What I wanted to say is I like the Norwegian attitude more. It’s not how problems like this are approached in the world lately, while the “resolute intervention” method doesn’t seem to be working much. Let’s see how this turns out.

        • DataShade says:

          I read it as condescendingly American: “We don’t have our shit in order, you’re – in fact – doing quite a bit better than we are, but let me take time out of your busy schedule of burying the dead to tell you how I think you could have done better. You’ll find it obvious, really, you’ll kick yourself for not thinking of it earlier, but that’s what I’m all about, I’m just here to help. No charge.”

    • AnonymousAtLarge says:

      IK,R?

      When I was reading it, I was imagining campy national anthem playing in the background, and I sorta read it in a southern drawal.

  5. RatB says:

    Here’s the conclusion again, for our hastier readers:

    “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?”

    They’re still wrong, there’s just better ways to deal with it than telling them they’re less than human. Pastabagel is essentially suggesting trying to understand and communicate with potential terrorists, which is the least popular response to terrorism and also the best.

    So the Norwegians are doing better than the Americans did, but could be doing better.

    • RatB says:

      I screwed up the italics on the quote.

    • DataShade says:

      Eh, how would you communicate with someone like this?

      When someone goes deep enough into their own fantasy world, it’s impossible to deal with them rationally, and without a thought-police state I don’t know how you’d catch them before they got that far.

      The other alternative, then, is shame: “I don’t care how angry you get, I get angry too, and then I put on my pants and act like a man, instead of being a coward and murdering civilians and bystanders.”

      • vprime says:

        I agree completely. In a way, it’s an even worse liberal move to say “I validate your irrational hatred and have compassion toward you. Now, why don’t you put down that flaming swastika and tell me what you’re really afraid of?”

      • RatB says:

        I don’t really think that it’s possible to deal with anyone rationally. However, if people get shut out, there’s no normals for them to seek the approval of, so they seek the approval like-minded friends or the demon in their head, or whatever. They get worse when you isolate them.

        Pastabagel’s not suggesting validating these people’s feelings, just dealing with them through active engagement rather than shutting them out and hoping their festering little minds will sort themselves out in isolation. Pastabagel’s point is that we’ve tried it that way and it doesn’t seem to work.

        Let me try to make it sound conservative, vprime: the suggestion is to more actively promote family values and make sure that individual citizens don’t become enemies of the public.

        • DataShade says:

          Saying “we tried it your way, and some fringe nutter killed a bunch of kids, so it didn’t work and now it’s my turn” is a tragedy of re-definition and impossible expectations. You can’t set the baseline reality to comfort violent lunatics and still have a stable society. Saying that an open and tolerant society only “works” if it includes, and satisfies the further reaches of the fringe is an insult to everyone who’s worked to build what we have now.

        • RatB says:

          The post suggests that changes to the way we think about and talk about fringe nutters could reduce the rate of production of fringe nutters/population and decrease the nuttiness of some extant fringe nutters. There is no suggestion that society change to better reflect the stated wishes of fringe nutters.

          You can kill a violent lunatic, not the problem. The problem is that there are many lunatics who are potentially violent, but cannot be killed because they haven’t really done anything. If possible, the realization of these lunatics’ violent potential should be prevented.

          If everyone’s insulted by, really anything, but fringe nuttiness in this case, they’ll call it the enemy. In calling something the enemy, one often ensures that it becomes the enemy, or an even worse enemy.

          Norway works really, really well. It’s conceivable that it could work better. I don’t know if communicating more with the fringe, rather than getting insulted and ignoring them from then on, would destabilize society.

          The way I see it, there’s two ways to change someone’s mind: You can talk to them, or you can kill them. If you decide you can’t kill someone you want to change, and then decide not to talk to them, you won’t change them.

          • DataShade says:

            The way I see it, there’s two ways to change someone’s mind: You can talk to them, or you can kill them. If you decide you can’t kill someone you want to change, and then decide not to talk to them, you won’t change them.

            I don’t disagree, but that’s not the point: it doesn’t matter what you *think* as long as you conform to the baseline required to function in a civil society. Murdering children is so far over that line it doesn’t warrant discussion, it’s beyond comic-book villainy. I want the people who think the murder of children is a valid political act to know that no-one will talk to them, listen to them, care about their problems; I want them to know that when they cross that far over the boundary that not only will they be toxic, but their cause and anyone who thinks like them will be anathema for all living memory; I want them to know they will be protected like an invalid, tried as dispassionately as someone who shit in public, put in a jail cell and forgotten about. I want them to know they’ll at best be given a dismissive and derogatory nickname like “the copycat gay mage terrorist Anders” and that once the mourning is done, no one will care about them.

          • RatB says:

            Everything warrants discussion as long as there is disagreement.

            Trying to get an asshole to stop being an asshole by calling them an asshole, and everything else in the thesaurus entry for asshole, and telling them you’ll kick their ass, is unlikely to serve your purposes, asshole. See how much more you agree?

            Anders is damned and irrelevant, the issue is how to prevent the development of others like him.

          • DataShade says:

            Anders is damned and irrelevant, the issue is how to prevent the development of others like him.

            Your fixation on the anus distresses me.

            The dismissive and derogatory nickname thing wasn’t to insult him and hurt his feelings (altho’ that’d be an awesome side effect). If these murders were a self-aggrandizement – a narcissistic attempt to force his chosen identity on the public, masquerading as a political act – then the appropriate punishment is to belittle him, reject his identity, and reduce his “avenger of the downtrodden” role to “confused loner, lashing out impotently, undermining the legitimate complaints of true Norwegians.” He’s not a Knight Templar riding into heroic battle against the encroaching forces of darkness; whoops, you killed a bunch of civilians, you’re a criminal or a crazy person, and thus a ward of the state, so we get to pick how you’re defined: suddenly, he’s copycat gay mage terrorist.

            If the “others like him” are also sitting on a rising swell of narcissistic rage, maybe the threat of ego annihilation will give them pause.

          • RatB says:

            Anders has sidestepped ego annihilation. He says that he knows he’ll be derided, which shows that he believes that to be righteous self-sacrifice. His fantasy is intact. That approach, in this case, so conceivably in others, proved insufficient.

            He may have retreated to that fantasy, because he had a philosophy that, in Norway, is met with dismissal and hostility rather than calm and reasoned discussion.

            I agree with rafaelmadeira in your discussion below.

          • boeotarch says:

            RatB: I really don’t understand why you think it’s society’s collective responsibility to try and pull radicals out of their willful delusions. They have no incentive to acclimate to society, their whole identity hinges on being besieged, hated, and more importantly too good for regular society. If they acclimate, they have to give up the pretense that they’re Poor Knights of Christ fighting for civilization against tides of evil, and accept that they’re just regular jerkoffs like the rest of us.

            There’s definitely a point of no return, and anyone who can be pushed to shoot dozens of kids in cold blood just to prove a point is waaaaay beyond it. Feel free to engage these guys if thats how you want to spend your time, just don’t expect too much to come of it.

          • RatB says:

            I agree that, given the opportunity cost, it may not even be in our best interest to completely prevent these guys from happening. I’m just noting flaws in the current system in we’ve put place to do that.

  6. TheDevastator says:

    Pastabagel: 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?”
    ————————-

    Bruce: Criminals aren’t complicated, Alfred. We just need to figure out what he’s after.

    Alfred: With respect, Master Wayne, perhaps this is a man that you don’t fully understand either. A long time ago, I was in Burma. My friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never met anyone who had traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.

    Bruce: So why steal them?

    Alfred: Well, because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
    ————————-

    Pastabagel, I liked your essay a lot but I think you’re missing the point of teaching multiculturalism. The purpose is to get the huge, conformist majority, the people who were never going to be terrorists but might have become ordinary racist dicks, to be tolerant of other races and cultures. You make it embarrassing to be a racist, most of the native population becomes more tolerant, and life gets better for minorities.

    But no modification of any educational program can prevent guys who want to kill people from wanting to kill people. This terrorist, if he wasn’t mad about multiculturalism, he would be mad at something else. But he would be mad about something. Or if not him, someone else. Maybe if Norway less multicultural (which means, more racist I guess), this exact attack would have been carried out by a Somali kid whose dad couldn’t get a job. Would that be better? The sad fact is that there will always be some fraction of a society that feels alienated and persecuted, and some fraction of them will resort to violence, and it’s folly for us to try and guess what makes them tick. What’s important is the society outside a lunatic fringe, and how we live between attacks. And I definitely don’t want to spend that time trying to figure out how to distort my culture to make a couple of ignorant bigots more comfortable.

    • AnonymousAtLarge says:

      *applause*

    • rafaelmadeira says:

      Making it embarrassing to be a racist might shut people up, but will not change their mind, or improve their disposition towards minorities. You might argue that not all minds can be changed, and that is true, but a more productive way to deal with that would be to include the dissenting minds in the dialogue, not shaming them into silence.

      When you do that, people feel they’ve been wronged, and since they’re not allowed to voice those feelings, because it’s frowned upon to even entertain those views, those bad feelings will fester. A homicidal wacko might be born this way, but now he also has the perfect environment to breed.

      If you invite a wacko to a debate, anything can happen. If you don’t invite this wacko because it’s wacko to even think like that, people with similar views who don’t consider themselves wacky will see that as enough evidence that feeling persecuted and alienated is justified.

      In this context, lashing out is inevitable.

      • DataShade says:

        but a more productive way to deal with that would be to include the dissenting minds in the dialogue

        He was a citizen, he could have voted or run for office.
        What dialogue was he/they excluded from? How could he/they be more included without compromising society’s core values – including, say, not shooting people or blaming your impotence on brown people?

        • rafaelmadeira says:

          > He was a citizen, he could have voted or run for office.

          On what platform? The only party that directly opposes immigration is the Democrats, which is a party with no place on the parliament. It’s very easy to feel the official channels are giving you no real power to be heard.

          > How could he/they be more included without compromising society’s core values

          If TheDevastator’s viewpoint is in place, that’s exactly the point: he couldn’t. Society would have made sure to shame him into submission. Voice his views on multiculturalism and get labelled a racist – which might be accurate but is a dialogue-stopper. It’s kinda TLP’s point in his article about Scott Adams: we don’t need to present counter-arguments, just look at him. He’s clearly wrong. That might be true, but it’s not a satisfactory answer.

          So if Norway is a society that shames dissenting views, his only options would be to either run for office in, or vote for, a discredited wacko party with no real say in his country’s politics.

          Did he really think blowing up a building and killing almost 100 kids would make Norway realize the error of its ways? We’ll never know. Did it make people *listen* to what he had to say? Definitely.

          • boeotarch says:

            What society doesn’t shame radically dissenting views? How can a society have multicultural and democratic values yet not shame violently xenophobic bigots?

          • boeotarch says:

            Sorry about the italics there, could’ve sworn I got the tags right.

          • DataShade says:

            just look at him. He’s clearly wrong. That might be true, but it’s not a satisfactory answer.

            How do you convince someone, without /hurting their feelings/shaming them/taking a risk of making them feel stupid/ that green is not the color of which the cheese that comprises the moon?

            And you said it’s not a satisfactory answer, but you never listed a question, so I have to assume when you say “answer” you mean “reaction to Breivik,” but that makes your point intangible because you compare one man’s words to another’s words and murderous rampage.

            So who needs to satisfied? The guy counting incidence/refraction to prove the moon-cheese is green? Or everyone else, who wonders why anyone would waste their time on something so obviously stupid, let alone be so obsessed with the answer that they’d feel the need to build an observatory out of human bones?

  7. Pingback: Exactly the wrong response to the Norway bombings | Partial Objects | Today Headlines

  8. philtrum says:

    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?

    I guess my question is, do they know what’s really wrong? And if they do, is it always something that can be remedied, or that they can learn to cope with in less destructive ways?

    I agree that the exploration is worth it, but what happens when people truly can’t be reached?

    • ThomasR says:

      Typically we give them drugs and/or wait for them to commit a crime and lock them up.

      • philtrum says:

        This also struck me on a second read, re the cartoonist:

        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.

        Emphasis added. Those are two different things. He is acknowledging that he feels those feelings. I don’t think that he was condemning himself or calling himself inhuman for feeling that way. He says giving in to those feelings would be inhuman.

        • DataShade says:

          S/Z, readerly vs writerly text. Pastabagel may be almost-correct: the speaker most likely means what you say, but the proto-terrorists and black metal addicts most likely hear what Pastabagel says. I posted this link in response to an earlier comment, but I’ll repost in case you missed it; the black metal guys literally feel like Sauron and the Uruk-Hai were the good guys of the Lord of the Ring, and that everything about the “true religion” of Norway has been demonized and hidden until the entire mass of the Norwegian public has been brainwashed into propagating the lie – almost exactly like the Matrix, really. So civilian casualties are OK, because they’re not even aware they’re jacked in….

          • Fifi says:

            No offense DataShade but not all black metal, including Norwegian Black metal, is represented by that link. The idea that “civilian casualties are okay” and that people killed in war are “collateral damage” is actually one promoted just as much by the US government and first person shooter games as Norwegian black metal.

  9. ThomasR says:

    Good article, Pastabagel. Though you’ve now fallen victim to the failure of critical reading skills that Scott Adams was complaining about. This one could be a language barrier issue I suppose.

    It’s really interesting to me that the tolerance and openess of Norway would result in a sense of alienation and dispossession in certain groups. Isnt that the opposite of the goal of tolerance? At what point does enforced “tolerance” become intolerant?

    • DataShade says:

      Enforced tolerance is always intolerant, but so what? If you’re upset about something like that: who promised you that you’d never have to compromise any aspect of your will/self-determination/freedom/natural impulses/whatever in favor of social order or basic civility? Who told you that, and, more importantly, why would you believe someone that obviously crazy?

      • AnonymousAtLarge says:

        Even tolerance is intolerant if you are going to be autistic enough about it.

        Tolerance suggests tolerating everyone and everything, but by definition a tolerant person cannot tolerate intolerance, therefore tolerance is intolerance of intolerance. If you are tolerant, you cannot tolerate intolerance as well as it is against tolerance.

        None of that matters.

        All that matters is which is best for the most people.

        Clearly tolerating everyone except idiots like this bomber is the best path so that’s the one sane people agree with.

        • DataShade says:

          Yeah, that’s mostly what I said, except:

          All that matters is which is best for the most people.

          Because, to the neo-Viking (I just made that up, it might’ve been used before with a well-specified definition, so my apologies), what is best for the most people, since the majority is still Nordic, would be rounding up all the muslims, seizing their wealth and lands, returning their jobs to native Nords, and shipping them back to Africa or the Middle East.

          But that’s still crazy, and the average Norwegian would probably tell you so if you offered to commit genocide on his behalf, which is why people like Varg Vikernes, one of the “founding fathers” of Norwegian Black Metal, have constructed elaborate alternate histories to justify doing it anyway.

          My apologies – I keep posting that link, because I think Vikernes is one of the most comic-book evil people on earth, if he hadn’t killed someone and burned down half a dozen historic sites, he’d be amusing and awesome like Ziggy Stardust – not David Bowie, mind you, not the real person; the construct, Ziggy.

  10. Comus says:

    I usually find myself agreeing with your views PastaBagel, but this logic of yours I find unnerving. Maybe it is my nordic mentality, welfare upbringing or whatnot, but I find myself sympathising with Stoltenberg as well as Runde. I find it hard to dissociate between your points, as I see that values like democracy and tolerance should be applicable to both christians and islamists, left or right, domestic or foreign. And the reaction to any occasion should be rationalism, calmness and evaluation. Not vengeance, fear-mongering or rage. They are valid as an individual response but should never, ever be the societal reaction. It is not hard to imagine such a response, when left to it’s own devices, lead to segregation, hate and totalitarianism.

    I do not see the cartoonists statement as a dehumanizing one.He quite blankly states that he, as a human, goes through rage, fear and disgust but thinks we should not be motivated with such feelings. Or, no, we should be motivated by those, but to use them in a constructive way. Which leads to your proposed solution of negotiation, the prime example of which are free elections (in which the far-right has done rather well)

    Another reason why I think they are right, is an element of power. A state that claims the moral highground has clearly won the battle, it has clearly stated that aggression is not a means to achieve ends. The act of violence against the state on the other hand has revealed the impotance of the perpetrator and there is no need for such limpness from the state. The nonaggressive parent is alays more efficient a power figure than an openly aggrassive one. The latter has revealed it’s highest hand to be rather jejune. The former does not give an excuse to repeat the gesture.

    I find it very interesting you pull death metal and church burning into this. It is rather easy to see both of them as publicity stunts. The perpetrator has stated he wants to get his message across and gain as wide an audience as possible (thanks media!). The church burnings were also s symbolic gesture to gain PR ground. Others go topless on reality tv, but the difference is only linear.

    What this does reflect however is the rise of racism and far right movements in Europe, a progression begun by 9/11 and steepened by the current recession. Even now, before the perpetrator was known the Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Finnish media, especially the printed press, seemed rather certain that this was an islamist attack, even if the targetting of Labour youths did not exactly fit the profile. That was the immediate connection. There was endless talk on Norways NATO activities, presence in Afghanistan etc. and the guilt was unilaterally pointed at islamist jihadists. This was due to islamization, rampant immigration and the whole islamist culture in general. When it was later found out the perpetrator was a right-leaning Norwegian the incident was transformed into the work of a lone madman and the blame shifted from socio-cultural to individual level. Not even a word of rising inequality among the populace etc.

    • AnonymousAtLarge says:

      The american media slanted it as an islamic attack as well.

      The only reason americans even know about this is because our media was like “SEE THEM DIRTY A-RABS REALLY IZ EVIL AINT THAY? LETS KILL EM ALL.”

      • DataShade says:

        DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN

      • DataShade says:

        By which I mean: to the extent one can generalize the entire media industry, “the press” is a sensationalist industry which thrives by “the scoop” – the first paper to report is the paper of record, so break that news fast, just copy what comes down the wire – hell, text coming down the wire is called “the copy.”

      • mwigdahl says:

        Really? I haven’t read anything in the American press that even vaguely resembles what a cleaned-up, non-hysterical version of that would read like.

        Got a link?

  11. nick says:

    Pastabagel has thrown his moral compass in the bin.

    He wants to blame society for one man’s decision to murder.

    Essentially, he wants to blame liberals, blame liberals because a deranged man decided to go murder them.

    “I am saying that the feelings that motivated him are legitimate feelings, even if his expressions of them in racist or hateful tirades are not. What you guys want is to ignore that these things happen. That is wrong.”

    Of course you would say that, since your nation is engaged in a genocide campaign in the middle east. So of course, for you, there has to be something legitimate about the prejudices of a far right christian fundie such as Anders.

    Hey Pastabagel – noone wants to ignore that these things happen, we want them not to happen. We do not allow such insane racism to be expressed in our culture because we know what it leads to. We don’t want to our authority figures to cast moral legitimacy on insane modes of thinking. You want to use liberals attitude to racism as a strawman to beat them AND as an excuse for this mans decision to lose all self control and go on a murderous rampage. Are you saying that anytime someone does this it’s not their fault? It’s societies fault? That’s a very ‘liberal’ attitude, which you might want to revise, considering how unfashionable it is for you Zizekians.

    Multiculturalism is a cultural move that attempts to help everyone co exist in some sort of stability. It is not designed to exclude outsiders, the whole point is to be inclusive. But I guess you’re too much of a narcissist for it huh? You and Anders are too special for boring old liberalism that says we can’t kill the ubermenschen. Isn’t narcissism the ultimate crime in your book? People not hating themselves in the way you think they should or something. Oh well.

    What you said can also be interpreted as a threat – unless you accept our racism, there will be more of this. Your nation has bankrupted itself losing 2 wars in the middle east, the propaganda for which was the very thing this sad little fantasist used to construct a paranoid sense of self righteousness. That’s the funny thing isn’t Pastabagel, endless wars yet the economy is just getting worse! Some of those ‘shitty countries’ are having little revolts and throwing away those nice dictators you put in to keep your gas prices low. It’s as if your vision of a perfect world that is only interrupted by conflicts BETWEEN “shitty” folks is falling away to reveal a world of conflict directed AT you and your rampaging genocidal oil pillaging machine. Doesn’t look too good for you guys eh? How’s the economy going? The rest of us are crossing our fingers and hoping you pull through so we can get more condescending lectures about the inherent Hobbesian nature of things from our almightily smug imperialist overlords.

    Are these the depths a dying empire is sinking to? Excusing the mass rampage of a deranged piece of shit because his actions mirror the murder for sport your own sick troops engage in everyday overseas… It’s a pretty fucking narcissist stretch to shift the blame for someones actions onto society, but you manage it.

    Still, I’m sure you’ll find someway to blame the liberals.

    This nazi supporting fantasist CHOSE to go murder, he had a choice, he is to blame. Not me, or you, or Liberals, or the Marxists/Islamists/Social Democrats that he wrote online tirades against.

    But I suppose I’M just a narcissist because I’ve pointed that out? Or something? Whatever.

    I sincerely hope that you don’t end up with the world you’re advocating, were the victims liberalism is an excuse for their murder.

    • philtrum says:

      I don’t think you’re being fair to Pastabagel, who did not remotely excuse the murders or identify with the murderer.

      Anyway, interesting that you bring up Zizek: Zizek argues in one of his books (one of the more poppy ones, maybe Welcome to the Desert of the Real) that the far right serves a vital purpose for “Third Way” liberal capitalists: they do something terrible, and the establishment types say, “well, that was terrible, they are terrible, but at the same time, they cannot be ignored, there is a real problem with blah blah blah…” and this becomes an excuse for a more “moderate” attack on whatever it is the righties say is upsetting them (which may not be what is really upsetting them at all).

    • DataShade says:

      TL;DR. I gave up as you repeatedly attributed motive without evidence.

      (Least you can do if you’re going to deconstruct and reconstruct what was said into what you want to be said is cite specific examples from the text. You know you can click Pastabagel’s name and get all the articles (if not comments/replies) he’s posted, right? Please, go ahead, search his works and cite specific examples that prove what you’re trying to say; there are plenty of people here who dislike PB enough that they’d probably give you a medal or a blowjob or whatever.)

      I don’t always agree with him, but I don’t think Pastabagel’s sympathies lie with terrorists. I think he’s at heart he wants to help, but he’s a contrarian who will argue for the sake of argument – making minor corrections to an otherwise workable practicum/philosophy – and that slips too easily from “conversation” into “lecture,” leading to a sense that he’s pushing a sort of patriarchal instruction (in more than one sense of each word); in this case, trying to point out a “third way” that’s “more right” (ha ha pun) than the liberalism that’s prominent in the speeches he quoted.

  12. JohnJ says:

    It’s interesting to me that Pastabagel’s “illiberal” response is the same response that rightwingers criticized after 9/11: asking “Why do they hate us?” On the one had, there are people who want to understand why people do bad things and who ask society to change in response. On the other hand, there are people who say that this is blaming the victim and there is no justification for terrorism ever. The first group says, “No, that’s not what we meant. We just want to understand and adapt to new information.” The second group says, “Why are you so unpatriotic?”

    When it comes to ideology, it seems that everyone’s motto is “You’re either with us or against us.”

    • DataShade says:

      I … am not sure what you’re talking about. Asking “why do they hate us” was the only thing that right-wingers criticised after 9/11? Which right-wingers? Because *everybody* I knew wanted the US Gov’t to find out who did that and send some soldiers there to shoot them to death then stab their eyes out to make sure they were dead, but, by the time we were gearing up to attack Iraq, people had cooled down some and were starting to ask questions, but anyone who questioned anything was called out for treason. Remember “Freedom Fries,” or firing gay Arabic translators, etc?

      Hell, just skim through Get Your War On and websearch for any of the news clippings you need to put them in context, they’re all dated.

      You just straw-manned the entire right- and left- wings of American politics; for what purpose?

      • philtrum says:

        JohnJ seems very big on “proving” that everybody is equally selfish, irrational and corrupt; particularly, that liberals who aspire to anti-racism, egalitarianism, etc. are just faking it to make themselves look better than other people (i.e. conservatives).

        Which is interesting, coming from a conservative, as it’s at least a partial concession to liberal values.

        The other thing I find interesting is the recourse to words like “un-American” and “unpatriotic” — there is no concept here that some people really don’t place a high value on patriotism.

        • JohnJ says:

          Thanks, Phil, for once again presuming you know everything about me and how I think. Since you don’t think I’m sincere in what I say, here’s an exercise for you: when talking about me, pretend that you’re discussing a hypothetical third party who does sincerely believe what I say. (My hypothesis is that, since you can’t argue with me, you just try to smear my motives as a proxy.) Since I never claimed that all anti-racists are faking it (a dubious claim since I’m anti-racist myself), you could pretend that this hypothetical, sincere third person actually believes that there are racists, anti-racists, and all kinds of people in-between, including some number of people who fake being anti-racist for pure holier-than-thou moments. (Your repeated inability to actually express my true position is more evidence that you’re simply incapable of actually listening.)

          But I also agree with you that some people don’t see any value in being patriotic or not as a general rule, outside of the argument over whether they are specifically patriotic. There are certainly people who see nationalism, as Anders seems to have exemplified it, as being a source of hatred due to its exclusionary nature (leading to events like the present one). So it’s not that they hate America, for example, it’s that they don’t want to contribute to the exclusionary tendencies of nationalism.

          After thinking about it, I wonder if the above two commenters personify the fallacy that the expression of one opinion or idea somehow excludes all others. I never said that there was only one left wing reaction or one right wing criticism of it, and I never said there were only racists and anti-racists. But by pointing out that there was this one reaction, and this one criticism, and this one kind of anti-racist, I’m presumed to believe that only this one kind exists.

          Ya, I think that’s (one of) the problem(s).

          • philtrum says:

            Your repeated inability to actually express my true position

            Your true position, as in what you really, in your heart of hearts, believe? The real you, as it were? No, I can’t “express” that. I can only observe what you write. And what you really write, in my opinion, doesn’t express what you seem to think it does.

          • JohnJ says:

            So you know you can’t express the real me, but you also think you know that the real me is a closet fundamentalist and you have no problem trying to express that.

            Thanks for clarifying that.

          • philtrum says:

            you also think you know that the real me is a closet fundamentalist and you have no problem trying to express that.

            Who’s smearing whose motives now?

            And I am pretty sure I have never thought of you as a “closet fundamentalist.” Is there even such a thing, outside of politics?

          • JohnJ says:

            That wasn’t smearing your motives. I pointed out what you do, not why you do it.

            The reason why you do it is because you’re an idiot. Now I’m smearing your motives. (Kind of, but in order to conform to the exacting standards you set for others but not yourself, let me be clear: idiocy isn’t really a motive, but it is a personal attack. So when I said I was smearing your motives by calling you an idiot, it was actually just a way of trying to be insulting. I did not literally mean I was insulting your motives. I’m sure your motives are as pure as the driven snow. You’re simply incapable of more than superficial thinking.)

          • philtrum says:

            The reason why you do it is because you’re an idiot.

            Aww, how nice. Sweet-talk me some more, Johnny Reb, I like that.

      • JohnJ says:

        This blog really needs a higher quality of commenter. I never said that was the left wing’s only response, nor that it was the only thing that the right wing criticized. And I’m not writing a thesis paper here. For purposes of a blog comment, it’s perfectly sufficient to simply note that it was a prominent theme at the time.

        I straw-manned the entire right- and left-wings of American politics? That’s a strawman argument in itself.

        • DataShade says:

          This blog really needs a higher quality of commenter.

          Can’t tell if eerie moment of self-clarity or naked hypocrisy.

          I straw-manned the entire right- and left-wings of American politics? That’s a strawman argument in itself.

          Uh … you said that the entire right criticized everyone else, and that proves “you’re with us or you’re against us,” but, as I said, *everybody* I knew was crying out for blood and revenge those first few days – or do you think Bush’s 90% approval rating was a result of all the liberals refusing to answer phone-polls?

          Plus, can’t you see a difference between Al-Qaeda and Anders the copycat gay mage terrorist? I mean … Anders could have voted in Norway to try to get what he wanted, and if there was no one who adequately represented him he could have run for office, I understand anti-immigrant violent assholes have had some success with that route. He was a citizen, he was as included in the democratic process as he wanted to be; comparing the copycat gay mage terrorist to bin Laden, or comparing how we should prevent domestic terrorism to foreign terrorism, seems … facile.

          • JohnJ says:

            I was comparing Pastabagel’s response and his critics to certain responses and criticism of the 9/11 attacks. I just cannot believe how ridiculously stupid you are.

          • philtrum says:

            Plus, can’t you see a difference between Al-Qaeda and Anders the copycat gay mage terrorist?

            Everything is all about the U.S. all the time. Duh.

          • DataShade says:

            I was comparing Pastabagel’s response and his critics to certain responses and criticism of the 9/11 attacks. I just cannot believe how ridiculously stupid you are.

            No, but, in the local idiom, I’m sure you wish you could believe it.

    • philtrum says:

      It’s interesting to me that Pastabagel’s “illiberal” response is the same response that rightwingers criticized after 9/11: asking “Why do they hate us?”

      Most right-wingers, not all; some quite easily made the leap to the conclusion that the Muslim world was pissed off at feminists and gay people and various other things that they, themselves, were pissed off at.

      On the one had, there are people who want to understand why people do bad things and who ask society to change in response. On the other hand, there are people who say that this is blaming the victim and there is no justification for terrorism ever. The first group says, “No, that’s not what we meant. We just want to understand and adapt to new information.” The second group says, “Why are you so unpatriotic?”

      Why bring up “unpatriotic” when you’re apparently trying to universalize? I doubt the Norwegian left will be particularly wrapping itself in the flag over this; it would make no sense to do that when the terrorist was a born-and-bred Norwegian.

      When it comes to ideology, it seems that everyone’s motto is “You’re either with us or against us.”

      Everyone? Literally everyone?

      As far as I can see, the point of this comment is “Look how everyone, liberal and conservative, reacts in exactly the same way when someone attacks their own.” I’m not at all convinced that’s a valid reading of the situation.

      • JohnJ says:

        It never ceases to amaze me how easily you lump all critics of your ideology together, but call out anyone else who groups other people together. Not all dogs have four legs either, but enough do that it’s usually no issue to say that all dogs have four legs. In other words, you fail to hold yourself to the high standard that you set for others.

        The fact is that most liberals and conservatives do react the exact same way when someone attacks their own. Do you really want to argue this point?

        I imagine the Norwegian left’s reaction will be pretty much the same as Clinton’s reaction to the Oklahoma City bombing. Because the victims better represent the ideals of the majority than the terrorist does, critics will have their patriotism questioned. Frankly, patriotism, for most people, isn’t about race.

        • philtrum says:

          The fact is that most liberals and conservatives do react the exact same way when someone attacks their own.

          “Most” is not “everyone”; and liberal and conservative are not the only political affiliations out there.

          I imagine the Norwegian left’s reaction will be pretty much the same as Clinton’s reaction to the Oklahoma City bombing. Because the victims better represent the ideals of the majority than the terrorist does, critics will have their patriotism questioned.

          This is possible, but it also rests on a very questionable assumption that patriotism operates in the same way everywhere. I don’t know what Norwegians are like; I do know that if something like this happened in Canada, it would be called an insult to Canadian values; but criticism of that response would not primarily be labelled as anti-Canadian. American nationalism is particular to America. Everyone is not the same.

          Frankly, patriotism, for most people, isn’t about race.

          Who ever said it was?

          • philtrum says:

            Ah, I think I see, it was my reference to a “born-and-bred Norwegian.” Well, I do think there was a substantial difference between the mainstream American reaction to Timothy McVeigh and the mainstream American reaction to the 9/11 hijackers: patriotism may have been invoked in both cases, but it was at a much, much higher pitch after 9/11.

          • JohnJ says:

            Not you. I was responding to the other Phil, who said, “I doubt the Norwegian left will be particularly wrapping itself in the flag over this; it would make no sense to do that when the terrorist was a born-and-bred Norwegian. ”

            Now I will respond to Phil in kind:

            You think those are the values of ALL Canadians? Every single one? How dare you group all Canadians together like that! You think ALL Americans are nationalist? Don’t you know that Americans and Canadians are a diverse group of people, and they don’t all share the same values or the same feelings of nationalism? How can you write a sentence that groups them all together like that? How can you think of them in terms of one political or ideological group? You… bigot!

          • JohnJ says:

            Dammit, how dare you start being reasonable now!

          • philtrum says:

            Note I used qualifiers in my sentences (“particularly”, “primarily”), and I did not make any global statements about the entire world, as you did (“everyone”). That’s the difference.

            Also, I didn’t call you a bigot in this thread. That’s pure projection.

          • JohnJ says:

            Reasonable people understand that blog post comments are to be interpreted in a highly casual way. (For example, if I say “stop doing that,” the “you” is understood. If I say “da Vinci was the greatest artist ever”, the “in my opinion” is understood. And if I say “dogs have four legs”, reasonable people understand that I don’t mean literally all dogs.) That’s why I can look through this comment thread and see that you reserve a ridiculously literal standard only for certain people, and you give yourself and others a pass. You’ve already decided that some people are “reasonable” (by which I mean they agree with you), and so you subconsciously read into their comments an interpretation that you think is reasonable.

            I’m all for a presumption of reasonableness, but you fail to apply this standard consistently and you think it has big, grand meaning when you point out that someone is doing what everybody does. For example, if I were to say that affirmative action programs have outlasted their usefulness, you respond by thinking that that’s what a closet racist would say, and you start interpreting everything I say as if that were true. And you think that by catching me talking like a normal person that you’ve somehow unveiled something of significance, even though you fail to apply this standard to those you agree with. (After all, you already know that they’re reasonable people.) Of the possible interpretations of my words, you choose the one that is most unreasonable because that’s what you think I mean.

            But the big problem, as I see it, is that you’re cutting yourself off from reasonable people who disagree with you, thus actually reinforcing the mistaken idea that all reasonable people agree with you.

          • philtrum says:

            Well, if you think that’s what’s going on, then that’s what you think. Really, there’s no way for me to much appreciate your original post in this thread: it’s either a platitude (“gosh, everybody is irrational sometimes”) or it’s an attempt to apply American political categories to people all over the world (liberals and conservatives, “unpatriotic” is a terrible insult, etc. etc.)

            But the big problem, as I see it, is that you’re cutting yourself off from reasonable people who disagree with you, thus actually reinforcing the mistaken idea that all reasonable people agree with you.

            I am not cutting myself off from reasonable people who disagree with me: I disagree with Pastabagel and TLP with some regularity, for example, and I would not call either of them unreasonable. You are generalizing my reaction to you as if it obviously applied to everyone who disagreed with me.

          • JohnJ says:

            Since you seem unable to appreciate what I mean when I comment, I’d be much happier if you just ignored me altogether. I certainly find your responses to my comments to be almost completely useless.

          • philtrum says:

            Since you seem unable to appreciate what I mean when I comment, I’d be much happier if you just ignored me altogether.

            Yes, I imagine you would, but it seems you can’t resist responding to the useless and idiotic things I post.

            So you then ask me to resist for you, to make you feel better, and really, why would I do that? I’m not the one who’s unhappy.

      • ThomasR says:

        As far as I can see, the point of this comment is “Look how everyone, liberal and conservative, reacts in exactly the same way when someone attacks their own.” I’m not at all convinced that’s a valid reading of the situation.

        @philtrum

        This is an interesting comment, because a lot of the comments on here HAVE been reactionary arguments against what they thought Pastabagel was saying. Why? Because they thought that he was attacking the “liberal” position. And they reflexively responded. This is the same thing that conservatives do all the time. Any post of PBs or TLPs that touches on politics has huge numbers of apologists attacking them for being “liberal” or “conservative” depending on the situation. This does happen. The comments are all still there. You can go check, I’ll wait.

        • philtrum says:

          Well, ok, that’s what happens here; and I agree, a lot of people read Pastabagel’s post as right-wing/illiberal in ways it really wasn’t. But this is one website visited by a fairly small number of English-speaking people (mostly Americans) with a particular set of interests. I would not generalize from what goes on here to the majority of people in the world.

          It’s possible that the American liberal/conservative binary, “with us or against us”, etc., are universal human attitudes; I didn’t say that was absolutely not true; but I’m definitely not convinced.

          • ThomasR says:

            Oh, I would never say that a binary us/them perspective is universal, if I thought that were the case, I’d need some serious medication. But it is prevalent enough to justify SOME generalizations like JohnJ’s (we could (and should) argue the specific points of each, but I won’t accept a blanket approval or condemnation).

            I approve of your skepticism of generalizations, but I think a lot of yours and JohnJ’s disagreements are fairly pedantic (/petty) in nature.

          • philtrum says:

            That’s undeniably true. He gets so offended when someone “misinterprets” him or attacks one of his pet ideas that I find it difficult to resist pushing his buttons.

            Really what annoyed me was the immediate reference to the U.S. and American events and political ideologies, as if the entire world operated under the rules of U.S. politics and culture. So American liberals and American conservatives have some things in common; well, goodness, you don’t say.

  13. Lopt says:

    Who is talking about ideology? If you want to stop bombings, the best way to do so is to not have people who want to blow stuff up. Pastabagel argues that by declaring some feelings and impulses inhuman or unWhatever, you create a context in which they will be exercised in a violent manner directed at the society that proscribes them. The ideal response then would be to acknowledge and hopefully placate the discontented, rather than declaring their opinions verboten and unworthy of consideration. But I’m wondering:

    1) Would that really work or would there still just be nutjobs out there who would clothe their violent tendencies in some other cause/ideology?
    2) Would it be worth admitting really unpleasant views into the legitimate discourse in exchange for less terrorism? Maybe vulnerability to this kind of terrorism is the price you pay for living in a society where extermist ideologies are forbidden.
    3) Given that you’ve accepted 2), wouldn’t the long term effect of having, for example, right-wing fascists legitimized mean that there’s a decent possibility the fascism would eventually become the norm?

    • philtrum says:

      wouldn’t the long term effect of having, for example, right-wing fascists legitimized mean that there’s a decent possibility the fascism would eventually become the norm?

      Not to mention, what is the impact on the targets of those right-wing fascists if such views are legitimized? I don’t only mean that they suffer; what about their potential for violent extremism?

      1) Would that really work or would there still just be nutjobs out there who would clothe their violent tendencies in some other cause/ideology?

      I believe there would be. This discussion makes me think of TLP’s posts on George Sodini.

    • DataShade says:

      1.) The assumption is that while violent tendencies come part and parcel with adrenal glands, bigotry does not. One guy beating his wife is terrible, but infinitely preferable to an organization of men who buy books and attend lectures on the moral justifications for the beating of wives. Those hypothetical men don’t believe it’s true that they’re justified in the hypothetical beating of their hypothetical wives, but it’s obvious that they wish they could believe it were true – that’s why they buy the books and attend the lectures. In the idiom of the site, it’s not true, they don’t believe it’s true, but they wish they could believe it were true.

      Even if they believed it were true, rather than just wishing they could: there’s no use debating the normative statements of the movement (the beliefs), otherwise, you end up with a lifelong recovering alcoholic or recidivist abuser (I want a cigarette, but it’s bad for me; I’d teach that bitch a lesson, but I don’t want to be seen as weak). As soon as the subject perceives life to be a greater source of suffering than than the conscribed behavior or its attendant punishment, they relapse.
      If you’re to have any hope of success, you have to speak to them in their own language and undermine the secret reward that compels reward them to reach for that movement – not the belief, the I-wish-I-could-believe (when you smoke you don’t look cool you look weak, and you may feel more in control but you look more like an addict; you’re not weak when you give in and beat your wife, you’re weak when you admit – even consider – that a woman has so much control over your life that she could make you look bad). If you take away that secret comfort, then the objectionable behavior becomes an embarassment that they’ll repress at all costs or eagerly seek to overcome, a nervous tic of immaturity like nailbiting or bedwetting. It may not completely solve the problem, but how many 40-year-old chronic bedwetters do you know?

      2.) Isn’t that already what pretty much every non-totalitarian country has right now? And still, it would seem like foreign terrorism is pretty well limited to countries with extensive involvement in foreign atrocities, with the exception of countries who suffer foreign terrorism by a second-party against a third-party that is some kind of resident alien (eg, US military bases or ships in non-Taliban territory being attacked by Al Qaeda).

      3.) How does one “have legitimized” a lunatic fringe group? They all feel legitimized, that’s why they manufacture an alternate history/reality where they’re deeply aggreived, because their feelings are more legimate than reality. Nothing anyone says is going to actually change reality, at worst you’re just going to give them a few opportunities to deliberately misquote you in order to provide an outside confirmation of their already-unshakable beliefs.

      I’m not just trying to mince words, I’m trying to say: the idea that legitimacy is granted, or awarded, runs contrary to my every experience and, I suspect, reality.

      No one who feels marginalized would accept a refusal of legitimacy, except to the extent that an implied refusal is the foundation of their sense of marginalization. Any future overt refusal of legitimacy must predictably lead to a violent (at best verbal, but “best” doesn’t mean “good”) rejection of the refusal, as a form of ego defense; since legitimacy is not subject to outside bestowal, the legitimacy the lunatic fringe seeks can never be granted them, which is why, even as they gain commiseration/support, they still behave like lunatics (see the link above re: Rep. Allen West – why would you feel the need to lash out like that after you’ve been voted into office? you and your political views don’t get much more legitimized than Capitol Hill).

      The more marginalized they feel, the crazier they get when given even the least bit of “legitimacy,” which isn’t what should happen if they were factually oppressed (it isn’t what happened when voting rights got extended to non-landowners, women, etc), but is exactly what you would expect to happen if they’re using “oppression” as an ego-defense (I’m unhappy, but it’s not my fault, it’s a conspiracy, the world’s out to get me, I need power; now I have power, but I’m still not happy, the conspiracy must be even bigger than I thought).

  14. cliche says:

    I dunno how anyone read anti-liberal into this post.
    “Criticize the actions, not the people” sounds rather liberal to me.

    • DataShade says:

      I have to assume the anti-liberal read comes from Pastabagel’s attitude. He only ever seems to extend a hand in compassion to certain types of people – the rich, children, the religious (unless they’re aggressively and immorally homophobic) and, now, a right-wing terrorist who killed a bunch of innocent bystanders then targeted young liberals. Everyone else gets a lot of snark and condescension.

      I don’t think Pastabagel’s actually some kind of right-wing nut, but … is it really that hard to see how people would find their way to that conclusion?

      I’d like to believe that he’s trying to be calm and rational because 1.) that’s the point he’s criticising, how rationality minus compassion is just a passive-aggressive way to marginalize, and 2.) it’s a serious issue that deserves serious handling, not bombastic sarcasm and spite. But I was still really uncomfortable reading the article, especially all the times he made a strong, and totally inaccurate, assertion.

      • ThomasR says:

        I have to say, with an ambiguous post like this and people posting some comments that I agree with while posting others that I completely disagree with, its really difficult to have a good old-fashioned yelling match. I keep forgetting who I agree with and who I disagree with.

        Incidentally, I’ve always assumed PB was pretty strongly liberal.

        • DataShade says:

          I try not to label people unless they choose to label themselves, whether it be party affiliation, political leanings, or just a grab-bag of loaded terms like “A Johnny Reb in a Yankee World.” I like snark, but I don’t like yelling. I’m willing to entertain theories of gross misjustice, but I don’t like persecution complexes so hyper-evolved it makes me think you should be on the X-men. I took a comp lit course in college so if you want to quote the text and explain your inference I’ll go along with your outlandish theories, but I don’t like crazy-frothing-at-the-mouth conspiracies.

          So I can understand when someone is actually pretty liberal but wants to play Devil’s Advocate, but if you’re not careful about your assertions and assumptions, you end up becoming the perfect caricature of everything you oppose. Is that what Pastabagel’s doing when he makes posts like this, that seem like crazy-person impersonating Rational Man? I hope so.

        • philtrum says:

          I’ve read PB as pretty feminist/”socially liberal” but not so liberal on matters of fiscal or foreign policy. But then, I also thought PB was female, so what do I know.

          • DataShade says:

            For better or for worse, I was taught to use “he” instead of “it” as a second-person pronoun when gender is undefined.

  15. AnonymousAtLarge says:

    He is not dehumanizing people who feel vengeance and rage. He is merely reminding everyone that the human thing is to do what is right, logical, fair, and pro-social. Even if your immediate gut impulse is violence and thoughtless rage, this is not in our best interest socially or even emotionally long term.

    If a man says “you may have an impulse to rape a drunk hot girl who can barely say no… but this impulse does not make you a man. Keeping her safe is what makes you a real man.”
    Is he dehumanizing men for having sexual thoughts or is he merely saying “hey, guys, don’t act like a fucking gorilla, you have a well developed cortex, use it.”

    The fact that an element of defectives still exist in norway in spite of the tolerant society they live in, only suggests that some people will continue to be fuck ups no matter what.
    Compare norway to a shithole like america, which prides itself on killing people, going to war (and “god bless our troops” of course) and not letting fags marry because it’s creepy and anti jesus. Which society do you think is more progressive and an all around better place to live? Which society has more stupid fucks who hold the most ignorant abhorrent illogical intolerant views? Which society has more violence?
    There may be violent abusive idiots in norway, but I suspect there are WAAAY more in america, and our leaders are totally on board with the killing people who do bad things and the national vengeance (and god approves of it too BTW) and the fag hating.

    Xenophobia is a normal natural response. It is a fear of the unknown. It is a very large scale feeling we all experience when someone new intrudes into our little well understood sanctuary. I don’t like visitors. I don’t like visitors who stay and impose their habits on me. I don’t like their differences. I don’t like how they erase me simply by existing. I don’t want to know they exist. Their existence makes mine less potent.

    Your mistake is you are making the fallacious assumption that if something is real and natural it must be okay. A man having the urge to have sex with a barely conscious drunk hot girl is real and natural but it is still abhorrent and men should indeed feel shameful and disgusted for acting on such a thought. The fact it is normal and natural is irrelevant. It is antisocial, rights violating, and wrong. If I really really really have to peeee nooooow I feel ashamed and disgusted if I do so in public, so I don’t do it. There are real sanitary reasons, which benefit both myself and others in my society, for not defecating where ever you feel like. I feel a rational and useful profound feeling of shame and guilt if I pee or defecate in an inappropriate place.

    Something being real and natural doesn’t mean it’s good or acceptable or to be indulged in.

    Xeneophobia and racism are real and natural but they are wrong. SORRY. Too bad white power people, norway supremacist moron. Here’s the memo: get over it.

  16. AnonymousAtLarge says:

    Yea this is so ridic I am starting to wonder if pastabagel is like some kind of militant religious person who is on board with god’s war in the middle east or something equally insane.

  17. DataShade says:

    Who knows how to set up a good Googlebomb initiative? I’d love to Anders Breivik (who apparently played a lot of World of Warcraft and even Dragon Age as a “cover story” for his terror-plotting alone-time) to be indelibly tied to the other, fictional, gay mage terrorist Anders. (I don’t have any reason to believe Breivik is gay, but I think if he googles himself when he gets out of prison and finds everyone assumes that he is, it would hurt his feelings, and I’m OK with that.)

  18. Fifi says:

    Er, dude has said he’s pro-Gay so I don’t think he’s going to be upset by being called “gay”. He’s also pro-Israel (which is not surprising really since his main thing is being anti-Islam). And, while it’s all fine and nice to point fingers at “those crazy religious people/fundies” the reality is that there are British atheists that share the shooter’s beliefs about Islam and how it’s going to dilute/destroy European culture. Also, ultimately, this seems to be mainly about narcissistic self aggrandizement on the shooter’s part – narcissistic rage, a sense of entitlement to be considered superior, etc. So, it’s all nice and fine to talk about having empathy for the shooter’s “suffering” and assume he’s being “self destructive” but, in reality, he’s actually being quite literally self constructive. He shot those people for attention, to create a soapbox to place his self creation as savior of Norwegian/European culture upon for all the world to see.

    • DataShade says:

      Er, dude has said he’s pro-Gay so I don’t think he’s going to be upset by being called “gay”.

      Cool. It wasn’t the goal, just icing. If you agree this is for narcissistic self-aggrandizement, how about we just call him “the second gay mage terrorist Anders” or “the gay terrorist mage Anders who copied the character from that sequel” and let him wallow in second place?

  19. Fifi says:

    Pastabagel…oddly Anders Behring Breivik was also looking to bring isolated youth into the fold…really, he’s just the tip of the iceberg of a not very submerged (and very old) culture war.

    “Anyway, we are not in a position where we can pick and choose our partners. That’s why we have to ensure that we influence other culturally conservatives to take our anti-racist pro-homosexual, pro-Israeli line of thought. When this direction has been taken we can take it to the next level.

    The consolidation MUST continue, and people must contribute by influencing (in stead of isolating).”

    What I find alarming is not that there are people like Anders Behring Breivik out there but how aligned in many ways he is intellectually with public intellectuals like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens (though I’m sure they also see themselves as pro-gay and anti-racism). It’s actually a pretty mainstream blaming Islam for all the negative repercussions related to how globalization and the computer revolution has changed our world. It’s reactionary, including when it comes from Dawkins and Hitchens.

  20. hanba says:

    It’s interesting to note how harsh the tone of some of the comments on this particular article. Why so harsh and why on this article and not the previous? Has this post hit a nerve? It’s ironic how many of the intolerant commentators fall under the pro-tolerance camp. Which, I guess, is a reiteration of PB’s thesis about force-fed tolerance. – It’s funny actually, we’re seeing right here, on the comments field, what I believe is PB’s whole point in the post: 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.
    —–
    I believe violence is part of the human condition, a certain amount of violence is an evolutionary advantage. You can even take it to a genetic/biological level; it has been beneficial for the survival of the species to have a certain part of the population be ready, willing and able to fight against forces threatening the population. Like with every other trait, some people just express more of it than others – and a percentile or two expresses it way too much. The manifestations of violence vary from culture to culture. Maybe it’s fighting wars, maybe football hooliganism, maybe it’s domestic violence, maybe racial-related etc, maybe violence even expresses itself as self-mutilation or suicides. I’m by NO means advocating violence or saying it’s ok to beat your kids up, all I’m saying is that however much you condemn it, violence does happen, just as love or friendship or other aspects of humanity.

    There have been several acts of violence like this in the Nordic context over the last decade, especially the last three years or so, (A sniper targeting immigrants in southern Sweden; several school shootings in Finland etc). Perhaps a relevant question to ask is what is it in the way society is constructed that brings forth this kind of violence?

    • TheDevastator says:

      You raise a couple of interesting points.

      Response to first paragraph:
      You are under a very common misconception, I think, which is that liberals are in favor of tolerance of everything, and against intolerance of anything. This is not true. Liberals would like everyone to tolerate things that are objectively harmless, while being as intolerant as possible toward things that are objectively harmful. So it is perfectly fine for a liberal to say that the Norway terrorist should be locked up forever, and people like him have no place in society. I realize that this is exactly what he says about racial minorities, which is confusing, but the answer is that we are right and he is wrong. Of course, he would say that he is right and we are wrong, but that is wrong, because we are actually right. Clear?

      Response to second and third paragraphs:

      Quote 1:
      “I believe violence is part of the human condition, a certain amount of violence is an evolutionary advantage… I’m by NO means advocating violence or saying it’s ok to beat your kids up, all I’m saying is that however much you condemn it, violence does happen, just as love or friendship or other aspects of humanity.”

      I agree. Violence is probably a natural thing. But just because it is natural, doesn’t make it right. The entire point of society is to restrain people from doing what is natural, if it would be harmful to everyone else.

      Quote 2:
      “Perhaps a relevant question to ask is what is it in the way society is constructed that brings forth this kind of violence?”

      Well, this is a very good question and I don’t have a good answer. But read your Quote 1 again — it is possible that the way society is put together has nothing at all to do with why some people commit mass murder. In some mysterious way, it’s in our nature. “Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

      However, that answer probably doesn’t apply to all violent criminals, or maybe even all terrorists — they are not all just transcendently evil, some probably have a legitimate grievance (which they reacted to in a completely illegitimate way). If that is true, we can ask ourselves what that grievance might be, and if we can work to make it go away. This is what Pastabagel wants us to do. I am also a million percent in favor of that approach when it is possible. However, in the case of the Norway attacks, I am pessimistic. To show why, I will state three possible types of grievances the attacker might have, in the case that he is not simply a Joker-type psychopath, and explore what, if anything, we can do about them.

      Possibility A: We don’t have to guess what the attacker’s grievance is, he told us — he hates multiculturalism. Sorry, that’s not on the table. Multiculturalism and racial tolerance are great achievements. We don’t negotiate with terrorists.

      Possibility B: Multiculturalism is not the reason he’s mad at all, he’s just using that as a justification. He’s actually frustrated with the world for much more mundane reasons — crappy job, no girlfriend, whatever. So, we try to make the world a better place, or whatever. But it’s impossible to make the world perfect, so even if your life sucks, there’s no excuse to go kill several dozen innocent people. We expect people to handle their disappointment and anger with rum and porn like civilized adults. People that can’t do that are why we have police; there’s nothing to do with them but restrain them physically.

      Possibility C: “He doesn’t hate multiculturalism per se, he hates that he feels dehumanized for not thinking the correct thoughts all the time.” I sympathize, but it’s not like Norway is North Korea, right? You can think, say, and write whatever you want, and the government isn’t going to arrest you for thoughtcrime. “No, you don’t get it. Not all oppression is overtly forceful like that; he’s mad that everyone has been conditioned to think he’s an animal for hating black people.” Again, I sympathize. But let’s keep our priorities straight. If there’s a way to accommodate him culturally while doing precisely zero harm to minorities, then by all means. But that doesn’t seem very easy to me. Does anyone have an idea in this direction?

      • hanba says:

        Thanks for taking the time to reply. What I reacted to was the harsh tone betraying emotions on the comment thread, not the pro-tolerance views themselves. Why this harshness directed at PB? Some of the commentators have even praised reason as the way to respond to this horrible deed. In many internet forums it is common to bash, but what I’ve really liked about the Partial Objects is that the discussions have been quite civilized.

        As to the violence, I think we agree. You wrote it is possible that the way society is put together has nothing at all to do with why some people commit mass murder. In some mysterious way, it’s in our nature. “Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. Some men just want to watch the world burn.” I believe the tendency for violence itself does not necessarily have to do with the culture, but the culture influences how it’s expressed. The delusions of the schizophrenics can be seen as a parallel; the patients are delusional everywhere, but the expressions thereof vary between cultures and time. For example, back in the days a common content of hallucinations was religious, whereas during the Cold War the Russians might have been involved. Today a patient may feel being watched through his iphone. Even though an individual may just be violent no matter what, it is interesting why he or she chooses their particular ways to express it. If this was the first deed of its kind, it could be dismissed as a lone gunman gone crazy. However, as there have been several deeds of this kind (school shootings, snipers targeting immigrants etc) in today’s Nordic countries, it is fair to ask what in his surroundings have influenced the shooter to choose this particular way to be violent.

        • TheDevastator says:

          Yes, I agree with that. I hope I haven’t been too hostile in this thread; even if I haven’t, thanks for the reminder. Pastabagel is one of the most thoughtful bloggers I read; I don’t agree with him fully on this topic, but I’m appreciative for this very interesting post.

      • DataShade says:

        If there’s a way to accommodate him culturally while doing precisely zero harm to minorities, then by all means. But that doesn’t seem very easy to me. Does anyone have an idea in this direction?

        Not really, because “he’s mad that everyone has been conditioned to think he’s an animal for hating” isn’t a real thing; you can’t prove people are conditioned to think that way versus having come to that conclusion naturally versus faking it better than you are. That’s a conspiracy theory beyond rational thought, which he’s either deeply irrational or outright crazy.

        Accomodating him after he’s gotten to that point is, in my opinion, impossible. No one’s born a self-obsessed sad-sack with a simmering resentment towards everyone different and a hatred for everyone who’s happy (and yes, I said that right: resentment for those who are different, not hatred, because if you’re obviously different and not openly discriminated against, that’s society saying ‘it’s ok, you don’t have to fit in, we’ll make room for you – but not the native son, he has to throw away what makes him special and reduce himself to our level’; hatred is for those who live in that system and are happy, because if you’re happy you’re supporting the enemy – or just proving what I tell myself is a lie). We can catch those people before they go bad, and yes, you do that by amping up integration, eliminating isolation. Get a couple of muslim kids in every kindergarten class from coast to coast, and 25 years from now the would-be copycat gay mage terrorists will be ranting about how if only there were *more* proper muslim girls, nordic women wouldn’t be so slutty….

  21. Fifi says:

    I’m not so sure he hates multiculturalism per se, he seems to have a rather explicit hatred for Islam (though his pro-Israel/Zionist stance can be seen as advocating cultural separation, as well as just giving him a social and political network that shares his anti-Islam sentiments). This is not a non-mainstream position in Europe or the US (there are successful political parties on both continents that advocate this position and there are pointedly anti-Islamic laws being made in countries like France). In Europe, being anti-Islam is not automatically tied into religion – it’s worth remembering that there’s a long history of Islam vs Christianity in many European countries (and the reason why there are so many Arabic and Persian immigrants in the UK and France is that they were colonial outposts and their citizens, by extension, were entitled to immigrate because of this).

    But, ultimately this is about the present. On a cultural level it’s a response to the changes going on in our world (on a personal level it seems to be the expression of a NPD and attempt to create a heroic image of himself – he’s no suicide bomber, the violence was his means to a personal end and not the end in itself, the personal end being a self-created image of himself as a radical Conservative hero…yeah, cognitive dissonance be damned). What people seem not to realize is that we’ve been going through a technological revolution that is equivalent to the invention of the printing press or the industrial revolution, this changes society – it’s easier to simply blame the *insert group closest at hand* to demonize (not to mention dragging up what’s now pretty ancient history) than grapple with the complexity of something new. Particularly if you’re someone with no solid sense of self who decides to fill that void with Nationalism (not surprisingly, he kept joining and leaving groups like the Masons and the national right wing party in Norway because they weren’t “radical enough” – one suspects that really means they simply didn’t think him or his ideas were really that great and weren’t about to give him a platform).

    One thing I find ironic, if we look at this in a full historical context, is that the ancient Vikings in their own weird way were multiculturalists. They’d invade another country and then integrate themselves (marrying local people, adopting useful financial/political systems, etc).

    • DataShade says:

      This is not a non-mainstream position in Europe or the US (there are successful political parties on both continents that advocate this position and there are pointedly anti-Islamic laws being made in countries like France).

      Agree and disagree. There’s been speculation – possibly even here? – that France’s anti-headgear laws aren’t so much anti-Muslim as they are pro-CCTV; you can’t have total awareness surveillance if you can’t see the faces of 15% of your population, after all.

      But agree, because I used to play an MMO with a bunch of Europeans, and one guy in particular was pretty funny, very helpful and friendly, seemed to have a lot of the same general opinions I did (joked about sending hatemail every day to NCSoft for shuttering Tabula Rasa without releasing the sourcecode for private servers), but would then go off on bizarre tangents about muslims coming to Norway to rape women and start street gangs, but I could never find much in the way of primary sources, just sites like this, where they go from defending anti-muslims as being “pro-woman” then calling their opponents things like “lesbian Jewess.” There was an article from January 2010, where Oslo police recorded 21 rapes for 2009, which the article specifies is the most ever recorded by Oslo police for as long as they’ve collected such statistics – which was started in 2006. If you’re asking me to believe no one got raped in your country’s capitol from 900 through 2006, I don’t believe you. In Sweden in 2005, the Domestic Violence Unit captain was interviewed about the fact that reported rapes had doubled in the last decade:

      “I think that’s great news,” says Anna Gustafsson, head of the Domestic Violence Unit at the Malm Police. She suggests that the increase is due to the fact that women who otherwise wouldn’t press charges for rape now choose to contact the police.

  22. vprime says:

    “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.’”

    Talk about marginalization. I’m pretty sure racists and anti-immigration people are quite happy to let us know that what they are against is a loss of their (particular) Western culture, history and social position (see: “They took our jobs!”) due to being “replaced” by immigrants. The world in which they can be assured of certain position by birth or ethnic group is shifting to one in which their position is increasingly unclear. I don’t think it’s a deep secret that racists fear the strange culture and languages of the people they target with hate.

    I don’t believe that racism goes as unexamined as Pastabagel assumes here. We are asking why. The real question is whether “why” is enough. Perhaps there are deeper questions we should be asking. As many of the above have stated, legitimizing racist attitudes rarely has useful outcomes. It seems like what Pastabagel proposes is just more coddling of the sort conservatives are always claiming liberals indulge in with violent criminals.

    • JohnJ says:

      No, you’re not asking “why”. You think you already know why. It’s because they’re evil. I think that’s what Pastabagel is saying.

      • DataShade says:

        Yes, Pastabagel is definitely saying that no one asks the xenophobes why they’re xenophobic, and vprime’s retort is: is there any conceivable explanation that would matter? Bigotry, racial violence, prejudice etc are all contrary to the goals of a free and civil society. Besides:

        Even if [something] made him completely insane, the fact is that he regularly puts himself in situations that involve something getting punched, and the only explanation for that is that he doesn’t see rules as objectively applying to him, he only sees his behavior as situational, in his context. In other words, there’s always this: “well, hold on, this is a different situation, let me explain…” followed by [fifteen hundred pages] of words. There’s always an explanation, it’s always different this time, which just means it’s exactly the same.

        I replaced ‘the drugs’ and ‘two hours’ with ‘something’ and ‘fifteen hundred pages,’ but I hope the meaning is clear.

    • Fifi says:

      As a music nerd, I think it’s really, really important to note that alongside the “rise in hateful music” there’s been an even bigger rise and wider social acceptance of music from immigrant group’s home cultures and fusions of modern and traditional forms of music in both Europe and North America. And, hey, leave metal alone! ;-) There’s actually some quite good documentaries about that event and the surrounding factors (if you want some insight into it).

    • philtrum says:

      The world in which they can be assured of certain position by birth or ethnic group is shifting to one in which their position is increasingly unclear.

      And if the position they expect is “always better off than people of other ethnic groups”, then that’s shameful; but if what they want/expect is employment and a decent standard of living, I would say that their insecurity is valid and not simply a matter of racism.

      • DataShade says:

        Insecurity about employment and standards of living is definitely part of it, but, if the reduced employment/SOL security occurred in the wake of 9/11, why blame Islamic terrorism and muslims? Answer: racism.

        I mean, I’m sure the malcontents have an explanation that doesn’t involve racism, but if there was an economic downturn after 9/11, does that mean Islamic Terrorism is to blame, or does it mean that the preceeding years were an artifically-inflated boom that had to go bust sooner or later, etc?
        Even if you can objectively prove that the downturn is solely the fault of global jihad/Islamic terror, can you prove that every muslim – hell, any one specific muslim! – who emigrated to the EU came as part of a secret muslim terror plot, rather than immigrating in an attempt to flee the war overtaking their homeland, or even just because your country is famous for its welfare state, etc?
        If you can prove the muslims came to commit future-terror, why are they risking their mission or exposing their cell by raping women?
        If the rapes are part of the terror plan, how were there only 21 reported rapes in Oslo in 2009, when my current place of residence has half the population and over 100 more reported rapes for the same year – doesn’t that imply that secret terror cells of Muslim murder-rapists are less efficient at brutalising women than the Average American Joe?

        If you believe your economy is going into the toilet and, in searching for an answer, you stop at “brown people!” then you’re still behaving shamefully, no matter how fragile the economy might be.

        • thecobrasnose says:

          You’ve mentioned rape and related statistics in Oslo a couple of times now, DataShade, but a newer set was recently released that made news: http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article190268.ece

          “Of the 111 charged with rape in Oslo last year, 72 were of non-western ethnic origin, 25 are classified as Norwegian or western and 14 are listed as unknown.Rape charges in the capital are spiraling upwards, 40 percent higher from 1999 to 2000 and up 13 percent so far this year.Nine out of ten cases do not make it to prosecution, most of them because police do not believe the evidence is sufficient to reach a conviction…While 65 percent of those charged with rape are classed as coming from a non-western background, this segment makes up only 14.3 percent of Oslo’s population. Norwegian women were the victims in 80 percent of the cases, with 20 percent being women of foreign background.”

          Not that this in any way justifies the recent slaughter, or racism at all, or should be used to defame innocent men of whatever origin. And I’ll go ahead and repeat that lest I be misunderstood: Not that this in any way justifies the recent slaughter, or racism at all, or should be used to defame innocent men of whatever origin. But if you’re going to be flip about rape, especially in a place where you don’t live (and at the expense of “the Average American Joe”), you might want to have your facts in order.

          • DataShade says:

            First: Um, “newer set was recently released that made news?” I … don’t believe you. The date-stamp on that article appears to be September 5th, 2001. Can you reconcile that? Google lets you sort search results by date, go ahead and look for that article title, “OSLO RAPE STATISTIC SHOCK,” you’ll see basically the exact same article you copy-pasted. Since your premise is invalid, do I even need to continue?

            Let’s assume I do. Second, from the article: “Rape charges in the capital are spiraling upwards, 40 percent higher from 1999 to 2000 and up 13 percent so far this year” but the links I provided last time around quoted an Oslo police department head (the woman in charge of investigating crimes like rape) as saying they didn’t start tracking specifics on rape charges until 2006, so where are those 5-7 years of numbers coming from?
            The way the press and anti-immigrant activists handle the issue makes me very uncomfortable, as it’s consistent with (at best) yellow journalism or (at worst) outright racism. Let’s say my suspicions are wrong, and this isn’t fear-mongering or racism; if it’s a serious issue, a real epidemic: why can’t a major paper fact-check?

            Third: “Nine out of ten cases do not make it to prosecution, most of them because police do not believe the evidence is sufficient to reach a conviction.” I’m really going to need to see some more information on that 90% abandonment rate. Got a chart of reached-prosecution by race over the last 10 years and maybe a conviction by race chart? I’d love to know how many rape charges reach prosecution now and each year over the last decade (is it that same 90%?), how many of the cases that reach prosecution are of immigrants, and how many convictions per year there are now and over the last decade.

            Oh, and arrests. Are the police convincing women not to file official charges? Or are they unable to locate the suspects? Or are they making arrests and having the suspect walk on lack of evidence? Corruption, incompetence, or unfounded allegations? All three are serious, but imply that proper enforcement of the laws on the books would (if you believe at all that punishment deters future offense) clear up the problem without any need to round up and execute all the immigrants.

            That being said: mea culpa, I said “29 reported rapes,” but it’s possible that, with the 90% discrepancy, that should have been “rape prosecutions.” I don’t see that distinction made in the article I quoted, but maybe I missed something.

            So the picture I’m left with here is: rape numbers spiked up over 100 in Oslo in 2001, but were down to 29 by 2009? Who’s right, and, again: if this is a serious issue and not a moral panic, why are there basically only two primary-source articles, one from ten years ago and one from two years ago?

  23. JohnJ says:

    This guy is nothing more than a child-murdering coward. The only reason he killed those kids is because he wants a media platform. He’s made it clear that he will release a statement of his grand design on Monday. I, for one, plan to be focusing on the victims. This guy deserves mockery and contempt, not glorification or opportunities for more self-aggrandizement.

    • ThomasR says:

      I agree that this man is a child-murderer. But I don’t think that mockery and contempt have ever accomplished anything good. Yes, some things should be condemned and punished. But contempt is where I think PB’s argument has a point. That’s where the alienation comes in. Draw a line.

      I agree with the “liberals(?)” that vengeance is not the correct response, and with PB that dehumanizing people who want vengeance is also bad. I’m still unclear on how that makes him anti-liberal, but whatever.

      Usually in a situation like this I would say that the media should move on, but I think that this case does need some media attention. If he really does represent some sort of fringe culture in Norway/Europe, then without a solution there will be more and more serious problems arising later.

      • ThomasR says:

        p.s. mockery and contempt could also feed into his sense of self-aggrandizement.

        • JohnJ says:

          He wrote that he expected to be slandered as a homosexual, a pedophile, and a monster, all of which he denied being. I don’t want to slander him. I want him mocked and held in contempt for what he is: a child-murdering terrorist coward. If by doing so, other child-murdering terrorist cowards are dehumanized, I’m strangely alright with that. As many others have commented, you can’t please everyone.

          He is a monster, though. It sickens me to think how the sensationalist media will feed into his narcissism, though. He’s expecting a microphone and a platform Monday, which he’ll likely get. But I plan to focus on the victims that day instead.

          • mwigdahl says:

            He is a child-murderer and a terrorist for sure. Why do you also label him a coward? I understand you want additional pejoratives for him; why this one specifically?

          • JohnJ says:

            Because I think that one will hurt him the most. He wants to see himself as a knight fighting against barbarism. He likely will enjoy the attacks on his character because he sees himself as a heroic martyr for his cause. Being confronted with the truth that he’s just a murderer of children who failed his cause by using such despicable tactics will hopefully hurt him.

            Yes, I want him to hurt for what he did. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

          • mwigdahl says:

            Understandable. Maybe if he’s not smart, that one might work. But if he truly sees himself as a heroic martyr for his cause, he likely sees himself as having been the sole hero with the courage to step out of the crowd and act, striking his blows for the glory of… etc. etc. ad nauseam.

            He’ll be able to rationalize his way out of the cowardice accusation with ease, and not without reason. If he sees himself as a “knight fighting against barbarism”, as you assert, then he wasn’t acting out of cowardice, regardless of whether you judge his actions cowardly or not.

            If you really want to hurt him, come up with a line of attack that punches through his constructed identity and makes him feel like he’s just garden-variety, unexceptional, faceless, and forgettable.

          • JohnJ says:

            If you really want to hurt him, come up with a line of attack that punches through his constructed identity and makes him feel like he’s just garden-variety, unexceptional, faceless, and forgettable.

            If “child-murdering coward” doesn’t do that, I can’t imagine anything else would.

          • mwigdahl says:

            I don’t know. Sticking him in a cell and never talking to or about him again might do the trick. As long as the media feeding frenzy continues, he is the main character in the story.

            Calling him anything just increases his sense of self-importance. There’s no such thing as bad press, after all.

      • DataShade says:

        But I don’t think that mockery and contempt have ever accomplished anything good.

        Mockery and contempt convinced a bunch of kids who wanted to beat me up in middle school that their friends would think they’re cowards if they fought me five-on-one like they planned, and got them to fight one-on-one instead.

        Mockery and contempt convinced a lot of politicians to back off dangerous and/or unpopular ideas, or voting themselves pay raises.

        Alone has written a few articles about “crowdsourcing the superego,” and how it leads people to feeling like they’re allowed to abandon moral absolutes in favor of doing whatever their community will tolerate, but that crowdsourced superego, or mockery and contempt, at least serves as a thin line between an internally unchecked ego and, say, hunting hobos for sport.

  24. Pastabagel says:

    Wow, 101 comments and counting…

    Let me ask everyone a question: what do you want to be true. Do you want the killer to be some certifiably insane lunatic? Do you want him to be an extreme embodiment of right wing sentiments that are framed more delicately by right wing politicians? Do you want him to be a a white supremacist, or do you want his hate specifically limited to anti-Muslim hate?

    Whatever you want to believe, it is a reflection of you. Our belief and moral systems make make us who we are, but how we got them in the first place is often a very interesting, complex, and often tragic story.

    The only sentiment I expressed is that you need to engage these kinds of people. Not this guy specifically, and after the fact. You need to go into the communities where they live, understand their daily existence, their upbringing, their histories, and find the patterns. When people fear immigration for instance, what are they really worried about. The answer is personal, but across many people, it may be common. Or their may be a small set of answers. I’m resentful about losing my job, I feel emasculated, etc. People don’t become racist killers after conducting sociological surveys and doing statistical analysis.

    The objective is not to compromise on issues of immigration or tolerance, it’s to understand the conditions that give rise to extreme views.

    This isn’t an isolated incident, and the killer’s feelings certainly are not unique to him. That means that this kind of hate is a by-product of the society in which we live. Are you going to defend the status quo of society and declare it perfect? No, so that means that it is imperfect, which therefore means there are things about it that can be fixed or improved. This kind of reactionary sentiment is the clue to the location of one of those imperfections.

    It means that in all the progress, all the enlightened thinking, all of which is good and right, something got left behind. Time to find out what that is, don’t you think?

    • JohnJ says:

      Putting this particular individual aside and looking at the community of those share his feelings, I don’t know if it’s all that complicated. It seems to me that they’re worried that the changing culture will create insecurity for their future. He also writes that people are afraid to discuss their feelings, but others say that there’s all kinds of expressions of resentment against immigrants. Other than being open and tolerant, what else can society do?

      • sunshinefiasco says:

        There are open expressions of resentment against immigrants because there are race issues in Norway (and Scandinavia more generally).

        He says that people are afraid to discuss their feelings because that’s how racist dogma works– “Everyone feels the way I do/Everyone knows X, they’re just afraid to say it”. (Also, whatever the expressions of hatred are, they’re not enough/not widespread enough.)

        How do you instill openness and tolerance in someone who’s already angry? First you have to address the anger– that’s what PB is suggesting, I believe.

        • DataShade says:

          He says that people are afraid to discuss their feelings because that’s how racist dogma works– “Everyone feels the way I do/Everyone knows X, they’re just afraid to say it”.

          Also, implied: I said it first, or best, and therefore I’m special.

          How do you instill openness and tolerance in someone who’s already angry? First you have to address the anger– that’s what PB is suggesting, I believe.

          I think he writes off actual murderers as sort of a lost cause, but he’s definitely looking for a way to prevent other people from getting to that same point. Understand each person’s anger, look for common traits, find something or things that can deflect or deflate that anger, and pre-empt it.

          I just don’t have that kind of optimism – you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped; you can’t correct a bad habit without them admitting the problem, let alone cure an irrational hate that leads to mass murder.

    • DataShade says:

      Let me ask everyone a question: what do you want to be true. Do you want the killer to be some certifiably insane lunatic? Do you want him to be an extreme embodiment of right wing sentiments that are framed more delicately by right wing politicians? Do you want him to be a a white supremacist, or do you want his hate specifically limited to anti-Muslim hate?

      I don’t want him to be anything, I don’t need him to be anything – except convicted of murder, incarcerated, and forgotten by everyone except the small group of people in corrections who are trying to either rehabilitate him or isolate him or some combination of the two. I mean … he just murdered close to one hundred children, the copycat gay mage terrorist can be whatever he wants to be – in a 9×5, alone, because by his actions he just ‘voted himself off the island.’

      • DataShade says:

        The only sentiment I expressed is that you need to engage these kinds of people. Not this guy specifically, and after the fact. You need to go into the communities where they live, understand their daily existence, their upbringing, their histories, and find the patterns. When people fear immigration for instance, what are they really worried about. The answer is personal, but across many people, it may be common. Or their may be a small set of answers. I’m resentful about losing my job, I feel emasculated, etc. People don’t become racist killers after conducting sociological surveys and doing statistical analysis.

        I don’t really disagree, but … didn’t he do informal surveys and statistical analysis? I’d by lying if I said I carefully reviewed his entire manifesto, and JohnJ linked to an article alleging much the manifesto was plagiarized from the UnABomber, so any information or declarations therein are probably suspect anyways, but he was very methodical, big on creating a replicatable procedure for others to follow, and building a movement.

        Of course, I’m splitting hairs: that methodical planning and analysis was before he was a racist killer, but after he decided to become a racist killer. You want to make sure society does more to integrate people rather than leaving them on their own to make those decisions, you want to wet the powder, not try to deflect the ball after it’s left the cannon.

        Yet, copycat gay mage terrorist was apparently successful enough to be comfortable, a business owner and a citizen with the right to vote, and if he didn’t like any of the politicians he could have voted for, he could have run for office himself, but he didn’t; he went through more and more extreme political parties trying to find a home and none of them were willing to go as far as he wanted.

        And yet, I’m still splitting hairs – you don’t care about copycat gay mage terrorist at all; speculation on specific steps that might have stopped him – now, after the fact – are useless. Your only suggestion are gross generalities like “find the patterns.” Alone offers a stark commonality for people who see others as inhumans (ahuman?), movie-set extras, obstacles or partial objects, and a sort-of answer: the only constant in all of your failed relationships is you. If no political party fits, if no agenda satisfies, maybe the problem is you. How do you tell a pre-murderous, but already suspicious, insular, threatened subset of your population something like that without sending them into that killing rage? I don’t know, I’m an asshole not a sensy.

        How do you keep people from drifting off into that ego-emo subset that I personally couldn’t talk to without starting a fight? In my opinion, two things: more multiculturalism, more integration – you can’t demonize The Other if there’s no Other – and an education that teaches people not just traditional skills (like how to multiply without a calculator, in case the Emberverse ever comes true), but relevant skills – like how Alone goes off on stock-trading tangents and discussions of business models for new doctors.

        Is that enough? Probably not – but I doubt any country has the budget for Psy Ops doling out blowjobs to lonely losers.

    • DataShade says:

      This isn’t an isolated incident, and the killer’s feelings certainly are not unique to him. That means that this kind of hate is a by-product of the society in which we live.

      It means that in all the progress, all the enlightened thinking, all of which is good and right, something got left behind. Time to find out what that is, don’t you think?

      You’re taking ownership – on all our behalves – of someone else’s, or some other class of people’s, feelings? Are you even sure something got left behind? Are you sure it isn’t something very old being dragged along into the future? I wish I was that confident – of assuming responsibility for strangers, or of your convictions.

      I’m not saying it isn’t worth investigating, but: shouldn’t the burden of proof be on the vote-for-hate crowd? I went through a goth phase, I played video games, I got called ‘trenchcoat mafia guy’ in college – when I’d never even owned a trenchcoat! Society gave me every opportunity to blame it for my unhappiness and the closest I’ve come to plotting to bomb a political event was when I told my stepfather if he didn’t stop forwarding me invitations to his political fundraiser BBQs I’d egg his house.

      What I’m saying is: if I assumed society was to blame, and it was going to come down to some kind of fight-or-flight, it’s not like I could shoot society, so that impulse was dangerously irrelevant, like baring your teeth and growling at a rabid dog. Lots of people believe in the tenets of various forms of bigotry and have plenty of pseudo-science studies and statistics or bible verses – whatever their favorite evidence is – to back it up, but lots of people believed flies grew out of rotten meat or that the earth was flat or that the sun revolved around the earth and those weren’t “social issues,” they were a dangerous combination of magical thinking and unquestioning acceptance of limited observations.

    • mwigdahl says:

      Let me ask everyone a question: what do you want to be true. Do you want the killer to be some certifiably insane lunatic? Do you want him to be an extreme embodiment of right wing sentiments that are framed more delicately by right wing politicians? Do you want him to be a a white supremacist, or do you want his hate specifically limited to anti-Muslim hate?

      It’s a good question. Here’s what I want: I want the reason this man went off the rails and killed a bunch of people to be fixable. I want there to be something we can do that will stop this from happening again, without causing worse unintended consequences.

      Unfortunately, I fear the Lovecraftian truth here is that it’s not fixable; that it’s impossible to provide enough meaning-substitutes and impulse sublimation/redirection venues to ensure that everyone sees themselves as the specialest snowflake in some tiny slice of life, even with Google+, World of Warcraft, and hot and cold running internet porn. I fear that someone will always feel marginalized enough and isolated enough to lead them to conclude that doing something horrible is the right thing to do.

      And the worst part is that we’ll keep trying to fix the problem, anyway, at an ever-increasing cost of money and liberty.

    • Fifi says:

      It’s all nice and fine to say “we/you have to engage these/those people” but it seems a bit naive to me on a couple of levels (and, from your post, like advice from someone who has never actually spent much/any time engaging with ideologues of this kind). The first level it seems naive on is that it seems to misunderstand how narcissistic personality disorders (and people with NPD) function and to be quite naive about empathic engagement with people who have NPD. He’s already using empathy as a weapon against “the public” (that’s likely to be one reason why he chose to kill children, to create maximum impact/grief/horror) and revealed himself not to be someone who experiences empathy. So, while remaining compassionate is something you or I may choose to do for ourselves (and our self image or to help create the results we’re interested in), having any true form of empathy is pretty impossible for most of us. Projecting imagined feelings of anger, out of control rage or whatever onto him because you imagine that’s what he feels is, well, what you want to believe. The problem is, being someone who experiences empathy doesn’t actually equip us to have empathy for someone who doesn’t (it’s a bit of a catch-22, we end up projecting what we would feel or believe we would feel in a situation or what we believe might drive us to such actions, this is obviously not empathy but a projection).

      Well, that and this guy is being “engaged with” (he’s been arrested, questioned, etc), it’s just being done on our terms and not his. It’s also interesting that people view his actions as self destructive when it’s completely the opposite, this is all about constructing a self and putting it on an international stage. Just because it would be self destructive for you or I to kill children for attention, doesn’t mean it is for him.

  25. Pastabagel says:

    I don’t believe that racism goes as unexamined as Pastabagel assumes here. We are asking why. The real question is whether “why” is enough. Perhaps there are deeper questions we should be asking. As many of the above have stated, legitimizing racist attitudes rarely has useful outcomes.

    What are you even talking about, “legitimizing racist attitudes?” I’m not saying to examine racism, I’m saying to examine what make a person become a racist. Specifically, what makes a Norweigian in 2011 a racist. What kinds of lives do these people lead, what upbringing did they have, what kinds of relationships do they have with other people. A lot of people have racist prejudices and lead normal lives and interact with people of all races and there’s no problem. They can function. But what makes a person choose to define their identity as racist, or anti-muslim or whatever, above all other characteristics? This guy basically sacrificed his life/freedom to for his “cause.” It was that important to him. FIND OUT WHY. And if we find out why, we can start to unpack the problem, which is an essential step to stopping this from happening again.

    • DataShade says:

      This guy basically sacrificed his life/freedom to for his “cause.” It was that important to him. FIND OUT WHY

      I get what you’re trying to say, but: no. Martin Luther King Jr. sacrificed his life and freedom for his cause, Thich Quang Duc sacrificed himself for his cause, copycat gay mage terrorist Anders sacrificed 92 innocent people for his sense of self-worth, and as such there is absolutely no reason to give him anything that he wants.

    • TheDevastator says:

      Pastabagel wrote:
      “This guy basically sacrificed his life/freedom to for his ’cause.’ It was that important to him. FIND OUT WHY. And if we find out why, we can start to unpack the problem, which is an essential step to stopping this from happening again.”

      It’s not mysterious. He told us why. He wrote a 1500-page manifesto. He hates racial pluralism in general and Muslims in particular. Your move. How do we accommodate that?

      What do you want to be true, Pastabagel? Why don’t you want to take him at his word?

      • Pastabagel says:

        You are still misunderstanding. You think I said that we need to understand his particular strain of racism, all its nuances, all his arguments. We don’t. We need to understand why he became a racist in the first place, what planted the first seeds of it. Frustration? Joblessness? Wounded pride.

        You don’t take anyone at their word, and we don’t accommodate his demands at all. The contents of his entire manifesto constitute a symptom. The fact that he decided to sit down and write a manifesto is a symptom. Taking him at his word still doesn’t answer the questions that need to be answered. I don’t know that the answer is. And neither does Norway, because guy is simply the most extreme representative of a more docile but also larger group of people.

        It’s often said that an extreme right wing is the response to a failed left, and if the left is supposed to be progressive, it means that the move towards progress left something behind, as I already said. Maybe the left failed because the social stability and equalization isn’t as stable or as equal as we thought. Or maybe the left failed because the equalization worked too well, and prevented people from breaking out and doing what they wanted with their lives. Or maybe a million other possible unintended consequences.

        He isn’t a racist because that’s a rational conclusion that people can arrive at. He’s a racist because it’s the only identity that worked for him. In his mind every other path in life left him with no identity, or at least no stable one.

        Again, for the billion time, let me rephrase. I am not talking about negotiating with racists on issues of race. I’m not talking about giving him what he wants. I’m talking about investigation the conditions that cause people to become racist.

        • vprime says:

          “You are still misunderstanding. You think I said that we need to understand his particular strain of racism, all its nuances, all his arguments. We don’t. We need to understand why he became a racist in the first place, what planted the first seeds of it. Frustration? Joblessness? Wounded pride.”

          Where’s TLP with his Narcissism flag? I don’t see the mystery in a white male losing his shit because he isn’t Master of the Universe as car ads and action movies have led him to believe.

          The question of why racists are racist is fairly pointless, because whatever the cause, there’s no argument that will penetrate the racist’s self-selected worldview.

          • CubaLibre says:

            Again, the point isn’t to “cure” or “convert” Anders: he’s done. The point is to prevent the creation of future Anderses. It’s true that it may be impossible; it may be that reactionary fallout from a liberal society is inevitable because of some concatenation of causes. But then again, maybe it isn’t. No way to tell until we start asking.

        • TheDevastator says:

          I think I understand you much better now, thank you. I think it is very possible that you are correct. The manifesto, the racism, the attacks, these could be symptoms of… something. Sorry to say I don’t know what it is either, but I think the question is one that smart people should think about. However, I believe we still disagree about something very important. It comes down to this sentence, from the above,

          “He isn’t a racist because that’s a rational conclusion that people can arrive at.”

          I disagree; I don’t think that’s categorically true. Sometimes racism is irrational, a symptom of some psychological injury. But sometimes racism is completely rational, in the sense of rational self-interest. Racism is most often framed as oppressing minorities. But there is another, much less popular way to look at it, which is that racism privileges the majority. Institute civil rights, and the privilege goes away. The privilege is real and not trivial. If I’m in the majority (white, in Norway) I don’t want to lose my privilege, and it would be completely rational of me to fight against civil rights. My privilege is unjust, so I’m a bad person for fighting against civil rights, but I am rational.

          Moderate liberals often make a certain kind of argument that drives me nuts, even as I recognize its tactical utility: “Making life better for (oppressed group) can do nothing to injure (privileged group).” Of course it can! Random example: increasing, say, the participation of women in math and science means, ceteris paribus, that fewer men will get jobs in those fields. Now, if I’m a man, I have no right to take a job over a better-qualified woman; by all rights, she should get the job, agreed. But I have to be an unusually good person to recognize that, and not get hostile toward women in my field. If I do get hostile, it just means I’m not a very good person. I am probably perfectly rational; I don’t (necessarily) have a dark, Freudian hatred of women. Do you see the difference?

          You also said,
          “It’s often said that an extreme right wing is the response to a failed left, and if the left is supposed to be progressive, it means that the move towards progress left something behind…”

          This idea attributes to the left too much agency, while framing the right as just reacting to what the left does, which is an oversimplification. I am willing to concede the possibility that the right has its own agency and ideas just as the left does, and is trying to make the world better according to its own vision. The problem is that the left’s vision and the right’s vision are simply incompatible. We can compromise to some extent and try to understand each other, but after doing that there will be something left that cannot be negotiated. There will be nothing left to do but either surrender, or say, “I’m right.” “No, I’m right.” “Well, let’s fight and see who wins.”

          TL;DR: Your idea that racism is always caused by irrational forces that can be fixed by benign means is comforting but false. Not everything is a mistake or a disease, sometimes people are just evil. These people will tell us exactly what they really do want, and it will be something bad. I don’t know which possibility actually applies to Breivik, but I do argue that both possibilities exist.

          • JohnJ says:

            Regarding the incompatibility of left and right, fighting isn’t an inevitable outcome. There’s always the possibility of each allowing the other, along with any other group, to try it their way. Live and let live isn’t a bad idea.

          • TheDevastator says:

            Sometimes. But sometimes my ideology says that “live and let live” is verboten; not only do I have to live a certain way, but I have to make you live that way also. How to compromise then? And do we send our kids to the same schools? What should they learn? And so on.

          • JohnJ says:

            Maybe whether the ideology is a “live and let live” one is the measure of whether it’s compatible with civilization.

          • TheDevastator says:

            I agree, somewhat. But there are two problems:

            1. Your argument is, itself, a political position, with which not everyone agrees.

            2. Even if we all agree in principle that “live and let live” is a good principle to follow, the interpretation and implementation are highly controversial. Does it mean libertarianism? Which variety? Or can the government provide some services out of tax revenue? Can I own any kind of weapon I want, or are there limits? If I own a business, can I pay my workers whatever I want? Dump waste wherever I want? And so on. In those debates and all others, each side can plausibly claim that it is fighting for maximum freedom, or the type of freedom that really matters.

            Notice these questions are usually not decided by pure logic — the losing side is not convinced, they are violently overthrown or outvoted. In Western society, usually we use the second method, which, thank God. But voting is, in a way, a form of physical force. The majority gets to decide what happens, and the minority can suck it. That’s what I was trying to say; not that we always fight physically, but that politics, even in a democracy, is about power most of the time, and not persuasion.

          • JohnJ says:

            You could say that about anything, even about whether or not people should be reasonable, or whether people should not be slaves, or whether murder should be unlawful.

            If you think that murder should be unlawful, you don’t think that, well, it’s a difficult and complex issue, there are good arguments to be had on both sides, etc. If you think murder should be unlawful, you say “Murder should be unlawful and this is why I think so…”

            Likewise, if you think that “live and let live” should be the rule, you say “Live and let live should be the rule, and this is why I think so…”

          • TheDevastator says:

            Exactly! That’s what I’m saying. On any issue, at a certain point more argument is not going to change anyone’s mind. The two sides disagree, and they have to fight a war, hold an election, flip a coin, something. But the point is that different groups often really do have incompatible interests, it’s not just a misunderstanding.

            Getting back to the original point, this is more or less what I’m saying about racist groups in Norway. Contra Pastabagel, I argue that it’s possible that they are not mistaken, that they are pursuing their own interests with perfect rationality. What then? Well, we all just have to pick a side.

          • philtrum says:

            Liberals have been trying the “live and let live” line on right-wingers for decades. (“Don’t like abortions? Don’t have one.”) It doesn’t work.

        • Fifi says:

          Pastabagel – Can you think about this issue beyond the mutually reinforcing illusion of “left wing” vs “right wing”? This is a reality distortion field!

          If anything, some of the assumptions posters have made here about “left wing/democrats/liberals” vs “right wing/republicans/conservatives” reveals just how problematic and fact-obscuring this binary and oppositional mental model of the world can be.

          • JohnJ says:

            That’s really odd coming from someone who just joked about blaming “neocons” for this massacre.

          • JohnJ says:

            Help me understand this rule. It’s okay for you to joke about blaming mass murder on people you don’t like expressly because of their politics, but when other people mention politics, it’s “problematic and fact-obscuring” and “binary and oppositional”.

            Are you just a hypocrite or is there some logic here that I’m missing?

          • Fifi says:

            JohnJ – Ah, thanks for providing an example of reactionary defensiveness. So, you believe Murdoch is a neo-conservative so you’ve got your hackles up because I remarked that the media he owns in the UK promotes a certain viewpoint that’s considered neo-conservative? I don’t believe he’s a neo-conservative actually, he’s a guy with a NPD who (at times) promotes neo-conservativism when it suits his purposes. He’s also supported Feminism when it suits his purposes. But, whatever, you can stop jerking that knee in my direction now.

          • JohnJ says:

            That actually doesn’t address anything. Why are you allowed to bring up politics, but no one else is?

            But just to be clear, your “slightly facetious” statement was that Murdoch was to blame because he promoted “neocon” views, implying that those “neocon” views contributed to Anders’ act of terrorism.

            Al Gore promotes environmentalism (whether he really believes in it or not). Does that make him guilty for acts of terrorism committed by environmental nutcases? Do acts of terrorism by environmental nutcases discredit the idea of environmentalism altogether?

            Finally, do you have any ability to be consistent?

          • JohnJ says:

            In other words, I’m pointing out your hypocrisy, not attacking your politics.

          • Fifi says:

            No, you’ve decided that I’ve blamed Murdoch for the gunman’s actions when I haven’t and then gotten defensive about neocons (do you identify yourself as a “neo-conservative?). What I was pointing out was how Murdoch (who isn’t a neo-con or a neo-liberal, are you following?) uses his media outlets to try to influence the masses and politicians in countries where he owns media outlets and has been instrumental in mainstreaming certain ideas. You are aware that he switches allegiances whenever expedient and plays both sides of the political spectrum?

          • JohnJ says:

            The best way to attack me is to answer the questions I asked. Why are you allowed to bring up politics, but no one else is?

            Do you agree that your “slightly facetious” statement that Murdoch was to blame because he promoted “neocon” views, implied that those “neocon” views contributed to Anders’ act of terrorism?

            Do proponents of an idea bear guilt for acts of terrorism committed by lunatics? Do acts of terrorism by individual nutcases discredit whatever ideas they support?

            Finally, do you have any ability to be consistent?

          • Fifi says:

            I’ve also not said that nobody can bring up politics but me, I’ve simply tried to point out to Pastabagel that it’s not a useful way to think about this issue since it’s not actually what it’s really about. What I’ve simply said that we all get trapped when we believe it’s all neocon vs neoliberal (conservative vs liberal) – it’s binary thinking and it’s routinely used as a means to manipulate groups of people who identify as one or the other.

            For what it’s worth, the original comment was also somewhat inspired by people who assumed the shooter must be a homophobe because he identified himself as a Christian and a Conservative. The shooter has espoused beliefs that tend to be identified as both conservative AND liberal in North America. I have pointed out that high profile British atheists and Humanists, and French female politicians that identify as Feminist, have also promote some of the beliefs that the shooter did and framed it exactly the same way as the shooter did – as a culture war. I’m actually saying that this isn’t something that’s specific to identifying as conservative (neo or traditional conservative) or liberal (neo or traditional liberal) and that the ideology is just a peg for the shooter to hang his hat on (or construct his podium from).

          • Fifi says:

            “the best way to attack me…”

            Ah, so you want me to “attack you” because you’ve decided I’m the black to your white rather than actually clarify where you’ve misunderstood what I was writing about and what my actual beliefs may or may not be?

          • Pastabagel says:

            Fif, I would agree with you if Anders was an isolated nutjob or represented a very tiny minority. These far right parties are huge in Scandanavia, garnering more that 20% in some elections. Furthermore, as I pointed out in my article extreme violence is a growing problem there. It isn’t left-wing/right-wing in the American sense but in the liberal democracy/fascist-nationalist sense.

            The proximate cause is all about Anders, his psychology, his problems. But the proximate cause is about the condition of his life, and that condition may be shared by others. I only care about understanding Anders to the extent it helps prevent people from becoming like him in the future.

          • Fifi says:

            “Fif, I would agree with you if Anders was an isolated nutjob or represented a very tiny minority. These far right parties are huge in Scandanavia, garnering more that 20% in some elections. Furthermore, as I pointed out in my article extreme violence is a growing problem there. It isn’t left-wing/right-wing in the American sense but in the liberal democracy/fascist-nationalist sense.”

            I get that but I’m aware of the rise of Far Right parties in Europe and the world in general (it’s certainly not just Scandinavia). I suspect you may not be fully aware of the long history of domestic terrorism of various flavors or far right nationalist anti-immigration groups on Europe, however. Or I am perhaps wrong assuming ignorance on your part, as you have on mine ;-)

            “The proximate cause is all about Anders, his psychology, his problems. But the proximate cause is about the condition of his life, and that condition may be shared by others. I only care about understanding Anders to the extent it helps prevent people from becoming like him in the future.”

            Sure, I think it’s a noble goal to try to unravel the causation (and I’m playing right along with you) but what about considering that the causes are unique to him as an individual as well as the environment? Or examining his family context if we’re going to look at environment? (He’s a diplomat’s son, estranged from his father, by all accounts from a privileged upbringing…not dissimilar to some of the Saudi’s who have been involved in terrorism) Or, as an excellent article in the Guardian did, how the way the internet (where he formulated his beliefs to a large extent it seems) and how search functions tends to shore up fringe beliefs (as well as non-fringe ones, essentially it’s an invisible form of confirmation bias that even many critical thinkers are unaware of when they google a subject)? All to say, there are infinite causative strands and influences that led up to this event and many of them are interesting to ponder.

          • philtrum says:

            The best way to attack me is to answer the questions I asked. Why are you allowed to bring up politics, but no one else is?

            Yeah, and when did you stop beating your wife? And don’t say “I don’t have a wife”, or he’ll know you’re incapable of consistency, which will be devastating. To you.

    • Fifi says:

      “This guy basically sacrificed his life/freedom to for his “cause.”

      Is that what you want to be true? I’m not sure it is. Just like the assumption that his actions were self destructive tends to be challenged by just how self constructive these actions were obviously intended to be (if we do actually listen to what he has been saying so far). From what I’ve read so far it seems as if this IS this guy’s life, he believes he’s fighting for his freedom, he IS his “cause” – and by that I don’t only mean that he’s actually doing this for himself and not some ideal but that the idea he’s promoting is him.

  26. xylokopos says:

    Was expecting TLP to write this post, he tends to analyze the thought process of crazy fucks that shoot innocent people for something that makes sense only in their skulls rather well. What and why are you trying to figure out, PB? Why bad things happen to the undeserving? Why a guy that doesn’t like muzzies and immigrants goes and shoots a few dozen bathtub-white Norwegian kids? Because he is wired wrong, that’s why. Some nutters out there want to see the world in flames and they should be escorted behind a wall and shot in the back of their heads.

    It seems to me that you cling to the absurd belief that we can talk to, understand, correct, ameliorate every person and situation out there. Ridiculous.

    • DataShade says:

      It seems to me that you cling to the absurd belief that we can talk to, understand, correct, ameliorate every person and situation out there. Ridiculous.

      I understand his point – the more excluded people feel, the more likely they are to take violent action to be noticed/validated. (For that to be completely true, however, you have to replace “people” with “narcissists.”)

      If we want to eradicate social ills like bigotry, trying to shout down a bunch of bigots – who often want to be a in shouting match more than almost anything else – won’t help, but if we can sneak in early enough we might prevent them from becoming bigots in the first place, or at least make functional bigots who just beat their kids for buying rap CDs instead of sociopathic bigots who murder other people’s kids for ‘truth.’

      Offering to murder anyone who thinks wrong thoughts is just going to get the bigots in bed with the rational people to stop you, until which point that the violent sociopaths can get *you* up behind a wall.

      • xylokopos says:

        You understood nothing of the point I made.
        I don’t give two shits what bigots think or who is a bigot.
        I am all for shooting people who shoot kids to make whatever point the voices in their heads tell them.

        • DataShade says:

          You understood nothing of the point I made.

          I thought I did. Maybe you didn’t do a good job of it. Maybe you’d like to clarify what you think I got wrong.

          • xylokopos says:

            DataShade, I am all for “eradicating social ills”. In fact, Norway has done such a good job there, it makes other western nations look like a cross between Gotham City and Monrovia. And still, you get a guy like Breivik. Once in 60 years, but you get him. Cannot be prevented. No point in arguing what to do with him. Cannot be changed or understood. He is on a mission, he has a message, blablabla. A bullet is reasonable and more than merciful in his case.

          • DataShade says:

            Cannot be prevented.

            I don’t believe that, PastaBagel doesn’t believe that. If you’ve solved the equation for “can this be prevented” and come up with “no,” please show your work, the rest of the class is curious.

        • Pastabagel says:

          No offense, but the point you (xylokopos) made was silly. Some people are not just “wired wrong.” First, humans aren’t wired, they are people, not machines. Secondly, I didn’t say we need to understand him to help him, I said we need to understand how he ended up like this to prevent other people, in the future, from becoming like him. Jesus.

          “It seems to me that you cling to the absurd belief that we can talk to, understand, correct, ameliorate every person and situation out there. Ridiculous.”

          “I am all for shooting people who shoot kids ”

          Okay then, tough guy, why don’t you get a gun and start shooting child-killers? Oh right, you won’t because you’re a blowhard on the internet. Cut the tough guy bullshit. It sounds stupid, it is stupid, and impresses no one.

          • xylokopos says:

            I guess you could substitute “wired wrong” with “highly effective narcissistic sociopathic mass murderers”. Happier now?

            So, how do you prevent someone from killing dozens of unarmed and innocent people in order to send a message to his traitorous and culturally marxist government regarding Islam and muslim immigration, seeing how he is a modern Knight Templar on a mission not unlike the Crusades?

            I say since he is wir..oops, I mean since he is demonstrably a psychopath and not much understanding is to be had from his 1500-page long manifesto that places him somewhere between the Unabomber and Kevin Spacy’s character from Seven, escort him kindly behind a wall and shoot him. And according to you this makes me a stupid, internet tough guy.

            You are an interesting fella, PB.

      • Fifi says:

        “If we want to eradicate social ills like bigotry, trying to shout down a bunch of bigots – who often want to be a in shouting match more than almost anything else – won’t help, but if we can sneak in early enough we might prevent them from becoming bigots in the first place, or at least make functional bigots who just beat their kids for buying rap CDs instead of sociopathic bigots who murder other people’s kids for ‘truth.’”

        Um, but it seems that they do this in Norway and it’s part of what upset this particularly person with a NPD so much. He may not have goals or have taken actions that you or I think are reasonable but he’s actually a very high functioning person (and bigot), obviously, since he planned this whole series of events and pulled it off. Functionally, he’s actually more effective than a whole lot of us (granted it’s in a anti-social way, just like a lot of corporate executives who are sociopaths, but his planning was very effective and functioned to further his goals). We often mistake sociopathy for leadership in our culture (and certainty for knowledge/understanding).

  27. JohnJ says:

    After sleeping on it, I’ve developed an alternative hypothesis: Anders was not a racist.

    Wait, wait, hear me out.

    I propose as a possibility for discussion that Anders desperately needed to feel that he was chosen for some special purpose, and that he tapped into, or felt called by, the anti-immigration/anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe. Maybe he was a rebel looking for a cause first, and then he found this cause.

    Thoughts?

    • CubaLibre says:

      It’s possible, though made less likely by the fact that he wrote a huge manifesto. Then again, maybe that’s actually a signifier: people who are born and bred racists don’t feel the need to crow it, it’s just who they are; it’s only late converts, defensive of their newly-acquired identity (and defensive of their motives for acquiring it, which do not really relate to the ostensible purposes of the identity), who can work up the zeal to write manifestos.

      Could be either way. There’s no way to tell unless you’re willing to go talk to Anders yourself.

    • Pastabagel says:

      I think your right that he was very much in search of an identity that automatically conveys some force and intimidation, i.e. some power. But writing the manifesto is interesting. It suggests not that here merely wanted to be heard, but that he wanted to be listened to. This is a guy who probably has no power in his life, no close friendships where peopel take him seriously, so he needed to become something. And in Norway (and elsewhere in Europe) if this is the kind of person you are, you become one of these extreme right-wing racist guys.

  28. pulchrifex says:

    At risk of making perhaps too small a point: If I said “Breathing is not what makes us human,” would I be dehumanizing people who breathe?

    I don’t know, maybe you just chose the wrong guy as example, or maybe there are pragmatics around Runde’s statement that indicate he meant what you said he meant. But presumably by confessing to his own fear, rage, and disgust, he’s trying to empathize with others who feel that way — to create some space for those feelings without turning them into destructive action.

    Unrelated: If you want people to feel like they’re being heard and taken seriously, I’m not entirely sure that denying their stated premise (“What is really wrong? What are you really worried about?”) is the way to get there. My wife can ask me that, but I (rightly or wrongly) expect my government to take me at face value.

    • ThomasR says:

      I noticed that dehumanizing comment, and I think a couple of people at the beginning of the comments also noted that logic flaw.

      However, it did serve to start a discussion about how to best respond. Asking what is really wrong might come off as condescending, but it cant be worse than dismissing someone’s complaints as absurd or just killing everyone who doesnt agree with the majority?

    • Pastabagel says:

      Runde’s statement relies on a parallel construction between rage, disgust, fear on the one hand and rationality and reason on the other. As if they are mutually exclusive alternatives. I didn’t bother to get into the fact that many people who claim to be rational are simply rationalizing a conclusion that they arrived at emotionally, but feel the need to justify in other terms.

      And also, logically speaking, breathing can’t be what makes us human because many non-human creatures breathe. I don’t know that many other animals feel “disgust” as opposed to something instinctive like revulsion.

  29. Fifi says:

    Pastabagel, I thought you might find this article/opinion piece interesting and informative because it discusses some of the things you’ve been wondering about vis a vis the environment in Europe.

    http://aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/07/2011726131835154941.html

  30. statelymulligan says:

    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.

    Probably late to the party here, but I don’t think he meant those aren’t real or valid feelings. You asked what we want to believe: he wants to believe that abstract thought, reason, faith will overcome our impulses; that the better angels of our nature are what make humans special. What he calls humanity is really an aspiration.

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