Tuesday, July 26, 2011

From two commenters on two posts at NewAPPS.
Brad
[Breivik's Manifesto] p. 1435:
"However, I remain a staunch anti-Nazi and I blame NSDAP for the situation we are in. Hadn’t it been for the actions of the cultural right wing extremists known as the NSDAP our Western European countries would not be dominated by the cultural Marxist extremist regimes we witness today. If the NSDAP had been isolationistic instead of imperialistic(expansionist) and just deported the Jews (to a liberated and Muslim free Zion) instead of massacring them, the anti-European hate ideology known as multiculturalism would have never been institutionalized in Western Europe, because the Marxists would never have been so radicalized to begin with".
Karen Margrethe
John,
You write, "He didn't target Muslims, he targeted Labour Party kids, social democrats, whom he saw as the next generation that would continue the multi-culturalization he hated." It is true that Breivik didn't target a mosque or a part of Oslo with many Muslims; however, if you look at the names of the victims and survivors at Utøya, you'll see that many were Muslim. Among the dead or missing are Ismail Haji Ahmed (19), Gizem Dogan (17), Jamil Rafal Yasin (20), all members of the Labor party youth organization. Among the survivors whose testimony appeared in the media immediately after the massacre are several Muslims. For people who share the paranoid concerns about multiculturalism, the fact that young Muslims are in fact politically active in mainstream organizations, and successful in many areas of Norwegian society, must have been a source of great anger.

I have noticed that many foreign media have accepted Breivik's description of Norway as a state where multiculturalism has somehow failed. That simply isn't true - and it is also stunning that the label "multiculturalism", which can mean anything from multiethnic society to a society where people of different faiths or ethnicities are subject to different laws, is being bandied about as if it meant one thing. Norway has never been "multicultural" in the second sense, and has always - for hundreds of years – been multicultural in the first. The cliches about Norway's supposed ethnic homogeneity are false - even before the arrival of Pakistani immigrants and and Vietnamese refugees in the 70's, Norway had sizable ethnic minorities (Sami, Roma, etc). members of these groups have had to endure atrocious repression and violations at the hands of the Norwegian state, but the problem has most definitely not been that these *minorities* somehow pose a threat to the state. If anything, Norwegian society has become much, much better in this respect over the past two decades. But of course, for right-wing extremists, racial and cultural purity is what matters (concerns that are frequently masked under labels like 'tradition' "Christianity' etc).

If we look at Norway's Pakistani minority, most arrived in the 70's from an extremely underdeveloped region called Kharian; city slickers from Karachi would certainly think of them as "hicks". Despite the existence of gangs and problems with crime, the sons and daughters of the first arrivals have done very well for themselves as a group. Where their parents had hardly any education, they are now quite visible in all areas of society. It just goes to show that when you give youngsters from unprivileged backgrounds access to education and allow them to grow up in a society characterized by stability and the rule of law, most will do very well. Of course, this would be another source of frustration for people who think that ethnic and religious diversity necessarily lead to strife. If there is only minimal strife, and the problems Norway faces are of the sort that can be dealt with through ordinary democratic processes and democratic decision-making, then these right-wing extremists will create strife.

On the issue of drugs, former classmates of Breivik have claimed that he used anabolic steroids from a pretty early age. Naturally, that by itself is not in any way an explanation of what happened (the main factor appears to be hatred of Muslims and the politicians who, in Breivik's warped logic, were dismantling some imaginary mono-cultural society). It is ironic that many people (myself included) have always blamed the Labor Party for speaking with two tongues on immigration. In the 90's, Labor - and Gro Harlem Brundtland – were employing a pretty off-putting nationalist rhetoric, some of it presumably intended to stem the flow of voters from Labor to the right-wing Progress Party. It now seems clear that Breivik did indeed intend to kill Harlem Brundtland - under interrogation, he has said that his attack failed in this respect.

It's also pretty horrible to learn that Anti-rasistisk senter, an NGO, had been monitoring Breivik online for quite a while before he struck. Janne Kristiansen, the leader of PST (the police's intelligence arm), is on record stating that "one would need an intelligence organization like Stasi to have picked up on this guy". They were probably way too busy looking for Islamic terrorists. People involved in monitoring right-wing extremists and Islamophobes online have been sounding the alarm for a while. In the past, acts of terror and political violence in Scandinavia have predominantly been perpetrated by far-right extremists. These people have thrived in the climate of fear and anti-Muslim hate-speech after 9/11. There most certainly is an object lesson here for the US and the rest of Europe. Once hate-speech goes unchallenged, there will always be some people willing to act on what they see as socially acceptable and wide-spread concerns. As a Norwegian married to a Pakistani-American, I am only too aware that Islamophobia has become perfectly respectable - even among people who would otherwise call themselves progressive and liberal – and that goes for Norway as well as the rest of Europe and North America.

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