Norway the Victim. Norway the Perpetrator.
EDITORIAL, 1 Aug 2011
Anders Breivik was driven by a calling to save christianity–catholic essentially–from a European civil war with islam. Islam enters Europe on roads paved by multiculturalism, built by social democrats–like the Workers’ Youth League (Arbeidernes ungdomsfylking, AUF) at Utöya. Dialogue with an implacable, fanatic enemy is impossible. Violence against government quarters, and massacre of young supporters, however regrettable, was necessary. Norway, Europe needed a wake-up call to return to its origins.
These three crazy articles of faith found an evil terrorist carrier? Oh yes, but those words serve as a road sign, “no further thinking needed”. That is not the way to handle a catastrophe, only a lazy, easy, way out. Instead we have to ask trying questions:
Is there something to it? What does this remind us of? And how do we prevent a repeat (a coup in the USA may be very close)?
Of course there is something to it. There are acts of war in Europe, by islamists, by islamophobes. They feed into each other. A society open to immigrants, and basically tolerant, is vulnerable. And there will always be fundamentalist carriers of deep intolerance, however tolerant may be the rest of society; be they loners or well linked. Problematic. But not more than a reasonably competent police–open or secret–can handle; a commodity Norway does not seem to have. Maybe the heads of the police directorate and of the security police should have resigned by now? Or, if not, have been invited to do so?
But these are small ripples on the tsunami that hit Norway, like whether or not Breivik cooperated with one or two more “cells”. The next question is worse: what does this remind us of?
Yes, this neo-fascism is reminiscent of nazism, with culture instead of race, multiculturalism instead of miscegenation, anti-islamism instead of anti-semitism. Very old figures in European thought, and not only in Europe. An updating of an old, bad, story.
But there is another answer that will now cause tremors deeper than the massacre itself in the Norwegian body politic: it reminds us of ourselves. Breivik becomes a mirror reflecting ourselves. Had he been darker skinned with a beard—let’s stop there. But he was light-skinned, blond, blue-eyed, christian. We see ourselves. And looking more closely we see Norwegian sharp shooters and gunners in tanks, with the sickening idea that democracy serves as a license to kill in Afghanistan, and for massive bombing by Norwegian bombers in Libya. The acts are disturbingly similar. Not easily processed.
By what theory-ideology-manifesto does Norway do this?
“When NATO goes in we go in, when NATO goes out we go out.” “When the UN Security Council so mandates–.” Authoritarianism, hiding under the top of US-Europe. And what theory do they have?
Not merely a European but a world civil war, Bernard Lewis’ clash of civilizations wrongly attributed to Samuel Huntington. Dialogue is impossible, the Taliban–like Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda–are autistic terrorists, living in their bubbles. Violence is regrettable–and there may be collateral damage–but necessary. From a failed state they want to conquer the world. Build a new state, like Norway with democracy and civil society. And Breivik?
European civil war=world clash of civilizations; AUF=Taliban?; violence is necessary, become like me-us. Depressingly similar. If one is crazy, so is the other. If one is terrorist so is the other. Breivik hides under God and History; Norway under NATO and UNSC. A comfort for the bereaved anywhere who lost their beloved ones?
There will be thunderous the two are entirely different! to deafen that little inner voice saying maybe not that different. But some will have the heart to reach out to the bereaved–by Norwegian bullets and bombs–in muslim countries, and see the Norwegian prime-foreign-defense ministers’ faces next to Breivik’s in the mirror.
A deep victim-perpetrator double bond is a deep trauma.
What to do? Let the hypocrisy surface, take it in, take it on. With two road-signs guiding us: one dialogical, one theological.
Democracy is the setting, and multi-party election every four years is only a minor part. Better information; less Murdoch, more diversity. More transparency: no major foreign policy decision in parliament behind closed doors, escaping challenges! Premises, not only conclusions, please! What do decision-makers know, what is their theory? Do they know muslim versions of past, present and future? What were the alternatives? Did the parties do their job, not only moralizing and critiquing, but having constructive ideas?
More dialogues, meeting, exploring, and challenging a Breivik, exploring the consequences of his thinking, using Golden Rule or Kant or Ten Commandments or Sura 8:61 or the 8-fold path; whatever; not lazy self-righteous tolerance celebrating freedom of expression. Beware: those people are well prepared, hard-working. Be the same.
Reach across borders to muslim countries, badly hit by the West in the last centuries. Reflect. Repent. Listen. Solve. Do not kill.
Theology is the knowledge of God, different at different times and spaces. The cultures we talk about are religions. Search, and you will find jewels in them all; focus on them, see the gems in the eyes of your next, let him see yours. Dialogos, theologos. We are mourning, in churches, some in mosques–how about mourning together? The mezquita in Córdoba, with muslim service on Fridays, christian on Sundays, joint services on Saturdays? And in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, building on Erdögan-Zapatero Alliance of Civilizations?
Whites and blacks worked together in Southern USA at great risks; moving the USA forward. Show islamophobes, like Breivik, in Oslo, in Washington, and islamists, that dialogue and cooperation are possible. Invite them to join. Moving the world forward.
* For solutions West-Islam see 50 Years: 100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives, chapters 81-90; for going beyond religious divides see (with Graeme MacQueen)
Globalizing God: Religion, Spirituality and Peace, both TRANSCEND University Press, 2008, www.transcend.org/tup.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 1 Aug 2011.
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