Seeing Utøya from Abroad
Sitting on the plane from Paris to Oslo.
“The refreshing sound of Norwegian spoken by a flight attendant who didn’t know French…” That was Bia’s first remark.
Mine was “The refreshing sight of the newspapers Dagbladet, Dagens Næringsliv and Aftenposten.”
Sitting here reading about Anders Behring Breivik, whom I have so little respect for. Osama bin Laden had an idea, a belief, a purpose. Breivik, or “Anders” as the press at first called him, is an idiot in the true meaning of the word: one who does not understand politics.
I am not a political person, but it doesn’t take much to see what a poser this jerk is. Knights Templar, Jihadists, British Defence League, Oslo’s B-gangsters, there’s almost no end to the claims to association he makes. Only to be denied by all, from right and left. His so-called manifesto is a cut-and-paste job of plagiarism from everything to the Unabomber to Osama bin Laden. Timothy McVeigh was an ideologist by comparison.
Behring Breivik is at the same time symptomatic of our quasi-connected-globalized-world, which masks our increased isolationism: he is a loner spewing opinions and calling it debate. An academic wannabe who fashions himself a leading voice in a worldwide debate on, ironically, the evils of globalized society.
What gets me is what a goddamned coward he is. Bin Laden at least gets credit for acting symbolically. What does Breivik do? He calls for the Prime Minister’s resignation and the King’s abdication while shooting down young people on an island, and not as himself, not standing up for who he is and whatever agenda he has, no he does it in disguise. I wonder if anyone noticed he was dressed up as an armed policeman as he walked aboard the ferryboat for Utøya. Norwegians react with alarm when they see an armed police officer, which most of them never do unless it is while traveling abroad. In Norway the police don’t carry guns on normal routine duty. Breivik knew this. The coward. He didn’t march up to the King’s palace and open fire where he would have encountered armed guards. He didn’t go for the assassination of Gro Harlem Bruntland, Norway’s most renown political figure and thus a target of symbolic and political value, because her public appearance, like that of the minister of Defense at Utøya, would have included armed guards.
No, Breivik waits until the magic hour of 1500, which in Norway is called “sommertid” which basically translates into “no one stays at work past 3 o’clock in the summer because, hey, we have to take advantage of summer while we have it.” Most businesses close early during summer vacation, which is the month of July, so there’s hardly anyone around when Breivik blows up the government office buildings as a smokescreen for his BIG OPERATION: the Labor Party Youth Summer Camp.
I am galled at the cowardice and pointlessness of this idiot’s actions, as much as anything. Terrorists, from the IRA to the Red Brigade to Hamas and Al Qaeda, even fucking Guy Fawkes had a point, for Pete’s sake.
Breivik is one disgusting individual.
When I get home there will be a pile of newspapers telling me all about it. Today’s Dagbladet tells me that video games are being pulled off the shelf, because Behring Breivik liked to play them. Say what? The guy is a psychopath. In my view toy guns and video games do not a psychopath make.
In Dagens Næringsliv there are two seemingly conflicting opinions. One commentator says that we need more censorship and control over the internet, that blogs and media commentary are under editorial responsibility, and anonymity must be done away with. The other commentator says that the problem is we don’t have a political party that gives voice to extreme right wing ideologies, like the National Front in France or Sverigedemokratene whose platform is islamophobic and anti-immigration. Both newspapers report that “foreign reporters in Oslo” (I am guessing American) are appalled that the police did not get out to Utøya sooner.
Well, I’ll give Behring Breivik this: his smokescreen did work. And for a while after the bombing, people in Oslo were accosting Muslim looking individuals on the street. Just like in Oklahoma City when a Palestinian man who had boarded a plane just before Timothy McVeigh’s bomb went off was assumed guilty. Sitting in Paris, I was worried about Norway being pulled into an international conflict if in fact a terrorist group had bombed government headquarters.
It was a relief, really, to learn about the creepy individual behind all this horror. To call him a terrorist is to give him a credibility he does not deserve. Every real terrorist, from Al Qaeda or Hamas today to the Red Brigade and IRA from the past, is somebody’s freedom fighter. A soldier in an ideological ground war. Anders Behring Breivik is a mass murderer, simple as that. He can call it a war, but I don’t buy it. Wars are fought by soldiers whose uniforms identify which side they are on. Not by wolves in sheep’s clothing, which all Behring Breivik was in his attack.