Friday, November 18, 2011

Norwegian Conditions

The following article about Norway in the wake of the Oslo atrocities was published on Monday at Sappho, the website of the Danish Free Press Society. Many thanks to our Perth correspondent Anne-Kit for the translation.

Norwegian Conditions
by Katrine Winkel Holm

The post-Breivik debate in Denmark is pointedly different from the debate in Norway. Why the difference in the two brother countries? Sappho’s Katrine Winkel Holm offers her suggestions.

I recently had the pleasure of taking part in a panel discussion in Oslo organised by the excellent Norwegian online magazine The theme was “Do words kill?”

My co-panellists were Walid al-Kubaisi, well-known for his documentary on the Muslim Brotherhood, Danish blogger Bjørn Stærk and Norwegian writer Ole Jørgen Anfindsen from Honestthinking.

I had been invited as a delegate from Denmark, that savage and harsh country.

Our public image in Norway is lousy — up there Carsten Jensen [ultra-liberal, PCMC writer/journalist] is the chief interpreter of events in Denmark.

After taking part in this Norwegian debate I am acutely aware of how precious the space is that we have won for ourselves here in Denmark. This kind of space is not available to the same degree in Norway — at least not yet.

Here is my slightly revised speech from the debate:

Do words kill?

If it were really true that the war rhetoric and the fierce debate about Islam created the foundation for the massacre of 22 July, then Anders Breivik should have been Danish.

I am familiar with the Danish debate and I am also familiar with Document and Human Right Service, and they are both very moderate and restrained compared with Danish standards.

I am grateful that I was already familiar with them on 22 July. Because of this I quickly saw through the lies promoted by even the Danish media: The war rhetoric, the ideology of Eurabia and the “hatred in our midst”, which were to be found at Document and Human Rights Service, were all accessories to the Utøya massacre.

I have never perceived Document or Human Rights Service as promoting hatred.

Not that I think hatred should be forbidden. If Anders Breivik had killed one of my children I’m sure I would hate him.

But hatred is not the basis for conservatism as I understand it, and as I see it represented at Document. I know you are all familiar with Roger Scruton. He said recently:
“The fundamental element of conservatism is the desire to preserve that which one loves. That is its strength; that it is founded on love and not on hatred or antagonism — which is much more characteristic of the Left. One must never perceive love as a weakness.”

So even here the mainstream media were wrong — when they accused Norwegian Islam-critics of promoting hatred.

Danish reactions

How did the Danish media react to the massacre? Their reactions were influenced by the fact that for the last ten years we have had a non-Socialist coalition government supported by the Danish People’s Party (DF).

We have had our immigration laws tightened. We have been through the Mohammed cartoon crisis and the ensuing long, hard debate, a debate which the political Left in fact lost. So the Left has been on the defensive for ten years.

Enter the evil, right-wing Islam-critic committing his act of terror! It was time for a big clean-up. It was time for revenge. This led to a virtual tsunami of mudslinging.

I don’t need to recount the details. You all witnessed what happened:

The recurring theme was the demand for self-examination. It sounds good. But it was not self-examination they meant, because self-examination demands that you examine yourself.

What they really did was point fingers at other people. What they really demanded was that we, the others, should do penance and admit that yes, we know that we were accomplices. We know that we crossed a line. We promise to turn down the rhetoric and change course in the future.

We refused to conform. And maybe it was easier for us to refuse because this monstrous mass murderer was not a Dane. But I doubt that this alone explains the different reactions in Denmark and Norway.

And there is a difference. Today this debate is essentially dead in Denmark. In my opinion the attempts to stigmatise Islam critics as accomplices to Breivik’s crime have failed. We were not set back ten years, or five, or two. It may have looked like that last summer. But it quickly passed.

There are several explanations for this.

One important explanation is the reaction by the Danish People’s Party (DF). In the days following the massacre, the Left tried to implicate DF as accomplices.

DF reacted totally different to your own Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet). They counterattacked. Indignantly and almost angrily they accused the Left of gross abuse of a monstrous event.

That was a courageous move, as this happened shortly after the massacre and everyone was in shock. But they succeeded in knocking back the attack. And large swathes of public opinion agreed with DF: It was outrageous to rub Breivik off on DF and on the “tone of the debate”. It reeked of making political hay on a tragedy.

In other words an opinion emerged protesting against the misuse of Utøya. And that is why today, in Denmark, we do not have a “Breivik effect”.

Siv Jensen’s regret

In my opinion Siv Jensen [Leader of Fremskrittspartiet] made a big mistake when she said that she would change her choice of words and that she “regrets her use of language in debates”.

She took some of the blame on herself. In this way she willingly coupled herself to Breivik and contributed to steering the Breivik debate in the wrong direction: The debate got stuck on the question of tone and language and “words that kill”.

On a psychological level I can understand her reaction. She was, as you were, under extreme pressure in an extreme situation. But I think we can learn a lesson from this case:

You don’t save your own bacon by assuming the blame for something you haven’t done.

When others are massively trying to put the blame on you for something, it is important to keep a cool head and a straight back and really consider for yourself if this is right.

And in this case it was not right.

Mass murder as “act of martyrdom”

Here is an example:

Anders Breivik quotes the American Islam critic Robert Spencer about ninety times. Robert Spencer has written one excellent book after another in which he argues that Christianity is the religion of peace, and that it could never offer religious incitement to terror.

Nevertheless Breivik quotes him massively and then goes out and commits acts of terror, and on top of that he has the audacity to call his mass murder an “act of martyrdom”.

An act of martyrdom!

I am a theologian and as such I know a great deal about Church history, and I have never heard of a Christian martyr who achieved his or her martyrdom through killing people. A martyr is a blood witness. But it is one’s own blood, not that of others, that is the testimony to one’s faith.

Anders Breivik’s idea of martyrdom is an Islamic one. It is much more reminiscent of Mohammed Atta than of Polykarps af Smyrna.

A vulgar “televangelist” show

I would describe myself as a Christian, a conservative, a patriot and an Islam critic, but I feel no need whatsoever for self-examination, or guilt or repentance in the wake of Breivik.

For he is no genuine conservative. Nor a real Christian. Nor a patriot. And nor is he — in the true sense of the concept — an Islam critic. After all, he wanted his future Knights Templar to cooperate with al-Qaeda.

How critical of Islam is that?

A genuine patriot would not kill his own compatriots. A true Christian does not confuse martyrdom with mass murder, and a real conservative would shun terror like the plague.

That is why conservatives should not bow down, or tone down their rhetoric, or attempt excuses. On the contrary.

As observed from Denmark it was disgusting to be a witness to the media’s pursuit — post-Breivik — of public confessions of sin, of public repentance and public self-examination.

It was like being a spectator to a vulgar televangelist show — displaying an exaggeratedly pious, moralistic tendency which is more pronounced in Norway than in Denmark. What was aired was a perversion of the Christian concept of guilt, for the true Christian concepts of sin and guilt are matters between God and myself. And when He has forgiven me my sin, no media rabble shall saddle me with guilt and shame. On the contrary: With God’s forgiveness behind me I can and must not give a damn what others think of me.

Evil exists

Breivik reminded us that evil exists. And that it can appear even in our midst. We must remember this. Any words can be abused by a mass murderer.

In this way we have all become wiser after 22 July.

But reality has not changed. “What was true two weeks ago is still true today,” as Bruce Bawer said last summer.

Last Saturday the English Islam critic Douglas Murray spoke at the Free Press Society in Copenhagen, and he mentioned the expression: You should not shout “Fire!” in a crowded theatre.

Well, what if the theatre is actually on fire? In that case do we not only have the right, but the obligation to shout?

As far as I can see the European theatre is on fire. And we are not only entitled, but obliged to shout. And keep shouting. Even after Utøya.


Anonymous said...

Breivik should do more than remind us that evil exists, and that it can appear even in our midst. His actions should remind us how much easier it is to identify and punish a group than single out guilty individuals among them. And how inimical such a course is to Western Civilization.

This is where the leftist's embrace of collective guilt and group rights leads. It may be telling that they tolerate this kind of behavior from those who support their agendas of imposing totalitarian collectivism (and how should they not, since such methods are the foundation of collective ideology?). But more telling is that they cannot understand that there is any other way to do things.

The leftist cannot comprehend that Breivik was personally responsible for what he did. His actions must be the fault of some group, and a large one for the effects to be so dramatic. He cannot be an individual, he must be a representative.

Oh, and his actions cannot be directly compared to similar acts by members of an opposing group. That above all would be impossible, it would imply that the group wasn't more important than the individual actor.

Looking at Breivik, I am not certain how much I really can know about him. He actions and announced justifications for them are clearly of a collectivist mindset, he punished a group for the crimes that prominent members of that group have committed, but did nothing to the actual criminals except to provide them further justifications for their own evil acts. Is this because he is too throughly inculcated in the pervasive socialism of his country? Or is it the collectivist mindset of those who have him in their custody that has imposed this narrative.

I consider what would have been the case if Breivik had successfully targeted individuals who had unquestionably betrayed their nation. What would we then have been told about his motives? I cannot help but suspect that there would be a great deal of similarity in how the narrative of his selecting targets based on their group identity would be presented. Whether leftists even have the ability to identify the difference between individual and collective guilt and punishment anymore, it certainly does their cause no good if they admit that there is a difference.

There is a fundamentally paradoxical inequality in the struggle between collectivism and individualism. It is safer and thus more profitable for the individual to be a collectivist, to shift blame for personal misconduct off to the group and take credit for the accomplishments of others. But it is historically suicidal for the group to go too far in allowing collectivism. The truth is that humans are individuals more than natural members of a collective. If there are not certain thresholds that invoke personal responsibility for individual acts, the group will die as the individuals which compose it become parasitic, using the group for their personal advantage.

In most collectivist-minded societies the mechanism for rewarding or punishing individuals without recognizing them as personally accountable is to have in-groups and out-groups. Those who transgress against the mores of the group are defined as belonging to an out-group of some kind, while those that exemplify the values of the group are moved into (or claimed by) an in-group.

In a broad sense, this kind of thinking is inevitable, embedded into all human language as it is. But particulars matter. There is a difference between "rapists" meaning those who have actually committed rape and "rapists" meaning all males of a certain age.

Chiu Chun-Ling.

Anonymous said...

This was a very good read.
The feeling I've gotten is not only that we as a nation have become even more opressed and sencored, but the restrictions on what we are allowed to say and think now... it feels like we cannot speak at all. You are not allowed to comment on an article in the Norwegian newspaper if it so much as mentions an imigrant, and if you happen to bring the debate on islam up in context to something in a public discussion forum, you are immediately sencored and the discussion is closed and deleted. The attack rapes in Oslo... They KNOW that 90% are committed by imigrants and yet, we are not allowed to be angry.
This attack and the blatant bullying by the Labour Party that followed only served to reinforce what islam-critical Norwegians believed in, but after the cowardly behaviour from the leader of the Progress Party, its hard to find a political voice to speak for you.
Breivik didn't martyr himself, he successfully martyred the Labour Party. Which any person with a hint of logic in their brain could see would happen. He made them more powerful. Oh yes, it does sound like a big conspiracy, doesn't it?
He made it shameful to be a Christian. He made it shameful to resent the demolition of our free society.
I saw our freedom of speech disappear the moment they hinted that the perpetrator was native Norwegian.


Unknown said...

"he wanted his future Knights Templar to cooperate with al-Qaeda"

Well, what of it? Is that so incomprehensible? The enemy in Breivik's scheme of things is cultural marxism, not islam. Obviously all means are permissable in the war Breivik feels we should be waging against our predicament. And surely he is not the first to be so pragmatical - european countries have throughout history allied themselves with the khalifate, each time they thought it served their purpose.
It’s the treason of our governments that poses the problem. If we could have held steadfastly to our own cultural outlook, islam couldn’t touch us. It is only because of the despicable selfhatred and disgust we have been taught that islamisation is tearing our societies apart.

I do not understand how or why Breivik could believe that killing 80 young people would strike a blow to the powers that be in his country, but it is clear that he has resorted to terror because he no longer believes that anything can still be accomplished by talk or diplomacy, and considering the fact that Norwegian establishment has succeeded in stifling all debate and criticism that is not surprising

I for one marvel at the superhuman restraint the despised british "proles" f.i. practice in view of the terrible betrayal and persecution they experience from their own people; an attack like that of Breivik would have been much more likely in England, at least seen from a distance, than in Norway. It is not remarkable that somewhere somebody has finally gone berserk. I suppose Breivik sees his killing spree as an act of war..

Well, I'm afraid he is not, nor is he a madman or an idiot. I may not for the life of me be able to follow the reasoning that led him to kill kids innocently vacationing on an island; not even when he thought he was finishing off a new batch of 'social democrats', as they are emphatically called by politicians and journalists in the Netherlands. In reality they were more akin to a komsomol party, if you ask me, but even so: what's the use of killing them? And since I don't think or believe that Breivik is a monster, or insane, what the hell is happening to us? And why hasn't it happened sooner, when we have been grilled for years about our racism and xenophobia? Where are all those dangerous extreme rightists??

Cecilie said...

Some people just like killing. Why can't it just be that: They do it because they like it. He spun a whole ideology around the fact that ever since ... whatever year, he's been dreaming of taking out a large group of people? But he needed an excuse.

It's the same with lefties, they are attracted to all communist revolutions going around the world, jumping from one to the next, not necessarily because they support the ideology as such, but because communist revolutions have the best bloodbaths.