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The tragedy on Utøya - an attempt to understand

In englishPosted by Øystein Sat, July 23, 2011 09:26:59
Anders Behring Breivik is the man who personally, slowly, cold-bloodedly executed eighty teenagers at Utøya, Norway. I have spent the whole night thinking and reading his writings and trying to understand what drove him. I am in two minds about sharing his writings, because ideas are powerful, no matter where they come from and how tainted they - in the outset of things - seem. I think he was smart enough to know this.

I think he wanted to save the world from muslims.

I think his mind was set on saving the world. Saving the "pure", clean ... norwegianness. For some reason, he was thinking these thoughts first, and then he committed the most disgusting, tear-inducing, awful crime I am capable of imagining. Serial killers act out of a sexual-like sick drive. Dictators kill out of paranoia. Anyone can kill if group pressure becomes a factor, like Zimbardo proved. But this? What is this? What IS this?

He is born in 1979, like me, and he is tall and rather norwegian-looking, like me. His facebook page lists George Orwells "1984" and Kafkas "The Trial" as favorite books. Two of my favorite books. I have family members called Breivik.

Anders B has posted a great deal of texts on the internet, in particular on a norwegian right wing islam-critical christian blog. For me, christianity has a lot of humanistic, wonderful tones. "What would Jesus do" is a beautiful, simple credo that every christian in the world should have tattoed on their bodies. What is Anders Behring Breiviks christianity?

There they are, his words. His mind. He brags that he is rich, that he has had successful businesses that allowed him to live without working, to plan for his great book on how muslims will take over the western world. His values: Protestant christianity. Culture-conservativeness. He is a freemason, whatever one can make out of that. He was, some years ago, a member of the right-wing political party Frp - he claims they got a huge amount of success when he worked for them, because of his great understanding of how to market ideas.

Even more reason for me not to write in this blog. He is marketing. Right now. As I write this, with shaking fingers. Even more. And yet - everyone will write about it. Hopefully this can make him understandable. Do not hate him. Do not fear him. Know him, and think: Are these your thoughts? Do you understand? Would you applaud these thoughts before you knew they drove a man to kill children?

To me, these actions stand as the purest evil thinkable. Executing eighty youths, gathered like fish in a barrel, on an island. They were unarmed, they were young, they were an ocean of human potential. A political gathering. What could have been our future prime minister may have died today. She may be dying now.

I do not know what to think anymore. But: He wanted to save the world from the muslim threat. He was afraid. Fear, fear, sickening fear permeates his writing. It is clever. He is well-read. It has all the good, rational ways of explaining a point of view. He is afraid. Nothing in his writing says it clearly. His fellow right-winger bloggers are as shocked as I am. But I never shared any of his horrible fears. I never shared any of his views. I always felt an unexplainable disgust at the flawless reasoning of my Frp friends. And now, his line of thinking led him to this. He chose to sacrifice a few human lives in Norway to save the world from something he sees as a huge, religiously fanatic threat. And when he started doing it, he was so convinced that the screaming, the pain of human beings, could not make him budge in his decision.

Do you understand his thoughts? Would you feel comfortable inside this man's mindscape? Why? What is it that it gives you? I do not want to judge. I have always loved my Frp friends. I will not delete them from facebook, even when they used the first bomb to say "Get out of my fucking country, you fucking fucks" or "time to check out the "against islamization of Norway" website". I believe that we all need friends with different worldviews.

And I have always been a bit embarrassed by the fact that I am by nature ridiculously politically correct. I do believe in non-violence. I do believe that NOT sending the famous Mullah Krekar out of Norway, because he could be executed in his homeland, is a strong signal to send to the world. Both to the east and the west. "Okay, you guys may still want to execute prisoners, but then we'll let him walk freely around in Oslo, because WE happen to believe in something called the sanctity of ALL human life, even the life of this guy who is an obvious terrorist fundamentalist." I am endlessly proud of my tiny country, who has the guts to appear "soft" and "kind" even when the rest of the world pressures us to be "hard".

And I am proud of the fact that we arrested this murderer alive. How would that have played out in USA? Even in this situation, norwegian police was able to catch him alive. It is horrible to have to talk about this. If a sniper bullet could have saved a single life more, of course that would have been immensely much better. But somehow, he was stopped without being killed, and if that happened without risking any more childen's lives, yes, that is a good thing.

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. The faith that any human can be something different tomorrow than they are today. To him, maybe killing children gave him a physical reaction. For his own sake, I hope he is a complete psychopath, if such a thing exists. If he really did this just to bring attention to his thoughts, and he will now have to face it like a human being ...

If he really cannot feel this, he is colder than anything I have ever known in any work of fiction. Our imaginations have been outreached. But if he WAS able to feel this, and yet persisted, systematicaly killing eighty young people for the sake of drawing attention to his cause, feeling their pain in his mirror neurons, but persisting to tell the world that muslims, muslims are scary ... if this is possible. If faith in one's own justification and perfection can be so over-riding, so much stronger than the sight of another human in pain, even "cold" cannot describe what he is.

This man will be locked up. After 21 years, he will be examined by psychiatrists. They will decide wether he is well enough to get out. But: I can assure all you justice-hungry people out there, it will be decided that Anders Behring is highly intelligent, calculating, and at best, a psychopath. And that he cannot be let out. This is how our "gentleness" works. We give our prisoners hope forever, while locking them away forever. Because we say that maybe ... maybe. If you become a better person. If you don't fight the guards. If you behave nicely. And we mean it.

And it saves us money and makes us look good, and the prisoners are locked away forever, but without going mad and becoming a liability.

In Frank Millers "The Dark Knight", the Joker gets out by pretending he is all fine, and starts a killing spree. So is this "norwegian" way wrong? No. It is this naive trust in people, this faith, that makes Norway a country that even islamic fundamentalists have kept their hands away from so far. I believe that it is impossible to say that a country is "the great satan" if it executes no-one, if it tortures no-one, if its politicians silently, and secularly, say "what would Jesus do?" before they make their decisions. We are all a bunch of atheists up here. But we have faith in democracy. And in humanity. On a day like this, nothing is more impressive, more steadfast, more Jesus-like, than maintaining one's faith in Humanity. And yes, this is what a huge amount of my 913 facebookfriends did. Okay, they're mostly cultural elite people, they direct theater and make movies and write books, and maybe not so many from the right wing, but it really, really felt good to see their maturity. I like my friends. I even like myself today, as my politcal views were clearer to me than in a long time, and as every absurd prejudice I had about freemason-conservative-right-wing-monsters from the rich, blonde upper class became grotesquely true, as if life had turned into a Stieg Larsson novel.

Basically: Coupled with healthy realism and a solid police force the faith in humanity is a valuable thing in itself. It says: Our justice system believes blindly in justice. We will not kill, because killing is wrong.

I know I sound awfully politically correct, as i am relentlessly soft, multi-cultural and left-wing.

But after today, as the worst human being in Europe is hard, mono-cultural and right-wing, it will be very, very, very hard to tease anyone for being too "politically correct".