Right Wing Politics and Norway

Anders Behring Breivik is the subject of much anger and grief at the moment. The suspect is accused of shooting 85 people dead on Utoeya Island, and of being responsible for the bomb that killed seven in Oslo. My first thoughts were that he must be some kind of madman, possessing some degree of insanity, and that a sane person could not have committed these horrific acts of violence and inhumanity. Yet Breivik is unlikely to be classed as insane, and is instead alleged to be a Christian fundamentalist with far right sympathies. I find this very difficult to accept, not because I don’t believe it to be accurate, but because it says something quite sickening about humanity. This is of course not new, our history is littered with evil atrocities, yet this is a fresh and painful reminder of the fact that people can willingly commit evil acts.

If the motive was religious, or perhaps political, it becomes incredibly frustrating to see Christianity and politics tarnished in such a way. The question is, ‘how can religion respond to such acts of extremism?’ Surely, through education, teaching people the difference between genuine religion and extremism is the best way to confront attacks committed in religion’s name? The same applies to politics. Events such as this should not lead us away from debate for fear of extremist opinion. In fact, we should engage in intellectual debate and refute extremism as stated by the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg who said that, ‘no one will bomb us into silence’.

If politics can be used to justify a tragedy such as this, it also needs to be reclaimed by the moderate side in order to contest it. So there will always be a need to maintain a balance, but we do have to draw the line somewhere as this openness can be damaging, as when people abuse free speech to offend or attack others. We can admit that politics is subjective and that maybe the line will move, but if we want a society whose members respect one another we have to impose some restrictions.

Grace Baxter

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