Given the many people, recently and over the past eight months, who have inquired as to my view of, or asked me questions concerning, the 2011 massacre and bombing in Norway, I have – somewhat reluctantly – decided the make the following personal comment about those events and the person responsible.
As is well-known, in July of 2011 a bomb left near a government buildings in Oslo, Norway, killed eight people. The bomber then – on the nearby island of Utøya – shot dead sixty-nine people, the majority of whom were young people.
Let us call this person, for the sake of convenience, Rumpledhatevik. Someone who may well in the future be the subject of a children’s rhyme, such as:
Today hate, tomorrow kill
For murdering innocents takes great skill
For none know my evil game
Since Rumpledhatevik be my name!
Rumpledhatevik, as his hubriatic attempts to justify his barbaric killings at his trial revealed, is an excellent example of both an extremist and of the consequences, the effects, the dangers, of extremist ideology. His behaviour during his criminal trial – defiant, posturing, proud, unforgiving, hateful, self-obsessed – is also an excellent example of the inhumanity of extremists; of their hubris, their insolence; their harshness.
Of how they place some ideology, some abstraction, some cause, some ideal, some goal, before human beings; of how they inhumanly categorize and prejudge individuals; of how extremists are born, and of how they become immune to – or more usually lack – empathy and the human virtues of compassion, kindness, love, humility, and tolerance. Of how they are or become unbalanced, or are made more unbalanced, through and because of some ideology.
In common with many extremists, the ideology Rumpledhatevik adhered to provided him with a sense of identity and a feeling of importance, a mission, as well as an excuse for his behaviour and his actions.
The extremist ideology he believed in – and which a lot of people in the lands of the West now seem to believe in – is one founded on the following notions or beliefs, and many of which notions and beliefs derive from prejudice, intolerance, ignorance, and/or a dislike/fear of difference:
1) That what is termed multiculturalism ‘does not work’ and is detrimental to ‘native European cultures/Western civilization/European people’.
2) That Muslims in Western lands are a problem, partly or mostly because it is believed ‘they (or most of them) do want to integrate’ and want to establish Shariah.
3) That Islam and/or Shariah ‘is/are barbaric, backward and dangerous’, and ‘a threat’.
4) That most if not all Western politicians and governments (and their supporters) are ‘traitors’ for encouraging and allowing immigration (especially of Muslims), and tolerating and encouraging diversity.
5) That these ‘traitors’ need to be dealt with, for if ‘something is not done soon’ then Europe and America will ‘suffer the dire consequences of immigration’ and there will be ‘an Islamification of Europe/America’.
6) That ‘defending my country’ from Islamification/immigration/multiculturalism is the most important thing.
7) That what prevents Islamification/immigration/multiculturalism ‘is good’; and what aids or encourages Islamification/immigration/multiculturalism ‘is bad’.
In essence, this is fascism. Where some abstract, some idealized, some mythical, national and cultural identity is revered; where ‘defending this identity/one’s country’ is a priority; where there are identifiable (and dangerous) enemies who are disliked/hated and who must be countered and fought; where direct action and/or revolution (involving or inciting violence) are called for; where there is intolerance of same-sex relationships; where there is a masculine bias; where ‘foreign influences’ (and foreigners) need to be tackled and removed; where ‘strong leadership’ is needed to remedy the situation; and where liberalism and liberal democracy are regarded as part of the problem.
This new fascist ideology – where ‘non-White’ immigrants, and especially Muslims and Islam itself, are regarded as perhaps the main threat – is one founded on the-separation-of-otherness, a lack of empathy, and thus on the immorality of prejudgement of individuals. An ideology which thus does not regarded perceived enemies as innocent and which therefore encourages, and incites, hatred, intolerance, and violence against perceived enemies and even allows for if not encourages the killing of such enemies. And it is this inhuman disregard of, this lack of understanding of, the true meaning of innocence – or the lack of the capacity to feel innocence in others – that runs through all extremist ideology and which are the raison d’etre of so many extremists, whether they know it or not, and mostly they do not know it, given how they always seem to attempt to excuse their barbarism by appeals to their ideologies.
Again, Rumpledhatevik is an example of this; of this immorality, this inhumanity, of the unbalance of hubris; of this lack of understanding of, a lack of feeling for, innocence. For he stated at his trial that the young people he killed were "not innocent but people who worked to actively uphold multicultural values."
He did not know the people he killed. He had no personal quarrel with them. They had never done anything to personally harm him. He did not bother to get to know them. He – with his certitude of knowing, his belief in his ideology – had no sympatheia with them; not even when he began killing them and saw their pain, their agony, heard their screams, saw them injured and dying. To him, they were simply inferior beings, worthless. Not individual humans who had hopes, dreams; who had parents, friends, partners, who loved them, cared about them, who would grieve for their suffering, their injuries, their death.
For the capacity to feel, to sense, innocence in others is part of what makes us human. A capacity Rumpledhatevik so evidently lacked and lacks. As mentioned in my The Politics and Ideology of Hate:
"In general, innocence is regarded as the attribute of those who, being personally unknown to us, are unjudged us by and who thus are given the benefit of the doubt. For this presumption of innocence – until personal experience and individual knowing of them prove otherwise – is the fair, the moral thing, to do"
Thus as someone who has so grossly, so insolently, overstepped the limits of fairness – whose guilt is beyond question, and who has attempted to excuse his inhuman behaviour – the honourable, the best, thing to do would be for Rumpledhatevik to be executed. Failing such an honourable outcome, let us hope that the Ἐρινύες torment him for the rest of his life.
April 17th, 2012