Ten years of touch anxiety is enough, AUF members write in a new book about the time after the mass murder.
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Why has the debate about July 22 was so much about emergency preparedness and psychiatry? Why do we not talk more about what created the monster: hatred, racism, extremism?
Former AUF leader Ina Libak may have an answer:
“I do not think anyone who has not been killed himself, who has not seen his friends killed just because they have used their voice, can imagine what it is like to be threatened with death for just that: to raise their voice.”
The quote exists in the book «Never silence – never forget. A book from AUF about terror, ten years later », which will be launched on Tuesday 6 April. It is a 200-page attempt to take back some of the ownership of the July 22 story.
Among the authors are both survivors and relatives, historians, former AUF leaders and a party leader. In the short texts, they try to describe the time, the public debate and the politics after the terror.
One of the worst things to read is precisely how the hardest hit were driven into the shadows by the fear of taking place, of being suspected and even more provoked and threatened.
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Many of the lyrics is filled with frustration that the political settlement around the terrorist’s ideology and ideas never came.
Some find it very paradoxical that representatives of the terrorist’s ideas have been allowed to escape, while the victims of terrorism were left alone with the fear.
Much of the love and tolerance we promised each other in the rose trains after the disaster, appears as a distant and naive memory, reduced to dust by hatred, anger and deafening populism.
That’s understandable that this is perceived as a betrayal, and there is certainly reason for despair over the priorities of politics and the media.
I still think the actual media criticism in some texts is too simple. Allocation of blame for the deficient debate following one of Europe’s worst terrorist attacks is an extremely difficult exercise.
It is not the case that blogger Peder “Fjordman” Jensen, HRS leader Hege Storhaug or other right-wing extremist and Islamophobic debaters have been allowed to speak freely and uninhibited on the air. They are also met with compact opposition and criticism in the Norwegian media.
Nor is it unnatural that both researchers and the media try to understand the incomprehensible, and smoke out those who share the ideas in the terrorist’s manifesto.
Breivik was not a “natural disaster”, as several of the authors themselves point out. He was a political terrorist, who leaned heavily on the texts of the aforementioned Fjordman, among others.
Besides, is not Norway untouched by large, ideological movements out there in the world, fronted by political megaphones such as Donald Trump and other extremists, plus their Norwegian supporters.
The growth of right-wing populism is not a particularly Norwegian phenomenon. It is internet-based and cross-border. In this way, Facebook’s algorithms, which are designed to reinforce and spread extreme ideas, should also be blamed as part of it.
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All the more commendable is that party leader Jonas Gahr Støre himself takes part of the responsibility on behalf of the Labor Party.
He writes: “The balance between being the so-called state-supporting party and being a victim of a targeted political attack was clearly demanding for us. Maybe we failed to create space and opportunity for a political settlement ».
Støre believes that the Labor Party was too much influenced by “consideration for the collective”, ie the perception that terror was an attack on the whole country.
“We have talked too little about July 22 in the political debate. We could and should have done more to focus on the political content on July 22 “, he adds.
Strikingly many of the texts, the then Minister of Justice Sylvi Listhaug mentions the Facebook post about the Labor Party and terrorism in March 2018 as the absolute bottom of the decade.
Listhaug had to resign as Minister of Justice after the totally tone-deaf plot. The then Minister of Education Jan Tore Sanner accused the Labor leadership of leaving «22. July card ». While Prime Minister Erna Solberg, as usual, was evasive. She “would not use those words.”
Sofie Rosten Løvdahl, who survived by hiding under a bed in the café building on Utøya, has a good question in his text:
“Why could not Solberg and Sanner distance themselves from a statement that fueled conspiracy theories that the Labor Party is in league with violent Islamists and wants to destroy Norwegian culture?”
The answers can be unpleasant. Some of them can be found in the texts of the historians Terje Emberland and Kjetil Braut Simonsen.
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Simonsen makes one thorough work to explain how dangerous conspiracy theories can be. He writes:
“In the terrorist’s manifesto, Muslim immigration, multiculturalism, feminism and the loss of traditional identity are described as the result of a cultural Marxist conspiracy. As with Quisling and NS, history and politics are presented dualistically, as a struggle between “good and evil”.
There is thus a common thread from the deadly anti-Semitism in Norway and Europe before and during the war, to the ideas the terrorist on Utøya was obsessed with.
Survivor, Survivors and relatives will probably feel increasing unrest and anxiety towards the summer. Many of the book’s authors hope it will be a crossroads, where the fight against right-wing extremism and racism will be at the top of the political agenda.
The ideas are potentially deadly, we have known that for almost ten years. They can not be treated as a political taboo for another ten years, they believe.
Their message is important. We should have a better understanding of the ideas that killed 77 of us that Friday, almost ten years ago.
Published: April 6, 2021 06:05
Updated: April 6, 2021 7:20 AM
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