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Oslo

25 July 2011

I have been going back and forth all weekend about what — if anything to say about the Oslo massacre.  Although the Mex Files has a very slight connection — Joanna Van der Gracht (Writings from Merida) an Editorial Mazatlán author,  and husband Carlos are on their way to Oslo for their son’s wedding in a few weeks —  as a rule, no matter how tempting, Mex Files tries to stick to Mexican and Latin American events and history.

“Norway,” as Pedro Echeverría V. writes (Chihuahua Resiste, my translation) is

… is a European country only 5 million, one 22nd the population of Mexico, and, in area, only a sixth as large.  However, it is a privileged country, with extensive oil wealth, power and water, fishing, whaling, forestry, tourism, high culture and universities.  It places second or third place globally in living standards, human welfare and respect for human rights.

While Echeverría complains  about the Norwegian commitment to NATO, he recognizes its generally “collectivist” attitude towards the nation’s wealth, and genuinely egalitarian ethos.

Certainly, a wealthy nation, and one  known for peace-keepers and commitment to a settlement of the “Palestinian Question” and generous development grants to less-wealthy nations, stereotyped as stolid, Volvo-driving, plodding Lutherans should not spawn terrorists.

Anders Behring Breivik, make no mistake about it, was a terrorist.  Despite the rather pathetic (and often disgusting) attempts by right-wing websites to either change the subject (almost amusingly, there is the attempt to reclassify Breivik as a left-winger, or, rather weirdly, to somehow make him a secret Al Qaida agent — though, come to think of it, Al Qaida is a reactionary movement, not a leftist one), there is no way around the fact that this was an attack on the government of Norway, and on the political party in power. And, while some on the left (and on the right) have noted Norway’s less known (and decidedly violent) military actions in Afghanistan and Libya, terrorism is violence by non-state actors designed to intimidate the civilian population and/or leadership into acceptance of the terrorist’s political goals.

Sabina Becker has an excellent overview of Breivik’s goals and allies, which I recommend reading (and reading the links too).  The lunacy of European rightists and their obsession with Muslims doesn’t seem to be directly relevant to Mexico, yet consider how this tragedy both was reported, and the assumptions that made it such a shocking event.

Terrorism, in too much of the media, seems to mean “Arab”, just as “narcotics violence” is assumed to mean “Mexican.”  While I think it is a terrible mistake to use the word “terrorist” in connection with our gangsters (which gives too much credit to the gangsters, and ignores real human rights violations from the state — justified as in other countries as “anti-terrorist measures — while at the same time giving cover to what probably are genuine terrorist activities, which are written off as “drug related violence”).

That the moral (or rather, immoral) support for terrorists like Breivik comes largely from well-heeled and well-funded individuals and groups in the United States and Europe who deny their culpability, or seek to displace their own role in providing aid and comfort by noting they are not the actual perpetrator of the deed, is no different really than those that provide money and material to the “cartels” here.  That those who disseminate a fear of the outsider — Arab immigrants in Europe, Latin Americans in the United States — and convinced, coerced, or co-opted the media into using their language, and their terms to denigrate the outsider  (even reputable news organizations in the United States now use “illegals” for persons and not actions).

And, in the end, in Norway, and in Mexico, it is the youth who are sacrificed.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 25 July 2011 4:48 am

    How well put Richard. I too have given much thought to what happened in Oslo. With my son living there, this is to be expected… The right wing Christian extremists are every bit as scary as any meglomanical dictator that history has ever seen. Maybe more so because they walk around, often unnoticed. Their agenda is merciless and if the “rank and file” don’t wake up pretty soon, and take steps to purge the hatred that is being spread… I don’t know what will happen to our society. The fear of “reconquista” is a lame an excuse for openly strutting bigotry. It is time we shed our apathetic attitudes and take a stand to protect what is decent and fair.

  2. Jose permalink
    25 July 2011 8:54 am

    Very good Richard.I was thinking, If that kind of damage was done by a right wing extremist in Norway, Imagine what someone with that kind of mentality would be capable of here in the U.S.A. Scary thought. Man, they gotta watch these gun toting, hillbilly, Christians that listen to rush limbaugh and beck on the radio.

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