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Norway, After the Event

July 28, 2011

I grew up in Norway until I was about 7, and so it’s hardly surprising that I’ve been thinking a lot about the country and its people following the recent attacks. I’ve spent some time over the last few days reading the manifesto of the self-confessed killer, but I’m not going to spend any time going over that farago of confused reactionary stupidity here.

What I am primarily interested in is how the country reacts, especially as we are now coming up to ten years after the 9/11 attacks -and the world is still living in the aftermath not only of the attacks themselves but of the reaction of the US and its subordinates. Surveillance Studies, along with many other research fields has documented and analyzed the turn to righter security and increased surveillance, and the corresponding weakening of longstanding individual liberties and collective rights.

But, if Norway’s Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, has anything to do with it, Norway will not be going down the same destructive, counter-productive and vengeful path. Even though he himself and many people he knew were the targets of the attack, he has been emphasizing since that Norway should not compromise its openness and democratic values, on the contrary they should strengthen their commitment to those ideals.The New York Times today quotes him as saying:

“It’s absolutely possible to have an open, democratic, inclusive society, and at the same time have security measures and not be naive. […] I think what we have seen is that there is going to be one Norway before and one Norway after July 22 […] But I hope and also believe that the Norway we will see after will be more open, a more tolerant society than what we had before.”

Let’s hope so. My thoughts remain with the families and friends of the victims, and all the people of Norway. I’ll write more about the wider European reaction tomorrow or over the weekend.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 28, 2011 3:52 pm

    Hi David, I didn’t know you grew up here in Norway. I grew up in the US, but am growing old here. Some observations from close at hand: A colleague who is a political commentator here allowed himself a moment of counter-factual public musing. What if, he wrote. What if it *had* been a jihadist attack, as so many first assumed. I agree with him in that I think … I hope … our various cabinet ministers would have said about the same as they are saying now. But he and I are both pretty sure the overall discourse would have been very different indeed. So in a way we were lucky it was one of “our own”, an exaggerated version of our worst selves, who committed acts so awful that many of his own acquaintances are nauseated. Most of us can now turn away from our worst selves and become better ones. One fault that is becoming exaggerated in the process is our tendency towards self-congratulation. Another remaining problem is that we still don’t know what to do to address this kind of right-wing lunacy before it’s turned into action, and there are still lunatics a’plenty, keeping their heads low, disavowing their alliances with one another, frightened by how this is turning out and yet sympathetic to the violent urge behind it.

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