One of the most chilling things about the Norwegian tragedy is a single tweet from Anders Breivik on twitter, dated July 17th – ‘One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100, 000 who have only interests.’ It hangs there in cyber space, the absolute prologue to decision and horror. So it appears that the madness of a ‘will’-driven, right wing Christian fundamentalist took so many lives, especially young lives, but also orchestrated a massive bomb attack in the centre of Oslo. Another Anders Breivik, a computer systems developer at Know IT in Oslo, laconically tweeted ‘Wish I had a different name today. What a sad day.’ It probably says it all.
The eyewitness accounts of the shootings on Utøya Island, which went on for an hour and a half, are terrible, as Breivik, dressed as a kind of policeman, but with red ‘Naziesque’ twinges to the outfit, and armed with an automatic weapon, killed at least 69 people, and the toll has been rising, taking part in the Labour party’s summer camp. It was calm, cold blooded and benefited from people thinking he was in authority, and the distraction of police attention to the capital, where 7 died in the car bomb attack, right outside the Prime Minister’s offices.
Mature, gentle, open minded Norway may have to review security, and police responses too, persue any potential links to active groups, of course, yet it surely can’t let this drive terror into the soul of a country, as was obviously intended. Fear only breads fear, and gives fuel to the extremists in any camp. It also gives energy to much bigger agendas. It was why the single greatest comment on 9/11 and perhaps 10 years of war, is how on earth do you think the terrorists wanted you to respond, except exactly as you did? It may be hindsight, but the photo of Breivik, in all his Arian weirdness, has the hallmarks of the sad and lonely lunatic. Will can indeed do a great deal, but actually Breivik was wrong, Hitler triumphed out of the darkness present in an entire society, in economic freefall, not just his own brilliant but psychotic ‘Kampf’, and madness only triumphs when collective madness is engaged. Peace to Norwegians today, and a blessing, in the strictly non Conservative Christian, non right wing fundamentalist sense(!), but it is a ghastly story and thoughts should be with all those families.
Addendum: The original figures on what happened have been revised down, which also shows the importancee of good journalism and getting your facts right.