22 07 2011

On a day like today, it is hard for me to justify engaging in something so seemingly-frivolous as art and deconstructionist analysis of the minutia of popular culture.  Today I can’t stop thinking about the tragic and horrific events that took place in Oslo, Norway.  As I type this, the price of this attack has been 87 lives and unknown injured.  As I type this, one man is in custody as a suspect, and authorities seem to believe this was all a result of his actions alone.  Today has been described as Norway’s Sept. 11, in that the nations collective innocence (or, perhaps more accurately, sense of safety) is lost.  I was in contact with a Norwegian cousin today who described the series of emotions that ran the same course as mine on that fall day in 2001—the rumors and confusion, the anger at an unknown attacker or attackers, the frustration with countrymen jumping to conclusions and targeting a race and religion, and her own frustration with her own anger at those countrymen.

I am tempted to describe this as Norway’s Oklahoma City, in that it seems to be the actions of a single person resulting in a massive death-toll of innocent people.  That, however, would be a mistake.  Little has been released about the man, and while he seems to have acted alone, the investigation is unfinished.  His motives are unknown, and any proclamation resembling a definitive judgement is premature.  And yet, in a time with instant access to news, opinion comes just as fast—possibly faster.  In a hyper-heated US political climate, a friend I have great respect for is already drawing links between this attack and right-wing extremism in the United States, citing a web source linking the attacker to “right wing extremism (“Oslo Terrorist Tied to Right Wing Extremism,” Little Green Footballs).”  The coincidence of today also including a breakdown in party negotiations regarding the US debt ceiling, and the partisan rancor that has led up to and will no doubt follow this, led to the connection.  For someone leaning toward more Progressive politics in America, the Right Wing seems unreasonable, unpredictable, and extreme.  A connection to terror is in no way justified.

Unabomber Ted Kaczynski saw himself as politically motivated, but was in no way tied to any organized political movement.  Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh had similar ideas about himself.  Both were mentally unstable.  The same with the more recent Arizona shooter Jared Lee Laughner, though, while his mental illness is apparent, his political justification is not.  In fact, to connect any of these solitary terrorists with a greater right-wing political ideology is as dangerous and as prejudicial, as connecting Islamic terrorists with the entire religion of Islam and therefore all Muslims.  Both are justifications based on fear, and both greatly damage any healing that can come out of these tragedies.

The images of today’s events in Oslo have moved me to grief and sorrow.  My sympathy, desire to help, and frustration with my inability to do so are similar to my feelings about the citizens of New York on September 11, 2001.  Anger is understandable, but generalized anger, whether toward a political ideology or a religious faith, is dangerous and counterproductive.  So rather than wallow in anger mired in our own politics, let us as Americans focus on the victims and the country of Norway, as we did with New York and the US ten years ago.  We spent hours in lines waiting to give blood on September twelfth.  We might not need to give physical blood tomorrow, but we can give the blood of our empathy, of our support, and of our resolve to rebuild the sense of safety for an entire country.




One response

22 07 2011
Tiffanie Hsu

These are much more important and immediate dwellings. Thank you for turning attention where it ought to be. I share your frustrations and desire to help.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: