…and I’m not taking a shot at The Mercury. That local story really is important for the local economy, Cadel Evans is just awesome, and many would not agree with my ranking of Amy Winehouse – but then the first I had even registered her existence was through the news of her joining the tragic waste of rock history’s premature death syndrome.
And yes, “challenging” has double-l!
But who can doubt that Norway is where our hearts and minds are right now?
It is a country of incredible trust, where King Harald rides the Oslo tram alongside his subjects, and where crime is so low people often don’t lock their doors. When, as a small child, I got lost in Oslo with my brother and sister, it didn’t really matter – strangers are never a threat. There is no class system. It has such a generous welfare state, it is almost impossible to be poor.
In short, it is difficult to think of a place less likely to suffer the worst mass shooting in history. If the killer had been a foreigner – an utlending – they might have found it more explicable. But a blond Norwegian farmer?
I am heading to a family reunion in Norway, which includes a cousin who felt the blast of the bomb in her suburban Oslo home. I know the country will be very different from the one I have known all my life – and the one where my father met my Norwegian mother half a century ago…
So, until the 1960s, Norway was a poor, backward country. Then it struck oil and never looked back. The government’s main budget problem is what to do with its huge surpluses – apart from add to the vast sovereign wealth fund built up for its citizens. Billions of krone are spent on building road tunnels through granite rock to remote communities. The electricity is all hydroelectric, but the power stations are buried tastefully inside the mountains. It is the most beautiful country in Europe, although it gets few tourists because its petro-currency makes it so expensive.
Yet as the attacks show, the country has a dark side. Norwegians have, until very recently, had little contact with the outside world – they couldn’t afford to travel and no one went to visit.
In recent years, however, Norway started receiving immigration from around the world and Islam has become the second biggest religion. Given Norway’s homogenous insularity, the impact of such different cultures has been even bigger than it was in Britain in the 1960s. Casual racism is rife. Only in Norway have I heard someone order a taxi and request that the driver be white. News reports can display an unwitting racism that is shocking to foreign ears. There is widespread unease about the way the country is changing, which even mainstream politicians play on, with inflammatory anti-immigration rhetoric.
Many Norwegians don’t want their idyll spoiled, by either joining the EU, or by turning multicultural – and it is this nativist side of the country that has now turned horrifyingly murderous. Clearly, Norway must confront its racist demons, in the same way other western nations have. But the shock of the attack could also crystallise fears of many Norwegians that they don’t like where their country is going and actually spur anti-immigration sentiment. Either way, Norway’s innocence has come to a tragic and horrifying end.
— Anthony Browne works for the mayor of London, Boris Johnson. This article first appeared in the London Telegraph.
Let that very mild but heart-felt piece serve as a representative of the outcry throughout the world, to which I can add little.
This is the feared destination towards which all that increasingly virulent right-wing reaction to issues such as immigration, Islam and multiculturalism was heading. And here it is. Now we know what can happen when the two minute hate rules the political airwaves.
We have been getting some ripe local examples thanks to some Muslim dickheads and their dislike of beer here in Sydney, but the greatest dickheads have been the commercial channels, Seven especially in this case, and those shows ridiculously mislabelled as current affairs that run at 6.30 on 7 and 9. A very appropriate response came in the Herald at the weekend.
I HAD a phone call from one of my sons on Wednesday night. He was upset that some of the people he considered his friends had been posting disparaging remarks about Muslims on Facebook. There were the usual stereotypes – Muslims were violent, Muslims wanted to bring in sharia, Muslims didn’t integrate, didn’t share Aussie values and so on.
The majority of Muslims in Australia are, like my son, born here or came as young children, are educated, hold responsible jobs, look after their families and steer clear of any involvement in extremism or crime. Mostly, they obey the sharia as well as Australian law. For most there is no conflict between the two systems. The ordinary citizen reading the tabloid press might think differently.
Last week, four men, said to be followers of the strict Wahhabi sect of Islam, allegedly inflicted 40 lashings on a convert for drinking alcohol, a crime under Islamic law. Apparently, the police were told the offenders were inflicting a ”sharia” punishment.
Hardly anyone checked the facts. The men’s actions were wrong, not only under Australian law but also under Islamic law…
We can’t afford pumping hate – especially hate for cash! — in a generally peaceful multicultural society like Australia. Let Norway serve as a terrible warning.
There is then a terrible irony in that one of our more respectable right wing outfits here in Australia is importing a hate-monger we can probably do without. There’s a very balanced account of that and the turkey concerned at Club Troppo.
When best selling German author Thilo Sarrazin arrives in Australia for the Centre for Independent Studies Big Ideas Forum his hosts will promote him as a courageous opponent of political correctness while his critics will denounce him as a racist.
Sarrazin’s 2010 book Deutschland Schafft Sich Ab (Germany Abolishes Itself) warns that Germany risks being overwhelmed by the descendents of poorly educated, poorly integrated Muslim migrants. It set off a huge controversy within Germany that quickly spread across Europe.
But if the aim of political correctness is to silence dissenting voices, it wasn’t particularly effective. Sarrazin’s book went on to sell over a million copies. Last year he told the New York Times : “As an author who had something to say and who wanted to influence the public debate, I could not be happier.”…
I trust Norway is on the minds of the folk at the CIS – an organisation I have very little respect for, but which is no doubt not in the same game as Stormfront. It is an unfortunate coincidence that we are promoting such a figure right now, however.