Norway’s Rational Battle with Internal Extremism

History suggests that in times of economic depression widespread racism and festering hatred begin to surface (in individuals and groups).  After World War One, Germany found itself in a severe depression leaving many able-bodied persons with a bleak outlook on their future, out of work and frustrated (as the saying goes an idle mind is the devil’s workshop).  The National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi Party) was formed in the years following the First World War, and the far right group who aimed to pull workers away from communism, utilized the troubles of the Versailles Treaty, inflation and unemployment to gain momentum. Immigrants and people who practice different religions seem to always take the heat for a country’s problems.  These groups of people are unwarrantedly blamed for a plethora of things that span from lack of jobs to rise in violence to misuse of social services.  More often than not these complaints are based on uneducated, bigoted theories and fear. It feels like Breivik, whose trial will thankfully not be broadcast (Norway appears to understand that will only fuel Breivik’s self-indulgent message), might be a child of these theories and fears. The sparse media stance Norwegian officials took on Breivik’s case following the tragedy was a sophisticated and responsible reaction as not to create a circus around the event. “Families were keen to stress that the man who killed their loved ones had no legitimate mandate for what he did. ‘I think it’s important to underline that we don’t view Breivik as a politician in this matter. He is a mass murderer,’ said Trond Henry Blattmann, whose 17-year-old son, Torjus, was killed on Utøya,” an online report by the UK publication The Guardian wrote. According to reports Breivik’s opening statement was 13 pages long and was asked after 30 minutes of self-gratifying rhetoric to cut it down, which he reportedly did not.  It appears that Breivik wants to talk, wants to rationalize his behaviour while continuing to condone it – maybe he wants to make himself a martyr?  Caution by Norway to keep the situation neutral and continually focused on the facts is commendable, thus respecting the victims while not giving Breivik the platform it seems he is looking for to spout his extremist views. They say hindsight is 20/20; unfortunately people neglect to consider that foresight can be just as clear.  One need only look back to history and make connections to see what will happen in the future.  There have been many intolerant figures of influence in the past and tragically it seems there will be no shortage of them in the future.  However, for every narrow-minded individual there is his or her tolerant counterpart; so there is hope.  “In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.” – Dalai Lama. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS | The Ontarian, Writer, Editor

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