lördag 23 juli 2011

Terror in Oslo

First reactions to the terror in Oslo assumed that it was the work of Islamists. It then turned out to be the work of what appears to be an - apparently lone - maniac with links to the extreme-Right".

In other words it had more in common with those rampages that deranged men (they are always men) embark on from time to time in the US, with a close resemblence to the McVeigh bombing.

It has naturally come as particularly shocking that it should have happened in Norway, which, like the rest of Scandinavia, has been regarded for the last decades as a haven from the nasty things that happen in the world. Yet every human society has a dark underside and there is no such thing as a safe place.

On the other hand, these events do not happen in a vacuum. There have long been strange right wing movements throughout Europe and the US. In the latter case, they hark back to the ideal days of the early US where sturdy independent homesteaders lived simple honest lives as horny-handed sons of the soil. In the Germanic countries they tend to focus on Nordic myth with allusions to the Hammer of Thor and that kind of thing. However, it has to be acknowledged that they feed on widely felt genuine concerns. The fact that the initial assumption is that it was the work of Islamists is telling. There is also a need to be concerned about the contemporary sense of rootlessness, which can seek refuge in very odd places at times.

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Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor

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