July 25, 2011
Friday’s dual massacre in Norway was an utter perversion of humanity, the worst that the world has seen for quite some time.
The confessed perpetrator, Anders Breivik, was a committed detractor of Europe’s lax multiculturalism and tolerance for immigrants. However you feel about his views, I know we can agree that the wanton slaughtering of innocents is deplorable and misguided, as well as detrimental to affecting political change.
Henceforth, Breivik’s pro-nationalist, anti-immigration beliefs will be associated with extremism. Newspapers around the world are already running headlines like “Attacks Cast Light on Far-Right Views”, or “Europe’s right wing distances itself from Norway killer”, or “Anders Breivik and his 1500-page manifesto of hate”.
His ideas have been dismissed as the musings of a lunatic, and few people want to be caught sympathizing with a serial killer. Breivik has set his own agenda back several years with these attacks as even the most hardcore right wing politicians in Europe are toning down their language.
It’s another example that violence is seldom the answer… because any merit that might have been in the message becomes lost in the delivery.
Remember Andrew Stack? On February 18, 2010, he crashed his single engine aircraft into an Austin, Texas office building housing 190 IRS employees. Along with Stack, one other person was killed. His suicide note indicated clear anti-government views and described his long-running feud with the IRS over back taxes.
11-months later, Jared Lee Loughner shot 19-people in Tucson, Arizona who were attending an open-air constituent meeting with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Six people were killed, and the nation reeled from such an atrocious crime.
Both Stack and Loughner were written off as crazed madmen, and politicians and pundits alike immediately cleansed their Facebook and Twitter pages to remove aggressive sounding language and photos lest they be lumped together with those killers.
Similarly, politicians across Europe have been working since Friday to put some distance between their views and those of Breivik. And just as many policymakers in the US called for stricter gun control laws and aircraft license requirements after those attacks, Breivik’s MO is also being scrutinized.
A recent article from the UK’s Daily Mail, for example, criticizes Norway’s liberal gun laws, suggesting that “[i]t was this freedom that gave Breivik his easy access to high-calibre weaponry. Moreover, his work as a farmer meant that he could acquire fertiliser for his bomb-making without raising any suspicions.”
So… farmers should undergo background checks now? Or maybe we should do away with private firearm ownership altogether…
Look, it’s understandable that anger and disquiet should be so pervasive in the wake of such a terrible event, but this type of paranoia is exactly what leads to people removing their shoes and watching 6-year olds get fondled by government agents at airports.
President Obama is already calling on the Norwegian government to step up their anti-terror cooperation with the United States, and US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has pledged to work together with Norway to defeat future extremist threats and provide all support necessary to do so.
In addition to the terrible human and property costs, the noose will close a little bit tighter around freedom as governments scurry to assuage the public paranoia.
Given the incendiary nature of Europe’s immigration and demographic issues, Friday’s attacks will probably not be the last of their kind. There is no shortage of bad people in the world who are willing to kill indiscriminately and mask their crimes as well-intended patriotism.
Two things are clear, though. First, it’s that violence does not positively affect social change. In fact, violence often has the opposite effect, moving a society away from an attacker’s ideology.
Second, no amount of ‘law enforcement,’ gun control, or new regulation can possibly come close to protecting us from all the bad people in the world. Life is full of risk… and there’s no sense in giving in to paranoia and allowing the noose to tighten any further than it already is.
What do you think– would you prefer to take more risk and have less government intervention? Or would you willingly submit to authority in exchange for security?