Warning: Another Anders Behring Breivik is Coming | Guns and Roses

I’ve resisted commenting too quickly on the tragedy that’s unfolded in Norway. I think sometimes we need to hold back from immediately pushing views into a space that should simply be reserved for grief and self-examination. But as the nation of Norway itself begins to process what’s happened, I wanted to offer a couple of thoughts.

Firstly, a warning: another Anders Behring Breivik is coming. They are already planning, stockpiling and fantasising. More people are going to die in a horrible attack, and more people are going to have to grieve lives cut short by high calibre bullets from automatic weapons. This, I’m afraid, is what we can expect if we are to pursue a world that embraces ‘the other.’

Breivik’s hatred, the entirety of his actions, were fuelled by a rejection of an emerging Norway that included people from different backgrounds. Muslims, Somali immigrants… it doesn’t matter who they are really, simply that they are different and are seen by Breivik as contaminating the purity of Norway.

He has a utopian view of Norway, and as I have written in Other, this must lead to violence if it is to be sustained. I quoted Anthony Dworkin, who writes of utopians that:

‘their guiding inspiration is that conflict and coercion can be finessed away by a correct reordering of society… but they cannot fulfil their objectives without attempting to remake human nature, or eliminate groups within society that are seen as agents of corruption or reaction… The real harm came in the 20th Century, when utopians abandoned the idea of withdrawing from the world and instead attempted to remake it.’

Al Qaeda, the far right, Zionists, the British National Party – they are all the same. They have a view of a ‘clean’ world which is not contaminated by ‘the other’ – whoever that may be. They thus have two options: to either withdraw into bounded, closed utopian communities, which they end up having to defend (like Waco) or to go out on crusades and attempt to cleanse the world through acts of violence.

The question we must face is: what will our response be? Unfortunately there will be those who will decide that the best form of defence is attack, and that we must increase security even more, and increase powers to stop and search and encourage people to inform on one another if they suspect they are acting in an ‘un-American’ or ‘un-Wherever’ way. And we must sift through society and violently root out extremism wherever we find it.

You will find terror cells, and some attacks may be prevented, but you cannot eliminate the threat of extremism through force. There is no final act of cleansing which will rid a country of all extremists and thus render it free forever from the threat of extremism.

Instead, we must re-double our efforts to love the other. This is not a blind and foolish love, for it needs to be sensitive to the difficulties people feel when faced with change and difference. Multiculturalism is a far more complex project than liberal elites have assumed. We need to work with people, especially within working class, blue-collar communities who see their jobs under threat and their housing being taken. We need, all of us, to better understand our common humanity, and offer places – TAZ spaces if you will – where people can meet and feast together.

I think it’s really interesting that the mass response from the people of Norway has been a ‘march of the roses.’ Flowers that have always represented love. Would this have been the response in the US or the UK? I wonder.

Perhaps through this tragedy Norway can teach us something about how to respond when hatred boils over into violence. For we know it will happen again. And again. And we need to be ready. Perhaps not with guns, but with roses.



5 responses to “Warning: Another Anders Behring Breivik is Coming | Guns and Roses”

  1. sundog

    Breivik used a Ruger mini-14 SEMI-automatic rifle. It is neither “high calibre” nor “automatic”. The man is clearly insane, but mislabeling his tools does not contribute to reasoned discussion.

  2. Inveritas

    A question? What makes the weapon so relevant? Is it not enoug that its made for just about only one single thing? The only thing in the wide world that bothers me alot is crazy people…. Nothing else, greetings from the bombsite in Oslo.

  3. My apologies for the long winded nature of this comment. I’d have rather e-mailed it but could not find an address. 🙂

    Question in regard to this. I have been thinking a lot about your book The Other in the wake of this tragedy. However, my thinking hasn’t been along the lines of “how do we engage in people like Anders Behring Breivik, but more along the lines of engaging others in dialogue following something like this. This has been fueled by a rather nasty comment thread on facebook (which I readily admit is not a proper arena for discussing such matters). I had posted a video put out by Jon Stewart of Comedy Central in which he points out the hypocrisy of Fox news making a huge deal about how this man was not a “Christian” and how the left-winged media has been slamming the term Christian in the mud in the wake of this. Stewart points out that Fox News has been more than happy to lump the crazies who lead attacks in the name of Allah as “Muslim” but yet when someone like Breivik leads attacks in the name of “God” he is NOT a Christian.

    Anyways, that’s the setup for the following thread of comments. (sorry to be so long winded)I’ll ask my question first. How are we to engage with the Other when the other is a fellow Christian, who’s thoughts and beliefs are ones I once held, yet he holds so rabidly to them, I have no idea how to dialogue with him. His most haunting question, or at least to me is ” Do you really think your religious beliefs are acceptable to the NYT?”

    As one who is still learning to engage in dialogue with Other, I still struggle most with how to respond to the Other within the church.

    Video Here: http://www.hulu.com/watch/263104/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-in-the-name-of-the-fodder?from=fb_share

    Friend: Eye roll. I don’t get Christians celebrating media taking an opportunity to falsely slam other Christians by tying them to some nutjob. I know it seems like the left wing media (Jon Stewart among them) is your ally. But I know you profess Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life. And in their eyes that makes you a crazy rightwinger like me. Don’t embrace their “fundamentalist” mantra.

    Corinne: I reckon, I just can’t stand the utter hypocrisy as pointed out in the video. And frankly, I know plenty of “right-winged” friends who would gladly label me a left-wing liberal and probably rightly so. 🙂

    Friend: All I’m saying is that you’re highfiving someone (Jon Stewart) who would lump you in with the guy in Norway. You claim Christ as your Savior. He and the NYT editorial board would recoil in horror at you. They aren’t your allies. Also, I refuse to believe that you don’t see a distinction in violence between Muslim terrorism and conservative Christians. The left likes to equivocate, but they know better.

    Corinne: You know this for a fact?

    Friend: That “fundamentalist” is a meaningless term for the left wing media? Yes. It’s code Corinne. Everyone agrees because it means “not me, those other people to the right of me.” Do you really think your religious beliefs are acceptable to the NYT?

    Friend:I’ll leave it at this. Just don’t accept the term “fundamentalist” or “conservative” with respect to religion without getting your terms defined. I’ll bet you a Krispy Kreme donut that your beliefs would be nearer to that in the mind of a non-Christian media type than you would think.

  4. Thanks for this Corinne… been mulling over it a bit. (couldn’t access the video though?) Sorry that you’ve faced that on fb. It’s unpleasant, but not unsurprising really. Just to flag up your key question for clarity:

    How are we to engage with the Other when the other is a fellow Christian, whose thoughts and beliefs are ones I once held, yet he holds so rabidly to them? I have no idea how to dialogue with him.

    I think I’d start by saying that this was precisely the issue Jesus faced. He wasn’t preaching as a Christian, but as a Jewish itinerant rabbi, who was having to deal with other teachers who considered him a dangerous liberal heretic. Just from memory, and I may not be right, what’s interesting is that he never criticises the followers of these pharisees – only the pharisees themselves.

    I think that’s helpful because it suggests that while we should criticise the ‘systems’ and the leaders thereof, we should not go out for criticism of those who follow them. Does that make sense?

    I don’t think that dialogue on a rational, point-by-point basis is going to be fruitful anyway. That’s just not how people change their minds, and his views will probably harden if you do. Better to retain the friendship if you can, and live out as best you can the inclusive graceful love that appears lacking in this ‘fundamentalism.’

    That this guy is referring to NYT as a touch-stone is interesting, and clearly flags up that securities lie elsewhere in externals rather than internals. I don’t know if you read The Complex Christ, but in that I discuss Fowler’s five stages of faith – and the ‘fundamentalist’ position (stage 3) is very much about references to external sources of truth, whereas the move into stage 4 is about internal truth. However, this move from 3 to 4 and beyond is usually only precipitated by some kind of crisis or doubt – and in some ways we can’t wish that on anyone, so, just as I have to do with friends who are still at that place, you just have to take some of the flak if the friendship is worth it, and be there for them if/when the dark night comes.

    That said, if he refrained from having a go at the people who followed them, Jesus never shied from criticising the structures that oppressed them and led them astray, so don’t stop doing that – even if you only did so in a roundabout, satirical way!

    Hope that helps some… do shout if not!

  5. Corinne

    Thanks for your comments. You’re absolutely right… I read the US version of Signs of Emergence (I am assuming that it’s the same as Comex Christ?) I had forgotten those stages and need to re-read that section. I think this friend is cometely and totally immersed in a culture if externals. He is a pro-life lawyer who Has very clOse ties to people in DC and the religious right. Perhaps my frustration does no lie with him as much as it does with others like him (who are self proclaimed evangelical tea-party supporters). As a Christian I am horrified by The representation of Christ that they offer and as an American I am downright frightened by their zeal to dismantle our government completely. My prayer and hope is that this is only a season in he American church and political sphere and that this too shall pass. But I am also aware of the power of Empire and the lure that it has even on our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith. I too often dream of skipping across the pond to raise my family there (UK) but am aware that there are issues wherever we may go… *sigh, this faith of ours is such a complicated and unclear thing, and the call to live it is rather daunting in the face of such realities. Is this fundamentalist / tea party thing a uniquely American thing? Or does Uk/ Europe have it’s own issues re: the mixing of politics and religion?