Monday, July 25, 2011

Norway: A final thought


This is a column I wrote for Patch, but I don't think it will be posted. Not their fault at all -- it's quite beyond what I've been charged to write about. And it's not particularly good, just heartfelt. So I'll put it here. (Update: This is also posted at Patch Altadena.)


Next week, this column will return to its regularly scheduled program -- the anmials, neighbors, and hikes; the simple and deep pleasures of daily life. But today, I can’t stop thinking about Norway.

And not just because most of my relatives still live in and around Oslo. The whole world was in mourning this weekend after the terrorist attack in Norway -- for the lost innocence, for all those children who didn’t see the sun rise on Saturday, and will never see the sun rise again. It’s almost impossible to stop imagining the horror of their last moments on earth.

Inevitably, Norway will shed some of the openness and trust for which it has, at least over the past forty years or so, been known. Norway will become a little less like Norway and a little more like – well -- like us.

Immediately after the attack, many outside Norway, including some members of the media, leapt to the conclusion this was a jihadist attack. I don’t recall a surge of retractions when we discovered the terrorist was a blond, blue-eyed, right wing, fundamentalist Christian extremist, a born and bred Norwegian.

No, the 24-hour global news monster just moved on, starving for more content. Now it is busy splashing excerpts from the murderer’s manifesto of madness in newspapers, on the radio, and of course throughout the internet.

Giving the alleged killer, Beivik, everything he ever wanted. World-wide publication, attention, fame. And while his thoughts and beliefs are only of prurient interest to 99% of the readers, for 1%, I fear, I deeply fear, it gives a sense of fellowship, a fellowship in madness. A promise their voice will be heard above all others, if only they can devise an atrocity of equal scale.

It’s at our fingertips -- all the news that’s fit to print, and all the news that isn’t, including the ravings of a madman.

Where is the equal time for those in Norway, the vast majority of Norwegians, who support a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society? And all the voices forever silenced last Friday.

Today I heard a piece on NPR. An Iranian-born teen had been at the Norwegian youth camp on the day of the shooting. He was leading a discussion on cultural diversity. And I’m recounting this from memory, but in the midst of the attack, he found a young girl who had multiple gunshot wounds. She said, as he held her, “If I die now, just know I think you’re all fantastic. I can see in your eyes you’re afraid, so I know I’m going to die.”

For me, this girl -- this lovely girl – is the story. The enduring story. It's her name we should know and remember.

40 comments:

  1. what a sad and tragic day that was. Your post is very moving and thought provoking. I'd say it was very much good enough for Patch.

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  2. That's a piece, and a sentiment, it would do so many so much good to read.

    I'm stopping my day now for a minute to reflect.

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  3. Apparently, immediatly after the shooting, a jihadist Muslim group lay claim to this hateful deed.

    Then we were to discover a fanatic committed this crime in the name of protesting "cultural Marxism", an effort to sway, or abruptly abort, the ruling Labour Party's "agenda", be it real or imagined.

    It's ironic how two different factions, often opposing in views, might lay claim to such an evil act.

    I understand very well being angry at certain political actions, especially when they lay waste to my family's safety and well-being, all in the name of acquiring more political power. But fanatical hatred for opposing views in and of itself is wrong. Dwelling on anger and hatred becomes an evil sickness, begetting more hatred, and quelling true civil discourse and debate.

    We have a Constitution which was written to protect us from our own government's power and abuse. Power does corrupt; I've seen it with my own eyes. I would suggest we hold our Constitution close to our hearts, and work for change within its formations, rather than sit idly by, allowing useless anger to fester and and grow unabated.

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  4. I don't read the newspapers or listen to the news. I don't currently own a newspaper. So, this is all 'news' to me.

    I won't be giving this guy any of my time or energy. I agree with you. It has the potential to feed the madness of others and give him the infamy he wants. Leave him to languish in the dark.

    Blessings on you & your family,
    Carolynn

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  5. You're mistaken, Karin. This is a brilliant piece of writing. Emotional, heartfelt and moving.

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  6. seconding dbdubya's opinion. great piece, but would understand if patch didn't run it. it's why you have a voice here.

    the only sticking point I have is that this guy IS a terrorist---he just doesn't look like the model the TSA is looking for. anyone going in an methodically picking off people IS terrorising people. Those that were in the camp, those in Norway, those of us making up the rest of the world.

    So very sad that there is so much hatred in this world that someone would think this needed to be done.

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  7. Beautiful, Karin. I limit my news consumption as a way to stay sane. But touching stories like this one are important to hear. They speak to our humanity as opposed to giving a voice to violence and insanity.

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  8. Karin, thank you for your lovely words of closure. I know this sounds harsh but I have completely ignored this story. I will not let him win. I will not.

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  9. Thank you for your thoughts, all of you. The lovely words belong to this young girl. I've been hiking and hiking, carrying this beautiful young woman in my mind and in my heart. And there she will stay.

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  10. I'm like Paula. I won't learn his name.

    If the newspapers, tv and radio stations want to know why they're losing shares, let them look to this. NPR was my last holdout. But the other day I gave up and bought a cord so I can listen to podcasts in my car. No more of this cloying desperation to bring me what is not news, what is not even information, what is only pandering to the lowest of the low.

    I would like to know the name of the girl, though, and the others like her. I'm glad she had someone to hold her when she died.

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  11. Lovely, Karin. Thanks for writing it.

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  12. Thank you, Karin, for adding a calm, reasoned voice to this terrible event.

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  13. On some cable news program today they referred to the murderer as "the man at the center of the tragedy." Typical, evil commentary in itself.

    (that is my mom at the left of my blog photo today, Karin. how'd you guess?)

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  14. Beautifully said, AH. I doubt we can stop humanity from being fascinated by train wrecks, but surely we can also push the news to give EQUAL time, at the very least, to stories like this about the two young people.

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  15. One used to go to New York for the show - now it's L.A. To Paris for the food - now it's L.A. You still go to Pasadena for the Rose Parade & Rose Bowl, and Sierra Madre for the blow dry jobs. And now we go to Altadena for the Hiking Writer.

    This is beyond a Patch or Ny literary agent.

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  16. It's unimaginable. But beautifully said, KB.

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  17. Nice choice of photos - it could almost be Norway.

    I feel sorry for the guy's lawyer, who really doesn't want the job of defending him, and has no idea why he was chosen. The guy I used to work for in England became a top forensic scientist for the defense, and worked on the IRA and Oklahoma bombings. I found it really hard to work on keeping these murderers out of jail, and eventually resigned.

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  18. I think we all needed this heartfelt post. This is so much more important than any news article I've read about the crazy killer lately. Thank you Karin.

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  19. I know what Bellis means -- the lawyer looks like he is undertaking the most odious job on earth, and perhaps he is.

    I so hope the court holds firm and keeps the trial closed. The world wide media are petitioning for "transparency." Though the media are not transparent enough to say they want a freak show. Freak shows sell.

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  20. What a gift, to have a closed trial. I don't know much about Norway but from the Salander books - at least in Sweden - court is very different. They and a lot of other countries have done away with the jury system and it seems as though it's a panel that decides.

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  21. Karin, you are so perceptive it is spooky! How can you see that in my mom's face? Your'e exactly right.

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  22. His claim to have been inspired by the EDL - the English Defence League - may mark the beginning of the end of this nasty organisation. They marched through Cambridge recently to protest about a mosque being built, and looked like a bunch of thugs.

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  23. I'm glad Patch posted it. I'm glad you wrote this. I heard that NPR story too. The anecdote stayed with me for a long time.

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  24. Beautifully written Karin and I agree with everything you said.
    BBC Radio 4 had the mother of one of the survivors on yesterday as well as voicing a series of text messages between the mother and daughter as the slaughter was happening. I had to stop my car to listen as tears filled my eyes.
    But I will not give time or head space to the man responsible - even his own father said he should have died too.
    Thank you so much for writing this.

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  26. Reposting with correct spelling - Brilliant.
    Thanks for sharing what was in your mind and is in your heart. That is a form of bravery, too.

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  27. Thanks for this wonderful piece. Please pass the issues.

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  28. I meant tissues. I can only face the issues with tissues.

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  29. As always, your words are just what we need to hear. I can't do much but I will share on my Facebook. You deserve a better stage but all I can do. I admire your strength,your bravery, your heart and as always your wondrous words that make us all stop short.

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  30. Photos of some we have lost

    http://news.yahoo.com/photos/faces-of-the-norway-victims-1311898156-slideshow/undated-file-photo-sondre-furseth-dale-17-haugesund-photo-180137187.html

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  31. http://news.yahoo.com/photos/faces-of-the-norway-victims-1311898156-slideshow/

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  32. We are still here, and hopefully we will not change too much.

    As for the terrorist - there is very little difference between extremists of one variety or another. A couple of "change all" in Word and their messages read the same. Same shit - new wrapping.

    PS Thank you for your comment and post. They where much appreciated.

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  33. Hei Karin!

    Vet ikke om du leser dette så lang tid i etterkant, men takk for to flotte omtenksomme innlegg etter 22. juli.

    Vår 19 år gamle sønn SMSet med en skolevenninne dagen før 22. juli og avtalte å møte henne når hun kom tilbake fra Utøya. Hun kom aldri tilbake.

    Jeg kjente henne ikke selv, men tenker svært ofte på henne, og skulle så gjerne ønske at det er hun som du skriver om ...og som ble tatt vare på av en venn på slutten.

    Norway, G-K

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