My heart is in Norway. Right now, it’s broken.
I’m tempted to say that the damage Anders Behring Breivik has done to Norway’s (and Europe’s) cultural and political situation is worse than the actual injuries and deaths he inflicted. But that would be false and obtuse. Human beings have infinite value, and each innocent victim’s death tears a hole in the moral fabric which will never be repaired.
But the cultural and political injury is equally great, I think. Because all infinite injuries are equal.
I’m three-quarters Norwegian by extraction. I speak the language and have visited the country on four occasions. I love the place, second only to America. If America is my mother, Norway is my grandmother — and grandmothers are very special.
It’s a land of breathtaking beauty. The people, whatever you may think of their politics, are among the sweetest and most generous on earth. If they sometimes seem naïve in the face of evil to us, it’s largely because they encounter so little serious evil in their ordinary lives, and have come to disbelieve in the concept.
Now a wicked and stupid man has put a face on evil for them.
And — at this point in history — it’s the wrong face. Not wrong in the sense of Breivik’s own guilt, I hasten to add, but strategically wrong. Tragically diversionary.
It’s become a cliché in the movies and on television. A terrorist event has occurred. The first assumption of all concerned is that it must be the work of Muslim terrorists.
But our intrepid investigators soon discover that it’s actually a domestic terrorist. One of “us” (by which the script writers mean “you”). Thus a salutary lesson (always the same lesson) in multiculturalism and tolerance is learned by all.
Anders Plague-Behring Breivik might have been acting out a script written in Hollywood. Not a very original script, but the script the very people he hates already wanted to believe in.
(As an aside, it is nice to see that, for once, the first response of the Left to a terrorist act has not been to apologize. Just this once they don’t seem to be sitting down and asking themselves, “What did we do to make them hate us so?” They’ve discovered — it must be bracing in a way — that there can be evil that’s just evil.)
A small, courageous group of Europeans has been trying, sometimes under pressure of legal action, sometimes in the face of death threats, to remind their neighbors that they don’t really have a moral obligation to die out and leave a continent swept and garnished, prepared for the habitation of a culture that despises what they value and values what they despise.
Technically, Breivik was part of this movement. More or less as Judas was technically one of Christ’s disciples, and Benedict Arnold was an American soldier.
What Europe needed in this cultural civil war was a Frederick Douglass, or a Harriet Beecher Stowe.
What they got was a cut-rate John Brown.
On the basis of his own statements, Breivik seems to expect that his crime will call forth a spontaneous uprising by ethnic Europeans, resulting in bloody race war, a development he considers desirable.
Fortunately, I doubt very much that that will happen.
In Christian theology, the sin against the Holy Spirit — the unforgiveable sin — has traditionally (I believe rightly) been identified as a moral condition in which the person becomes unable to distinguish good from evil. A spiritual sociopathy.
Europe has fallen very low in its moral discernment, but it is still capable of recognizing evil when presented in a package that looks like Breivik.
Sadly, Norway’s somewhat juvenile justice system doesn’t permit the man to be punished in any way approaching what he deserves.
But he will not be a hero. His soul will not go marching on.