Sunday, July 31, 2011
Commiserations, sympathy, best wishes and all the rest to Norway and the Norwegian people. They've been through -- are still going through -- a powerful, testing series of events. The bombing and the murders carried out by a right-wing anti-Islam freak (won't bother with his name; let history lose his identity utterly, says I. The Romans did that: erased people utterly from their records for certain crimes. I think we should consider bringing that back.) have rocked a historically peaceful and tolerant society, and brought the glaring light of world scrutiny to the most heart-rending and personal of tragedies.
And in response, what have the Norwegians done? Have they started piling on the extra security measures? Have they begun cracking down on personal expression? Have they put aside their tolerance and their freedom in the name of 'safety'?
Statements from the Prime Minister and from the Mayor of Oslo - not to mention many others - have reaffirmed a powerful commitment to tolerance and openness. The people themselves have spoken, again and again. A huge rally in Oslo, in support of the Norwegian way of life and society, drew more than 150,000 people. The funeral of an Islamic girl killed in the attack has been carried out with the greatest of honour and respect.
They're not backing off. Not one iota. The absolute worst they've done, so far, is to remove some video games from sale - because the idiot murderer apparently spent a lot of time playing shoot-em-up games. Okay, so the connection is tenuous... but I'll give 'em that one. Because they could have done so much worse.
And you know what I mean by 'worse', don't you? No-fly lists. Massive wiretapping programmes. Invasive searches in airports and in other public transport hubs. Laws, laws, and more laws designed to curb rights and freedoms, and empower the government with ever greater control. "Free Speech zones."
That's only the tip of the iceberg. I don't even want to think about the nauseating shift to fear-driven conservatism and jingoistic bigotry that's infected even my own country. The crap I read every day from contemptible imbeciles who lap up every word that Andrew Bolt defecates onto the pages of Uncle Rupert's press; the violent, flag-wrapped pinheads who use Australia Day as an excuse to terrorise anyone who doesn't drawl their words with a decently Strayan accent...
Sometimes you find yourself thinking there's no damned hope. Sometimes it's just impossible to believe the human race is worth the effort.
And then, Norway.
Thank you. What happened was an unforgiveable, unforgettable horror - but the response of the Norwegian people, their government and their society, is the first truly hopeful thing I've seen in a long time. I'll do my best to try and live up to the example.