Saturday, July 23, 2011
My maternal grandmother, Helen Gunderson, was born in Moss, on the eastern shore of lower Oslo Fjord. She came to the USA early in the 20th century with so many others then, from Europe and other seaports to the east coast, from Asia to the west coast. Judy Youngquist, my wife, is half Swedish, half Icelandic, so our kids are mostly of Scandinavian heritage. Neither Judy nor I have been to these countries, but hope to be able to visit them. We've always followed events in Norway, Sweden and Iceland with some bit of personal attachment.
We've watched, with alarm, the rise of the new models of right-wing nationalist groups in northwest Europe, as they have reacted to the late 20th and early 21st century influxes of refugees and emigrants from Asia, Africa and southern Europe. Some issues raised by these groups resonate in these countries with long histories - since the end of the Germanic migrations into the area, brought about mostly by early 1st Christian millenium climate changes - of internal unity based upon classic nationalist models.
Apparently, Anders Behring Breivik imagines himself to be an early 21st century version of the Knights Templar, via World of Warcraft, Modern War II, Atlas Shrugs and who knows yet what else. What he seems to have done Friday in Oslo and on Utøya island is not being readily digested. Many are calling him crazy. Some are not.
Here's his exit manifesto, apparently posted onto social networks shortly before the Oslo bomb went off:
Almost looks like an episode from the FOX TV Glenn Beck show, doesn't it? Where's the blackboard? People like Beck do incite others to violence. And it is getting worse.
Norway is in mourning this weekend. Had the bomber-shooter been an Islamic fundamentalist, rather than a Christian militant, our American media would be in full-scale mourning this weekend, too. They aren't, because what happened Friday falls outside of what is allowed to be covered fully and honestly here.
When it became obvious that Norway was accepting a lot of non-European migrants, back in the mid-1980s, I was appreciative of their humanity. For sure, there are sad stories of immigrants who have not wanted to become a part of what Norwegians view themselves to be, but I believe this will pass.
Here's a touching performance by a recent immigrant to Norway. Iskra Mantcheva is from Bulgaria, and now considers herself Bulgarian -Norwegian. She plays Edvard Grieg's Notturno, in Oslo.
This is for Norway: