When the first reports came out of Oslo, Norway about the July 22, 2011 bomb that exploded in the center of Oslo, killing eight outside the offices of Norway’s prime minister (the target, it was learned later), the first reaction in this country by the news media, both left and right, was that it was by a dirty little brown Muslim striking at the heart of a Western paradise.
But when new reports emerged an hour and a half later of the carnage of 68 shot and killed (out of over 500 campers) in a rampage on Utøya island, 25 miles northwest of Oslo and a quarter-mile off shore, identifying the perpetrator of death as having Nordic features, you could hear all the experts saying “oops.”
The bomber/shooter turned out to be blond-headed right-wing Scandinavian extremist Anders Behring Breivik. Most of us despise such murderous acts by self proclaimed “saviors,” as they can breed counter-violent saviors.
Whether Tucson or Oklahoma or NYC or Spokane; whether Oslo or London or Madrid or Amsterdam; whether North Africa, Palestine, Mexico, or the Middle East; whether left wing or right wing; two things stand out. First, hatred is hatred and evil is evil. Secondly, whether in the U.S., Europe or the Middle East, the common thread is this: These killers fight for their causes by killing their own neighbors. Whether in these farway places or in our own North Minneapolis, we need to concentrate on putting neighbors first, not political agendas.
In the final analysis, despite being a coward, the Norwegian killer was still a shrewd tactician. He calculated with murderous precision that the over 500 people on the island would be trapped with no way off other than jumping into the freezing waters surrounding the island. He knew in advance he would be able to use the system of Norwegian justice to espouse his right-wing hatred and demagoguery and only get 25 years in prison. He even wrote a 1,500-page manifesto outlining his master plan for a war of the ages. Thus, “jihad” can cut both ways.
Too many people like this type of self-proclaimed “savior.” They like his thinking, his bias and his master plan. Those espousing violence, just as those who planted the bomb for the annual MLK march in Spokane earlier this year, consider themselves the vanguard of new crusaders for their version of a brave new and purer world. That should make us all the more wary and vigilant, as we contemplate our own domestic terror, such as the attack on police officers Monday, July 25, 2011, in North Minneapolis. I was there and saw the attack.
Thankfully, it appears there were no serious injuries, no loss of life.
It further highlights the need for a call to reconciliation between North Minneapolis and the MPD. How the repercussions and the backlash will be handled remains to be seen. But Minneapolis certainly cannot have a repeat of the incidents of 20 years ago surrounding the death of Officer Jerome Hoff. No city can afford the types of polarization that are taking place.
I was surprised July 25 to find that after law enforcement officers had been fired on by unknown assailants, no city officials came to the scene. No mayor. No city council members. No state representatives. No police chief. No community leaders. When the fearful can’t be brave, it is impossible to have strategic discussion to stop this city from becoming more polarized, especially along racial lines. Minneapolis needs to establish and maintain the best possible relationships even under the worst of circumstances.
In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln, noting both sides in the Civil War sought God’s “aid against the other,” said, “The prayers of both could not be answered.” Idolators of violence incur murderous results. Eventually a kind of Newton’s law of politics occurs: For every action a reaction.
We need Martin Luther King’s nonviolent approach: slower but much less deadlier, leaving hope and breathing room for subsequent generations. We need the cool of moderation (opposing sides acting within the legal democratic space, not outside it), as violent acts and movements eventually cause others to rise and oppose back with violence.
Pause to offer prayers for Norway and for those mourning the deaths of their beloved children and the loss of their nation’s innocence. Affirm peace. Oppose violence. Join together to beat the monster of violence that stalks the planet.
Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm; hosts “Black Focus” on Blog Talk radio Sundays at 3 pm; and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Saturdays at 4 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers for community planning and development and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.
To comment on this story, see comment box below.