Extremism’s price

The entire world was shocked as news spread of the devastating bombing and shooting massacre that occurred in Oslo, Norway on July 22. Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik planted a car bomb near a government office in Oslo and then proceeded to travel to the island that housed a youth camp run by the country’s Labour Party. A total of 76 people were killed in these attacks.

These vicious killings came as a surprise to the peaceful country and to the rest of the world. Norway has not seen such destruction since the Second World War. These events caused intense speculation and brought on many questions about Breivik’s motives.

It has been reported Breivik is linked to radical right-wing groups who share anti-Muslim ideologies. The New York Times reported the Norwegian was influenced by various anti-Muslim American bloggers. In my opinion, this disturbing news reveals danger in the rhetoric of fear North America has been creating for years.

Breivik’s disgust over Norway’s trending toward multiculturalism led him to attack innocent youths and government officials. The victims were targeted because of their association with the Labour Party and their beliefs about acceptance and multiculturalism.

Breivik wrote a 1,500-page manifesto that was posted online on the day of the attack. The document spoke of the dangers of Norway’s multiculturalism and the threats of Muslim immigration. Breivik’s radicalism, shown in this document, fueled his determination and led him to kill nearly a hundred people on his own.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects of this event is the lack of remorse on Breivik’s part. The killer’s lawyer is quoted as saying Breivik “admitted to the facts of both the bombing and the shooting, although he’s not admitting criminal guilt.” Breivik believes this was a necessary action and does not admit any remorse or guilt.

The possible influence of American writers on Breivik shows the danger of radical fundamentalism in our society. The prevalent rhetoric of fear has now been demonstrated to have even more devastating consequences than previously imagined. Apprehension, fear and even pure loathing toward Islam have spread to a normally peaceful country and led to one of the most horrific massacres in recent memory.

While freedom of speech and thought is valuable and important, these attacks clearly communicate the dangers of fundamentalism. The saying “everything in moderation” cannot fit more perfectly. In my view, the entitlement to one’s ideologies and beliefs should be permissible only in moderation. The risks of crimes against humanity are too great under the rule of radical fundamentalism, and history is a clear example of this. I think events such as the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide and the tragedy in Norway all stem from fundamentalist, extremist views.

I feel our society has reached a point where many perceive others who are unlike themselves to be a risk and threat to their safety. Groups such as white supremacists in Norway and the Westboro Baptist Church in America demonstrate the narrow-mindedness and prejudice that is unfortunately still prevalent in our world.

The outcome of extreme thought and action has been displayed in a normally tolerant and peaceful country. Many innocent lives have been tragically cut short. Let us hope these horrific events in Norway will allow our society to learn and aim for peace.

Rachel Wood wants people to be aware of the dangers and consequences of fundamentalism.

2 Comments on "Extremism’s price"

  1. Westboro Baptist Church spreads its hate through picketing in our streets, provoking attacks, with abusive language and flag desecration, attempting to create a confrontation. This is not a church, this is a hate group. This is not about protesting, freedom, or God. They are in it for the money and the press; this is a family law firm. They are not a “church.” It is a scam. They go after anything that can get them in the news. This is a family of lawyers using this “god hates you” thing to make money. It is time for this scam to end.

  2. This comment fails to point out the mental health issues at play in Breivik’s case. The vast majority of people, even those with the most radical political beliefs, do not resort to mass violence as a form of expression. I took the liberty of checking out Breivik’s favorite right-wing websites and none of them directly incited violence against any party. Thus, for him and others like him, entreaties for logic and understanding are pointless. Some of that same logic and understanding would have been welcome in this sentence:

    “the entitlement to one’s ideologies and beliefs should be permissible only in moderation.”

    What does that even mean? We’re supposed to find a way to suppress thought? Democratic countries allow for all forms of thought, even that which is most objectionable to reasonable people; it’s the consequent actions that are both worth policing and able to be policed. If Stephen Harper secretly believed abortion should be outlawed but took no action to outlaw it for real, would you still want to remove his “permission” to believe it?

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