Having lived in Oslo last year for about four months, the tragedy in Norway feels a little closer to home. It’s a shocker, a direct assault on the strong social democratic fabric of Norwegian society.
However, the right is, as usual, very swift to assert its narrative on events. Initially, there were suggestions of Al Qaeda, but as soon as it became clear it was not – the man arrested is a 32-year-old Norwegian, tall, blond, blue-eyed – the media was full of the ‘lone madman’ hypothesis. ‘A Madman’s Work: 91 dead in Norway attacks’ trumpets the bourgeois Sydney Morning Herald, in tune with the Murdoch paper, Perth News.
But then, contrary evidence began to roll out: Anders Behring Breivik is a self-described conservative Christian, his blog posted anti-Islamic and anti-gay attacks, as well as criticisms of Norway’s well-established multiculturalist tradition. And he bombed and shot the offices of the ruling Social Democratic Party, as well as the S-D youth camp, where many of the left’s future leaders may be found.
So how does the liberal bourgeois and right-wing media respond? The Australian and The Daily Telegraph (Murdoch rags) stress that it is ‘too early’ to make any connections between his right-wing views and the attacks. Or the mind-boggling argument that he may have expressed such views, but that he has ‘no known links to hardcore extremists‘. They all cast the comments of a police spokesperson in such a light. While he emphasises that the attacks had no connections with Al Qaeda, the comments are framed in a way that leads to the conclusion that he had no connections with any organisation at all. (Although the Zionist blog, Gates of Vienna wants to maintain that he is both right-wing and a jihadist!)
Thankfully, the Norwegian and Swedish media are more sane and realistic. The chief editor of the magazine Expo, Daniel Poohl, points out that it is important that people understand that this was not a lone man who has run amok. According to Poohl, ‘This is not a lone lunatic. He is part of a political battle. His actions are a consequence of the world of ideas in which he exists’.