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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Healing Norway

The tragic events in Norway should be a wake up call to the authorities, not to the dangers of so-called "Right-Wing Extremism", but to the very real dangers of marginalizing a political opposition and a point of view to the extent that they have nowhere to go but underground.

The response to the attacks by the Norwegian press and the incitement against the right of center dooms the repetition of this same cycle of violence in which views are driven underground, where they simmer into real extremism and then explode. The easy and simple way to diffuse this cycle of violence is to reach out and create safe spaces for freedom of speech even for the most disagreeable views.

European liberals often boast of keeping a tighter lid on extremism than America, with tighter curbs on free speech, but the current tragedy is yet another reminder that this lid is counterproductive. Suppressing a legitimate opposition only leads to the rise of an illegitimate opposition. Shutting down ideas you don't like brings back those same ideas, only heavily armed.

Democracy only works as a stabilizer when it is actually democratic. But the European left often uses the word to distinguish legitimate views from illegitimate ones. This is a misuse and perversion of what a democratic society is. It is not a place where only your views are freely represented, but where all views are represented.

An open society is a safety valve. It keeps people from turning to violence because they have peaceful alternatives. However once views begin to be treated as beyond the pale and once there is an organized campaign of hatred and incitement being directed against a point of view by the authorities and the press, then an unfortunate violent reaction becomes more likely.

Here one may encounter Communist and Nazi protests side by side, yet America has a lower share of political violence and political extremism in government than Europe does. It is because we don't lock up ideas or people who have them, that we do have a free country. A freedom that is not based on constant investigations of extremism, but on a system where even the most repugnant views get their hearing.

The outbursts of political violence in Norway and Sweden-- countries which have become notorious for suppressing right of center free speech should be a sign that change is necessary. The authorities may be tempted to once again reach for the club, but they might consider trying the bullhorn of free speech instead. Police powers are tempting when you have them at your disposal, but when it comes to dealing with political dissent, they only exacerbate the problem. And if the opposition ever comes to power, it leaves the club in their hands.

The American, European and Israeli left all tend to respond to political violence with verbal violence, campaigns of hate and incitement that blanket everyone to the right of them as violent extremists. And there is no surer way to create a self-fulfilling prophecy than to broadcast over and over again the message that anyone who disagrees with you is liable to turn to violence. Especially when such a hate campaign is aimed at silencing that opposition.

Campaigns targeting a political point of view as illegitimate create a cycle of violence, as suppression campaigns drive views underground leading to acts of violence, leading to further suppression campaigns and to further acts of violence. The only way to break the cycle of violence is to recognize that while you may disagree with an idea, the best way to prevent it from fueling political violence is to protect the peaceful right of expression for those ideas.

The very act of suppressing ideas is extremist. And it leads to oppositional extremism. This familiar set of tensions between the authorities and a suppressed opposition inevitably explodes into violence. And for the authorities to defuse political violence aimed at them, they must first defuse the suppression of political speech.

If the Norwegian authorities really wish to work for a safer society, they will reach out to create an environment where political activism and speech is protected. But unfortunately all signs are that they remain committed to the same disastrous state of affairs. And the tragedy that occurred can be laid at the feet of this obstinate clinging to the tools of power, while avoiding the means of engagement.

The left's own political extremism creates its own reaction. And cracking down on that reaction only makes it more extreme. It may be tempting for the left to think that it can use police powers and incitement to suppress that reaction, but after this last attack, it may want to think about following another path. If it truly wishes to convince Norwegians that violence is not the answer, the best way to show it is by turning away from violence, and toward democracy. 

Political violence emerges from tensions created by making political engagement a high stakes game. Lowering the stakes and the barriers to political engagement has been shown over and over again to also lower the level of violence.

The answer to political violence cannot be more violence or incitement, it must be engagement. And it is ironic that in Oslo, a city where international engagement has been developed into a fine art, the authorities treat engagement with the right as a foreign notion. But what goes for the world, goes for Norway also.

The reams of ignorant commentary that scapegoat entire political movements for the actions of one man are not only dangerous, they are a more insidious form of political extremism that no free society can afford. They send a message that criminalizes ideas, rather than actions, and by criminalizing ideas, they create a slippery slope into violence.

The best memorial for a tragedy is to understand why it happened and how to prevent it in the future. Domestic political unrest arises not from external factors, as is the case with Islamic terrorism, but from internal ones. Healing a country begins with healing its fractures. And the only way to begin the healing is to open a dialogue on freedom of speech.

28 comments:

Lemon said...

Oslo is a convenient happening for those who want to silence dissent in Europe.

Anonymous said...

Great article.

fsy said...

This is what the left has been dreaming of since 2001 at least, and they will use it to end free speech wherever they can.

Trencherbone said...

The Muslims and dhimmis will use this tragedy to attempt to shut down all criticism of Islam by equating the Orwellian thoughtcrime of 'Islamophobia' with active support for 'right-wing' terrorism.

So while the subject of Islamic terrorism will remain deliberately muddied by leftwing moral equvalence for some time to come, we counterjihadists need to increase our emphasis on all the the other evil and destructive effects of Islam on our cultures, as described in this comprehensive list of resources.

Rita said...

"...The reams of ignorant commentary that scapegoat entire political movements for the actions of one man are not only dangerous, they are a more insidious form of political extremism that no free society can afford..."

I am surprised that the increasingly obscene commentariat have not yet rolled out a Jewish Mother or grandmother for the man who went mad, because then they could really "blame" Israel and the Jews. As much as they "drool" over indicting "Christian Fundamentalism" and "extreme Rightism", these are still only 2nd prizes in the blame game. First prize was, is and remains Israel and the Jews.

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel, once more your words describe so closely and clearly what is in my opinion the european reality. I was actually waiting to read your post about this event - and I can't agree more with you and the comments here.

Yesterday i posted my very similar opinion in a forum of an italian main stream newspaper (Corriere della Sera) and I have been lynched for that. Just a water fall of insults, and no real counter-argument. The common opinion is that we are as violent and fundamentalist as the islamists. No worse: the islamists have good reasons for their violence (in big part exaggerated by the islamophobic propaganda) as they are the victims of western colonialism and israeli oppression.

Obviously there is nothing that justify violence - apart from self defense. This man is crazy and what he did is horrible and disgusting. But the left will use this event to silence and repress even more the "non-progressive" opinions. Now everyone that is critical of big government and of damaging leftist policies will be tagged as extremist. Like this was not done already anyway.

The leftist MSM has the propaganda gas full on already. Their double-standard is being spread all loud. Here it is their " double logic" (nothing new):

1. no one is allowed to criticize the islamic/marxist ideology, as this is a form of racism and selfish thinking (??). On the other hand islamic violence is justified, for several "good" reasons, among which the above unwanted criticism.

2. everyone is on the other hand allowed, actually morally obliged, to criticize and even better repress ideas that don't conform to liberal bigotry. Furthermore, any violence from the repressed "dissidents" (already the definition "dissident" has a lot of significance) is a worse form of violence - on the liberal violence scale that distinguish their killings as moral and necessary.

This is where our Great Society (TM) is heading. The entire concept of morality is being re-written. The new white is the old black. The individuals count nothing, compared to groups and classes.

The Norwegian events were not bad enough by themselves as horrible blood shed of young people. But the no so hidden consequence for all of us is even more repression of freedom of speech and individual rights.

Just like the assasination of Yitzhak Rabin, it will be misused till the end of times by the left moralist propaganda to prove with certainty that we are worse than the terrorists that want us dead and the people in power that want to take away our freedom.

Fed.

tenquid said...

"Police powers are tempting when you have them at your disposal, but when it comes to dealing with political dissent, they only exacerbate the problem. And if the opposition ever comes to power, it leaves the club in their hands."

Very well said. I believe this is the greatest danger for Norway. When a country becomes a pressure-cooker of cultural tension and citizens have no way to legitimately express their distress, violence will be inevitable.

Thank you, Mr. Greenfield, for your thoughtful analysis of a highly emotional event. You do not become caught up in the gossip and minutae surrounding an event. You find the essence and the relevance of events and shine a light on them for those of us who are struggling to understand.

Anonymous said...

Daniel, again thanks for your post. I was waiting for it actually and once more I think it describes so closely the european reality.

Yesterday I posted a similar comment on an italian main stream newspaper (Corriere della Sera) and I was lynched. The common opinion was that we are just like the islamists. No, worse - as their violence is justified by western colonialism and oppression.

Here is "leftist double-logic" explained:

1. to criticize islam/marxism is not allowed, as it is racist and selfish thinking. On the other hand islamic/marxist violence is not as bad, actually is justified by the leftist bigotry.

2. to demonize everyone that does not like big government or who is skeptic of damaging leftist policies, is on the other hand allowed, actually even morally obligatory. But any violence from the "dissident" is unacceptable (the word "dissident" has a lot of significance by the way) for the leftist who have a special "violence scale" based on which some violence is moral and necessary (their killings) and some other is not.

Violence is always wrong, apart from self-defence. The norwegian events were not bad enough as a terrible blood shed of young people? The road to very restricted freedom in europe was already paved - by the left. This event give them even more power to pursue what they had started already.

Just like Yitzhak Rabin assassination, this event will be misused by the left until the end of time to "prove with certainty" how worse we are than the ones that want to kill us and the ones that want to steal our freedoms. It will "prove" the leftist point that we are monkeys unable to handle our lives, and we deserve to be controlled. Welcome to the Great Society (TM) where basic indivual freedom ceases to exist to leave place for "group and class rights".

Fed.

Ciccio said...

If all the brains of Islam had gotten together to find a way to still anti Islam dissent, they could not have found anything to beat this. In one master stroke Wilders is silenced, the entire right pushed to the sidelines. The left is going to milk it for all its worth, they can't make money' invent anything worthwhile, balance their books but they can make propaganda and this is going to be their day.

Johann said...

Ciccio I agree, the Manifesto of this oddball, contains references and admiration primarily of Jihad Watch and Atlas Shrugs. Pamela has never supported any call for Crusades, I think she made a mistake linking with Robert Spencer, who has made overt calls for Crusades. I think we need to be a bit more picky with our allies.

The EU has announced a new task force, to monitor right wing extremism. Hilary Clinton was already looking for an excuse to shut down right wing criticsim, and this is just what they will milk. They will also use it to silence dissent on Israel.

All the Norway media is blaming pro Zionist forces, and Europe is already pro Israel. They're also blaming Geert Wilder though he had nothing to do with this.

I can't believe this is happening. The Murdoch meltdown was bad enough, now this?

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Yes it's happening and likely will happen again. We have to be prepared for that and not panic when it does, but turn the argument around.

Watch what the left does when Muslims carry out attacks and turn the subject around.

Anonymous said...

Clever and well balanced article again - thanks.

Yesterday I posted a similar comment on the italian "Corriere della Sera" and I got lynched. The common opinion was that western people are worse than the islamists - as islamic violence is justified by western colonialism and oppression. According to "leftist double-logic" of course.
The road to very restricted freedom in europe was already paved - by the left. This tragical event gives them even more power to pursue what they had started already. It will be abused to "prove with certainty" how worse we are than the ones that want to kill us and the ones that want to steal our freedoms. It will "prove" the leftist point that we are monkeys unable to handle our lives, and we deserve to be controlled. Welcome to the Great Society (TM) where basic individual freedom ceases to exist in favor of "group and class rights".
Fed.

Keli Ata said...

The left is trying to destroy the Firsst Amendment. Pretty soon people will be called in for questioning if they even write anything that could be considered "incitement."

Anonymous said...

Mr. Greenfield, you are absolutely right. Your article is a must-read for everyone.

Flippin said...

Thank you. I could scarcely agree more.
However I would add that the abusive misuse of "bigotry" accusations, have prevented open discussion of the jihad, just as similar blanket accusations threaten to silence all discussion.
Flippin had hoped that if the correct labels could be introduced into the discussion, then we would have hope of debating 'khilafah" in the open forum of ideas.
This has led me to "claim" the Oslo a$$h4T (I refuse to learn his name & give him any satisfaction) , to claim him as one of my own. If we can't accept "ownership" of our own screw ups, and act to prevent future occurrences, how can we honestly ask the muslims to do the same with their extremists?

Anonymous said...

The fact that Europe's media is entirely of the left is of great stress to a large number of conservatives there.

Excellent article.

Anonymous said...

Flippin

You've been brainwashed with pc nonsense.

You missed the point that the facist environment in Europe is a great stress to the oppressed, the traditional view. There is going to be lashing out.

I'm a conservative and none of my values support this guy's action, so why should I apologize because someone who has some of my good values also demented in other murderous ways? Tell we why I should apologize?

Muslims are responsible for supporting a violent, jihadist religion.

Flippin said...

Anonymous
I did not mean you should apologize.
The messages we post are intended to convince the "masses" are they not?
My point is that by always starting the conversation with "all muslims.... all islam", we have instantly lost our audience. My goal has been to try and start the conversation with the "masses" from a topic that they might listen to and not reject out of hand everything we say.
As regards the Oslo tragedy. How is saying some version of "Oh he's not a real whatever(CJ Christian, right wing), how is that any different than the muslims simply dismissing jihadi as "oh he's not a real muslim"?
If you don't change your direction, you will get where you are going.
If we don't find ways to live together, the only alternative is genocide.
And while armageddon may sit well with adherents of the Abrahamic religions, I assure you the other HALF of the planets population is not so keen on the idea.
If we do not unconditionally condemn his actions, while continuing to debate the issues, we are n different than muslims who say suicide bombing is justified.
I am as against "splodey" Christianity, as I am against "splodey" Islam".
Regarding the situation in Europe, I admit to speaking from a Canadian perspective, the "multicult" issue here is different.

mindRider said...

The perpetrator of this murderous spree had made an over absolute amateur level video which can be seen via this link http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=093_1311453213
In it he refers to those leaders in history that stopped the Islamic invasion of Europe. Do we all here, both the Sultan as well as we his readers believe that words, how well written and however much proving great insight as they may be shall be able to stop Islamization of Europe or shall the only way be trough violence? As the creeping jihad of the present does not have the shape of an invading army there shall be no military battles but does anyone here see an option in stopping Islam and it's left wing liberal supporters takeover of the western world in a non violent way even after the second and third generation Muslims has shown only radicalisation and not a general acceptance and assimilation to western values and there left wing liberal suporters show more and more hard line Marxist trates and less and less inclination to civilized dialogue?

RonL said...

If Anders Breivik is insane, his "ideology" is secondary to his mental pathology. If he is sane in we should look at his ideology, methodology, and goals. Breivik considered the EU/EUSSR totalitarian in nature. He wrote a manifesto calling for revolution, not working within the legal systems of Europe. If the response to this terrorism is to suppress non-violent nationalists and anti-racist conservatives, then the winners will be the violent racists and revolutionaries. Opposition will be moved underground where it will fester and become violent and that is his goal. Any persecution of non-violent anti-Jihad activists or traditionalist conservatives will only help foster revolutionaries and terrorists.

The way to prevent a future violence is not to reward Breivik, but for democratic governments to work with political groups in rooting out violent people, while preserving the rights or opposition movements. There has been plenty of revolutionary violence in Europe from the left, but no one calls for ending the Social Democrats, Greens, and other non-violent movements despite splinters. The Right should be accorded the same respect to prevent more violence in the future.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Words alone cannot hold back violence, but words can form a basis for political action, which can create a new political consensus that would mobilize military and law enforcement to protect a nation from the Jihad.

Flippin said...

Daniel Greenfield said;
"Words alone cannot hold back violence, but words can form a basis for political action, which can create a new political consensus that would mobilize military and law enforcement to protect a nation from the Jihad."
TY that's what I meant, largely.:)
Now, how to say that as well,in only 140 characters, and vocabulary the average uninformed person can understand? :)

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Speak up, Stand up, Take Back the Government, and Fight Back as a Nation

Anonymous said...

Great piece......as usual. Thank you, kate b

dave s said...

For me it is starting to feel as it must once have felt to be living in Britain when the Roman legions left.
That nothing would ever be the same again and that a time of trial and collapse was coming to a once ordered world.
There is no pattern to events any more that makes sense. It is the beginning of chaos in every sphere, economic, moral and political.
When great changes happen they always happen swiftly. it is the way of the world.

Flippin said...

"Speak up, Stand up, Take Back the Government, and Fight Back as a Nation" While excellent for the USA, I doubt you are proposing replacing the Conservative gov't in Canada with the New Democrats! And we havn't lost Canada yet, illustrating the difficulty of dealing with a global issue from the perspective of a single country or region.
It is NOT that I believe the west verses islam issues are as simplistic as Flippin seems to make them. It is all about getting the message planted in the minds of "masses' of regular folk. The ones who think 15 minutes of local news twice a week is keeping themselves well informed.
Khilafah is the central problem.and the jihadi's them selves have sites explaining it, allowing me to make the case against jihad in their own words and video's. And to do so across all national and political lines.
The flags are a consistent global symbol.
As skilled a writer as Daniel is, it counts for naught if the audience won't, or can't take the time to read & understand the writing.

HermitLion said...

Daniel, thanks for writing in the name of Democracy at this time. It is widely forgotten that "Democracy" does not mean only what the left believes is ok to think (or, heavens forbid, say out loud!), and the responses of commoners to this murderous act show, quite unsurprisingly, that the indoctrination runs deep.

Suppressing ideas does indeed lead to violence, but the leftist authors out there have no real wish to engage in dialog. They're playing to win, no matter the cost.

1389 said...

GMTA, Sultan!

Among other things, I also lamented the use of the label "extremist" to stifle freedom of speech. I suggested that the term should be applied in a far more limited manner, and not slung like mud as a universal pejorative against everyone who takes a stand on anything. See:

Norway Killings: The story unfolds

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