A hole in society / News / The Foreigner

A hole in society. EDITORIAL: The attacks on the government and innocent youths have awoken Norway from its tranquil innocence. As the allegations, investigations, and speculations continue, many are asking what is happening to its open society. A sombre Prime Minister addressed the nation from the speaker’s podium at today’s morning press conference. Clearly moved, halting slightly to gather words during his opening address, a greyed and slightly emotional Jens Stoltenberg talked of a “national tragedy” amongst the “fear, blood, and death”. What was a seemingly ordinary Friday afternoon in the middle of Oslo’s summer holidays was transformed from peace to panic as an explosion ripped through government headquarters and the nation’s hearts.

oslobombing, utoeyashooting, primeministerjensstoltenberg



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A hole in society

Published on Saturday, 23rd July, 2011 at 12:12 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 23rd July 2011 at 23:15.

EDITORIAL: The attacks on the government and innocent youths have awoken Norway from its tranquil innocence. As the allegations, investigations, and speculations continue, many are asking what is happening to its open society.

Explosion damages Oslo buildings
Explosion damages Oslo buildings
Photo: Jordan Strauss/Contributor/Getty Images


A sombre Prime Minister addressed the nation from the speaker’s podium at today’s morning press conference. Clearly moved, halting slightly to gather words during his opening address, a greyed and slightly emotional Jens Stoltenberg talked of a “national tragedy” amongst the “fear, blood, and death”.

What was a seemingly ordinary Friday afternoon in the middle of Oslo’s summer holidays was transformed from peace to panic as an explosion ripped through government headquarters and the nation’s hearts.

People were lying on the ground bleeding. Shattered glass from blown out windows was everywhere. Pictures from national television showed the bomb had blasted wall-to-wall daylight into at least one of the buildings whilst casualty numbers from the bombing rose.

As did casualties from the Utøya political Labour youth camp massacre. Those that were not shot and killed immediately were gunned down whilst they tried to escape, with many bodies found in the water. People came with boats to help. Some youths were saved, others’ lives were cut short in their prime.

The Prime Minister had visited peaceful Utøya each year since 1974. It is as open as Norwegian society. Politicians often walk down the street, meeting people on their way somewhere. Greeting is as common as coffee or lunch; discourse as available as skiing. Little need for armoured convoys under police escort.

Norwegians are in shock and are now trying to find explanations as to how this type of out-of-the-blue attack could have happened. As with similar incidents in the United States, it is a fellow, white citizen who stands accused of committing both crimes.

The assaults do not fit in with Norway as a country with a democratic system designed for equality. Opinion is free, its laws for those lucky enough to live in Europe’s oil-blessed richest country are intended to be fair, the welfare benefits system is applauded by other nations, and walking the streets of Oslo city centre is traditionally safe.

Nevertheless, this could all change from now on. The Prime Minister describes recent events as a “nightmare”. As the as the nation mourns with flags flying at half-mast, he calls for solidarity, but at the same time vowing to hit back against what is now under threat. The government may be bruised and battered, continue to function, but somebody has blown and shot holes in the egalitarian society with commonly agreed-upon, pacifist and, on the surface at least, high moral values.

The damaged or destroyed offices and structures will need rebuilding, and perhaps officials will now have to make an about-turn as to how easy it is to gain external access to government buildings. Maybe political youth camps such as Utøya’s will need better protection against the likes of extremists, Christian, Muslim, Orthodox, or otherwise, such as the accused perpetrator who managed to evade all suspicion by impersonating a white police officer and carry out the attacks.

However, neither hindsight nor future naivety will be of any benefit to friends and families of the deceased. Admitting the need for a new era with more restrictions will not be easy should the government choose, and ultimately the people are obliged to follow them.

We believe one person’s vicious deeds cannot be allowed to change one of the most important values in Norwegian society, openness.



Published on Saturday, 23rd July, 2011 at 12:12 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 23rd July 2011 at 23:15.

This post has the following tags: oslobombing, utoeyashooting, primeministerjensstoltenberg.





  
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