Norway: two letters to the Guardian

July 27, 2011 at 12:19 am (Guardian, Human rights, Ireland, Jim D, Norway, terror)

1/ I’m writing to voice my concern over the online articles that describe the
recent events in Oslo (Norwegian
gunman boasted of links to UK far right
, 23 July; Anders
Behring Breivik: profile of a mass murderer
, 23 July). The words “terror

attack” and similar phrases were immediately used to describe the events in
Oslo, until it transpired that the acts were committed by one local individual,
when the labelling of the atrocities changed to a “bomb and gun massacre”.

I can’t help but feel a sense of embedded passive racism developing; if the
terrorist attacks in London, crimes against UK citizens with the intention to
terrorise the public, were committed by a fellow white, previously law-abiding,
devoutly Christian UK citizen, would they have been considered terrorism, or
just mass murder? Yet here in Norway, the suspected perpetrator of the attacks
is still due to be charged and is being held for acts of terror.

White terrorists are always humanised by the media and labelled differently.
The individual is now stated to be a Christian, an extremist, somebody who
enjoyed “popular films, television shows and video games”. Muslims are
dehumanised through stereotype. It’s portrayed as being in their nature to be
cruel and hence deserve invasions and torturous imposition of foreign rule.

So, can we continue to refer to the acts of terror in Oslo as such, or do we
now see a future where all terrorist attacks are merely terrible crimes, with
the criminal humanised, regardless of race, religion or targeted nation?

Matt Cox

Oslo, Norway


2/ Matt Cox (Letters,
25 July) has a short memory. He writes: “If terrorist attacks in London against
UK citizens … were committed by a fellow white, previously law-abiding,
devoutly Christian UK citizen, would they have been considered terrorism or just
mass murder?” It is not so long ago that regular attacks were made on UK
citizens by white, Christian (Catholic or Protestant) citizens, which went on
for more than 30 years. These attacks were indeed labelled “terrorism”; they
were also labelled “mass murder”. By calling these acts murder, the state was
able to resist the perpetrators’ insistence that they be categorised as
political prisoners, with unhappy consequences that many in Ireland continue to

Most people hope that the new political settlement in Northern Ireland holds
– but language (nationalist, loyalist etc) continues to provide flashpoints of
disagreement, and underlines the continuing importance of getting the words
right in media commentary.

Máire Davies



  1. Jim Denham said,

    PeterSimon Jenkins is a right-wing isolationist Tory who regularly writes the most dreadful crap, not least on the subject of terrorism. But on this occassion, I’m inclined to agree with him…up to point anyway, Lord Copper:

    • skidmarx said,

      ” Killing Norwegian teenagers (not Muslims) to express some vague hatred for society is not. It is merely deranged.

      Nor can I see any purpose in detailed textual analysis of Breivik’s so-called manifesto, ”

      Stupid and contradictory.[In case you’re all too stupid to see why, if ABB is so vague, how can it be possible to engage in detailed analysis of his beliefs, and how can SJ pronounce so confidently if he hasn’t?] And it’s Simon Jenkins, Dumbo; it’s your hero Hitchens who’s called Peter.

  2. Sarah AB said,

    It’s perhaps worth noting that, although white, the Irish have long been victims of anti-Irish bigotry which has its own tropes, like all kinds of racism.

  3. Jim Denham said,

    I got my Jenkins’es wrong: you, Skidiot have your Hitchens’es wrong.

    This is the Hitchens I like (though often disagree with):

    And “In case you’re all too stupid to see why, if ABB is so vague, how can it be possible to engage in detailed analysis of his beliefs” is not really an argument that makes any sense. Jenkins is saying it’s *not worth* engaging with Breivik: he doesn’t comment on whether, in theory, such engagement is possible.

    Just as it’s not really worth engaging with you, whether or not it’s theoretically possible.

    • skidmarx said,

      No if Breivik is so vague it would be possible to engage in detailed analysis, so the question of whether it is worth doing so would be moot.

      And I well know that you claim to be an acolyte of Chris rather than Pete, you obviously are a humourless moron.

  4. Monsieur Jelly est formidable said,

    will try again like. iddiot Oxbridge pony club memBeR show-jumping toff (probably also a member of chipping norton SET).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: