Dear Norway

I'd like to begin by offering my condolences. That seems weak, and not enough; as though I'm giving you an awkward pat on the back at your Auntie Muriel's funeral. But this was a very painful, traumatic and very personal attack on you, and I just want to say that my heart grieves with yours.
I have always deeply admired Scandinavia. There was a moment during my visit to Finland when I thought I could happily live here. Obviously Finland is not Norway, and I'm sure you two have your distinguishing characteristics, but I feel there are regional traits that span your peninsulas. The intense cleanliness, for instance. Not just one's person, but one's environment including public bathrooms, and I'd even go so far as to extend this penchant for tidiness to your personalities. Every person I encountered in Finland approached me with a courteous, polite detachment. Nobody was about to infringe on any desire for privacy, but they were ready to help me as best they could as soon as I asked.
I love that you all take care of one another, that you have some of the best health care in the world, and some of the best educated people in the world. I love that you guys just seem to get it: socialism as it should be; a government that serves you; politicians who can disagree without temper tantrums and with common decency.
As I recall from my travels in Finland, I love that you guys love coffee and drink exceptional coffee. I love that you eat very well, I loved the wealth of smoked salmon I found in Finland (I did not, however, love the liberal use of dill to season literally everything). And, of course, I love how clean, good design runs through your veins even to your physical appearance. If anything can be said of Brievik, he's very neatly dressed.
So I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise that now, more than ever, I fantasise about moving to Norway. Or Sweden, or Finland. The fact that I don't speak Norwegian, or Swedish, or Finnish is one major road block, but, hey, I did learn Russian so I feel this is something I could overcome.
The thing is, Norway, even in the wake of your tragedy the politicians and talking heads of the United States are proving, almost with gusto, what amazing douche bags they are. I wonder what it would take for my representatives and senators to realise that no one actually respects their name-calling or pointing of fingers, and that when an old-school politician intermittently does speak with eloquence and courtesy we instantly plaster it all over the web as a refreshing breath of air.
And yet, there's got to be at least a few Americans who do like their politics mixed with extreme religion, otherwise these people wouldn't have been elected in the first place.
All across the news online are endless speculative articles about why and how Anders Behring Brievik did what he did. I don't really care why; I assume it was in anticipation of breathless journalists shoving microphones and cameras in his face while asking why he did it. He needed something to get our attention so he could vocalize his mystifying manifesto out loud. I don't buy that he's insane, I think that's a convenient way to rationalise our lack of understanding. I think in general he's a very self-centered, selfish person. One comment pointed out the break of logic in that, protesting the imagined Muslim takeover of Europe, he shot and killed Norway's youth. But I think this misses a huge element of vanity. When you look at his photos in the police vehicle (I also love your cars, by the way, it's been a long cherished dream to own a vintage Saab), he has a very self-satisfied, almost giddy smile on his face and it's rather disgusting. Brievik couldn't have cared less who he shot and killed as long as it caught everyone's attention. Therefore his motto must have been "go big, or go home."
But I still don't think he's insane. He's sick, sure, and holds some very misguided beliefs very close, but unfortunately they are beliefs shared by extreme right wing groups all over the world (I'm just going to go ahead and call them Fascists) and individuals the United States have already declared to be criminals.
That's probably the most embarrassing part for me, as an American. It was a little throw-away line in the Guardian's coverage, intended to convey just how convoluted Brievik's manifesto is: he quotes heavily from a manifesto written by Theodore Kasczyinski, known to most of us as the Unabomber.
This makes me feel as though the US has somehow exported the disease of domestic terrorism abroad, and it couldn't have landed on a more unspoiled wilderness, like a wildfire finally getting to devour old growth wood. I can't help but feel as though we are partly responsible.
*Caveat: I am fully aware that other nations such as Ireland and Spain and even France have wrestled with their own "domestic" unrest in the past. Names like IRA, Basque Separatists and others ring a bell. But they would probably consider themselves a distinctly different culture from that which they're terrorising. And with all these new headlines of "Terrorists are never right," did anyone ever consider that when they wrote out a donation checque to the IRA as millions of Americans have? Fire fighting communities in particular have bankrolled the IRA and UVF quite heavily in the 90's. However, individuals like Timothy McVeigh or Ted Kaszcynski, who seem to take passionate, hyperbolic and vitriolic rhetoric very literally is a true American phenomenon dating all the way back to pre-Civil War with John Brown and now up to date with the Arizona shooter. Let's be honest, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire, was anyone truly surprised? Sad, yes. Surprised?
Not just in that our domestic terrorists seem to have inspired Brievik, but our initial hysterical fear of Arabs also seems to have fanned the flames of his hatred of Muslims and Marxists (what those two have in common is a mystery to me). It would also seem we confirmed his hate Arabs and Muslims, as in the spilt-seconds of the news breaking all our news pundits and politicians immediately assumed it was a Middle Eastern fanatic incensed by the peaceful tolerant Norwegian lifestyle (although, to be fair, who else has been actively bombing the Western world?). In some ways, one would think it would marginally less painful if your attacker had been foreign, and an outsider. Then it maybe wouldn't have seemed so treacherous, the old saying that you nursed an adder in your breast.
But what is astounding is that you observed, as a whole, that it would not have been better to be attacked by a foreign entity, that Brievik being Norwegian was, to approximately quote him, "distressing but necessary." That is to say, if it had  to happen, better that it happen in a way that permits you to continue in your trusting ways (though I think we all know that is a fairy tale).
So I am so sorry, Norway, that this happened to you and all of your citizens. I'm sorry that we all contributed so heavily to creating such uneasiness and distrust, even in one person (especially since it was the wrong person), to the point where they couldn't handle it. I'm really sorry that people like Glenn Beck and Pat Buchanan really fumbled the ball when responding to this tragedy.
Just remember: we still love you.


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