How Many Trees Does It Take To See A Forest

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

–Martin Niemöller

The murderous rampage of Anders Behring Breivik was anything but a lunatic act of a deranged madman. As days pass and more details emerge, it is becoming more and more clear that this was a premeditated crime with political and ideological background. To call his crime an ‘unpredictable act of a single lunatic’ is – whether you like it or not – turning a blind eye to a worrying trend which has all but became the norm in Europe: making politics of extreme right ever more mainstream. Just as all over Europe, the reaction in Slovenia that something like that can happen (and in Norway, of all places!) was one of shock, at least of disbelief, especially after the initial media-induced preconception that the attack was committed by some Muslim extremists was shattered by the image of a tall, blonde blue-eyed, well, Aryan.


However, as disbelief gave way to analysis, something intriguing was beginning to happen. As if on cue, the voices and opinions that could be loosely classified as right-wing or conservative started that this tragedy should not be (ab)used and politicised. That fearmongering, figthing the existing (political) enemies within and creating new ones are “nothing but post-9/11-like anti-freedom hikes only that this time they are being executed by the over-pious political left” ( Instead, goes the argument, “this was an act of a right-wing nutjob” (WSJ) who claimed to be a Christian and a Conservative but was in fact anything but. That equalling Breivik’s actions to particular political positions is in fact “an attack on the freedom of speech because there’s a huge difference between words and shooting” (Žiga Turk, Slovene only. EDIT: In the comments Mr. Turk provided what he believes to be a more accurate translation)

Pengovsky believes these sentiments are genuine. They are also a symptom of collective denial. What we are seeing in Europe for some yeas now is the moderate (call them European) right wing parties actively courting hard-line voters, those whom they wouldn’t touch twenty years ago. As the general disillusionment with politics, politicians and their abilities to provide any sort of meaningful solution to socio-economic clustefuck of today grows, so grow the tendencies of right wing politicos to flirt with xenophobia, nationalism, anti-communism and other ghosts of European past. On that same note, let it be said, that at the same time the moderate left is increasingly moving to the centre, creating potentially just as dangerous vacuum on that side of the political spectrum. It’s just that no-one really courts the radical left. Mostly because they’re at each other’s throats most of the time.

At any rate, the move has been a short-term success for right wing parties virtually all across Europe. Belgium, France, Italy, Croatia, Finland, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia and Germany (to name but a few) all of these countries have to varying degrees seen the rise of nationalism and its becoming more and more mainstream on the right side of the political spectrum. Take Germany, for example. Last year pengovsky showed how Angie Merkel, who together with Monsieur Sarkozy is bankrolling the Greek Debt Tragedy, took a swipe at Germany’s very own multi-kulti without as much as batting an eyelash. Anders Behring Breivik on the other hand got a hard-on every time he was thinking of ways to destroy the concept. And he decided the best way to do it was to kill those who believed that multi-cultural society is essentially a good thing

The gunman had said his operation was not aimed at killing as many people as possible but that he wanted to create the greatest loss possible to Norway’s governing Labour Party, which he accused of failing the country on immigration. (BBC

Still think it wasn’t political?

Whether or not the killer is insane is of secondary importance. He did what others were preaching to him and others like him. Islam is a religion like any other, it has its good sides and bad sides, but we are being preconditioned into believing that anyone with a thick beard and darker skin is a potential suicide bomber and that every explosion out there is the work of al-Quaeda, although Osama bin Laden is slepping with the fishes for some time now. Multiculturalism and tolerance are easy targets for the pious, the moralistic and the greedy alike, because either “they don’t belong here”, “they don’t share our values and will destroy our way of life” or “they will take our jobs”. Marxism (or Communism, to be more precise) is no longer a threat to Europe or anyone else for that matter. Yet it is still constantly being used as the political Bogey-man, as if Soviet tanks were just behind the borders, waiting with their engines on. As a result, anything that remotely looks like socialism is attacked viciously. Like healthcare. Or the Norwegian Labour party summer camp. Words, therefore, are not something innocent, but can have brutal effect when used carelessly. And this is what the political right is doing all over Europe (and elsewhere) for the past decade or so. Radicalising its rhetoric and creating the air of emergency situation and even panic. This is nothing less than creating a state of fear. And then someone snaps.

When Breivik’s 1500-page manifesto was released, Slovene columnist Marko Crnković tweeted that having browsed through it he found nothing that he couldn’t see on any number of Slovene forums and news-website comments on an average day. Which is true. Jure Mesarič of blog Drugi Dom collected a handful of comments which went along the lines of “extreme liberalism with its ‘human rights’ is also to blame”. But perhaps the most telling example is a comment on a yesterday’s mighty fine post by drfilomena. Someone left a hefty comment accusing the good doctor of being everything from a communist onwards, putting together the rhetoric of Slovene right-wing parties and enriching with some extra-wonderful slurs of his own (I really couldn’t be troubled to translate). God forbid this person owns gun.

Given the above it is of course no wonder that the political right all over Europe is bending over backwards to put as much daylight as possible between itself and Anders Behring Breivik. Creating much fuss about every other aspect of the tragedy, they refuse to even touch the question of why and how the he got his ideas. True, Breivik is neither a true Christian not a proper Conservative. But the European (and, by extension, Slovenian) political right should ask itself whether it is still Christian and conservative and what it will do about the hate-speech, ever more prevailing in its rhetoric. Instead they paint this tragedy as an unfortunate one-off case.

Question is, how many trees does one need to see a forest. Or do we have to wait until they come for someone else?

Enhanced by Zemanta