Thoughts on Norway: the children of Utøya

Like most Americans, my ancestors came from many different countries. There’s a little German here and a little Welsh there, but I happen to be more Norwegian than anything else. Until recently I’ve never really identified in any particular way with that country. However, since yesterday afternoon I’ve felt more Norwegian than I’ve ever felt before. My Norwegian great-grandfather, uncles, aunts and cousins, all of whom are a part of me, must be in mourning. Of the nearly 100 people killed in yesterday’s attacks in and around Oslo, at least 84 of them were teenagers at a summer camp on the island of Utøya.

It’s so hard to think about those kids without breaking down and crying. What must it have been like for them? Nearly 700 of them were gathered together and huddled around television sets and radios, listening for news of the bomb attacks that had just taken place in Oslo, about 20 miles away from where they were on the island. A tall, blonde, blue-eyed man dressed as a policeman approached them and asked them to come over to him. He said he was there as part of the investigation of the bomb attacks and probably had news of their families back home. Naturally they trusted him without question. Why shouldn’t they? He was a policeman come to help them, so of course they eagerly went over to him.

He then produced several weapons, including a machine gun and shotgun, and opened fire on them. The teenagers ran in terror for their lives and some even jumped into the water in an attempt to swim to the mainland, but he continued to mow them down, randomly, and indiscriminately. Eventually he was caught, but not before he had managed to kill dozens of people, some of whom were as young as sixteen years old. At the time of writing the search continues for more victims, but the current body count is 91. This includes the 84 found at the summer camp, and seven from the bombings in Oslo.

Now everyone is trying to figure out who is responsible and why it happened. Was this the act of Muslim extremists? At this point it does not seem very likely. Did the gunman act alone or is he a member of an anti-Jihadist group? Again this does not seem to be the case. For my part I find it hard to speculate on the motives behind the attacks. I cannot identify on any level with someone who would commit such atrocious acts of carnage. The typically Norwegian-looking gunman Anders Behring Breivik, has been described by the media as a right wing Christian fundamentalist, based on his own description of his religious and political beliefs on Facebook: “Christian” and “Conservative.”

So what, though. He’s a Christian and a Conservative, but so are millions of other people, none of whom are capable of the committing the atrocities that took place yesterday afternoon. I’ve been asking myself over and over why this happened. How could anyone do this? What would lead someone to commit these atrocities? It’s so frustrating because there are no answers to these questions and the violence seems so pointless.

If he had any kind of agenda then how on earth would committing these acts gain any sympathy or support for it?

Words, words, glorious words! Give me all of your words!

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