My little blog is no place to rehearse the details of this weekend’s tragedy in and around Oslo that killed 93 innocent people, mostly teenagers, and wounded another 100. Even after Anders Breivik goes on trial for what he did, I am sure many of us will remain uncomprehending as to his motivation. I still recall my chill revulsion on seeing Bogdanovitch’s Moving Targets in the ’70’s but never thought I would experience anything like it, especially so far from Texas.
But what I do need to remark on is the unflappable bravery of the Norwegian people from Prime Minister to police chief to passers-by who came on camera. Each asserted—in flawless English—that this would change nothing, that the principles of openness, of toleration, of international participation would not change. The Norwegians may not have had all the apparatus and preparation to deal with such premeditated evil but they did recover fast, organising a moving memorial service for the victims within 24 hours.
And that service itself was a statement of undaunted openness: Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, King Harald V, his family and sundry dignitaries walked through their people who then gathered densely around them in shared grief. More than just moving, this was demonstration that, small country though it is, Norway will not be stampeded into paranoia and police over-reaction. King, commoner and—I have no doubt—more than a few republicans bowed their heads together, as if vowing their society and their values were not so fragile, that they could withstand outrageous abuse and maintain the dignified, inclusive trajectory of civilisation in which Norway has led the world for the last century.
It was their 9/11 and, choked with tears as they were, they met it magnificently. Today I wish to stand with them in support, to call myself a Norwegian. I hope you feel as I do.