Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Humanity Is The Story In Utoya

In the past week or so, articles have appeared regarding the political leanings of the summer camp in Utoya where Anders Breivik shot 68 civilians in a terrorist attack which has shattered Norway and the international community. The camp, run by the Labor Party in Norway, evidently held very liberal views with regards to Israel. It is a tidbit worth considering, but ultimately dwarfed by the sheer magnitude of the senseless human tragedy which occurred there.

Unless of course, you are the far right. Pamela Geller notes regarding the camp's political leanings that "Glenn Beck was not so far off when he compared it to the Hitlerjugend or Young Pioneers." since after all, "the day before the shooting, an pro-Palestinian rally was held."

Barry Rubin of the Jerusalem Post says the camp held a "pro-terrorist program," evidenced by the fact that it "was lobbying for breaking the blockade" and calling for an "immediate recognition of a Palestinian state." Rubin concludes the editorial asserting that "many Europeans will accept terrorism against Israelis or even Americans; very few will applaud terrorism against fellow Europeans."

Manfred Gerstenfeld of YNet concludes that the Norwegian Foreign Minister, "in calling for the dismantlement of the security barrier...was thus indirectly promoting terrorism against Israelis." Gerstenfield's editorial was later re-tweeted by the Government Press Office of the State of Israel.

To address these claims on the basis that they are reactionary, offensive, and without merit would be an exercise in futility. But more importantly, it would be disrespectful and beyond the boundaries of basic human decency.

The story in Norway is the senseless murder of innocent people. It is the children who swam for their lives as a gunman attacked them. It is the government workers who were trapped in bombed-out buildings. The mainstream media has not ignored the story about the camp's ideology because of bias. It has done so because this story is completely irrelevant in the face of such the cruel and senseless attack perpetrated against our fellow human beings.

There will be time aplenty to discuss the political implications of the attack. Breivik will likely stand trial, and the issue of terrorism is not likely to go out of vogue anytime in the near future. Thus, our duty for now must be to transcend our political leanings and show true compassion for the victims of the attack. This commitment to the value of respect for our fellow human being must transcend our commitment to petty ideological hackery.

Tolerance includes being tolerant of the intolerant. The far right need not change what it believes. But until the victims, their family and friends, and the country of Norway have had some time to grieve and some closure, giving it a rest is not a matter of politics. It is a matter of basic respect and decency.

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