Sunday, August 28, 2011

Richard Daly: Reflections on terrorist attacks in Norway

“No Man Is an Island”: Reflections From Norway

 by: Richard Daly, Truthout | News Analysis, Aug. 24, 2011
Social Pathology

We are spending a few days at a cottage on Vesterøy (Western Island) off the eastern shore of Oslofjord. The rainy afternoon is interrupted by the ringing of our host’s mobile telephone. The woman we expect to join us from Oslo calls to postpone her arrival for a day. She reports that, moments ago, there was a huge explosion. It appears that the government buildings in Oslo have been bombed. She’s tied up in traffic, and, like us, in deep shock. We do not believe such a thing could have happened in Norway, this sliver of a country “way up north of Europe”(Oslo, in the south of the country, is at 61 degrees north latitude). We switch on the television. The mobile rings again. Only five minutes have passed since the explosion. Our host’s son, who is in France, rings to find out if his father is safe. He has already heard about the event from his mother, who inquired in turn about his safety from Southern Africa, where she read the news over the Internet. The time and space of the human world are contracting, despite what scientists call our expanding universe. But worse is yet to come.

Continues >>

1 comment:

Nasir Khan said...

Richard Daly is an eminent ethnologist; his academic work is much appreciated by those who know him as a humanist and for his progressive world-view. One of his books that I read was his 'Our Box was Full: An Ethnography for the Delgamuukw Plaintiffs' where he explained and defended the rights of First Nations of Canada in a famous judicial case in Canada. In this well-written paper, he has recorded his views and impressions of the terrorist attack and massacre in Norway on July 22, 2011. In his clear description of the terrorist attacks in Norway, he shows that the events had a political context in European history where the political extremists and far-right activists operate. This is also a reminder to all democratic forces and peaceful people that they cannot live in a dreamland of peace and security because the rightist forces are capable of striking at the roots of democratic institutions and cause havoc within the multicultural societies in Europe and Americas. Anders Breivik has shown the reality of the extreme rightist views to many complacent Norwegians who think because they 'have it so good'; therefore, everything is fine here and what happens in other parts of the world is not our business. I come across such good people from time to time, but there is no point to argue with them because they have their deeply-held views and that's the end of the matter.

Dr Daly himself is also an immigrant in Norway, but luckily he is white. That also means his ethnic identity is a material fact that works in his favour. And I am very happy about that. On the other hand, I can also contrast my ethnic and 'religious' identity with his identities and say that I am also an immigrant like him in Norway. I am from Pakistan, a humanist (atheist) and secularist in religious matters but I will be seen in Norway as only a Muslim! And therefore a part of the sinister scheme to Islamise Christian Europe!!

We are aware that racist and ethnic tensions quickly rise to the surface in our society whenever any terrorist or any criminal activity is undertaken by or attributed to a Muslim. In such a case, we who have foreign ethnic background and our descendants become easy targets at the hands of some white people. We are all held responsible for any of the misdeeds of such an individual. And this happens all the time.

I shudder to think what would have happened if the terrorist and mass murderer in Norway was not a white Norwegian but, say, some Muslim criminal or a Muslim criminal organisation. That would have opened the gates of hell for us, the Muslim communities, living in Norway and the rest of the Western world. As mentioned above, we have been collectively held responsible for the actions of some Muslim terrorist or his organisation. In this connection the lessons of 9/11 are before us. Very many of us, both white and non-white people, have the first-hand experience how all Muslims from the Asian and Middle Eastern region were 'treated' in Norway and the rest of the western world.