Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

Anders Breivik and the Norway Massacre

On July 22, two carefully choreographed attacks shattered the prototypically Scandinavian calm of Norway. First, a bomb in central Oslo damaged several government buildings and killed eight people; very quickly after, a gunman invaded Uto island, in a lake just outside the city, and shot to death 69 people (mostly teens) at a youth camp run by the Labour Party, the senior party in Norway's ruling coalition, chasing some of them down or firing at them as they attempted to swim to safety. The double act of terrorism was the work of one man: Anders Behring Breivik, 32, whose years-long planning of the carnage was buttressed by beliefs in white supremacy and by a blinding paranoia that Christian Europe was about to be drowned in a surging sea of Islam, Marxism and atheism. That so much hatred and death could emanate from one man led many Norwegians to ask what could be so rotten in the state of their nation to produce such a monster. The answer, it seemed, was a like-minded culture of xenophobia in Norway and Europe that provided inspiration for Breivik, who acted alone. His writings and personal history seem to delineate a man so obsessed with the hells he believed were being ignited around him that he soon became a hell unto himself. And then he unleashed his inferno. At the end of November, an official panel made up of two psychiatrists declared that Breivik suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Prosecutors then said he was unfit to stand trial.