“I was Anders Breivik’s Facebook Friend” (yep, the Norway shooter)

Via Roger Wolsey
on Jul 25, 2011
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“Breivik was my friend on Facebook. I’ve seen what fed his hatred I was once a member of Sweden’s nationalist party, but vile online propaganda drove me away…”

This article is all kinds of powerful. In fact, we may see ourselves in it. Granted, Elephant readers perhaps aren’t generally members of the Tea Party or militias and we don’t typically vacation in Arizona to patrol our borders with Mexico, but we do likely have some residual and/or latent racism and xenophobia lurking within the confines of our hearts and minds.  Though we say “namaste” and chant that we are “one” – we’re still humans who have varying loyalties and allegiances to our various tribes, nations, religions, and preferred people-groups.

It’s easy to think that we’re “nothing like Anders Breivik” — too easy.

The following is an article that was written by someone who could easily be one of us.

I invite us to gaze into the mirror before us:


…I understand how a man like Anders Behring Breivik fed the flames of his hatred, even if that was not the only reason for his terrible act of terrorism, because I was, for a while, his friend on Facebook.

I joined the Sweden Democrats many years ago. It wasn’t because I was a nationalist, or terrified of Muslims. There were two reasons: one was pure and simple curiosity; the other was that I was interested to see how democracy works. I had soon had enough, not because the rest of the world hated me for being a member, but because of all the hate which came my way from people who saw the SD as God’s solution to all the world’s problems. I had never before come across such hatred.

One day I had a friend request on Facebook from Anders Breivik. There wasn’t anything odd about that: when I was a member of SD I was magnetically attractive to everyone who called himself a nationalist: both those for whom it was a game, and the real extremists. Those were, in fact, the people who drove me away from the party. A machine of hate propaganda pumped through my feed on Facebook. There were YouTube clips of massacre victims, demands that all the “fucking niggers” should get out of the country, and far more horrible things.

I reacted by backing away. But for many other people who are weak, or feel bad for some reason, this stream was something to drink from. They egg each other on to believe that the Social Democrats are guilty of all the horrors we’ll come to experience; that immigrants rape and murder and that it’s the socialists’ fault. It is the fault of Mona Sahlin, former Social Democrat leader, that we will be forced to wear burkas and live under sharia law by 2020.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to have opinions about immigration, or to protest against the people who really do want Sweden to allow Muslims to have their own courts and laws. I don’t think it’s right that our borders should be wide open, without any controls – but I utterly reject these reactions.

Hatred breeds nothing but hatred...read the rest here.

Camilla Ragfors
guardian.co.uk,     Sunday 24 July 2011 14.30 BST

Translated by Andrew Brown


Okay, perhaps you’re still thinking to yourself that “you’re nothing like Anders” well, even though you may have checked “any race/ethnicity” on your match.com profile, how many dates have you actually been on with people of another race? If you’re white, how many of them have been Hispanics or Muslims?  How do you really feel about people from other nations working in the U.S. while we’re in the midst of a nasty recession and so many of your friends are trying to find work?

Perhaps the point I’m trying to make could be made more clear by pointing out how Glenn Beck recently associated the youth who were slaughtered in Norway with “Hitler youth.”

Yep, he really did that.

Okay, we can say, “OMG!” We can say, “How horrible!” We can dismiss him as an ass.

But perhaps there’s a bit more work to do.  Perhaps, in a way, Glenn sorta mirrors the tiny parts of ourselves that are ugly and monstrous. Perhaps we need folks in that role as designated monster/whipping boy for the rest of us to exorcise our own inner demons and bigots. i.e., we see the folly and ugliness of our own biases and pettiness in his over the top displays of gargantuan extremes. We then attempt to put our own crap in check by bashing him.  Or, perhaps he’s just an ass – and I think too much.  What do you think?

While you’re pondering …  consider these words from the Avett Brothers:

There’s a darkness upon me that’s flooded in light
In the fine print they tell me what’s wrong and what’s right
And it comes in black and it comes in white
And I’m frightened by those who don’t see it

Roger Wolsey is the author of Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity


About Roger Wolsey

Roger Wolsey is a free-spirited GenX-er who thinks and feels a lot about God and Jesus. He’s a progressive Christian who identifies with people who consider themselves as being “spiritual but not religious.” He came of age during the “Minneapolis sound” era and enjoyed seeing The Replacements, The Jayhawks, Husker Du, The Wallets, Trip Shakespeare, Prince, and Soul Asylum in concert—leading to strong musical influences to his theology. He earned his Masters of Divinity degree at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO. Roger is an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church and he currently serves as the director of the Wesley Foundation campus ministry at C.U. in Boulder, CO. He was married for ten years, divorced in 2005 and now co-parents a delightful 10-year old son. Roger loves live music, hosting house concerts, rock-climbing, yoga, centering prayer, trail-running with his dog Kingdom, dancing, camping, riding his motorcycle, blogging, and playing his trumpet in ska bands and music projects. He's recently written a book Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don't like christianity


11 Responses to ““I was Anders Breivik’s Facebook Friend” (yep, the Norway shooter)”

  1. Roger Wolsey says:

    On a related note, see this article: "Breivik and His Enablers" http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/26/opinion/26iht-e

  2. Saynaday says:

    "boarders"………….great typo but really spot on! (I think you might have meant BORDERS)

  3. Roger Wolsey says:

    I want to take a moment to thank the Avett Brothers for reminding us of our shadow sides. Too many people are in denial about their less than ideal selves. It seems to me that the more of us who admit and own the fullness of our humanness (including the yucky stuff), the better the world will be. It's what allows for the possibility of authentic peace and compassion to happen.

  4. Hanu says:

    Also – I do object to the sympathetic coverage of this terrorist. Would Muslim terrorist be rewarded the same coverage? I doubt it – and so they shouldn't be. Terrorism is disgusting and he is clearly a very ill man.

  5. Roger Wolsey says:

    1. I disagree with you that this article is sympathetic toward the terrorist in Norway. But you might be interested in seeing this article that I wrote referring to a Muslim terrorist. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/05/osama-had-
    2. Please see my fuller response below.

  6. Roger Wolsey says:

    The weird thickens…. Pat Buchanan chimes in. : P

  7. Roger Wolsey says:

    Ah.. thank you for that perspective. That makes more sense. I agree that the media "expects brown people to act monsterously" — indeed, the media initially reported that "Muslim extremists" were likely responsible for the slaughter in Norway.

  8. Roger Wolsey says:

    .. and yet thicker still… Pat Robertson chimes in too. http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201107260020

  9. Roger Wolsey says:

    I don't think we're all just like that extremely bigoted, hateful, and unstable fellow in Norway. But, it is the case that most humans struggle with at least some degree of xenophobia — and the most common forms of it are racism and religious exclusivism. It doesn't sound like you've led a sheltered life so I'm going to guess that you will concede this point. At their best, the major world religious traditions work to help people expand and transcend their usual tribes and boundaries, and they also help foster the virtues of compassion, loving-kindness, hospitality, and inclusion. However, not everyone who teaches or practices those religious traditions does so "at their best." Most of us have a long way to go. Part of Elephant Journal's mission is to help spur, challenge, and cheer people along the way. Peace.

  10. Jenifer says:

    What often rings true for me is that — even though my world is increasingly diverse (people from diverse backgrounds of all kinds — race, religions, healing practices, whatever) — it is absolutely true that I still harbor any manner of "isms" in my mind and psyche that I am trying to heal.

    It is really the schism within myself that I am healing — small spaces of self-loathing that I project onto others in the form of various "isms."

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