July 26, 2011

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

“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

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