Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Dangerous views

One of my main interests within genealogy - a sub-hobby, so to speak - is to explore long-distance immigration to Europe, Scandinavia and Norway. I strongly believe that contact between peoples and cultures is a good thing. I am very open about my views here on my blog, and I generally don't feel like I am being very controversial.

Every once in a while (and in these days, more and more often), I get reminded that not everyone shares my views. That is perfectly fine. The world is a complicated place, and there are questions to which there are no simple answers. I will respect your views as long as you respect mine, and I will happily discuss anything if there is a possibility that either of us - or both - could end up with more insight.

There are, however, limits to what is acceptable.

Yesterday evening I was browsing through one of my favourite genetic genealogy groups on Facebook, and saw that someone had posted an article about Vikings. One person had left one comment. I could not believe what I had just read. The person was writing in derogatory terms about Swedes, while glorifying the notorious mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik (misspelling his name as "Brevik").

While I was writing a response to notify an admin, the person responded to his own comment, detailing his views. This is what the thread looked like after about twenty minutes:


The admin eventually responded. The offensive comments were removed, and presumably the person was banned from the group.

Why do I react so strongly to this mention of Breivik, "cultural Marxism", and people "deserving death"? Because I come from Norway, because I despise Breivik and his actions, and most of all, because I belong to the generation and the political wing which Breivik sought to bring to its knees. Breivik killed 77 people in the name of his ultra-nationalist ideology. His killing spree on 22 July 2011 was an attack, as he saw it, on a ruling elite and a political party that had opened the country up to the evils (in his eyes) of multiculturalism and Islam. One of Breivik's pet terms is "cultural Marxism".

Breivik targeted the Norwegian government and the Labour Party's youth wing. At the time, I was active in the Socialist Youth, the youth wing of the Socialist Left Party. Not only was I active; it was my passion, and I held several positions within the organization. If given the opportunity, Breivik would have killed me and most of my close friends without hesitation. He would still do so today, I imagine, since most of us are still socialists and multiculturalists.

On 22 July 2011, while Breivik was bombing government headquarters in Oslo and shooting innocent youths at the Labour Party's youth wing summer camp at Utøya island, I was safe in Lillehammer, spending my afternoon and night watching the news on four different TV channels, following my Facebook feed closely and texting friends who were en route to Utøya. It was the first time - and, so far, the last time - I have had to text a friend to ask if they were still alive (she was). Later on, we were explicitly told not to call anyone on the island, since the killer might hear their phones ring. Those of us who were physically safe were constantly texting, calling, trying to comfort each other. Being politically active, many of us had close friends or family members present at the Labour Party summer camp.

I myself knew only one person who was at Utøya that day. She survived the shooting. At the time, I did not know she was there; I only found out afterwards. Three years later, I got to know another survivor. She was a very close colleague of mine, and became a good friend. I have probably come across many other survivors, and perhaps even met some of the 77 people who were murdered by Breivik that day. Norway is a small country in terms of population. Everyone in the country has been affected in some way by what happened on that summer's day in 2011.

Which is why it pisses me off when someone tries to use the 2011 attacks as a joke or as a way of seeming tough or scoring a political point. There is such a thing as stepping over the line. I don't care if that person (who, it should be added, was not a Norwegian) was trolling or if he was serious. If he was trolling, then he heartily deserved a virtual "slap in the face"; if he was serious, at least now he knows that the rest of us will not sit quietly while he posts his revolting views. Perhaps it will even make him rethink them.

Thank you, group admins, for following up my complaint (which got numerous "likes").

Political extremism, threats and glorification of murderers has no place in the genetic genealogy community. We will not stand for it.

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