25 July 2011

When the outskirts of fear invade your home…

At least 91 people died when a gunman ran amok on Utoeya island,  
At the site of the car bomb explosion
in Oslo, Norway
[courtesy: Reuters/Holm Morten]

Norway,  on Friday (July 22, 2011), hours after an Oslo bomb killed seven. Eric Solheim, Norwegian minister and a long supporter of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam who is often described as the face of  Norway’s ‘peace efforts’ in Sri Lanka, was not dumbfounded by the attacks.  He said it was too early to speculate about the identity of the gunman. He also said that the ‘horrible’ massacre was ‘an attack on Norway’s democratic values’. He expressed ‘enormous shock’. 

The identity of the gunman has since been revealed.  Anders Behring Breivik is a blond-haired, blue-eyed rightwing Christian, just like Timothy McVeigh, the US Army veteran (blond-haired and blue-eyed) who detonated a truck bomb in Oklahoma killing 168 people and injuring 450 others. McVeigh had sought revenge against the federal government for its handling of the Waco Seige two years earlier, which saw 76 people killed, including the leader of the ‘Branch Davidian’, a Protestant sect affiliated with the Seventh Day Adventists. 

Back in 1995, in the aftermath of the Okahoma Bomb blast, US security agents combed the world for a Islamic suspect and even arrested one in London. ‘Terrorist’ was (and still is, to many white people) coterminous with ‘Muslim’. In the aftermath of the Oslo attack, ‘Islamic Militant’ was invoked, and in quieter tones ‘Tamil Terrorist’. Terrorism is not identity-bound.  Ascribed and acquired identities are meaningless when it comes to killers.  What is relevant is the overriding identity markers: deranged and insane. 

Terrorism is not location-bound, although some countries suffer more than others and often on account of deranged and insane people running other countries, either engaged in terrorism (in the name of world peace or democracy) or supporting terrorists directly or indirectly. It is in this sense that Solheim’s ‘horror’ warrants comment. 

He is ‘shocked’ and ‘horrified’. He is livid about some nutcase attacking Norwegian democratic values. This man took part in LTTE-organized demonstrations against Sri Lanka. He facilitated the whitewashing of LTTE crimes against humanity and spared no pains to give political legitimacy to the LTTE, not to mention parity of status vis-à-vis the Sri Lankan Government (with tacit and open support of the regimes of Chandrika Kumaratunga  and Ranil Wickremesinghe and loud hurrahs from the ‘civil society’ czars of the I/NGO community and prominent members of the clergy belonging to various Christian denominations). 

Solheim cannot plead ignorance about how the LTTE threatened democratic values in Sri Lanka. If numbers help drive home a point, then the 90 plus dead in Norway is hardly worth comment, considering the tens of thousands slaughtered by Solheim’s pals in Sri Lanka. That’s no consolation to the loved ones of Friday’s dead of course. Fortunately for us, in Sri Lanka, we are out of LTTE-days. We have out little wound and ulcers, but the cancer that turned this into an Island of Fear has been removed, with little thanks to the likes of Solheim. If what it takes to understand the anguish of a nation that lives under the shadow of terrorism is to have one’s own country subjected to terrorist attack, then this might be a lesson that persuades Solheim and others of his ilk to act with less arrogance. Indeed, if he discovers some humility within him, he could tender an unreserved apology to the people of Sri Lanka for having promoted terrorism in this country. So too his Royal masters, of course. 

Solheim’s possible remorse would of course be only of marginal interest to the subjects of King Harand V. A Norwegian man is reported to have made an observation: ‘For so long this country felt it lived on the outskirts of fear; it doesn’t feel like that any more’. I am sure the Norwegians, especially their rulers, have associated with the English-speaking elements of  the New World Odour announced with gun, bullet and edict by George W Bush to have heard of ‘chicken that come home to roost’. 

Terrorism is not something that happens in some other place. The time has passed for people in Norway to think it is ok to call terrorists who operate and kill in other countries ‘rebels’ or ‘freedom fighters’, offer them moral and material support and threaten threatened peoples and governments to submit to terrorism in the name of ‘democracy’. 

I don’t call Anders Behring Breivik a ‘rebel’. I didn’t call Tim McVeigh a rebel either. I am not asking Solheim to negotiate with the likes of Breivik. My thoughts are with the victims of this attack, those who perished, those injured and those who lost their loved ones. 
It is a moment for mourning. A moment for a resolute response. A moment for self-questioning.  

There are no outskirts of fear any more.