Opinion: Unjustified terror (Anders Breivik, Norway)

POSTED: 08/2/11 1:54 PM

How remote, or how big, is the chance that someone will pull an Anders Breivik in St. Maarten? “Those who think that there will be no repercussions like in Norway – time will tell,” Leopold James wrote recently.

It is easy to see an analogy here: Breivik has a phobia about Muslims and other assorted foreigners who think Norway is a safer place than, say, Afghanistan or Iraq, and immigrants from surrounding islands – from Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and so on – consider St. Maarten at least an economically safe haven.

It is true that immigrants outnumber the indigenous St. Maarteners but, funny enough, those same indigenous St. Maarteners, or at least their political representatives, opened the doors for this influx of foreigners decades ago. Those politicians must have been indigenous locals as well, otherwise, how the hell did they get elected in the first place by their fellow countrymen?

But we digress. Anders Breivik went on a murderous shooting expedition last month, after bombing a government building in Oslo. Killing more than 75 people is no ordinary feat – it’s not something many people consider doing after breakfast. But Breivik did.

One could therefore establish that what the Norwegian nationalist did was abnormal. His attorney even suggested that Breivik is insane, and now the discussion is about whether this is true or not, and whether this really matters.

Whatever Breivik’s fair trial may look like, the man will never walk the streets of Oslo as a free man again.

Against the acts of a lone lunatic open democracies are pretty much defenseless. And apparently, Breivik was a relatively smart lunatic, since he apparently spent nine long years preparing his actions. This meticulous preparation is one of the reasons why Norwegian psychiatrists will most likely conclude that Breivik is not insane at all, and that he knew exactly what he was doing. On the other hand, taking nine years to prepare one bombing and one expedition to a small island for the purpose of shooting as many young members of the Labor Party as possible, suggests at the same time that Breivik is actually dumb as a brick.

No matter what, the suggestion Leopold James put forth is that something similar could happen in St. Maarten, overrun as it is by foreigners, and “by an immigration deluge gone completely berserk.”

We agree with Leopold that this is, indeed, possible. It takes only one lunatic with an assault rifle to create Breivik-like havoc on Clem Labega Square or on Front Street on a busy Wednesday morning during the peak of the tourist season.

If this seems so easy, then why has it not happened already? The most logical explanation is that there are not enough lunatics like Anders Breivik around. Yes, people do get upset, angry, frustrated, and what have you about stuff they don’t like. But the number of people that decide to grab a Kalashnikov and take out that frustration on politicians or on random citizens is extremely limited.

The United States has used the 9/11 terrorist attacks to create a society that is ruled by fear. Near unlimited resources have been poured into national security. Americans have been led to believe that fundamentalist terrorists are hiding in every corner and that it is only a matter of time before the next big disaster is upon them. Yet, as we are approaching the tenth anniversary of the attacks, we have seen nothing of a true jihad on American soil.

Why is this? The suggestion that it is relatively easy to manufacture dirty bombs and to annihilate the population of large cities has proven to be one of those urban myths that benefit law enforcement agencies eager to expand their turf, their authority and thereby their power. The American tax payers do what they have always done: they pay. In return they don’t even get a feeling of additional security; instead the government fuels feelings of insecurity, to the point where some Americans say they don’t even dare to take a vacation in Europe, because, they say, we don’t know how to protect our families over there.

Anders Breivik has shown the world that it is, indeed, relatively easy to do what he did. But are there really Breivik’s hiding among us on the Friendly Island?

Here the Adidas commercial comes to mind: impossible is nothing. But as the American example shows, terrorist attacks like 9/11 and the politically motivated Breivik murder spree are rather unique events. It does not make sense to let these events, no matter how horrible they are, rule our daily lives. And while the question whether such atrocities could take place in, say, Philipsburg or Simpson Bay, is perfectly legitimate, we think that Franklin D. Roosevelt hit the nail on the head almost eighty years ago when he said in 1932 in his first inaugural address to the nation: “(…) Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

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