Domestic Terrorism

Like many people, I was completely shocked by the domestic terror attacks in Norway. My prevailing thoughts of Norway involve a lot of snow and not much else. Norway, like many European countries is dealing with a rise in right wing, Christian fundamentalist, anti-immigration political movements. In fact, Anders Behring Breivik, the man arrested for the attacks had published a 1500-page manifesto, which he posted to the Internet in the days before the attack. Thankfully courts in Norway decided to keep him in custody citing the likelihood that he would ‘tamper’ with evidence. Personally, I would want him kept in custody so he didn’t shoot or blow anything else up.

It is interesting how history threatens to repeat itself. It is predictable that when the economy begins to wane, xenophobic rhetoric waxes. Europe has seen its fair share of economic woes. Many European countries, with generous cradle to grave benefits for little work vanished. Retirement ages have been increased and youth have seen university tuition rises. For many Europeans these ‘reforms’ have come on the heels of poor economic performance and vanishing wealth. Government imposed austerity measures have only added insult to injury.

The last time right-wing extremism took over parts of Europe was in the 1930s. The Great Depression crippled Europe’s economies. Germany was in even more dire circumstances due to hefty reparations it was paying to other countries as a result of WWI. Crippled by the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was in a position that allowed fascism to rise. Similar to today, right-wing, anti-government, xenophobic movements had begun. Anyone who was deemed different (Jews, ‘Gypsies’, homosexuals, people with mental illness, people with learning disabilities etc.) all became targets for blame. We all know the history of the Holocaust yet, for some reason, there are people who just don’t understand how these movements can spin out of control very easily. If people like Breivik have their way the only difference would be that Muslims would be added to the list.

As a society we must stand against these movements. We must not give in to the rhetoric of hate and oppression. When we see or hear hate and racism in ourselves, our peers, our coworkers and our families we must take a stand and challenge the views. Any student of history knows that anti-immigration policies made the Great Depression much worse than it needed to be. We must guard against these ideas taking root here.

The Murder of Osama bin Laden

The United States, in seeking vengeance for the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre (WTC) and the Pentagon, have committed a terrorist attack. They crossed into a sovereign country and carried out a well planned, government sponsored terrorist act when they killed Osama bin Laden. The jubilation in the streets of several American cities was shocking to witness. Americans celebrated exactly that which they claim to abhor: terrorism.

Ostensibly the reason the Americans (and Canadians) have been fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan was the pervasive belief that Osama bin Laden (OBL) was being given safe harbour. However, OBL was not found in Afghanistan but rather Pakistan an ally of the Americans. Certainly, the relationship between Pakistan and America is not infused with honesty as the Americans completed their ‘mission’ ‘Geronimo’[1] without informing Pakistani officials. It is really no different from a terrorist attack, planned and executed by foreigners, in another country. It also seriously calls into question the efficacy of the relationship between Pakistan and America.

An entirely different scenario should have been played out once the Americans knew where OBL was hiding. Officials in Pakistan should have arranged to have OBL arrested and sent to the International Court in The Hague wherein he would be charged with crimes against humanity. The argument that his arrest rather than his assassination would have resulted in the continuing existence of Guantanamo Bay is not relevant. Many countries lost citizens in the attack on the WTC and an international court would have been the logical place to send him.

Instead, we shall never know if in fact it was OBL who died that day in a compound inside Pakistan. The Americans will not produce photos and his body has been apparently buried at sea. The other issue is that the Americans have now lived up to all of the stereotypes about how they do what they want in sovereign countries and there are no consequences. OBL has now been martyred for the cause.

I am completely disappointed in Barrack Obama as president of the United States. He acts like others before him and his promise to bring hope and change has just been four more years of the same American arrogance. The United States has no more rights than any other nation. Violating a nation’s sovereignty was once an act of war. Pakistan only needs to look at Iraq and Afghanistan if the country wants to complain. I am sure if they do the US would only be too happy to invade them and free the women, find the terrorists and blow up the place. It does seem to be what the US does best.

[1] Completely and utterly offensive!