gendered violence

The Oslo Terror Bombing and the Utøya Shootings: Where Is the ‘Man’ in the ‘Gunman’?

22 July 2011 was black day for Norway and for the whole mankind. According to police reports, at least 85 youths have been killed by a gunman that opened fire at an youth camp of the Norwegian Social Democratic Youth (AUF/ Arbeidernes ungdomsfylking) on Utøya – an island close to the Norwegian capital Oslo, just hours after a bomb was detonated in downtown Oslo, in the vicinity of the Norwegian Prime Minister’s offices, killing 7 and wounding dozens. The two attacks are the worst to occur in Europe since the 2004 Madrid train bombings in which 191 people missed their lives. The terror attack in downtown Oslo was first assumed by an Islamist terrorist organization, and some European medias had hurried to collectively condemn Islam, such as the Italian Il Giornale that read ‘It is always them who attack us’ (‘Sono sempre loro ci attaccano’) only to alter its main page hours later as new information uncovered that the Norwegian police has apprehended a man whom they suspected was the perpetrator of both attacks (see, in Italian ecco qui).

The main suspect, Anders Behring Breivik (32) is a native Norwegian, residing in a wealthy neighborhood in Western Oslo. A first insight into the main suspect’s background was that he was a lone man that lived together with his mother, who during the past few years has had several companies. His latest enterprise (Breivik Geofarm in Rena) founded in 2009 apparently activated in agriculture, through which he apparently purchased around 6 tons of fertilizers, which seems to have been used to manufacture the explosives in the two bombs (the one detonated in downtown Oslo, and the other one found on Utøya) (in Swedish här; in Norwegian, her). The manner the bombs were made has a strong ressemblance to that used in the attack in Oklahoma City in the USA in 1995 when 168 people were killed. There are speculations that Breivik might have been assisted in his shooting spree by a second person, not yet apprehended by the Norwegian police (in Swedish, här).

As more information continued to be gathered, it was revealed that Breivik had been active in the Oslo western district of the main radical right populist party in Norway the Progress Party (FrP/ Fremskrittspartiet/ Framstegspartiet) since 1999, but disagreed with what he regarded too appeasing an attitude in immigration questions (in Norwegian, her), and was expelled from the party in 2006 for not paying his membership fee. On this regard he was very active on radical right forums where he unveiled his uncompromising stance against what he called the dominating ‘cultural Marxism’ of the Norwegian elites and their constant ‘bashing’ of the nationalist conservative right. Even more so he unleashed a vivid critique against PM Stoltenberg and his Social Democratic Party, talking about ‘Stoltenberg’s jugend’ thus comparing the Norwegian Social Democratic Youth organization to the Nazi ‘Hitler jugend’ (in Swedish, här). A collection of his internet comments on various political issues has been put together and is available on document. no (in Norwegian, her); illustrative are his comments with regard to whom is entitled to be considered a full-fledged Norwegian and his opposition to the inclusive definition of citizenship:

“Everyone who are holders of a Norwegian passport are ‘authentic/full-fledged’ ‘Norwegians’ … Which in other words means that even those Somalis (with a Norwegian passport) who all day (do nothing but) chew khat, do their wives and send half of the social benefits to al-Shabaab should be viewed as fully Norwegian. If anyone in this country DARES to look at these Somalis as something other than full-fledged Norwegians, then they are racists and should be stygmatized publicly. And they say that everyone who disagrees with their extreme cultural-Marxist worldview – the utopian, global citizen definition – are racists?” (my translation, in original in Norwegian, her).

Perplexing, the gender dimension shines with its absence from any media analyzes. It is puzzling that a man in his prime designs such a terror attack on such a scale, not only literally besieging the Norwegian center of power, but also killing a whole generation of future political activists animated by Social Democratic ideals. The questions that flood in on this issue concerns the gendered nature of violence, and the perceived ‘cowardice’ (read unmanliness) of the Norwegian radical right populists that have sold their souls to be accepted by the political mainstream and turned themselves into the puppets of PR firms. Is Breivik the representative of an extreme masculinity that resorts to violence to ascertain its traditional patriarchal masculine values and purify the national body through the physical extermination of those threatening it with a multicultural accommodative project? What sort of parallels can be drawn with the shooting incidents in Finland that I have addressed in earlier blog entries, such as in here? Why was the gender dimension silenced in the media reporting? How far is the ‘far right’, or ‘extreme right’ as the media reported from ‘radical right populism’ that I also wroteabout in here, and here?

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Saturday, July 23rd, 2011 Research No Comments