Perhaps the most shocking thing about the terror attack on Oslo was not that the perpetrator was more likely a right-wing fascist than an Islamic fascist, but that it happened in what everyone thought of as such a peaceful country.
I mean, they hold peace conferences there. They even give out the Nobel Peace Prize there.
And yet a man can blow up a government building before opening fire on teenagers.
It’s worth remembering that such a thing could happen here to.
A 2006 police sweep caught a number of Islamic militants who were planning on breaking into Parliament and beheading politicians. We also have our own home(in)-bred Christian nationalists, the best and britest (sic) are on full display in the back-water of Canada’s internet (aka FreeDominion.ca).
But this is why I like the Norwegian Prime Minister’s response calling for a strengthened democracy in the face of aggression. Free inquiry and skepticism are the antidote to the blind certainty and faith that can lead someone down such a dark path.
Atheism and humanism don’t provide many answers. And while this seeming uncertainty scares many, it is also our greatest strength.
Rather than absolutely knowing things, we merely have evidence and reason to think one way or another. And we reserve the right to change our minds. Remember that Richard Dawkins is only a 6-point atheist.
Since we don’t know what happens after we die (we are pretty sure there’s nothing), we treat life preciously. If all one has is a brief existence, it is imperative to enjoy that time, and to not cut others lives short.
Someone who knew what was Right and True took the lives of numerous teenagers who were doing what they loved (I can’t see anyone forcing their children to go to politics camp).
My final comment is that in the wave of emotions and thoughts that raced through my head this morning as I read the initial reports was a fear, that if this attack turned out to be another Al-Qaeda plot, that this would be used as an excuse to further demonize immigrant populations and to justify more wars. I say this because I believe we need to seek further integration over segregation. Splitting into us versus them has rarely worked in the past (has it ever), and I think building those bridges that make it easier to leave fundamentalism is important (not to come off all accomodationalist, I think there’s also a value in firebrand atheism, a diversity of tactics is important).