MP’s and media fan the flames that burnt Oslo….
Politics was central to events in Oslo. Both set’s of victims were selected entirely for their political affiliation by a assailant with a overtly political agenda. Had any of those people on Utøya Island not been affiliated in the way they were politically; they would not have been at the event, and ergo would not have been killed or even targeted. True, a bomb is a bit more undiscriminating but nonetheless; the actual target of the blast was chosen for its political function. I therefore find it odd when people get on their high-horse about not drawing political conclusions and not making political points. If this was a random attack; although there would still be political issues springing from it, this position would be more logical and understandable. However, that is not the case, so calls to suppress politics; to not mention it are essentially hypocritical in nature, after-all why are we allowed to discuss the politics of a war, which will kill many more a day, but not this?
We now know that this was not an Al-Qaeda attack; that it was carried out by a Norwegian with political affiliations to the far-right. Yet the front page of this morning’s Sun call’s the Oslo atrocities ‘Norway’s 9/11’ and explicitly makes the link, now shown to be factually false, to Al Qaeda. The Times makes a similar assumption and it is one that this was an Al Qaeda was rife through the media right-up to the point of BBC’s Newsnight refusing to rule it out. Sky, I beleive, performed less admirably than that and pinned it on AQ right-up to past Newsnight; it was certainly a long time before it allowed mention of the facts to dribble through. Meanwhile, Tom Harris made the assumption that AQ were responsible and thought the prudent thing to do was to use this as an opportunity to attack what he perceives as a leftish softness on these issues. He was rightly criticised for this. Tom is entitled to his opinion and in some instances its true; the left can be soft on this issue but he proceeded from a totally incorrect assumption and he should acknowledge that as the facts have now invalidated that assumption.
Furthermore, it has to be said that the left’s occasional one-sidedness on this issue is the product of and reaction too the establishment one-sidedness in the opposite direction; something perfectly proved by both the media and Tom’s own reaction. It would be silly to think that this one-sidedness, the same Tom and others are guilty of, and yes they mostly are right-wingers, does not have ramifications. It has ramifications in fuelling the prejudice and hatred of the exact same kind that the Oslo attacker had as his prime motivation. It legitimises in their eyes, and in the eyes of others, their actions and therefore is dangerous and does need fighting. A more fully-rounded approach is not going to be won by Tom making rash assumptions before the facts are established; more it will be won through a frank and open debate of all aspects of the tragedy.
David Cameron made a similar assumption in his reaction to the attacks; implying that Oslo was a reminder of the terrorism ‘we all face’ (thus by implication linking it to the ridiculous and counter productive ‘war on terror’). Some politicians however got it right; the Norwegian Prime Minister called for ‘more democracy and more freedom’. That is exactly the right, respectful response to the deaths of people who did die because of their politics. More democracy and openness means more free-flowing debate and discussion; not the jackboot of canting hypocrisy. We should fight against the lazy, ignorant prejudice reflected by the likes of the British media and Mr Harris and engage is serious and frank discussion without fear or fret; to do so is to give the best tribute you can to these people, after-all would they want the things that fanned the flames that led to their death left unchallenged? I rather think not.