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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Norway, I Salute You

This past week 40,000 Norwegians gathered in Oslo in the street on a cold and wet day to make a declaration that they reject all that Anders Breivik claimed to stand for. This assemblage of Norwegian citizen stood and sang a song that Anders Breivik hated as an example of what he saw as the corrosive nature of multiculturalism. For this and many other complex reasons he felt called upon to kill 77 people in a bombing and on a island where young people were holding a rally. This was an unprecedented experience of Norwegians, an assaults against the very ethos of Norwegian society. In a way, it was the equivalent of the attacks of 9/11 for Americans. They hoped that Anders Breivik heard there singing as he was being tried for his crimes..

Norwegians singing in the street.

The song Norwegians chose to sing was a Pete Seeger tune, They sang it is Norwegian and in English. Below is Pete Seeger singing this song, Rainbow Race. It is a sweet gentle melody with a message of acceptance of all people.

I deeply admire the Norwegians for how they have responded to the horrible outrage against their Society and the attack aimed mostly at the youth of their country. They have dealt with this situation with grace and restraint. They have resisted all forms of outrages words and deeds. They have not allowed this event to cause changes in their cultural ethos of civility and the rule of law. They behaved according to their deeply held cultural convictions. There were no calls for the death penalty. Breviik was not declared a terrorist an special laws passed to a military tribunal would try him using a process that did not offer him full legal and civil rights.

There were not efforts to round up all right wing political types or the outlawing of their minority views. Most of all, they did not buy into any of Anders Breivik's views with suggestions that immigrants and foreigners were a threat to Norwegian society.

I would like to think that Canada could behave as well as Norwegians under similar circumstance but the reality is we would not. We have already in our history behaved badly. This of the internment of Japanese Canadians, for which only recently has the Canadian government apologized. All across Northern Ontario there are former sites of interment camps for not only German prisoners of war but also Canadians and residence of Canada who were of German or Italian heritage. I shall never forgive Pierre Elliot Trudeau for buying into the fearful lies about the extent of the FLQ terrorists using the War Measures Act to suspend peoples rights, arrest individuals and turn the military upon the Canadian people. In recent years we saw the use of security certificates that allowed the government of arrest and hold without trial Muslims in Canada. It took a while of Canada to correct and modify these extreme responses. Better that we had not succumbed to the fear in the first place. There is a little satisfaction that Canada's response was not a severe as the United States and not as long lasting. I would wish though that Canada had not been so easily able to abandon it commitment to the rule of law and civil society.

Norwegians have show us that this is possible.


At 9:26 a.m., Blogger possum said...

Excellent post, Philip.
Thee are scary times, people are doing scary things. But perhaps it has always been so. I am impressed with Norway. I stay impressed with Canada. It is our government which scares me today (USA).

At 9:04 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norway has handled the present crisis well and is a role model for us but their history is not perfect. After WW2 there was terrible discrimination against children whose fathers were German soldiers. One mother moved with her child to Sweden to get away from this and her daughter went on to be one of ABBAs songsters. Events always need to be considered in their historical context.

At 8:41 a.m., Blogger Owen Gray said...

The Norwegians have reminded us what it means to be guided by our "better angels."

I hope the world is paying attention.

At 1:25 p.m., Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Great post, Philip. I like to believe that we would now behave better than we did in the past, but we do have the Wrong-wing in power as well as a certain proximate influence.

At 4:36 a.m., Blogger Anh Phan said...

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