Words are just words

I spent yesterday evening obsessively reading my Twitter stream, checking facebook, nrk.no and aftenposten.no occasionally to see if I’d missed anything (I hadn’t. Twitter was by far the most up to date source of news yesterday). I passed a milestone by turning on the news despite the kid being awake, in the room and not too preoccupied to watch with me. Mercifully they’re too young to really get it, they were most interested in the ambulances, focused on how they were helping people, not registering the talk of those who were beyond help.

When I went to bed the casualty list was at 7 in Oslo, 9 or 10 at Utøya. I suspected the numbers for Utøya would rise, from what I’d read on Twitter the situation was bound to be chaotic, but I fervently hoped not, thinking “How many people can a lone gunman hit?”

I woke up to official numbers of “at least 80” killed at Utøya. The answer to my question, therefore, was obviously: “Way, way too many.”

As far as I know, I don’t know any of the victims (whether dead, injured or “just” traumatised) directly. But ours is such a small country, the degree of separation is bound to be tiny. I’ll know someone who knows someone. I’ll know someone who lost a child, a friend, a relative.

It’s a horrible, terrible, no-good day.

Still, I’m grateful.

First of all I’m grateful that my nearest and dearest are safe and sound, of course.

And I’m grateful that the Norwegian police seemed to handle everything pretty much perfectly. Their responses to the press have been exemplary (not so all the questions from said press). They obviously had plans to handle a much worse situation (I know it might be diffucult to imagine the situation being worse just now), getting people out of all suspected targets, telling people to remain calm, but to get out of the centre of Oslo and to avoid big gatherings. If there had been a series of bombs rather than just the one, their response would have been the only correct way of handling it. This is reassuring. We can’t avoid madmen completely, at least not without becoming the sort of society it wouldn’t be worth living in, but we can minimise their impact.

I’m also, though it might sound strange, grateful that the perpetrator seems to have been a right-wing fundamentalist rather than a muslim fundamentalist. It makes the horror that was yesterday no less terrifying, but it may make the reactions to come less horrible. Yesterday there were already plenty of reports of “muslim-looking” people in Oslo being hassled, or even physically attacked. It is to be hoped that that idiocy is curtailed now.

And I am profoundly grateful that the reaction from the Prime Minister, and from everyone else who really matters, has been – throughout, also when the perpetrator(s) were unknown – to keep calm, to stand together and most of all to not let fear rule our actions. Democracy – the principle that everyone is entitled to an opinion and is to be allowed to state that opinion – is one of the things that make our society great. Though, as it turns out, this is not “our 9/11”, it’s more like “our Oklahoma”, still the contrast in the reactions from our leaders expressed on Twitter and Facebook this morning is not without significance:

G.W. Bush, 9/11: “We’re gonna hunt you down.”
Stoltenberg, 22/7: “We will retaliate with more democracy”.

The AUF leader has already expressed the opinion that the camps at Utøya should continue every summer, in defiance of one maniac’s wish to stop them. I hope they do.

Links, quotes and other stuff I’d like to keep track of:

Syltegeek på Twitter:

Måtte han forstå hva han har gjort. #forbannelse

Utmerket leder i Aftenbladet.

Svelle på Twitter:

AUF bør fortsette med sommerleirene. Resten av året bør Utøya bli nasjonalt senter for de ideene gjerningsmannen hatet.

Finn en feil.

Historier fra folk som var på Utøya:

Jeanette_F på Twitter:

Kjære aviser. Denne mannen gjorde klar en pressepakke når han la ut portrettbilder på fb. Ikke bruk dem.

Anders Heger på Twitter:

Han skal ha en forsvarer, en lang og god rettssak, human straff, så takler vi dette som det vi er: Et sivilisert samfunn. Sånn vinner vi.

Sterkt blogginnlegg fra en mor (som har fått datteren sin hjem i god behold): Til deg som planla å drepe min datter (og jada, jeg griner).

Mariusgenser på Twitter:

Det jeg skjønner nå som jeg ikke skjønte i går er: Dette landet virker. Og jeg er uendelig takknemlig for det.

Kven er terroristen.

Jo Nesbø in English in the Guardian.

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