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24 July 2011 @ 10:37 pm
I'm having to avoid the news today ... I need a processing day or two. I suppose that Breivik's confession is something ... but ...

I remember back when the Port Arthur Massacre occurred, one of my housemates ran upstairs and said, 'Put the radio on, there's something horrible happening in Tasmania.' We sat around the radio, and later the television, for hours, feeling utterly powerless. It was the same feeling that had come a few months before, when Rabin was assassinated, and would come again years later as planes fell on New York and Washington, when clubs were blown apart in Bali, as trains were ripped open in Madrid, and then again in London.

There is something about the willful evil of human beings that is more horrific than the devastation of nature. Which is ridiculous on one level, since even comparatively minor natural disasters often have death tolls higher than those of acts of mass murder. The Asian Tsunami dwarfs all acts of terrorism and mass murder in the last 50 years. And yet ... And yet the idea that people can choose to act so vilely is not one that most of us can understand.

And tragically, it does seem to be terrorism, even though it was one man, not an organisation. The targeting of Labour party workers and youths, coupled with Breivik's anti-Left and xenophobic rantings makes his political intent clear.

I know it's not at all PC to say this, and I await the defriendings, but what makes the attacks in Norway so utterly awful is that they are not even the sort of terrorism that one can get one's head around a bit. Because some terrorism, I sort of get.

I look at Umkhonto We Sizwe, and I think, yeah, necklacing was well out of order, but given you had no vote, that the media was cut off from reporting conditions for your people and that activists managed to beat themselves up in their cells before falling out of windows – I can sort of understand why you had a bombing campaign.

To me, this sort of terrorism makes some sort of sense. It's territorial terrorism, if you like, and it led to the formation of modern South Africa, of the state of Israel, of the Irish Republic, India and Pakistan, too, I suppose. I cannot support such actions, but to this day, when I see groups that lack political power, media coverage or wealth turning to violence, I can at least see some reasoning behind their actions.

The other sort of terrorism, tanty terrorism as I accidentally called it in a term that has stuck in this house, I will never get. It's the sort of fundamentalist bullshit that refuses to acknowledge anyone's rights or views but one's own. From the lone bastards who murder doctors at abortion clinics, to Marc Lépine, who murdered women to 'fight feminism' Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique, to Osama bin Laden's decades of utter fuckery against the US and the West in general, and now Breivik, too – it's a list of people who sincerely believed that people who disagreed with them had no rights whatsoever, not even to live.

And of all centuries, in all of history, you would think that ours would see with most clarity just how hollow and hideous that sort of thinking is.
leecetheartistleecetheartist on July 24th, 2011 01:08 pm (UTC)
Still 'ere.
*Manifestly does not defriend you.*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 24th, 2011 01:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Still 'ere.
This makes me happy!
leecetheartist: topsyturvyleecetheartist on July 24th, 2011 01:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Still 'ere.
germankitty: animated applausegermankitty on July 24th, 2011 01:12 pm (UTC)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 24th, 2011 01:15 pm (UTC)
I know it's hopelessly naive of me, but I will just never understand people who believe that their way is the One True Way.
(Deleted comment)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 24th, 2011 01:24 pm (UTC)
And it's not as though it's hard to spot the difference, I think. Sometimes the territorial type is more universal, and then it's a popular uprising, and sometimes it's more bastardly, rather than being directed at official targets, but it's the action of people with few options.

The idea that a Saudi millionaire or a middle-class Norewegian lacked protest options would be laughable, were their actions not so staggeringly awful.
Kitten Kommissar: srscatchickenfeet2003 on July 24th, 2011 01:29 pm (UTC)
I am sure the Reich would have cheerfully called the French Partisans "Terrorists", if they had thought of it

They did! They used the same sort of language about the (small) internal resistance movement in Germany. My wife is named for a family friend who was one of the few members of the German resistance to survive the war.
(Deleted comment)
Kitten Kommissar: widmerpoolchickenfeet2003 on July 24th, 2011 02:04 pm (UTC)
Actually the French collaborationists used "terrorist" to describe the Resistance too. See for example the editorial in Le Phare de Nantes for 21st July 1943.
(Deleted comment)
Lilliputian722lilliputian722 on July 24th, 2011 01:20 pm (UTC)
I concur.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 24th, 2011 01:25 pm (UTC)
Your icon sums up my weekend.

Bah, I should get some work work done and go to bed. XX
sassy_cissa: shit_headachesassy_cissa on July 24th, 2011 01:33 pm (UTC)
Would never defriend. Your eloquence and ability to speak your mind has always been one of the many things that draws me to you.

blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 26th, 2011 06:48 am (UTC)
(I know it's largely the fact that I make you look so tall ;-)) Thank you, dear.
(Deleted comment)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 26th, 2011 07:28 am (UTC)
You know what is good, though? That most people cannot conceive of acting like that, no matter how strongly they feel on a topic. That people rushed to help the victims, without stopping to wonder if they were 'people like them'. That since then, Norway has stood united in its determination to not have its freedoms changed by one radical. Even in the face of such horror, there are reminders that most people are thoroughly decent.
κάτι τρέχει στα γύφτικα_inbetween_ on July 24th, 2011 01:57 pm (UTC)
He's not making his confession until tomorrow though, are you talking about the video?
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 26th, 2011 07:30 am (UTC)
At the time of writing he had told the police (through his lawyer, I think), that he had done it and that he had been acting alone. He's changed that a bit now, though he still says that he was the one who pulled the trigger.
subtlefire: fallen time lordsubtlefire on July 24th, 2011 02:05 pm (UTC)
I don't know if saying that I 'understand' it when senseless acts of violence occur (no matter the reason) is the correct word. But I would say that I am never surprised. I find that the hate we can feel towards ourselves, and the hate that we can feel towards others, manifests in so very many different ways, that I just see it down to the root - an expression of hate. I see the beginning, and I see the end, and the growth process may make sense to me and it may not, but I sadly find that I don't need to understand it to...understand it.
Dedicated Escape Artist: Dystopiaryjadzialove on July 24th, 2011 02:19 pm (UTC)
Can't see why anyone would defriend you for being exactly right...


*adopts 'tanty terrorism'*

We (being the people here in my home), contemplating the why of this horror, found ourselves wondering if it was a lone lunatic or a gaggle of them for which this man 'took one for the team' a la Timothy McVey. I thought I would feel better to know it was a lone idiot, but somehow, though I'm glad there's not an organized group celebrating this somewhere, I don't feel any better at all.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 26th, 2011 07:35 am (UTC)
I was defriended by a few for saying that public healthcare is great, so these days I just assume that any stance will be met with some 'Politics? Again!?' from some circles ;-)

And I bequeath Tanty terrorism to you and anyone who would like it. But it is, isn't it? 'I want my own way and I am going to make you all sorry!' Fuckers, one and all.

And yeah ... whether he was alone, or has his alleged footsoldiers ready to leap into the breach ... Neither option makes anything better. :-(

I should finish up with more comments here, but I should also finish that pinch hit if there is to be any hope of you reading it this week. Some H/D silliness has to be a bit better than thinking on this for a few hours. XXX
Dedicated Escape Artist: Coffee Timejadzialove on July 27th, 2011 12:21 am (UTC)
H/D Silliness wins. Send along soon - I can't wait to get my hands on it!
Bubba: Top Hatabsynthedrinker on July 24th, 2011 02:59 pm (UTC)

The voice of reason amidst the cacophonous voices is what you are.
And clearly there are different kinds of terrorism and understanding why there are suicide bombers in Tel Aviv does not, in fact, signal approval.

Breivik's legacy will be that he destroyed one of the last peaceful refuges of the West and added himself to an ever lengthening list of psychopaths and madmen.

A tragic day for Norway and another sad day for us all.


(Deleted comment)
Anna Fugazzi: Yuckannafugazzi on July 24th, 2011 04:33 pm (UTC)
I cannot believe the victim blaming going on here, in mainstream media spaces.
(Deleted comment)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 26th, 2011 06:47 am (UTC)
You are ALWAYS welcome to bring commentary to posts on this LJ. The only thing that I have ever asked is that people are respectful of each other, and that is something that everyone here has always at least tried for, which is more than can be said in the general online community. You personally are a delight to have in any conversation.

And bloody hell ... You really do have to wonder at some people. Glenn Beck managed to horrify me anew today, which I did not think was possible, with similar rubbish. As to this 'provocation' from the Left -- the idea that human rights are provoking is such staggering rubbish.
lilian_cho: Rainbow treeslilian_cho on July 24th, 2011 04:07 pm (UTC)


Guerilla fighters =/= terrorists

On a completely different note, I effing hate how the U.S. government evokes 9/11 to justify a whole bunch of "security" b.s. =/
Rosfoi_nefaste on July 24th, 2011 04:08 pm (UTC)
Exactly this, yes.

Thanks for putting into words what I've been trying to say. :)
Shivshiv5468 on July 24th, 2011 04:23 pm (UTC)
Yes, I do know what you mean.
Anna Fugazzi: Feed me soupannafugazzi on July 24th, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
This. Thank you.
Glitter Me Timbersciel_vert on July 24th, 2011 04:37 pm (UTC)
Yes, this.
Susanlil_shepherd on July 24th, 2011 05:16 pm (UTC)
Yes, in essence you are right (and that's a great essay), but I wish it was quite that simple.

There are, indeed, your 'tarty terrorists', but another way of phrasing that is 'idealistic terrorism.' The cause or ideal they are fighting for may be shitty - or, indeed, it may not - but it is a cause or an ideal nonetheless.

As for territorial terrorism - well, one man's terrorist has always been another man's freedom fighter. The problem is that often the fight isn't against an oppressor, but over tribal rivalries. Rwanda? The Ivory Coast? Somalia? Palestine?
Leela: love song in my own wayleela_cat on July 24th, 2011 05:18 pm (UTC)
Yes, this! Exactly this.

Not only don't I understand the "One True whatever-the-fuck" attitude, I don't want to understand it. I want to be able to force Legilimency (or something) on these people and get them to understand what exactly their tanty terrorism (and I love that name) is doing to their victims and everyone else.
adores_dracoadores_draco on July 24th, 2011 05:32 pm (UTC)
I think terrorism makes sense in some (very strange) way when people are fighting against some injustice like slavery, maltreatment or something like that. It does not make ANY sense when the person who does it is just protesting against people who don't happen to share his (or rarely her) beliefs.

I was shocked when I saw the news about the bomb. Something like that just couldn't happen in Norway. I didn't hear about the tragedy at the camp until I read the newspaper the next morning. It was really hard to read when I had tears in my eyes the whole time.

The father of the killer had been interviewed. He lives in France. He said he hadn't seen his son since 1995. So he had abandoned his son when the boy was only sixteen. I cannot help wondering how much that had to do with what the son did. No, I'm not blaming the father for what the son did but...

I also raid about a female couple who saved about 40 young people from the island by their boat. Even though the killer tried to shoot the swimmers as well. Those women are true heroes.
Jaeenchanted_jae on July 24th, 2011 06:07 pm (UTC)
Agreed. It was an utterly sickening act.
(Deleted comment)
Kitten Kommissarchickenfeet2003 on July 24th, 2011 07:17 pm (UTC)
Tried to send a reply to your message but LJ won't let me. So I'll do it this way.

Feel free to join the gang! You will need a high tolerance for opera, rugby and cats.


John aka Chickenfeet

blamebrampton: Sorry for hijacking your comments like this but I couldn't find another way to send the message.
(Deleted comment)
Nennenenne on July 24th, 2011 07:59 pm (UTC)
I couldn't agree with you more. It is the fact that this is done deliberately and without scruples that makes it so utterly scary. In a country where freedom of speech is present there are all the possibilities of the world to express oneself and be heard through legal means. To choose this way of getting attention for a cause is something I will never understand.
mrsquizzicalmrsquizzical on July 24th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
i'm going to adopt the term 'tanty terrorism' if you don't mind.

thank you for your post, as always.
illereynillereyn on July 25th, 2011 06:15 am (UTC)
*Does not defirend*

Agrees with what you said!
quatrefoilquatrefoil on July 25th, 2011 09:43 pm (UTC)
I agree with most of the argument on what does and does not constitute terrorism. I'm not sure that I think that Breivik's action was terrorism any more than I think Martin Bryant's was. To be honest, I don't know enough about it to make that judgement call - I've been in a bit of a media blackout over the last few weeks while I've been travelling. I think there's a pretty fine line between evil and severely mentally deranged, and I'm glad I'm not the person who will have to make that judgement call.

I do, however, think there's an important distinction between terrorists and freedom fighters, though both terms are used to great effect by different sides in a conflict. I quite agree that the actions of some 'terrorists' are understandable - when people have been forced into a situation with nothing to lose, it is entirely reasonable for them to fight back against their oppressors. Where this steps across a line is when the fight broadens from 'legitimate targets' to those who are not legitimate, with the aim of promoting terror in the wider community.

I lived through the IRA's bombing campaign in the Uk in the 70s and 80s - to my mind it was legitimate for the IRA to attack the British army as an occupying force; it became an act of terrorism when they started bombing shopping centres and places of worship. By that an analogy, the French Resistance were not terrorists, since to my knowledge, they only ever attacked military and strategic targets.

Similarly while I don't condone it it in the slightest, I do understand the people who kill abortionists - it's exactly the same rationale for the Allies dropping nuclear bombs on Japan in WWII - you have to kill someone in order to save lives. Twisted logic, I know, but it's the same twisted logic that has fueled a million conflicts, including those that Australia, the US and a great many other nations are involved in now.

Ultimately, the only the solution is the toughest one of all - the extreme pacifism that says that it's better to die than to kill. It sounds completely insane and unworkable, but as far as I can work out, it's the only thing that has ever really worked, at least some of the time.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 26th, 2011 07:19 am (UTC)
Bryant and Breivik are not similar at all, though. Bryant fired indiscriminately into crowds and killed people he was personally associated with and then ones who were simply random strangers because he wished to be famous, while Breivik has made absolutely targetted choices based on a political manifesto.

He fits every definition of terrorist -- a non-state agent, attempting to create fear, politically motivated ... Bryant was just a sad fuck with guns who wanted to be on the news.

The distinction between terrorists and freedom fighters is one that is made by history, much of the time. Irgun were by any standards terrorists, often targeting civilians, and yet in the face of the Holocaust, it is hard to judge their actions in the same way that we would judge the actions of the Red Brigades – the former was fighting for a definite tangible end – Territory – while the latter was making a violent ideological point – Tanty.

Likewise, I can't agree that murdering doctors is the same as attempting to remove the Taliban in Afghanistan, though that may be because I don't see a foetus as a person. I do see there being a moral obligation to stop genocide, though, which is why I could come at the war in Afganistan even before 2001 (and which was not a moral test that the war in Iraq ever passed, in the days when the Hussein government was committing acts of genocide, the West was supporting it).

I would like to agree that extreme pacifism would work, and on a personal level, I do agree that it is the best option in every case. But on a history level, it fails the basic 'Would it have stopped the Nazis?' test. Though at the same time, widespread adoption of that philosophy would stop there ever being Nazis ...

And checking something above, I discover that Waleed Aly has already made my point, and better: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/2808618.html
anna_wing on July 26th, 2011 01:49 pm (UTC)
Yes. There is a significant difference between actions taken for defined and discrete political aims (which are defined as "terrorism" or not according to who wins in the end), and those taken in support of a nebulous but nonetheless would-be-universalist ideology.
dylansbuzz: Girl with a maskdylansbuzz on July 27th, 2011 12:57 am (UTC)
There is something about the willful evil of human beings that is more horrific than the devastation of nature.

This mirrors exactly how I think too, and is much clearer than what I've managed to suss out from the morass of my brain.

Wilfully evil human beings are frightening enough singly, but it scares me more to know that some of these excessively evil people have charisma, the kind that encourages listening and following.
shu_shu_sleepsshu_shu_sleeps on July 29th, 2011 09:59 pm (UTC)
Very well put (and I agree) so no unfriending here sweetie :)