Thousands of Norwegians gathered in the streets of Oslo on Thursday to sing a Pete Seeger song, "My Rainbow Race", that the mass murderer Anders Breivik had termed 'Marxist brainwashing.' The protest was an effort to reclaim the children's tune and unite in solidarity against Breivik's ravings against multiculturalism at his on-going trial for the killing of 77 people. Pete must be so proud!
It's not often I find a human rights-related topic to blog about in a Nordic country, unless it's as a model of civility to emulate, but we did get in on the Scandinavian thriller craze, sampling some of Stieg Larsson's Millenium series and Jo Nesbø's The Redbreast. Many have remarked on the irony of the countries with some of the lowest crime rates in the world producing such a high fictional body count. But some have noted that many of these authors have also raised flags about the rise of neo-Nazism and these were themes we encountered in the books we chose. Still, the Breivik massacre has to be a game changer for these writers in terms of how they view their country and the forces of evil that lurk in their stories. Last fall, The Guardian probed several authors, including Nesbø, for how this event might affect them. Nesbø said he doesn't expect to address the issue directly, but he is sure it will affect his writing in some way. Some clues for where he might go may be found in an eloquent essay he wrote last year, again for The Guardian, about Norway's lost innocence,
After the bomb went off – an explosion that was felt where I live in Oslo – and reports of the shootings on the island of Utøya began to come in, I asked my daughter whether she was scared. She replied by quoting something I had once said to her: "Yes, but if you're not scared, you can't be brave."Keep on as before. Keep on singing
So if there is no road back to how things used to be, to the total, unconscious and naive fearlessness of what was untouched, there is a road forward. To be brave. To keep on as before. To turn the other cheek as we ask: "Was that all you've got?" To refuse to allow fear to set limits to the way we continue to build our society.