Our hearts go out to the people of Oslo, who have just suffered the worst violence seen in Norway since the end of World War II. There were two two attacks, apparently coordinated: a bombing aimed at government buildings and an attack on a youth camp, where the Labor Party was holding a gathering for teenagers.
The death toll is now at 90. The Washington Post reports:
An eyewitness to the shootings on Utoya Island said in an interview on NRK television that he had seen at least 20 bodies at the camp. A video feed from a helicopter over the island broadcast on the TV2 channel showed dozens of small colorful tents at a campground that appeared to be about the length of a football field.
Kvernen said that the camp was for 15- and 16-year-olds. Norwegian television stations broadcast images of people swimming away from the island – and of bodies lying on the shore. The island is about a third of a mile long and about a third of a mile from shore, with no bridge to connect it.
It was an unimaginably vicious attack, aimed at kids, carried out in a famously placid nation. At this posting, authorities are saying that the attacks apparently were not jihad related. One man, a Norwegian, has been arrested. We’ll know more about how and why this happened as the story unfolds.
Whether slaughter on this scale is the work of a deranged person or somebody killing for a cause, we have every right to the kind of rage that civilized people often attempt to stiffle. I agree with John Podhoretz that rage is the right response to this horror:
This rage, which is accompanied by all manner of violent thoughts about what should be done and could be done to the living body of the depthlessly evil monster who committed this Satanic act, is disturbing in its intensity. I would like it to go away. But it won’t, and it shouldn’t, because without it-without a stark response to something so purposefully awful-we are unilaterally disarming ourselves. The monster and his comrades have the passion to commit their foul deeds. If we respond with dispassion, we are ceding to them part of the animating force that makes us human.