It would have been easy to fall prey to playing the victim, as some lesser world leaders are wont to do. But not in Norway, which was rocked by the twin-terror attacks by a far-right wing extremist.
A friend (a Norwegian, incidentally) commented that "Utøya is Norway's Oklahoma City". Walski's not sure what his friend meant exactly by that remark. On the surface, it could mean that what happened at the youth retreat was home-grown terrorism.
On another level, his friend could've meant that the tragedy would mark the beginning of the end for Norway's open society, much like how Oklahoma City fueled the US towards greater conservatism at large.
It is heartening, therefore, that the approach Norway's PM plans to take, as reported in this article, will not cause the latter. Any other approach, in fact, would only mean that terrorism won the day.
As Walski writes this, he cannot help but wonder how Malaysia's PM would have reacted in a similar situation...
Fighting Terrorism with Democracy: How Norway's Prime Minister Plans to Heal His Country
Norway's Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg is seen after a press conference at his residence on July 27, 2011.
Jens Stoltenberg, the Norwegian prime minister, is sitting in a garden chair
on a sun-drenched terrace in a comfortable, but not exceedingly luxurious
house. A gardener plies a hole in the black loam with his spade, and then
plants a small bush of purple Aster in full bloom as a garden waterfall
bubbles tranquilly nearby.
Since July 22, when twin attacks by a right-wing extremist destroyed
Stoltenberg's office, left 76 dead, and rocked Norway, Stoltenberg's bucolic
home-office has doubled as his command center. In one room, a group of aides
are huddled over laptops. In another, two security guards seem to be trying
hard to remain invisible and pass the time. The furniture is modern, but not
extravagant. If Norway were a house, it might resemble the prime minister's
residence: modern, functional, wealthy, but a home that would fit a dentist
or a lawyer just as easily as the head of government. (See "Viewpoint: Defending the Open Future of Scandinavia.")
"This house says a lot about Norway," says Stoltenberg, a fit 50-something,
sporting dark athletic sunglasses, in an interview with TIME. "One of our
qualities is that the distance between political leaders and the people is
smaller than in many other countries. Our challenge now is to try to remain
a society where people can still be close to their political leaders."
Read more at www.time.com
That is Stoltenberg's mantra. Since Friday's bombing and shooting of dozens
of teenage members of his left-leaning Labor Party by a right-wing extremist
named Anders Behring Breivik, Stoltenberg has stayed on message at every
occasion, whether in press conferences, or memorial services in Oslo, or
facing a barrage of television cameras. He insists that Norway will not