One wishes that Anders Behring Breivik looked insane, that he spent his evenings painting racist graffiti on the walls and hurling faeces at black passersby. Since we cannot know what strangers who surround us think and feel by looking at them - no matter what assumptions we might make - we are left to wonder what neighbours do in the anonymity of their homes. Even in locked rooms, we now have the novelty of finding likeminded comrades online, we can create unseen secret societies, hiding in the digital world. We can confab with people who think like us and who will fertilise our imaginations and encourage us by assuring us that our ideas are not crazy.

Of course, I am not blaming the internet - a tool is what you make of it. I have found pages on Facebook with horrendous content; pages with which I would be ashamed to associate, but these pages have likeminded friends and followers who will publically declare that certain people should be raped or killed.

The awful events in Norway intrude into our lives here in Helsinki far more than the usual news we witness on TV - not just the physical proximity, but the similarity of context; the rise of rightwing parties, the relative safety and distance from most of the world’s targets and reliable security forces. While I sincerely hope justice prevails and this is the last of this kind of attack, I know that for many people such extremism is a constant reality, and I wish that for everyone we could see the end of this madness. 

Read more; Stieg Larsson and the Scandinavian right
Read more; From Oklahoma to Oslo
Read more; Norway's lost innocence 

Photograph: the Guardian

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