I was given a book titled "Den Rød-Grønne Terrorøya" - The Red-Green Island of Terror - in order to "read, and please keep an open mind, don't just throw it away. And tell me what you think afterwards." I promised to do just that.
The title refers to Utøya, known for the mass murders of July 22nd 2011. The introduction lies a foundation of no tolerance to terror, no matter who performs it. The content, however, revolves solely around the political and economic support of the west wing youth organizations at Utøya for a Palestinian left wing organization that has been labelled as a terrorist organization.
The book attempts to make a case of Norwegian governmental support of foreign terrorism, paints the current red-green government as anti-Semitic muslim nazis, and concludes that this was the real cause of the July 22nd massacre: As left wing extremists, they were now a viable target for right wing extremists.
While some of the facts might raise an eyebrow or two, the book falls under the "fjord"-category with me. By fjord, I mean you make such a deep dive into a specific side of a conflict that, not only is your sight limited to that one conflict - and deeper yet, just one side of the conflict - but everything you see is taken as evidence of this one-sided paranoia. It is also a reference to Fjordman, a Norwegian extreme right wing blogger, whom I see as an example of someone with the "deep into conflict filter" turned on.
A deep, limited view of a conflict is in direct contrast to the overview of the flying spaceman, who couldn't care less about the bickering, if only people could help each other out instead . Again, the introduction makes an argument that terror should not be applied by anyone for any reason, yet the actual chapters of the book is blaming only one side for terror, ignoring the terror imposed by the "other side" of the conflict.
However, extreme left and extreme right can exist only by applying such filters. As my intention today was only to review the book for what it is, I won't bother getting into the details of the conflict and its complexities. I've already done that before. The book still looses some credibility on statements that are not backed up by references, or worse yet, are completely misleading.
For instance, it claims that it was the red-green government that got rid of Christianity as a subject in primary school, when this, in fact, is merely a directive passed down by the EU. This claim is put together with muslims being invited to Utøya, making it look as if the Labour Party is trying to replace Christianity with Islam.
I could list numerous points of distorted reality in the book. I will leave that to later. And there is even some good things to take away from the book - the lessons we could learn from it. How we can do things better. The book itself won't do it, it's a finger-pointing book about the Problem with No Solutions, yet it does point out a few things worth of investigation:
For example, in terms of role play, what could we potentially learn playing both sides in an honest manner, instead of just making a political drama? When political youth organizations get involved in international politics, how can we encourage to see things with a better overview instead of diving into the depths of one side of a conflict? How can we encourage our children to cherish all humans instead of helping others paint an alien out of the "perceived enemy"?
Because in the end, concentrating on the problem will only make the problem bigger. Concentrating on the solution will only make the solution greater. And the solution, of course, lies largely with the children that will inherit the future.