Have We Learned Nothing?

Have We Learned Nothing?

Yesterday, a Norwegian group hosted identitarian Martin Sellner at an event. The event took place at a bookstore that allows a wide range of groups to host events. This event attracted a large protest outside the bookstore, threats of butyric acid attack and vandalism of the bookstore itself. To me this signifies that the violence we have recently seen taking place in the US is coming to Norway. Antifa, SJWs and other leftists have repeatedly crossed the line from verbal opposition to ideas to increasingly embracing violence and a physical response. I fear that like other trends that start overseas, this trend will now arrive on our shores. I don’t pay much attention to Norwegian politics, but I’m absolutely convinced that those groups that protested yesterday or similar groups have hosted reprehensible individuals at their events. I don’t remember ever hearing about similar demonstrations or threats of violence as a protest against those events.

The demonstrations yesterday warranted a significant police presence, drawing valuable resources from other areas of law enforcement. A decade ago I believed that the greatest threat to free speech in the West was government suppression through laws and regulations. Although this remains a factor, especially in countries with vague and ill-defined “hate speech” laws, the threat that now is the most significant harmful factor is self-censorship in response to threats by the left. Not only threats of violence are part of this, economic ruin through doxing, going after advertisers of shows and websites and the threat of losing relationships such as friendships, good neighbourly ties, marriages and so on are also at risk.

In Norway especially, I would have hoped that we would have learned from the tragedy of the terror attacks of 22 July 2011. In the aftermath, much focus was on so-called “echo chambers” online and the need for fostering a rigorous public political debate. When politics and other sensitive topics are debated in the open, counterarguments can be presented and “extreme” opinions are challenged. What the reactions to events such as this one gives us is not the medicine prescribed post 22/7, but precisely the opposite. Together with newspapers closing down comment sections and requiring the usage of real names, this in effect stifles public debate. Echo chambers are a natural reaction to this climate of debate. I strongly regret this development. I want to see as much open and public debate as possible. Why those that voiced the loudest concern about the conditions that fostered 22/7 terrorist Breivik are now on the vanguard of creating the same petri dish of regrettable conditions baffles me.

Back to the event with Sellner. Much discussion has been focused on his highly questionable connections and actions in the past. That is a valid concern. But, at the same time we must remember that having double standards is disqualifying in political debates. How many of the journalists and thought leaders in Norway have pasts including involvement with Marxist, extreme leftist and violent groups such as the Blitz-milieu? That number isn’t insignificant. The very same people lamenting Seller’s past, should look into their own. That being said, I’m encouraged that people are pushing through verbal and non-verbal opposition and hosting events like this one. I hope we see more events successfully hosted in peace in the near future. The civilized political debate depends on it.

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