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Utoya island – New Zealand connections

Written By: - Date published: 7:13 am, July 29th, 2011 - 15 comments
Categories: International - Tags: , ,

Two pieces of news have recently linked Anders Breivik’s Utoya island massacre of members of Young Labour and New Zealand. First, the news that Breivik, in his “manifesto”, quoted words published at a far right conference here:

Mass killer Anders Behring Breivik’s NZ link

Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik praised a speech given in New Zealand by an Australian historian in his 1500 page manifesto.

Breivik wrote that Keith Windschuttle “is tired of that anti-Western slant that permeates academia”. “For the past three decades and more, many of the leading opinion makers in our universities, the media and the arts have regarded Western culture as, at best, something to be ashamed of, or at worst, something to be opposed,” he quoted Windschuttle as saying. …

The speech was delivered at the Summer Sounds Symposium, at Punga Cove in the Marlborough Sounds, on February 11, 2006. The session was chaired by political commentator Matthew Hooton…

Windschuttle isn’t individually to blame for the use that anyone else makes of his words. But collectively as a society we need to be more aware of the power of words, and the use of hate speech.

We’ve been treading a dangerous path since Brash’s 2005 Orewa speech and the Nats’ subsequent divisive “Iwi / Kiwi” campaign. We’ve been treading a path that so normalised extremism that comparing politicians to Adolf Hitler, or a range of other dictators, was considered an acceptable and unremarkable tactic in the 2008 election.

We’re on that same path today. ACT, with National’s support in Epsom, is trying once again to play the race and hate cards in New Zealand politics. And what to make the mind set that moves a supposedly mainstream political commentator to write (of a boxing match) “I should look on it like I did the Iran-Iraq war – you just want it to go on for ever, with maximum causalities”.

The second Utoya connection to New Zealand is less dangerous, but much sadder:

Inside the life of Norway’s Kiwi victim

Sharidyn Svebakk-Bohn has been named as the 14-year-old New Zealand-born girl killed by gunman Anders Breivik on the weekend.

Sharidyn Svebakk-Bohn was excited for her big trip. Over the past year, things had started looking up for the 14-year-old. She had started high school almost a year ago, made new friends, and realised other people’s opinions about her are not as important as her own.

She was focused on doing well at school, and like most teenagers, was particularly against her parents’ confusing belief she should be awake before 7am and the irritating tendency of siblings to act as interim alarm clocks. …

Go read the full article for a heartbreaking description of this emerging young woman’s life. Look in to the eyes in the photo. Anders Breivik killed her, and 67 other young people like her.

We need articles like this one (bravo Dylan Moran) to meet the people behind the gory headlines. Norwegian authorities should compile such biographies of every one of the victims and publish the collection. The victims of violence need to have a human face and a human voice. It is one of the best ways to reduce the chances of this kind of madness happening again.

15 comments on “Utoya island – New Zealand connections ”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    This tragedy continues to break hearts as details emerge. I understand that Jacinda Adern knew several of the Labour Party Youth movement participants on the island, and not all have been accounted for.

    This is another blow to the political Left. I looked at a political map of Europe last night and all bar ~3 EU countries are now governed by centre right/right wing Governments.

    There has been a mass movement away from the Left over the last few years.

  2. There has to be a link betwen insanity and being a terrorist to explain how the massacre on Utoya Island happened. The biggest challenge that man kind will face in the the 21st century is cultural globalisation, in particular religious and political belief. Solutions which do not involve the taking of lives need to be found, by those who would even consider taking a life to be a solution.

    • McFlock 2.1

      “There has to be a link betwen insanity and being a terrorist to explain how the massacre on Utoya Island happened.”
      Sadly, no. I was at a foreign policy conference a year or two after 9/11 where a presenter essentially tried to reconcile the actions of terrorists with the fact that most are not actually insane (frequently manipulated, often in extremis, and almost always wrong, but not with any particular mental illness) by creating a polsci pop-psych “pathology” of some sort, but it didn’t seem particularly plausible.
      Tragically, violence is often committed by rational people on the basis of flawed logic – and the more fundamental the flaw, the more extreme the violence that is justified.

      • Carol 2.1.1

        There was an interesting interview on 9-to-Noon this morning about the link between lack of empathy & acts of cruelty:


        Simon Baron-Cohen talked about how some people are born with limited ability to empathise with others, while some people can go through periods of it due to environmental reasons. He said not all people who lack empathy commit cruel acts. Austistic people, for instance, don’t tend to be more cruel than the rest of the population. Autistic people tend to have a strong tendency to follow rules of correct behaviour, once learned. But acts of cruelty are most usually committed when people are low on empathy.

  3. Psychiatry certainly has a lot to learn. There has to be some common denominators like low levels of empathy or where levels fluctuate. Work certainly needs to be done to look at the features/profile of extreme individuals who commit such carnage.

    • McFlock 3.1

      One of the more comprehensive places that do just that is the US Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (check out their report on IHE targetted violence linked to on their homepage), and I think the FBI/DoJ also have some resource centres.

  4. Maui 4

    It is interesting to see Windschuttle being quoted by Breivik.

    He articulated the ‘white armband’ version of Australian history which disparaged the findings of historians like Henry Reynolds who found in the colonial media of the time a public moral debate about practices such as parties hunting for Aboriginals in the dynamic frontier of European occupation in the 1860’s. One memorable phrase was “the quiet whispering in our hearts” which will not go away.

    These sentiments became unfashionable at the time of Australian Federation in 1900 when nationalism became prevalent and criticism was deemed unpatriotic.

    Reynolds “The Other Side of The Frontier” is a school text in Australia, and is very rewarding to read.

    Winschuttle’s revisionist version was supported by Howard and Blainey – and may be part of the background of the Northern Territory “intervention”, but has since been quietly buried by subsequent governments.

    It will be interesting to see if it is resurrected by Abbott if he comes to power, as currently indicated by the polls.

  5. Colonial Viper 6

    Jacinda Adern’s personal connections with victims of the Utoya Political Assassination


  6. Jenny 7

    Anthony, I noticed that in this Post about the Marlborough Sounds Symposium at which right wing revisionist historian Keith Windschuttle gave the speech admired by Anders Breivik.

    You quote the sentence from the original report:

    The session was chaired by political commentator Matthew Hooton…

    Andrew you chose not to complete this sentence, just ending it halfway with a line of dots.

    The complete sentence read as follows:

    The session was chaired by political commentator Matthew Hooton, who told NZPA he didn’t recall details of the paper, but noted that “the Summer Sounds symposiums became a bit too right wing for my taste”.

    The fact that an admitted right wing commentator such as Mathew Hooton found these Symposiums too right wing even for him, is surely a telling indictment of these meetings.

    So why did you leave this bit out?

    Are you trying to create the impression that Mathew Hooton’s views are as extreme as Keith Windschuttle?

    Give the guy some credit. At least Hooton is trying to create some space between himself and Windschuttle.

    • Jenny 7.1


      >Give the guy some credit. At least Hooton is trying to create some space between himself and Windschuttle<

      Not so Don Brash.

      Brash's second and most extreme anti- Maori and anti- Welfare Orewa speech preceded and created the political climate in which Windschuttle's Marlborough Sounds speech could get a hearing.

      Yet there has been not a word from Brash, distancing himself from Windschuttle.

      Don Brash the leader of NZ's most right wing parliamentary party, has instead declared that he is to run his party's election campaign on the very same racial and welfare theories espoused by Keith Windschuttle and claimed by Anders Breivik as the motive for committing his atrocity.

    • r0b 7.2

      I was noting another prominent name in the NZ connection, that’s all.  I think it’s clear from the post “Windschuttle isn’t individually to blame for the use that anyone else makes of his words…” that I don’t think it makes any sense to ascribe individual blame or responsibility to Windscuttle (or Hooton).

      • Jenny 7.2.1

        Hi Rob I was just saying that leaving out half the sentence could give the impression that the Windschuttle speech was endorsed by Hooton. When clearly when you leave in the full sentence, it wasn’t.

        I just wish the ACT Party leader Don Brash was as embarrassed as Hooton is, about the espousal of such views, instead of preparing to build a political campaign around them.

        I pray that the people of Epsom have the sense to reject the politics of intolerance.

  7. Jenny 8

    Speaking of Don Brash,

    Anders Behring Breivik may be “insane”, as his lawyer put it, but he is certainly not alone in his paranoid hatred of multiculturalism

    The Telegraph

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