Following his plan, he brutally killed 77 people and injured several hundred just to deliver one single message to the whole world: multiculturalism in Europe is not working. Today, the 16th of April 2012, the trial of the Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik, 33, started while members of the families of the victims watched and cried.
We still have not yet done more than scratch the surface in dealing with the problem of multiculturalism in the western world, and the severity of this problem has escalated since the beginning of this Millennium. Anders Breivik represents a certain mentality which is growing and deepening across Europe and all too often our reaction is to try to avoid it, hoping that in time it will just go away. I do not believe for a minute that this problem will disappear on its own, especially if we are so unwilling to tackle it.
The more global we get in the world, the more the local cultures fight to stay alive in order to build up their distinct identity. We cannot hide our heads in the sand any more when globalisation shows one of its ugly faces. When he killed all those people, Anders Breivik believed with all his being that he was acting to defend his country and all of Europe against Islam and the changes that he saw happening around him. As horrible and tragic as this young Norwegian man’s acts are, we should acknowledge and deal with the roots of the matter and try to understand the problem impartially. This is not easy at the moment.
The truth is that multiculturalism failed because it denied the host population’s own culture across Europe, suppressing it in the hope of creating an egalitarian society where every culture might be treated as an equal. That works in America, for instance, because it has no original culture (outside the native American culture which had quickly been subsumed by Western expansion). In Europe, we must accept that the host cultures date back thousands of years and have deep roots in their societies! These are mature, living, thriving cultures that have genuine forms and identities; how can we kill these cultures in the name of hospitality towards others?
The guest knows that they will encounter the host’s own culture and they must understand this, and even adapt to it. We need integration, not assimilation. This is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, the host culture is losing its identity because of an unnecessary compromise; on the other hand the guest cultures see the hosts compromising their own culture and they fear that their culture will be next! The guests react to this by retreating to preserve their own cultural identity and the result is broken communities, tensions and fear which can breed violence as we have seen in Norway.
Anders Breivik carried out these terrible acts because he felt threatened – he believes that he acted in ‘self-defence’. Why did he kill Norwegians? Because he believed that they were spreading the multicultural message of compromise which he saw as directly attacking his culture and his very identity.
Demographic changes are happening too quickly in Europe – and on too big a scale. We need to act now to help the host population feel secure about their own identity before others step in to ‘preserve the national identity’ through means and methods that we have seen too often in Europe in the last century – such as in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. We must also act to encourage the other cultures to integrate within the country where they live to help create a society where all cultures can be respected and where no culture should feel threatened. Let’s get over the illusion of multiculturalism and build communities on the foundations of respect and understanding our diverse backgrounds.