The day before the Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg spoke in the parliament about what exactly he meant with the term “more openness” after the 22/7 terror attacks, the state owned Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) showcased their interpretation of free speech.
The spectacle aired on October 26 seemed to be so carefully orchestrated that somebody must have been planning how to dominate and win the debate. If NRK can set the stage for the debate, they have won before the whole thing is even started. This is a well known debating technique developed by the left for decades. The others are simply left behind.
The whole thing started with the main news story about a poll showing 25 percent believe there are too many Muslims in Norway, and almost as many, 24 percent, believe they pose a threat to Norwegian culture.
This was a strong start, and my first thought was that NRK will finally start reporting on controversial issues without beating around the bush. But then the reporter took to the streets to find representatives of the skeptical, two young construction workers from - judging by their dialect - the rural mountain regions. They spoke freely and openly to the camera. And I asked myself if these boys really did know what they were getting themselves into?
Of those 25 percent, 60 percent do not have any Muslim acquaintances, we were told. The tolerance is greater in Oslo and other urban areas. So this was apparently the hillbillies on the loose again, the wild and untamed from the villages.
The researcher Anders Ravik Jupskås has been looking into the right wing, and needs to balance and consider many issues. A researcher has to communicate his message to the decision makers who decide whether or not he will get funding. When the powers that be need assistance, they call upon Jupskås to give the issue a taint of science. Jupskås has done well to point out that right wing parties in Norway and Denmark are legitimate channels for political protest. The extreme right is stronger in Sweden, which until recently did not have a right wing political party.
But there are limits for what a researcher should get himself mixed up in. Jupskås was asked to comment on that most of the skeptical 25 percent were from the Norwegian right wing party Fremskrittspartiet (FrP). He did not receive the question, but was instead asked to confirm this. Jupskås hesitated a bit, but did confirm.
He also pointed out that 25 percent is actually a low number compared to other European nations. The TV host was happy to hear this, but by saying this, Jupskås actually described the unpleasant political divide which is little mentioned in Norwegian Media. If the anti-Muslim sentiments in other countries are held by about 50 percent of the population, you cannot possibly call these groups marginal. Then we are talking about massive numbers.
NRK and the rest of the media cannot make up their mind: Are the anti-Muslim sentiments caused by a small number of influential voices? Is it for example likely that the opposition in Germany is caused by the popular website Politically Incorrect, PI.net? Are they able to influence the public opinion despite of massive media power? Even harder to explain is the bestseller “Deutschland Schafft Sich Ab” (Germany does itself in), by Thilo Sarrazin, because buying a book requires an active decision by the buyer. The unpleasant question is then whether his book reflects what people actually feel on its own.
Which raises another issue, another cliché from the sixties and well known in the history of socialism: If the “people” does not mean what the class analysis says, it must be because they are manipulated.
Herbert Marcuse was one of the student movement’s great minds in the sixties, and created the notion of “false consciousness”. Marcuse came out of the philosophical elitist Frankfurt School, and believed the culture industry influenced people’s mental state to the point where they did not understand their own needs. But Marcuse did, and even more so the students and Maoists. The Maoists were preachers and soldiers for the good cause, and talked about people having “flies in their heads”. While Marcuse could carry out his distanced analysis, these guys leaned more towards practical politics, and took physical action against those who destroyed or poisoned people’s consciousness.
This attitude is reflected in the way Thilo Sarrazin was treated. He had to be isolated, his thoughts discredited, and they wanted him excluded from the German labour party SPD. The only problem was his popularity. Sanctions may backfire, but there is no doubt what they would do to him under more favorable circumstances.
This display of a hostile conflict is something new in today’s Europe. It used to be related to a hostile ideology anchored in Moscow and Beijing. Now it is replaced by an internal conflict. This is disturbing.
The powers that be feel they have the right to treat a part of the population differently from the rest, there is an open debate on whether they should be censored or locked out.
This was openly discussed in the October 26 NRK program, first through the news story that should set the stage for the debate program “Aktuelt”: Do they deserve to be heard?
And the most unpleasant thing: This was not a theoretical debate, there was a live person in the studio: Computer scientist, author, and social commentator Ole Jørgen Anfindsen, known for his critical views on official Norwegian immigration and integration policies. It had been announced in the news that a commentator who believes the 22/7 terrorist “had a point” would take part. I felt uneasy. Did Anfindsen really intend to step out on this arena? It would be like volunteering to enter a gladiator match.
The whole thing was set up for maximum effect. The muslim commentator Bushra Ishaq, known for her support for allowing the hijab as part of the Norwegian police uniform, talked about the price to pay for taking part in the public debate. She had been harassed and had received threats from the beginning. When the camera then pointed to Anfindsen, everybody understood what he had been contributing to.
Anfindsen was his usual laid back self, trying to admit that his opponents may have some valid points. All in vain, this time, because his opponents had no intention of agreeing to disagree.
The host of the show - Ole Torp - distinguished himself by an increasing emotional attitude towards Anfindsen. The introduction was seemingly neutral, but eventually he came out guns blazing. Anfindsen was described as a neatly wrapped racist. Is that what he is, Torp asked former labour minister of culture, Åse Kleveland. No, was the answer, she could not spot any wrapping here, just a plain open racist.
Later she added that these critics are well dressed and speak in a decent language, but if you inspect what they say closely, you will see the horror in it.
Kleveland happened to touch upon an issue which is hard to explain for the good people on the correct side: The dangerous people appear in a form that may deceive the public, they dress and speak well. You need proper training to expose them!
This is a repeat of communist and socialist campaigns. You cannot spot who are the enemies of the class, so how can you expose them? By letting a specially chosen elite employ its methods.
But to spread your methods you need power and resources. In today’s Norway the politically correct have both.
Ole Torp’s show on NRK was therefore a public educational event with the intention of - in Mao’s words - punishing one to educate a hundred.
Admittedly, Anfindsen has given his opponents a powerful weapon by getting himself mixed up in the debate about intelligence and race. In Norway, the word race is a toxic one, it cannot be touched without gloves. Anfindsen thought he could introduce it, just like that. His unsuspecting trustfulness in this matter is astonishing, and bordering on the naive. He is handing his opponents a loaded weapon, believing they will not be used against him.
On October 26, he was shot down.
Orientalist Torkel Brekke was in the panel and delivered the final shots on race issues and links to racist websites.
This was too much, even for Anfindsen.
The host turned more and more into the role of a prosecutor. Anfindsen was allowed to explain what “point” he meant the 22/7 terrorist had, another weapon he has handed his opponents. He criticized the Statistical Bureau of Norway, SSB, for underestimating the size of immigration. Ole Torp presented statistics from Pew Research Center over the number of Muslims in different European countries. It showed that Muslims make up three percent of the population, a number which will rise to six percent in 2030. Could this be called mass immigration?
The match was uneven. An honest journalist would take the trouble to check up on differing views. Norway and hardly any other European country has statistics over religious groups, and after the second generation, non-europeans are counted among Norwegians like anybody else. The reliability of the numbers are therefore questionable. The author Kaj Skagen has quoted a number of between fifteen and nineteen percent immigrant population in Norway in 2060. This is a huge population shift in a short amount of time. We are talking about a replacement of the original population and a change of Europe’s cultural, ethnic, and religious profile in about 75 years.
This is probably the change people worry about when they say on the news that “Norway is a Christian country”. But the state broadcaster portrays them as idiots.
The question is who the viewers trust the most, their own senses or the NRK.
They are most likely to trust their own common sense, which results in a huge gap of trust and a democratic deficit.
This raises the question of freedom of speech, and Ole Torp pushes it to the extreme: Should they be allowed inside? He talked about Anfindsen as if he was not there, as if he was not human, as if he did not have the right to speak.
To answer the question, NRK had brought in journalist Anders Giæver from the tabloid VG, who overbearingly stated that it is not possible to shut them out because of the internet. It is technically impossible, although it was understood that this was what they really wanted.
And then Giæver could not resist taking the opportunity to rub their faces, i.e. Anfindsen, into the mud: They are constantly complaining and whining about getting no press, and are proclaiming themselves victims and martyrs. Instead, there is a good reason to ask if the editors are giving them too much space due to this endless whining, because when you look at how marginal their numbers are, they do in fact get a lot of attention.
This seemed to sit well with those around the table, Brekke, Ishaq, Kleveland, and Torp.
A debate about “them” is not complete without mentioning the right wing party Fremskrittspartiet, and their new spokesperson on immigration issues, Morten Ørsal Johnsen, accepted some blame in line with their new policy, but not all the blame all of the time. The party still makes a distinction between moderate and radical Muslims, and the latter and the media have themselves to blame for making people skeptical.
Ishaq intervened to say that FrP had coined the term “creeping islamization”, which says everything about their true intentions. An impression was made that there is a lot that can not be said if Ishaq gets to define the debate.
Towards the end of the show, Torp said to Anfindsen: You should weigh your words carefully, it might take a while before you get invited here again.
By then, the debate had been going on for so long that Anfindsen was starting to get the viewers’ sympathies simply because of the way he was being treated. And Torp’s finishing statement left no doubt: Anfindsen was an outcast.
To get the message, you would have to see the connection between the different programs, which were carefully orchestrated. From the polls to the construction workers, the offended Muslim, and the righteous people in the studio who distanced themselves from this horrible creature and his opinions. The underlying issue: Should he be allowed inside? And you might add: Should he loose his job, his friends, and should his children have a right to play with other children?
Torp, Brekke, Giæver, and Kleveland would never admit that this is their intention. But it is the consequence of their public political ousting.
At the same time as Bushra Ishaq as a matter of course was assured that she was a part of “the extended we”.
I do not think NRK has given much thought to who they are expelling and who they are including.
But this is what happens when you are convinced you have the moral authority to degrade other opinions and the people who express them. From the events in the studio it was not possible to distinguish disagreement from harassment.
Was not this supposed to be about integration and community?