Monday, July 25, 2011

Oslo and Otoya

(image c/o Tong Shuai Xinhua News Agency/Newscom)

A terrorist who targets civilians is one thing; a terrorist who targets a youth camp is quite another. Our heart goes out to Norway today and to a ton of parents who just suffered the unthinkable.

It's hard not to take it personally as a liberal, to accept the pundit boilerplate in times like this that it wasn't about Breivik's politics, that he was just a crazy person, that this is not reflective of a common (if more controlled) desire among nationalists and right wingers to murder liberals and leftists.

And, apparently, our children.

Liberals are asked to accept that premise every time a federal building is destroyed, an abortion clinic is bombed (or, hey, the Olympics!), an obstetrician is murdered, or a Unitarian Universalist Church is massacred by people quoting Glen Beck or Adolf Hitler or The Turner Diaries.

The simple fact is that, whether or not the right can be "blamed" for most political violence, most of that violence targets liberals or is conducted by shooters and bombers expressing rage at liberals. I know it's "intemperate," perhaps even "shrill," for me to say that, but there it is.

It's dangerous being a liberal, raising your voice against the powerful on behalf of the powerless. It always has been. It's dangerous for you just like it was dangerous for civil rights leaders and Freedom Riders and suffragettes and Populists and union organizers and abolitionists and Diggers and Jesus Christ himself, and it's important to be mindful of that fact. Proud, and mindful.

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