Anders Breivik could be any law abiding, sane European you'd see on the street. He's blond, well-kempt, pleasant looking enough and probably smells good, too, according to his fragrance preference (fittingly, he wears Chanel Egoist).
But much to the dismay of Europeans who consider Breivik to be "one of us," what he appears to be is actually a cruel deception. Seeing him in the papers last week after his killing spree in Norway, with the remorseless, satisfied smile on his face as he was being driven off in a police car and his admittance that what he did was horrible but necessary, confirmed him to be a wolf in sheep's clothing, a freak villain out of a Grimm's fairytale.
Yet Breivik, in his supposed insanity, is a highly functioning nut with a cause, author of a detailed 1,500-page manifesto/rant and the ability to organize a double crime scene that left Norwegian police authorities stunned. How crazy is crazy, really? And who's reality was influencing him?
Right wing extremism, xenophobia and violence go hand in hand, that is true universally. Even though most right wing followers and politicians aren't necessarily crazy (at least not clinically), the frequent messages of Islamaphobia, whether in Switzerland, France, Germany or Norway, contain a coded message of something off-kilter. The zeal in the we-aren't-going-to-put-up-with-it-anymore from THEM, verges on being unhinged from a reality that promotes peaceful discourse.
Are right wing, anti-immigrant sentiment, politics and beliefs partially responsible for Breivik's actions?
My sense is that Breivik would have found another cause over which to act out violently. But what is it about xenophobes and their guns? I recall recently writing about a crazy person who opposed immigration so much that he shot a congresswoman in the head and killed a little girl. Loughner was another homegrown terrorist creating the violence that's pinned on immigrants.
Still, a man that looks like Breivik is probably ten times less likely to be stopped in an airport than a bearded, brown-skinned man with Al in his last name. There simply is no profile for crazy. Sometimes your enemy can look just like you.
The last time I saw bougainvillea growing along a
I was in Port-au-Prince
where corners of bedrooms and
memories of kitchens
were hung together by wires never intended to be seen
The bougainvillea grew anyway
convinced of its own vibrance
indifferent to the suffering, the poverty
the stench of everything wrong
A cousin strand grows here, too
along a richer wall
one stabilized by developed world guarantees
The petals look the same
they react to, what is surprisingly
the very same sun
The people too, are not dissimilar
they are rich but they also defer to the rhythm of the sun;
closing their shutters when it burns hottest
walking along narrow streets at a pace that respects
the sun’s authority
Even the language that rolls off the tongue
kissed by romance,
descendants reviving what is dormant
every linguistic variation tracing back to the same root
soleil, sol, sole
The prints of colonialism are deeply set in the stones of these walls
whether crumbled or erect
bougainvillea, beauty itself
was the only life form that could remember
yet forgets to make a distinction
© Rose-Anne Clermont, 2011
Why, I asked myself, must I listen to German while I'm officially on Spanish soil? Endure sore eyes from seeing chicken-legged German men wearing socks and sandals? Listen to the not-so-inspiring Germanisms like One can't change it, that's just how it is! No, I always told myself, I will not travel to Germany's unofficial colony for vacation.
One simply must go home to appreciate one's adopted home. The you don't know what you've got til it's gone theory applies here.
But with three children, and five full-priced plane tickets to the USA during the summer season, going home for vacation is no longer a reality every year.
So. . . we headed for the sun and sand of Mallorca and enjoy many comforts of life in Germany: easily attainable 45-grain, bark-coated bread, red-nosed drinkers, passive aggressive stick it notes on the car that read, "If you had parked properly, two cars could have fit in here!" And of course, my favorite, the bare breasted, butt exposed folks who simply can't keep their clothes on once they get near a large body of water.
But hey, when in Germany, go where the Germans go. . .