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How the Norwegians Reacted to Terrorism (schneier.com)
354 points by netmau5 on July 23, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 138 comments

I do find it rather worrying that people around the world seem absolutely fine with all the various initiatives introduced, all in the name of preventing terrorism.

I've had friends consider me crazy for complaining - way after the time, I hasten to add - that I'd had a small deodorant can taken off me in airport security, which I'd then had to purchase in the duty free shop.

My wife's now tired of me complaining - again, after suffering through it in silent, stony-faced contemplation - that in any other context, I've just suffered sexual assault. I won't apologise for it; I find it extremely distressing to have my dick groped by a stranger. All because a machine went "beep" and one two many green bars lit up.

And then you look at the London olympics; where the army will be frisking people who've dared to pay money to watch events. (NB: the army presence was guaranteed regardless of G4S's cockup). The army! And in this instance, it's not like the UK hasn't decades of experience of dealing with terrorism from the IRA.

How well does all this work? Who knows, nobody's telling. I'd argue if there was anyone caught or something prevented by one of these systems, the government concerned would be singing from the rooftops. But no - it's "a deterrent." Gah.

Was that guy in Norway part of a known terrorist group or something? Why isn't he a "madman" like the one in Aurora, US last week?

I do find terrifying what's happening in UK lately, seemingly all of the sudden from those of us not living there, like that new law proposal to monitor everyone's private communications. Not too long ago that kind of proposal would've been seen as insane. Now it seems a lot of politicians are taking it seriously, as if history before the past 20 years doesn't even exist, and we've all started from scratch 20 years ago. They now think monitoring everyone is a "necessary" thing to prevent the "evils" of the world.

Also, in US, isn't it strange how they don't talk about terrorists "hating us for our freedoms" anymore? Is it because they've realized what a stupid statement that was to begin with, or because they know they're taking them away one by now one, and it's best not to mention this dirty word "freedom" anymore?

The Colorado guy is a "madman" because he went on a killing spree for the sake of killing, whereas Breivik went on a killing spree for explicitly political ends, thus is a terrorist.

No. He's a madman because the media can't comprehend any other possible explanation. Breivik isn't a madman because it's Norway, and that's a long way away.

I'm sure the Aurora guy had his "reasons", just like Breivik. It all just relates to how we rationalise a position we don't understand.

I'd call neither of them a madman or terrorist.

To Add: I seem to recall there were media sources calling Breivik a madman (I helped keep the Wikipedia article under control at the time it happened and saw a lot of material go past). But they were less widespread because we could hang him off a political boom; right wing extremism.

But at the end of the day that was just Breivik rationalising what he did, to himself.

Same thing about computer games that came up at the trial; he played FPS's for a year to make him insensitive to killing. And he made a big deal about hating what he did.

Which one part of the media turns into "COMPUTER GAMES INSPIRE KILLER".

The reality of course is that it was pure narcissism; he played the games to desensitise him because, in the movie plot where he is the star, the games desensitise him.

Breivik builds a persona where he is the centre figure. Everything relates to him in some way - and killing those people "hurts" because that is part of the story. He still did it.

Good reading for this is alone's "The Last Psychiatrist" blog. This one is about honor killings but it touches on a lot of the same points: http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2010/07/nobody_will_understan...

Ultimately the Aurora killer will probably boil down to narcissism too. But the media needs a neat word to rationalise his actions; in this case madman. Because he is white and well educated - so they cannot comprehend any other explanation.

If he were exactly the same person, but of muslim descent he would have been a terrorist.

I would call both "madmen" in that their reasons and methods are irrational to a "normal" citizen of sound mind. Breivik is also a terrorist as he was attempting to further a political goal (however irrational and incorrect said goal is).

But, as you say, the term "madman" is an easy and emotive term used by the media, and also incorrect. They are irrational about one or more things, which led them to take irrational actions (however rational and clear their thinking seems to themselves).

> If he were exactly the same person, but of muslim descent he would have been a terrorist.

Yes, the media (and probably the authorities) would certainly have done that, but they would have been wrong (c.f. the Ft Hood massacre)

But even so, he was working alone. Comparing Breivik with 9/11 and the Al Qaeda threat to the West is facile.

The norwegian shooter has not been linked to anybody else but it seems he prepared himself over many years and he has a fanatic insistance that he tries to push in his manifesto. Definitely a larger calibre of madman and terrorist.

It's because of that nebulous "they". The "they" who said terrorists hate us for our freedom was George W. Bush, the erstwhile President. He has been out of office for three years now.

If people accept it without complaining, it works exactly as intended.

Let's not assume the people implementing these measures are complete morons. There's power to be gained and money to be made from a submissive, unquestioning people.

You forgot to add, "Wake up sheeple!"

We've been yelling at the sheeple long enough to know it's ineffective. What I want to know is what would it take to wake them?

Proper civics and all-rounded technical and humanities education, preferably life long[1]. Without the humanities you will be left without an understanding of social repercussions, technical education helps you (in my experience) stay logical and methodological.

[1] Journalism, wikipedia articles, books, adult education classes, when good and proper are all education.

liberal arts were once considered the arts of the free - something that has usually been forgotten.

Suffering will eventually wake them up, but by then the opportunities to do something about it will be considerably less.

"...and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

One wonders the level of suffering people actually endure by having to purchase new deodorant at the duty free.

I'm speaking more of economic suffering than the excesses of the evolving security aparatus.


See that's where i worry about myself.

My immediate thought is, how do i get myself on that gravy train :-)

Buy stocks in weapons, private military, makers of silly hats and A&E hospitals.

> I've had friends consider me crazy for complaining - way after the time, I hasten to add - that I'd had a small deodorant can taken off me in airport security, which I'd then had to purchase in the duty free shop.

No one believes your deodorant would take down a plane. It's just that no one wants to pay to back that belief up.

Most people (maybe 85% or more that I've met) don't understand the basis of the social contract. You are given two choices, you vote for one, and that's the extent of your control over your situation.

London had to bring in the army largely because the private firm that had the contract to provide event security completely failed to hire enough security guards, and this became apparent far too late for London police to raise the necessary staff themselves. There were probably ways to avoid the army, but would have cost much more.

Would I be wrong in assuming that perhaps trained military personnel may be easier to deal with and more level headed than some plastic policeman with a weekend certificate in security and law enforcement?

Just putting it out there. It could be better than the alternative.

In Geneva(Switzerland) they tried to use military at protests some 20-30 years ago. Some people were killed, thing is military are trained to kill if they are being attacked.

As far as I know they haven't used military personnel after that...

Good point. Didn't think about that.

I just feel like my order of trust (for law enforcers) goes something like this:

1) Military personnel 2) Police 3) * 4) Private security

* In general I trust anything or anyone over private security.

They should have just given it to the army; well trained, competent and reliable.

Budget half as much to give the service personnel nice bonuses.


I still wonder why while there's technology so advanced that can see under your clothes, there isn't technology or common sense to figure out that a bottle of water is completely safe ...

a. It was domestic terrorism. Compare it to American reaction to domestic terrorism before 9/11 and we may start to have some actual merit in the comparison. There was no "War on terror" on the same scale after the Oklahoma City bombing (1995).

b. There's a very different social reaction to domestic terrorism ("there's something rotten in us, we can fix this from the inside") and terrorism from the outside ("we're being attacked, we need to protect ourselves from those people"). Sure, even in domestic terrorism there's a social mindset of differentiation (i.e. "us v.s. them perpetrators") but not to the same extent.

c. One year strikes me as too soon to assess anything and to pat on anyone's back.

d. One could argue the US can't afford what Norway can afford, whether it's because of size, number of enemies, etc. Yes, one could counter-argue those same American policies perpetuate some of these reasons (i.e. number of enemies), but please keep it mind when doing such a comparison.

What about the London tube/bus suicide bombings: those were domestic terrorism and elicited a distinctly different response than we're seeing in Norway now. Or is it only domestic terrorism when the perpetrators are white one wonders!

Good call. I would say that in public perception, since there is an international jihad underway (again, narratively speaking) it is easy to label the tubes bombings as non-domestic. If there was the perception of a global right-wing/fascist war on western society underway then perhaps the Norwegian massacre would have been seen differently.

Any Brit here caring to comment on British public perception of the tubes bombing? Would you say it's considered domestic terrorism in Britain? Please chime in.

EDIT: in any case, while this IS an interesting discussion (about the tubes), British reaction to terrorism does not reflect on the original comparison and points, so far anyway. Just want to mark different discussions and tangents as different.

There was a small international link with the tube bombings (overseas terrorist training). But I think the differences are more to do with the fact that London has always had terrorism, some foreign some domestic, and reacts differently anyway. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents_in_...

> Or is it only domestic terrorism when the perpetrators are white one wonders!

Of course the race (and religion) plays a huge role in the emotional reaction to violence. Uncomparatively more so than the technical "domestic/external" categorization based on residence, citizenship and whatnot. Race and religion are the top factors in eliciting the "us vs them" reaction.

Race isn't the problem, I believe.

If Breivik was a convert to Islam, then the reaction would have been different:

He would have been taken seriously, not seen as a crazy "one hit wonder". Because of, well, the few right wing crazies in Europe the last few decades.

It does seem to be the case in much of the media reporting, that with white supremacist terrorists, the loner aspect is generally played up, where as with those of a somewhat darker hue, grand conspiracy and existential threat is more on the agenda.

Which I acknowledged. There are no suburbs, in Scandinavia at least, filled with young rightwing extremists getting radicalized.

Really? Cause there are such suburbs all over Europe and I'm pretty sure our local neo-nazi rally also draws buses from Scandinavia.

Sigh, you can find neonazis in Israel(!), that doesn't imply those idiots are numerous. (The left wing idiots (AFA et al) seems to be more numerous.)

The Norwegians, for good reason, doesn't expect repeated attempts by right wing extremists every year in the future. In Scandinavia, lately we can look forward to such terrorism attempts every year from the islamists...

Edit: morsch, I was not talking about Germany! But ok, a simple point. East Germany was a dictatorship; intolerance and conspiracy theories grows in those. As I understand, it was much worse to e.g. have the wrong skin color there 20 years ago.

I think you're greatly underestimating the problem of neo-nazi (youth) culture in Europe. I don't really care to derail the discussion by comparing it to other political movements, but the German government estimates there are 6000 violent neo-nazis in Germany, and that number is probably low-balling it considerably, I'd say it's an order of magnitude higher than that. Neo-nazis incidents are absolutely a daily thing, even if they don't manifest the same scale as Utoya but rather in mundane assault and vandalism. Furthermore, our news are just now dominated by a case of domestic neo-nazi terrorism that includes the assassination of 9 people and several bombings. The case has already resulted in massive political upheaval because of the bizarre involvement of the intelligence services. [0]

And this is in a country where right-wing extremist and populist parties rarely get more than a few percent in elections, unlike seemingly half of Europe. For instance, what's going on in Hungary is just disturbing, and things could go crazy all over Europe if/when the economic situation takes a sudden turn down.

(Edit: Added a few sentences regarding the current case of domestic right-wing terrorism in Germany.)

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Socialist_Underground

That's rubbish, there are plenty of scandinavian neo-nazis. They strut around pretending to be vikings and loudly claim to be the master race when drunk. I've run into a few of them.

[edit] Also, as a mate of mine pointed out, they can't be real vikings anyway, as then they would be from York or Iceland or somewhere, rather than being descended from the people who were left at home to look after the sheep.

A "viking" was historically someone that went out and traded/plundered/pirated/etc in the ice free part of the year. As a business. (There are historical documents of a Danish king recruiting in Uppsala for an English vacation.) No need to move anyplace to be a viking. Such things aren't unknown in clan cultures (see e.g. Afghanistan).

As I wrote in another comment, you find neonazis in Israel, that doesn't mean they are numerous. Today in Scandinavia, the left wing idiots in organized groups seems more violent than ND etc. I might be wrong, you got a reference?

Edit: Otoh, the word "Viking" has been used for so many things it has lost all specific meaning long ago. :-)

I realised why people started arguing with me. :-)

I wrote that Europe has few right wing crazies in the last few decades. I meant Scandinavia, I have no real interest/clue where different types of extremists are numerous.

Hrm, sorry about that.

London (and the rest of the UK) had religious terrorism for over 30 years - with regular attacks by professionally trained terrorists of a kind AQ would love to have. Yet even with all that Islamic Fundamentalist terrorism apparently required a massive increase in state power...

The difference seems to be the same as with car v plane crashes. Kill lots of people over time v many at once and society reacts very differently, even though the first kills more.

Domestic with respect to the motive and perspective of the perpetrators. 9/11 and 7/7 had elaborate international and geopolitical motivations, from the perspective of foreign victims of respectively US and British foreign policy.

c. One year strikes me as too soon to assess anything and to pat on anyone's back.

One year after 9/11 (ok, 14 months but the work was being publicly done within a year) - we had Homeland security, PATRIOT Act, a war, and noise about another war. Sales of duct tape went through the roof (along with plastic tarps, some sort of voodoo chem weapon protection scheme), new warrantless wire taps everywhere, the NSA box to read all internet traffic, and so on.

So yes, a year is plenty of time to compare responses in the first year.

Regarding a., the background has changed immensely, given the US's extreme sabre-rattling 'with us or against us in this War On Terror' in the ten years leading up to the event.

re: "d. One could argue the US can't afford what Norway can afford," also perhaps in the literal sense as Norway has one of the highest per-capita GDPs in the world (along with a government budget surplus instead of a deficit).

There have been no changes to the law to increase the powers of the police and security services, terrorism legislation remains the same and there have been no special provisions made for the trial of suspected terrorists.

A white lie, I'm afraid. Lex Breivik [1] has changed the laws so that regional security departments have a lot more power, in fact more power than what prisons have as of today.

[1]: http://www.google.com/translate?hl=en&ie=UTF8&sl=no&...

The "regional security departments" the article refers to are high-security psychiatric wards.

The problem was that if the court declares Breivik insane, Norway couldn't (legally) put him in a high-security criminal prison, and there was no equivalent for psychiatric cases. Now there is.

It is a change, and clearly in response to this case, but the scope of the change is limited.

The problem was that if the court declares Breivik insane, Norway couldn't (legally) put him in a high-security criminal prison.

That's wrong - they can do that without Lex Breivik. The issue is when he's declared healthy, what would then happen? It's legal to detain him if it can be proved that he constitutes a danger to society. However, if he is not considered a danger to the society, he will be able to walk freely. With Lex Breivik, they will be allowed to detain him as long the society is a danger to the person.

Think about that for a moment. With Lex Breivik, you can be isolated even if you've not done anything illegal (or have finished serving your imprisonment) or is considered healthy, because some people in the society want to do you harm.

That's not what I'm reading. (I assume that you too read Norwegian, so we're not discussing artifacts of Google Translate?)

From an article on the opposition to the law[1] (my translation):

   The Department of Health hasn't tried to hide that the 
   goal is a stricter set of laws which can be  
   used if Breivik is sentenced to compulsory mental   
   health care.

   The department has long wanted a change of laws to 
   improve the security in institutions that hold highly 
   dangerous patients. This work was sped up after July 22.
See also [2], which says approximately the same thing.

The criticisms I've seen seem to center on that the new law makes it too simple to declare someone "dangerously insane".

Do you have a link supporting your interpretation?

[1] http://nrk.no/227/dag-for-dag/lovforslag-moter-kraftig-motbo...

[2] http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/iriks/Lex-Breivik-splitter...

I think we're disagreeing on definitions and words, not what's going to change. We already have "high security" psychiatric wards, but they want to increase the security and have specific people placed in those "especially high security" wards. People can be placed there if there is a risk of "attacks against the patient themselves", which is as far I know not (directly) caused by mental disorder in the patient.

Take a look at http://www.regjeringen.no/nb/dep/hod/dok/regpubl/prop/2011-2... - esp. § 4A-8, which states the new changes in the law.

I agree. It was a known weakness in the system that had been discussed before the event. The change would have happened eventually. Breivik speeded the process, because he was such a clear example of someone you don't want back on the streets.

While I understand the point being made, Breivig apparently acted alone, and his actions were most similar to Timothy McVeigh. The proper comparison would be to compare changes in policy following Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing.

After the bombing of Khobar Towers, the bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the first World Trade Center bombing, the bombing of the USS Cole, and finally the acts of 9/11, it would seem that US anti-terrorism policies in place at that time were not particularly effective.

On the other hand, if we're just speaking of mass-murderers rather than terrorists, I don't think anyone has expressed an interest in increased police powers or surveillance, but rather implementing some rational gun laws.

>but rather implementing some rational gun laws.

Changing laws that could negatively impact millions of people because of the statistically extremely small amount of people killed in mass shootings is just the kind of overreaction the article is talking about.

If you want to debate gun laws you have to weigh the rights of gun owners with the rights of people killed every year. Our policies shouldn't be based on statistically insignificant, but emotional charged tragedies.

Even the Obama administration has said it is against calling for more gun regulation because of this.

This man was apparently very smart and motivated, there was nothing we could have realistically done to prevent this. Look at Norway, they have stricter gun regulation than we do, yet they still had a mass shooting with a death toll that dwarfs anything we've seen.

"This man was apparently very smart and motivated, there was nothing we could have realistically done to prevent this. Look at Norway, they have stricter gun regulation than we do, yet they still had a mass shooting with a death toll that dwarfs anything we've seen."

I don't think it is wise to come to that conclusion so quickly. If his AR-15 hadn't jammed, this probably would have been the most deadly single-man massacre in history (he hit 70 people with a shotgun and pistols, and his AR-15 had a 100-round magazine), and I think that point merits some consideration. From what I understand of AR-15s, gun jams are somewhat common, but that isn't really a problem for adept users. It is too early to say exactly what was going on with this guy, but I get the impression that a growing insanity drove his actions more than rational planning; he probably would have been practiced if he had more of a plan as Brevick seemed to have.

It should be obvious that guns aren't going anywhere, but there is a clear distinction in policy between methods violence that affect a few people and those that affect a large number. It seems like Holmes' goal was closer to killing 100 people, and he came very close to doing so. And he obtained the means to do so without what you could even describe as a speed bump. If he had used a bomb instead, would there be an uproar over attempts to curb bomb making? I don't see why the use of a gun should make the case so easy to dismiss.

>If his AR-15 hadn't jammed, this probably would have been the most deadly single-man massacre in history (he hit 70 people with a shotgun and pistols...

That doesn't really say much, at the range he was firing and for his skill level, a shotgun may have been the optimal weapon for "number of people hit."

>his AR-15 had a 100-round magazine

With training you can switch magazines fast enough that there isn't enough of a difference between a 100 round magazine and 3 standard 30 round magazines to matter. There is a reason you don't see the military using drum magazines. They have an inherently more complicated feed mechanism and are therefore more likely to fail. They are pretty much novelty only (range use).

>It should be obvious that guns aren't going anywhere, but there is a clear distinction in policy between methods violence that affect a few people and those that affect a large number.

But my argument is just that, it wasn't a large number. Even 100 people killed is barely a blip compared to the total number of gun deaths per year.

You need to look at the whole picture, not just a single emotional event. If 10 gangbangers each killed 3 extra people last night you wouldn't bat an eye. This is a completely emotional reaction.

>If he had used a bomb instead, would there be an uproar over attempts to curb bomb making?

Yes, if bombs were useful tools used by millions of Americans.

I'll ask you this, if a madman drives a hummer into a big crowd of people and manages to kill 13 of them would you be calling for more regulation on SUVs?

> That doesn't really say much, at the range he was firing and for his skill level, a shotgun may have been the optimal weapon for "number of people hit."

And he hit a lot of people, but the AR-15 would have led to a lot more people dead.

> With training you can switch magazines fast enough that there isn't enough of a difference between a 100 round magazine and 3 standard 30 round magazines to matter.

But he wasn't trained. He tried to get a gun range membership, but he couldn't hold himself together enough to actually get said membership. Is it not reasonable to ask if a feel hurdles wouldn't have stopped him from buying the guns in the first place?

> But my argument is just that, it wasn't a large number. Even 100 people killed is barely a blip compared to the total number of gun deaths per year. You need to look at the whole picture, not just a single emotional event. If 10 gangbangers each killed 3 extra people last night you wouldn't bat an eye. This is a completely emotional reaction.

First of all, I live in Chicago, and I see such reports about gangbangers and the random people who get caught up in their wars all the time, and it always bugs me. I went to see the movie last weekend too, and even if I knew I was at greater risk travelling to the theater at all, a tinge of fear still entered in. Why does it matter if the reaction is emotional? I consider my abhorrence of early death part of my humanity, and I'm hardly alone in that. I would rather see 100 fewer deaths a year from guns than 100 more.

> I'll ask you this, if a madman drives a hummer into a big crowd of people and manages to kill 13 of them would you be calling for more regulation on SUVs?

You need a revocable license that requires a few basic competency tests to acquire in the first place. On top of that, you are required to have insurance to drive as well. It doesn't stop everyone from driving who shouldn't, but it certainly helps. I would be thrilled if the same sort of requirements existed on guns across the country. It is also worth noting that cars are much, much more useful than guns, even in places like Alaska.

Even the Obama administration has said it is against calling for more gun regulation because of this.

Just saying: Despite the attack ad fueled mass hysteria about this, Obama hasn't done anything regarding US gun policy, in any direction.

I'm very aware. I was just pointing out that if anyone was likely to think more tougher gun laws were a solution, it would be a liberal president during campaign season.

He's already lost the 2nd amendment voters, from perception alone. He really needs to motivate his base and I think calling for tougher gun laws might help him there.

I disagree with him on most issues, but the fact that he seems not to be interested in using this for political gain deserves recognition.

And when the next crazy guy brings in gallons of gas and lights people on fire?

Edit: I don't particularly like guns, but non-representative, singular incidents to change policy seems like a very poor way to start debates or come to proper conclusions.

And at what point do such things become a pattern? Unfortunately, mass shootings happen in the US at a rate of roughly one per year.

So about one shooting a year, this year's had 12 fatalities.

Remember that heat wave/power outage combination we had on the east cost (USA); at least 46 fatalities [1]


And I hope that as a result of those outages, the power companies and state and local governments will evaluate if any policy or infrastructure changes could improve their ability to get the power back on.

firearms killings _are_ a pattern, if I recall correctly they are something between 5 and 10 times more frequent in US than other first wold countries.

I personally believe that US citizens are unable to understand how dumb their attitude to weapons is, but

+ mass shootings wouldn't be much impacted by changes in the policy

+ mass shooting don't seem to have a strong correlation with firearm policy

I agree with you on the mass shootings aspect.


>firearms killings _are_ a pattern, if I recall correctly they are something between 5 and 10 times more frequent in US than other first wold countries. I personally believe that US citizens are unable to understand how dumb their attitude to weapons is,

You can't compare crime rates without controlling for other differences. Most other first world countries are much more ethnically homogenous than the U.S.

And they don't suffer from the cultural problems caused by the fairly recent institutional persecution of an entire class of people.

It's not very PC to talk about, and I think that the high incidence of crime amongst black Americans is directly caused by the decades of persecution they suffered which causes them to occupy a lower socio-economic position on average than whites, not any inherent racial differences.

But whatever the reason, whites and blacks both have similar access to guns and similar gun ownership rates, yet if you only count white americans, you'll find a fairly similar gun crime rate to the rest of the first World, so clearly, easy access to guns isn't the problem.

The closest country I can think of to our situation is South Africa (Rights recently restored to an historical lower class. Though it's still not a great comparison because of their relatively lower GDP per capital, and different demographics). Their gun violence rate is about 5 times that of the US.

Offhand, do you know of any material that delves deeper into that taboo topic? Sociologically I find it really interesting but like you said, it's not a popular subject.

You can check the DOJ for statistics, but I've found it incredibly hard to find any unbiased analysis.

I was interested in the topic after I saw a DOJ chart that listed crime by race. I had to research myself to find anything really useful, and by research I just mean taking data from DOJ statistics.

The thing is, it's like we live in 2 separate countries, if you're white or asian, America is almost as safe as other first world countries. If you're Black or Hispanic it's much, much more dangerous.

To be clear, this is after controlling for income? It's not just about poverty?

Black Americans are 2 to 3 times more likely to live below the poverty line than white Americans, and the median white household makes about 1.5 times more money than the median black household.

But black Americans are about 8 times more likely to commit a violent crime, and about 6 times more likely to be the victim of a violent crime.

I've seen some statistics that show at least a portion could be accounted for by controlling for the increased percentage of black single mothers.

Thanks for the answer, yes, there are many factors to take into account, but ascribing the high homicide rate only to racial diversity seems reductive.

Consider this data[0], in the context of Europe: UK[1] has likely more racial diversity than Denmark and Latvia, but firearm homicides/100k people is lower (0.1 vs 0.3 and 0.2, US has 3.0 ).

I imagine that "black poor/uneducated/mistreated people are responsible for most killings", is actually the same as saying "poor/uneducated/mistreated people are responsible for most killing", it just so happens that (at this point in time) in the US this poor are black, while in other countries the social segregation goes around different lines (e.g. gipsies in eastern europe).

Decades of persecution may or may not matter, but those also seem a minor issue, as most countries have had high criminality among poor/uneducated/mistreated people before (e.g. italian immigrants in US beginning of 1900, "wops") even without a history of repression.

[0] http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/homicide.htm... I'm reading the 2010 or most recent column [1] data for england+wales, not northern ireland, not sure why not scotland

>but ascribing the high homicide rate only to racial diversity seems reductive.

I'm not ascribing it to racial diversity. I'll elaborate a bit on exactly what I mean--I'm ascribing it to a particular cultural mix that is in part uniquely derived from the New World's history with slavery.

>n the US this poor are black, while in other countries the social segregation goes around different lines (e.g. gipsies in eastern europe).

That's not comparable, Gypsies do not make up anywhere near the percent of the population in Europe that black americans do in the US (also according to wikipedia we have have more Gypsies in the US than the vast majority of European countries).

>is actually the same as saying "poor/uneducated/mistreated people are responsible for most killing"

That's not correct. If it were that simple, once you adjusted for education and income, you would expect to find similar crime rates between blacks and whites, and nearly identical crime rates between blacks and other minorities. But that isn't the case, a poor uneducated black person is still many times more likely to commit a crime than any other poor uneducated race/ethnicity in the US.

Yes there have been plenty of cases of discrimination against minorities and increased criminality amongst minorities, but there are two factors here which seem to be fairly unique.

1. Descended from slaves. There is no other first world country where 13% of it's population is recently descended from slaves, forcibly moved there. In fact if you'll look at every other country in world that does have a large percentage of slave descendants, you'll find an incredibly high crime rate.

If you look at the top 20 countries by intentional homicide rate[0], you'll note that all but South Africa are in the New World, and have some recent(last 200 years) history of slavery.

2. No other first world country has had such a large single monolithic underclass for nearly its entire history. Underclasses come and go as immigrants assimilate. That hasn't been the case in the us with this one particular group.

In the end what I'm arguing is that you can't compare the U.S. to Europe, there are just too many differences to take into account. Take 2 separate groups in the US--blacks and whites--adjust for income--and you'll find that whites, even poor uneducated ones, have a similar homicide rate to other first world countries. Therefore gun ownership/access is not what causes our high homicide rate.

I would argue that if you banned guns tomorrow, and every law abiding citizen in the US decided to march down to the police station and turn in his gun, we would still have a murder rate much higher than nearly every country in Europe.

[0]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentiona... Note that the top 20 countries have far higher murder rates than the next 20

Breivik used violence in an attempt to cause political change (to try and force the government to stop promoting multiculturalism). That clearly fits within the definition of terrorism.

You are correct in saying that McVeigh's actions may not fit that definition, as he claimed that his motive was revenge for the government's actions on Waco and Ruby Ridge, rather than trying to force political change, but terrorism also refers to the state of fear that an act can cause, so you can still call him a terrorist.

The problem in the United States is that people are always willing to call Muslim extremists terrorists, but for some reason other individuals or groups that commit terrorist acts are simply labeled nuts, extremists, or the fringe element.

Its not clear to me how your last comment is related to the rest of your post.

I think it's an important point in discussions relating to these types of events. --Why are people in the US so hesitant to label this sort of event as being the act of a terrorist unless the perpetrator(s) are Muslim?

Because the media applies the labels.

Rational gun laws will be fought tooth and nail by the NRA, in an election year that will be a non-starter.

Instead they'll find some way to circumscribe the rights of non gun-owners, that will be ineffective, but will play well in Republican states.

Another thing to compare - the death toll caused by Breivig meant that his actions caused 50% more deaths per capita than the 9/11 attacks.

Interesting comparison, but of course it isn't a competition (and I'm not suggesting you mean that, of course).

It is interesting to think about how much 2011 attacks affected us Norwegians. Living in Oslo, I know people who work in the government buildings that were hit, people who earlier years have been to the AUF camp at Utøya, and I've also personally been to Utøya at a Maths camp. My girlfriend were a only few blocks from the bomb when it went off.

The next six months, I'll be working in R6, one of the buildings in the executive government quarter where the bomb went off, but only suffered minor damages. I'll be walking past the bomb site. In fact, I was there earlier in the summer. Here's a photo I took: http://instagram.com/p/MK9aWrtM3z/

Norwegians are generally peaceful. We have a low crime rate and high employment rate. We do rank 11th on number of guns per capita by country[1], though, but the few people I know who have guns are active hunters. Norway usually tops the UNs list of best places to live. Norway has its share of problems, of course, but it usually pales in comparison to problems other places.

The 2011 attacks were just unbelievable, and I try not to think about them in detail because it's too emotional. Before the attacks, Norway was so very, very innocent and unspoiled. We've managed to retain some of our innocence, perhaps, and even one year after the attack, I feel that we're still trying to find out how to handle it.

I'm not entirely sure what my intention was with this post, but now that I've written it, I might as well post it. If you've read this far, I hope you got something out of it - perhaps new insight into the Norwegian psyche, if anything.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_guns_per_capita_by_co...

Quite possibly the worst comparison I've ever seen. You're taking a country that not only has an incredibly low crime rate (they had 5 homicides in the entire country in 2009) and only has a population around 5 million. By comparison, Chicago has close to 3 million people just in the city.

To try and compare our reaction to terrorism and how the Norwegians reacted to their recent mass killing is completely absurd.

First, Breivik's acts in Norway were terrorism. Don't pretend that because he's Norwegian he wasn't trying to use fear and violence to cause political change.

Second, I'm sorry, but as an American who currently lives in Oslo (and was at work 2 blocks from where the bomb exploded last year), the comparison to how America has reacted to terrorism compared to how Norway reacted to this event is entirely fair.

Immediately after the bombing, nobody knew who was responsible, but many people immediately started theorizing that it must have been Muslim extremists (Norway is active in the international community, and not everyone is happy with them based on their attempts to help with negotiations between Israel/Palestine, opposing forces in Sri Lanka, and not to mention their ongoing attempts to figure out what to do with Mullah Krekar).

After the attacks, the government could very easily have made changes to the law and done so very quickly (look at how the U.S. was able to pass the horrible Patriot Act in less than a month after 9/11). Instead they had a very reasoned response. --The army was deployed to several locations around Oslo for two days (to help keep people out of areas with heavy damage after the bomb, around their parliament, palace, and a few other locations), and then they were gone. Very few new laws have been introduced - the only big one is the one to allow them to hold Breivik in prison even if he is declared insane, although they're now considering laws to allow more internet monitoring, which I hope will not pass.

In comparison, the U.S. reaction to 9/11 (which resulted in fewer deaths and injuries per capita than in Norway) include the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, and military tribunals where defendants and their legal counsel aren't even allowed to see the evidence against them.

I had a lot of friends and relatives asking me if I wanted to move back to the States after the attack, and I've always been able to point to the reasonable response Norway had to a horrific attack vs how the U.S. responded and easily say no.

Get your facts straight - There were 29 homicides in Norway in 2009

Source: https://www.politi.no/vedlegg/lokale_vedlegg/kripos/Vedlegg_...

Still very low, but 580% more than five. That said, I agree that the idea of comparing a country with 5 million inhabitants to the US is not entirely right, given to

(a) The heterogeneity of the US population and, (b) The US being two orders of magnitude more populated. It really is more of a continent than a country.

Seems to me like they are doing something right.

In response to a Swedish economist noting that there was no poverty in Scandinavia, Milton Friedman once said that in America there was no poverty among Scandinavians either.

Probably apocryphal, but it does draw attention to the role that cultural differences play in what sort of rules you can implement in organizing a society.

Agreed. (and of course you were downvoted here). People love to hold Scandanavia up as an example as how the rest of the world "could be." However, I think that is such a naive point of view, and one that needs changing. Their populations are too small and lack diversity to make a realistic comparison to the USA or even their larger European neighbors.

I usually like Mr. Schriener's work, but this post is a little off.

There's a middle ground between the wholesale Scandinavian worship (of which I have been guilty) and totally insular American exceptionalism (of which I have also been guilty).

There are many things that are done differently in other parts of the world, to great success, that we could adapt and learn from.

The "lack of diversity" in Scandinavia comes up now and then even on HN, but:

    In 2010, there were 1.33 million foreign-born residents in Sweden, corresponding
    to 14.3% of the total population. Of these, 859 000 (9.2%) were born outside
   the EU and 477 000 (5.1%) were born in another EU Member State.
This does not include second or third generation immigrants, nor minorities with a longer presence.


    The number of immigrants in Norway is approximately 550,000.
    The total "immigrant population", which includes Norwegian-born children
    to immigrant parents, is 655,170, corresponding to 13.1 percent of the
    total population (2011).

In the US our foreign born population is roughly similar about 13% foreign born in 2009. However the percent of foreign born people in the US has historically been very high.

Wikipedia points immigration to Norway has risen very recently because of it's membership in the European Economic Area. It is entirely possible that united states has issues caused by continued high levels of immigration that Scandinavia has not had time to experience.

Since our foreign born populations are similar, adjusting for that shows that when native born Scandinavians and Americans are considered, Scandinavia is much more ethnically/racially homogenous than the United States.

Furthermore Scandinavia doesn't have a recent history of institutionalized oppression of a very sizable racial minority. There is still a generation of people alive here who actually lived under forced segregation, and more generations who were raised by them.

I'm sure if America was composed only of people who's ancestors came here voluntarily, and who weren't kept as second class citizens for decades, we wouldn't have many of the problems we do.

You make an excellent point regarding diversity. Being a brown person in America is not easy (During the roughly 25 + flights I have done this year, I have been asked to do a "random" TSA extended check every single time). However, I can easily put this experience in context to other more homogenous countries I have lived in in other continents. The magnitude of the problem makes it excessively hard to make a realistic solution that works well for tiny populations scale well to the diversity and size that America operates in.

It's always greener on the other side; Denmark is the happiest country in the world (not really); Finland has the best K12 school system in the world (maybe). And so on and so on.

There is a lot to be learnt from other countries, and I am sure it's not always easy to say that there are countries that do things better than the United States, but people tend to make it sound as if it's all rainbows and ponies, as soon as you get off the plane in Northern Europe.

It's not like they don't have their own problems to wrestle with in areas where the United States does better.

Can you give an example of where the United States does better?

He's commenting on a BBC article, don't read too much into it.

Sure, we Norwegians like to blow our own horn and preach peace and tolerance, and can sometimes be shocked when we travel the world and discover how other people think. It won't stop us from preaching socialism and believing that the world can be a better place, though.

Interesting that you make a point about diversity - that was one of the things Breivik was fighting (or multiculturalism, specifically).

It seems like every time I read something new from Schneier I lose a little of the respect he's built up over the years. Are you really going to pretend the threat posed by one self-taught and self-financed guy with no friends is in any way comparable to that of a well-financed international terrorist organization with a shared ideology that has deep cultural and religious ties? Really?

Of course Norway's response is different. Norway isn't the target of a terrorist organization. It had a terrorist incident that's now over. We had something similar in the US with Timothy McVeigh, and our response wasn't any more radical than Norway's.

This makes sense if you're assuming the security legislation comes only from an honest effort to fight terrorism. Whatever else we disagree on, I think we're past that on HN.

Which makes sense if you believe the people trying to grapple with this particular threat have the same set of goals and opinions. I do think the vast majority of people involved in crafting security legislation do so in an honest effort to fight terrorism.

There has been quite a debate in the wake of this, and the our anti-terror institution have admitted that no increase of power and knowledge of their part would likely not have done a big difference. It is apparently extremely difficult to detect people working completely on their own, almost regardless of resources.

Some of the focus in the debate has been more about how to avoid people ending up with value systems (or mental disease) that permit and promote such horrible violence.

Example of what's happening in San Francisco today: Obama is in town, they shut down four city blocks.

Example of when I was last in Bulgaria: Bulgarian president was in town, he danced Horo (traditional Bulgarian dance) with the people and made toasts.

In fairness, by population Bulgaria is closest to Virginia and I'm sure you could find the Governor of Virginia dancing at some state fair at some point.

...yeah, sure. Let's see what you dig up.

Yeah, let's compare the president of the most powerful country with 300M+ people with a president from a country who's total GDP is less than some of our billionaires. Makes a lot of sense.

Can we please stop the USA hating around here?

Can you point me to an American with more than $265.911 billion?

I was going off of this: http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&#...

Where did you get $265.911B?

I confused your parent with another comment just above it comparing Norway and USA, and the GDP figure was for Norway. Sorry about that, too late to edit my original comment now.

Don't be silly. It's not USA hating. It's pointing out the good examples of how to run a country. It's pointing out the role models that the US could try to emulate.

Okay maybe just pick and choose bits to emulate. But comparisons for the purpose of constructive criticism is not equivalent to hate.

Perhaps there's extra security for this particular event for some reason, but it is unusual to shut down four city blocks for an Obama speech.

It's not like they evacuate DC every time the Presidential motorcade drives across town. I know because I've seen Obama wave from the back seat!

There's a history of assassination attempts on US presidents, though. Not sure about the Bulgarian presidents?

Probably more revolutions and wars in Bulgaria

Sobering. I cringe every time I remember that it is likely that someone will propose metal-detectors at movie theaters now.

While I agree with you, there is interesting data about effectiveness of these things coming from Israel:

Back in 2000, Israel had a series of suicide bombing attacks, which resulted (among other things) in a law requiring every mall, restaurant, cafe, theatre, office buildings and many other businesses to have a full time security guard who will check every person coming in with a metal detector.

There were a lot of cries about how useless and what a waste of money that was (as, of course, the cost was shifted to the customers). However, it turned out to be a deterrent in a strange way:

There were several cases of suicide bombing later that year, in which the bomber saw the guard, and decided to go to an unguarded place (most establishments observed this law, but not all). In one case, there was no visible unguarded place, so the bomber blew themselves up in the middle of a busy crosswalk.

I think the bottom line is that these measures did not change the overall outcome, which was just as tragic, but they did manage to shift the locations of the events.

So they spent a lot of money and didn't change the overall outcome? Doesn't sound effective in any way to me.

If your store didn't get bombed you would think it very effective.

It's like IT spending for companies that have nothing to do with technology (think about a paper supplier): You have to do it because everyone else is doing it, and if you're the only one NOT doing it, bad things will happen to you.

But once everyone is doing it, everyone is no better off (earningwise) than where they were before.

You have to keep running to stay in the same place.

Just as a note, the vast majority of schools in the US still don't have metal detectors despite incidents like Columbine. Talk about that sort of security theater, and imposing the costs on the businesses as the government wouldn't pay for it themselves, seems overblown to me. All that would happen is that the targets would shift to other, less protected, sites: malls, shops, restaurants. It would be a neverending security escalation, and an enormous financial drain directly on the businesses (not on the fed or the states) that they would likely lobby, effectively, against.

I understand he wasn't actually armed when he went in. Only when he returned through the emergency exit.

Hopefully people will think ahead far enough to downplay the effectiveness of such security measures.

There's a cinema in Valley Stream, NY with metal detectors after a number of shootings in the 90s. I went there exactly once, it's off-putting enough to make me want to go elsewhere.


Norway is a rather egalitarian country compared to the US and people seems to trust each other more and one theory is that this makes us more vaccinated for populist politics. I have this from the book "The Spirit Level" [1].

Also the political system is based on pluralism so there is a built in conservatism in the system that will cause changes to take time. However, changes will come and this is a big eye-opener for many people.

When the bomb exploded I was sitting on work around 30m away. I remember the day well, it was very quiet because it was in the middle of the summer vacation and we were only 3 people working in the "Web Department" of the central government, which usually have 26 people on work.

I was working on testing the software behind https://go.usa.gov/ which is based on Drupal and I was struggling with it, working late. Short story, I suddenly was on the floor 2m away from my desk and when I looked around I was shocked to see that all my colleagues offices was blown in with papers, desk and computers laying all around. Luckily my office was facing the backside and the blast threw me away from the blown in window and I was fine again after some weeks.

Anyway, one year has past and these are now only memories.

I have visited the State Departement in Washington and seen the security messures in place there. It's really not comperable to Norway in any way, but Norway is living in the same world and I hope we can keep things as open as possible. Maybe in the future I can someday be as trusting again as I were when I was hacking Drupal back on the 22. July 2011.

[1] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spirit_Level:_Why_More_Equa...

This is far too simplistic an analysis. Making new security laws takes time, particularly in a positive-law tradition state like Norway. So it is too early to say what the effects will be. Without a doubt changes are being made to Norway's security apparatus, in fact the securitization of the Norwegian state is much talked about in policy circles here. There is talk of moving from a 'Prestige' set of policies to 'Security' as the guiding principle.

I don't think any state could sit by and do nothing institutionally after such a terrible event. The problem in Norway is that whilst there is a self-congratulatory air about their response to Brevik - "love and democracy", they do not seem to want to engage in substantive debate about the planned changes to their security apparatus. To be honest they trust their government to do the right thing, even if that means extremely illiberal changes to the legal right of the person and the criminal system. Whether that trust is misplaced or not, and remember this is a highly consensual society, the Janteloven that Brevik has revealed will be controlled now via new laws - including new laws on using the Internet and making comments (Brevik was a big user of the internet and left comments on Norwegian websites).

With all due respect to Mr Schneier, I think this comparison is not 100% valid. There is a substantial difference between a terrorist threat from a lone mentally ill person and an organized group with ideology shared by thousands of people.

There is still debate on whether or not he is mentally ill. See day 39 - 40 here, plus closing speeches: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_of_Anders_Behring_Breivik...

I think this debate is in the lawyer land, not in the mental health land.

Well, court-appointed psychiatrists Husby and Sørheim see evidence of paranoid schizophrenia, and court-appointed psychiatrists Aspaas and Tørrissen say that he is not clinically insane.

> an organized group with ideology shared by thousands of people.

<deadpan> This is not about Republicans. </sarcasm>

Hint: they didn't attack a random [oil-rich] country, nor did they subject their citizen to naked or carcinogenic scanners, which at the time didn't seem like a patriotic thing to do by American standards.

I am Swedish, and Sweden is pretty close to Norway. We share culture, history and traditions. Many of my friends are Norwegians, and I've been there too.

If the killer was not white and "Norwegian" (as we think a true norwegian should be), but rather a muslim extremist from Saudi Arabia, would they react the same way?

Here in Scandinavia (and maybe everywhere) racism may seem alien but is never far away. I am sure, and saddened by the fact, that we would have reacted with hate and fear if the killer was not white, Norwegian and christian.

> pledged to do everything to ensure the country's core values were not undermined.

Is this not a little dangerous surely if we take this over to USA where gun ownership is part of their core values?

Not really.

Thanks for the insight!

Compared to the Oklahoma bombing and the recent theater shooting, Norway probably didn't act all that different, but from reading the source, this is one of the comments that captured the essence of why/how Norway stands out:

"[]...What we Norwegians are afraid of is actually the situation you have in the US and UK either with Police or prosecutors with way too much power or CCTV cameras everywhere etc. We have been a peaceful society based on trust to each other for a long time, and intend to let that continue. I can only quote FDR: "The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself". Stoltenberg actually had to come with that statement. As doing the "US style fixit" would have backfired on him politically. Popular demand is different here, and that is the true power of Norway."

Terrorists want people not to continue their way of life. This is their main objective. They want people to live in fear. By voluntarily creating fear about terrorism, we make the terrorists goal easier.

I think there are two reasons why the comparison of Norway's reaction to America's reaction is not completely valid. The first is the population difference (mentioned a lot already). The second is the timeframe. Norway had the benefit of a decade of reflection on the American response to 9/11. It has been fairly obvious that the international community believes the US overreacted.

Not really a proper comparison though, is it? The Norwegian massacres have more in common with the attack at the Batman Screening in Denver than they do with Al Qaeda/WTC etc

A certain segment of Norwegians reacted to terrorism by being enthusiastically for it. These included the leaders of the Labour Party, including the leaders at the Labour Party's Utoya youth camp.

http://zalmi.blogspot.com/2011/07/utoya-not-so-innocent-yout... http://www.debbieschlussel.com/40472/karma-2-norway-utoya-ca...

This is a factor that seems to go unmentioned in all discussions of the Utoya massacre, but is necessary knowledge to understand the event in its entirety. It adds detail to Breivik's motive, and it raises the question of why there has been no condemnation of the Labour Party's support for similar massacres elsewhere being conducted on racial and religious lines so long as they happen far away and are done by a faction that the Party approves of.

This is beside the point that Schneier makes, so I apologise for going off topic. To that point, the US overreacted (an understatement) and Norway faced little threat of further attacks. Norway did consider fudging its laws to give Breivik a life term as a mental inmate rather than the statutory limit of years as a prisoner, and that can be questioned as an expansion of security. More generally, no one in Norway could argue a need for greatly expanded security since the threat ended with Breivik's capture.

I apologize for continuing off-topic, but the links you provide only seem to indicate that the left-wing youth of Norway are supporting Palestine. This is not an uncommon opinion; in fact, being Swedish, I can't recall that I've ever met anyone who supports Israel in their occupation.

The links you provide equates this to antisemitism, which is very strange to me. Who was it, you mean, who were being "enthusiastically for" terrorism?

So - by supporting the fact that Israel is illegally occupying Palestine, I'm supporting terrorists? You can support someones cause but not necessarily means. There is a huge difference, and by even suggesting that they support terrorism you are stepping way out of line.

Maybe I fail to understand this, but we are comparing a country(USA) who (for whatever reason) is specifically targeted by terrorists on a whole different level than Norway.

We are comparing an apple to a boiled egg : putting them in a microwave & trying to commend apple for not exploding !

Forget legislative or leadership moronism at times, but blasting US for reacting in a way for something no other country has ever faced seems too harsh.

"something no other country has ever faced"? For God's sake, catch up on world news or at least spare yourself embarrassment by not making such witless pronouncements.

If he's talking about the scale of a single incident then he is correct.

The death toll from the 9/11 attacks far exceeded any other single terrorist attack.

For a moment there one might have been thinking he meant atrocious actions with high death tolls against a civilian population, in which case the OP is definitely failing to understand it with his "for something no other country has ever faced", and the "spare yourself embarrassment by not making such witless pronouncements" is spot on.

Terrorism can be brought on by a state as well as by non state actors. Wikipedia defines terrorism as "the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion." Conscription during any of the major U.S. wars in the 20th century fits this definition nicely. Many more people died from these than on 911.

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