The horrific events in Norway were shocking, not simply for the heinous nature of the killings, but also for their location and perpetrator.
We are used to bombings and killings in the Middle East, Kashmir, the Caucasus, North Africa. But Norway? Perhaps as an American of Norwegian heritage, I am particular susceptible to this feeling of shock. Peaceful, tranquil, democratic Norway as the scene of a mass-murder spree and bombing? Unthinkable.
And what of the perpetrator? We expect the architect of such evil to be “The Other”, someone who doesn’t look like we do. We trust that; it allows us the fantasy that we can identify the bad people simply by looking at them.
But Anders Behring Breivik looks so…well…Norwegian. He looks like half the people I see on a regular basis in Minnesota.
It serves as a chilling–yet important–reminder that the face of Evil is not always foreign or unfamiliar. Its face may well be our own.