Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Social democratic totalitarianism

The latest school shooting in the USA is just another link in the long chain of episodes that the left is ruthlessly exploiting for its own pernicious politically purposes. The message that the left is trying to sell is that anyone who support liberal gun laws or who wants to see the second amendment of the US constitution upheld are somehow morally accountable for the killing of 27 innocent individuals, mostly children, in Newtown, Connecticut.This is of course an absurd allegation to make. It’s also a very distasteful one at that, but that doesn’t deter the left who is trying to convince us that anybody who opposes stricter gun legislation is evil and should be ashamed of themselves.

This moral outrage isn’t exclusively limited to supporters of liberal gun legislation. It is also applied to anyone who dares to oppose the many other selected pet causes of the left such as gay marriage, Islam and multiculturalism. If someone dares to express even the slightest doubt about the wisdom of allowing gays to marry then they are automatically branded as homophobic. The same applies to those who express concern about multiculturalism. They are also quickly labelled, in those instances as despicable racists, bigots and so forth. The reason they have all these vile epithets hurled at them is because the left are suffering from a political tantrum syndrome which they feel give them the moral right to demonize people that don’t agree with them.  It’s an infantile reaction coming from people that in many cases are still stuck mentally in the kindergarten sandbox.

We have now reached an era where ad hominem tactics are being used as a deliberate political strategy to silence political opponents. It has become so bad that espousing conservative political views is now considered to be the new taboo. Character assassination has been turned into a debating technique which aim is to pull into question the morality of any purveyor of views that haven’t been sanctioned by the left. This constant pressure to embrace and adopt certain views through the extensive use of intimidation has delivered a decisive blow to traditional western values and it has been a very effective tool in the psychological neutering process of the western male.

Needless to say it is therefore imperative to identify the tactics employed by the left and to have the necessary knowhow to deflect these tactics and throw them back in their faces. The best way is of course still the traditional way which is to methodically debunk their arguments by picking them apart one by one which is not that difficult to do as most of their ‘enlightened’ opinions are ideological drivel without any basis in reality. Counter arguments that are based on factual information cannot be refuted and when they are interspersed with a dose of good old dry sarcasm they tend to have a very powerful effect.

Thomas Hylland Eriksen is a typical Norwegian academic who has for the last couple of decades worked tirelessly to make sure that Norway doesn’t miss out on the ‘multiethnic dream’. He holds a high position within the tiny narrow-minded academic milieu in Norway and he is by many considered to be an important mentor for the left. Despite his slightly pompous and overbearing personality he was clearly shaken when an Iranian immigrant recently accused him in an newspaper op-ed of having ideologically provided ABB with enough ‘mental ammunition’ to commit the atrocities in Norway on July 22, 2011 by making the following statement:

‘Now it’s important to deconstruct the majority and do it so thoroughly so that it can never be referred to as a majority again’.

Following this verbal ‘broadside’ which the left leaning academia in Norway where up in arms about, Mr Eriksen petulantly stated that he didn’t feel like continuing with his research. Maybe it was uncalled for but one should keep in mind that Thomas Hylland Eriksen himself had no qualms about making similar accusations against people who were just as innocent as him in the time after the attacks.

What it all boils down to is that an offensive approach will always be the best form of defence. One should never give the left an inch when engaging them in debates; never give them a reason to believe that they have the upper hand mentally or ideologically. Nor should one feel guilty about having an independent and controversial opinion. So what if the people on the left don’t like it, is it their responsibility to determine what constitute correct political speech?

In my opinion no one has been more successful in exposing and countering the dirty tactics of the left than former leader of the progress party (FrP) in Norway, Carl I Hagen. He never held back and he always spoke his mind. He had an almost uncanny ability to make those TV journalists who clearly despised him and who constantly questioned him for his controversial political views look like ignorant and ill prepared little school children. I personally believe that Carl I Hagen and the FrP are one of the reasons why the intellectual climate in Norway today is so different to that of Sweden where it is unthinkable to publicly oppose or criticize multiculturalism. It is important to realize that the only way to topple political correctness and hopefully reign in the out of control horse which is multiculturalism, is to reject its unwritten rules, and that means not being afraid of speaking one’s mind whether the subject is gun control, gay marriages, Islam or multiculturalism.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Maybe it’s time to get up off the couch?

Also published at Gates of Vienna

It’s not really worth writing too much about yesterday’s anti-Islamic rally in Oslo organized by the NDL and SIOE. As predicted, the event only attracted around 40-50 individuals, most of them members of the two organizations. The rally could just as easily have been held at the headquarters of the NDL as a “members only” event.

Rune Hauge, the leader of the NDL, was correct when he stated in an interview earlier this year that Norwegians who are critical of Islam need to get up off the couch and become more actively involved in the fight against this evil ideology. It’s no good limiting oneself to writing indignant post and comments on the Internet. Sure, writing on the web has an impact, but at some point people need to get off their bums and actually start doing some constructive organizational work and make their voices heard, and demonstrating in a public area is a good start.

If ten thousand people had showed up at the event in Oslo on Saturday, and at similar events across the country in the future, the authorities and the MSM wouldn’t be able to simply brush them off any longer as ‘radical loons’ without public support. I’m pretty confident that there are hundreds of thousands of Norwegians who share the concerns of the NDL and SIOE, but they are reluctant to demonstrate and take part in these types of rallies. The threat of violence will always hang over such events as an invisible glove, and, yes, it could have negative repercussions for some people’s careers, but that’s just the way it is.

How do people expect to stop the spread of Islam in Norway in the future if they’re not even willing to stand up to this undemocratic ideology today? Norwegian politicians are most definitely not going to stop it; they are the ones who got us in this mess in the first place by opening the doors for it. Unfortunately, the responsibility for halting the tidal wave of Islam falls upon the people who oppose it. It is as simple as that, and subsequently those people who at a great personal cost are willing to stand up as an example for others to follow should be commended and praised. They certainly shouldn’t be ridiculed and mocked, especially not by other Norwegians who are equally critical of this ideology, but who limit themselves in venting their frustration about Islam online.

I had a look at yesterday and I was saddened to see the editor of the website, Hans Rustad, belittling and lecturing those who dare to stick their necks out and stand up for something they believe in. These are principles that should be applauded, not derided. It is especially sad because is one of the biggest Islam-critical websites in Norway, and people listen to Hans Rustad.

I’ve translated some of Rustad’s poisonous remarks below:

"When reading and watching NRK’s reports on the Norwegian Defense League and Stop The Islamisation of Europe, one is almost overcome by a claustrophobic anxiety. It is difficult to distinguish between NRK’s political grip and the activists’ simplicity. It takes two to tango."

"But the activists are playing the cards that they have been dealt as effectively as possible. To demonstrate in a public area, and one where there is a large immigrant population, is a hopeless undertaking. In theory, NDL leader Rune Hauge’s idea to show that Grønland is also part of Norway has some validity. But one cannot ignore the consequences: that it is going to provoke the residents of the area and that opposing forces will mobilize. And among those opposing forces are people who feel that they have every right to resort to violence."

"If the activists are serious about their commitment then they have to listen to the wishes of the people. People don’t accept confrontations provided that there is a specific issue that is of such importance that one simply can’t keep quiet about it. The fact that people failed to support them on Saturday in Grønland does not mean people don’t take these issues seriously. You don’t get people involved by scaring them away."

I would venture that Islam definitely qualifies as a ‘specific issue’ that has to be opposed in the most rigorous manner even if that includes the likelihood of getting physically attacked, because rest assured the rise of Islam in Norway will eventually result in violence and brutality, and it will be directed at those who are too cowardly to oppose it today, and their offspring. There’s no need to try to sugar-coat the inevitable.

Perhaps it would be a better idea, if and Hans Rustad are so concerned about the NDL/SIOE’s lack of oral skills and inadequacies in presenting views on national TV, to encourage people with those skills to join these organizations and not drive people away from them.

On previous occasions Hans Rustad has condescendingly described members of the EDL as unemployed hooligan thugs who are only interested in fighting and drinking. Is that also how he sees the people of the NDL and SIOE?

Are they not educated enough for him?

It would be even better if Rustad and the milieu around started organizing similar rallies across Oslo — and the rest of the country for that matter — on their own terms of course, and began getting the masses more involved in this fight. It’s no good criticising and belittling those who actually have taken the leap and who are willing to give it a go. Demonizing and ridiculing those who have the guts to stand up to Islam only proves that one is a useful idiot for the radical Left, who must be rubbing their hands in joy when they see the biggest Islam-critical website in Norway fronting their views in this particular matter.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sven Egil Omdal: The Norwegian media’s answer to Inspector Clouseau

Also published at Gates of Vienna

It is amazing to contemplate the viciousness and pure evil that the intellectual elites in Norway are capable of exhibiting whenever someone dares to step out of line and break the unwritten rules.

Even now, a year and a half after the worst terrorist attacks in Norwegian history, they still haven’t come to terms with the fact that the person who carried out the atrocities and carries the sole responsibility for it is locked up in a nice cosy Norwegian prison cell. That the terrorist has been tried and convicted is to them completely irrelevant; they still want Fjordman’s head on a platter, regardless of the fact the he is innocent and had absolutely nothing to with the terrorist attacks.

The righteous ones are determined to keep at it until they succeed, and they are not showing any signs of slowing down. The vicious attacks have been unrelenting and the latest nasty hit piece which is just one of several dozens is penned by Sven Egil Omdal who is a journalist working for Stavanger Aftenblad. Yesterday Omdal wrote a particularly nasty one that is so thoroughly vile and filled with false accusations and hatred that it is even horrid by Norwegian standards — and that says a lot.

Omdal is virtually unknown outside of Norway, and that is probably one of the reasons that prompted him to carry out a virtual character assassination of Fjordman. Unlike Fjordman, who has managed to achieve international fame and recognition in a relative short period of time, Omdal has never managed to escape the tiny journalistic fishbowl which is the Norwegian media and make a name for himself abroad. Given Omdal’s huge ego, this must have been very hard for him to accept.

So let’s take a closer look at the journalist Sven Egil Omdal, the man who is working so hard to smear Fjordman and link him to the worst terrorist attacks on Norwegian soil in modern times…

For those who don’t know, Sven Egil Omdal is the Norwegian media’s answer to Inspector Clouseau. He’s a pompous little so-and-so who sees himself as the Sherlock Holmes of the journalistic world and believes that everything that comes out of his mouth is pure unadulterated nuggets of wisdom. And, like most people with a super-inflated ego, he doesn’t like to be corrected or criticized, so it must have been unbearable for him when Fjordman exposed him as the self-important impostor that he really is, in an article at FrontPage Mag a couple of months ago. In fact, I’m confident that that particular article is the main reason for Omdal’s latest hit piece. For Svein Egil Omdal, it’s payback time, and it’s personal.

Omdal’s self-image must have taken a big hit when Fjordman exposed him as an intellectual lightweight on an international news site written in English for the entire world to see. It must have hurt pretty badly, because Omdal practically broke every single rules of the Norwegian media code of ethics when he wrote the nasty article about Fjordman — which is hard to believe, considering that Omdal was actually tasked with overseeing and enforcing these ethics only a few years ago. The recent release of a new book on the European extreme right which included a chapter about Fjordman was all that Omdal needed to get his revenge, and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

Given Omdal’s overbearing animosity towards Fjordman, this may sound strange, but I suspect that Omdal secretly wishes that he was the Norwegian Left’s version of Fjordman, and that he was able to gain the recognition that comes with such a status.

I believe that Omdal dreams about being asked to write witty guest-essays for Huffington Post and receiving invitations to appear on the John Stewart Show and bask in his own self importance. But, unfortunately for Omdal, he simply hasn’t got the talent and is thus limited to writing for a regional newspaper with a very limited readership based in a tiny little Norwegian provincial city. Most of the locals who read his pretentious op-eds and editorial — which I’m sure he has spent many a night fine polishing until they are exactly right — simply think he’s a sorry nobody with an inflated ego. I haven’t encountered a single op-ed written by him for Aftenbladet where at least half of the comments haven’t been scornful, derisive and of a mocking nature. I actually posted a lengthy sarcastic comment on a piece where he sulked over the Osama assassination. My comment was initially published, but when I logged on the following day all comments had been removed. I suppose Svein Egil didn’t like the feedback he was receiving.

Another one of Omdal’s problems, and this is a major one, is that he honestly believes that he is morally superior and smarter than the people around him. Maybe that’s why he decided to write an op-ed in Aftenbladet in 2007 in which he suggested that the Norwegian authorities might want to look more closely into who was behind the 9/11 attacks in NYC. As Omdal so shrewdly concluded at the end of his op-ed: what if Bush was behind the attacks and not Osama bin Laden?

I wouldn’t be surprised if Omdal secretly believes that 9/11 was an inside job. He became very upset when US Navy Seals eliminated Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011. This prompted Omdal to write an editorial in which he accused the US of engaging in criminal activities by not bringing the ‘virtuous’ Bin Laden back to the US to stand trial. Omdal’s message to the US was that even a man like bin Laden has human rights.

And that’s the way the brain of Sven Egil Omdal — the Norwegian media’s answer to Inspector Clouseau — works. In his world anything that can be construed as support for the right to defend oneself becomes ‘incitement to violence’. The repatriation of Muslims who are unwilling to embrace Western values becomes ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘holocaust’ all rolled into to one. Strangely enough, Omdal labels those Norwegians who are being displaced and ethnically cleansed by non-Western immigrants from certain urban neighbourhoods and dare to say so as ‘racists’ and ‘fascists’, but at the same time he praises those that are responsible for this displacement, which of course is Inspector Clouseau logic — or Sven Egil Omdal logic, if you prefer.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Vidar Enebakk, science historian or modern-day Torquemada?

Also published on Gates of Vienna
Following the tragic events of July 22 last year, many conservatives in Norway have been subjected to a Norwegian version of the Spanish inquisition in which prominent public figures from the political and cultural establishments have been allowed to pontificate and condemn those that they perceive to be in cahoots with the mentally deranged terrorist Anders Behring Breivik.

The inquisition has been a long, dirty drawn-out public affair on which accusations have been made with a fiendish fervour. For those on the receiving end, it must have be an absolute nightmare, especially when considering the viciousness and poorly disguised hatred that seem to fuel some of the accusers. These modern-day inquisitors have many names, and there are probably many reasons why they have decided to take on the role of judge, jury and executioner, but in this article I will only focus on one of these agents of orthodoxy, as ultimately they are really one and the same and speaking with a collective voice. Their arguments and accusations all seem to have been taken from the same poorly written manuscript.

Vidar Enebakk is one of these inquisitors. He is a 41-year-old science historian who has worked tirelessly trying to convince a traumatized nation that the essayist and author Fjordman shares a moral responsibility for the murders of 77 innocent people carried out in Oslo and on Utøya on July 22, 2011. One would expect that Enebakk — who has been trying to implicate Fjordman in these grizzly deeds for sixteen months now by writing a staggering 144 lengthy comments on a major Norwegian online discussion forum and co-authoring a book in which he puts the moral blame on Fjordman for the worst-ever terror attacks on Norwegian soil — would have solid evidence to back up his pernicious allegations, and in particular given that we know Enebakk himself is a scientist. But unfortunately for Enebakk, his accusations are just empty shells.

The problem with Enebakk’s personal crusade against Fjordman is that the evidence he uses simply doesn’t support his allegations. What Enebakk is doing, and I am going to use a Norwegian phrase here, is trying to make soup out of carpentry nails. Enebakk and all the other Norwegian and international inquisitors are acutely aware that Fjordman was acquitted of any wrongdoing by the Norwegian courts and the Norwegian police pretty much from the get-go. Enebakk realizes that he therefore can’t accuse Fjordman of being an actual accomplice in the attacks, but he has solved this tricky conundrum by instead accusing Fjordman of being morally responsible for the attacks. It’s a way for him and others to circumvent and ignore the fact that Fjordman had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks or the terrorist, and still enable him and others to keep attacking Fjordman without having to prove any tangible connections between the two. Enebakk and his allies want to convict Fjordman without having to worry about such pesky things as due process and proper evidence.

There is of course no such term as moral guilt in modern jurisprudence. In a court of law a defendant is either guilty or not guilty, meaning that the law cannot allow that a person be acquitted in a criminal court case because of lack of evidence, and then receive a conviction of moral responsibility for the same crime.

If someone is acquitted in a court of law of, say, rape, then that person can legally sue anyone who in the lead-up to and after the court case has publicly stated that the accused is a rapist. That is law at its most basic level, and it should be pretty straightforward. Unfortunately, however, this message seems to have eluded Enebakk and his cohorts, as this is exactly the type of activities that they are engaging in.

I’m surprised that a scientist like Enebakk doesn’t seem capable of grasping this simple fact, but maybe deep-down he does. Enebakk should be aware that he could easily be sued for defamation and slander based on the hundreds of incriminating and highly offensive statements he has published about Fjordman — and that goes for everyone else that has slandered Fjordman online and in the press.

So we have established that there is no such thing as moral guilt in modern law, although I’m sure it’s a term that Stalin would have appreciated very much. I’m also convinced that Vidar Enebakk would have had a brilliant career in the Soviet legal system if he had been around at the time. The logical fallacy of Enebakk’s philosophy is that a person cannot be innocent and guilty at the same time. But I can see that this is a possibility in Enebakk’s own universe; he seems to operate with a completely different set of rules than the rest of us.

Vidar Enebakk is like a rabid dog chasing a bone. He just will not stop or slow down. He’s running on autopilot. He has his victim locked in his sights, and he can smell blood.

Furthermore, I maintain that Enebakk is a nasty character. How else would one describe a person who has no moral qualms about accusing an innocent individual of being complicit in the most heinous criminal act committed in Norway in modern history? What type of person would claim that: “Hey, I’m not saying that you participated in the crime; I’m merely saying that in moral terms you are guilty of killing 77 young people who were butchered in the most horrific manner possible on an island that they had no opportunity of escaping from — but no hard feelings, eh?”

To claim that someone who has been proven by the courts to be innocent, who hasn’t done anything to aid and abet the perpetrator in the initial planning stage nor on the actual day of the attack, was somehow with the deranged perpetrator in spirit when the perpetrator fired his bullets into the heads and hearts of his young victims and watched them die by the dozens on the shoreline of Utøya, is absolutely disgusting and sickening. I cannot understand how such a person can bear to look at himself in the mirror. Only a truly twisted and vicious person would accuse someone else of such a horrible thing.

In his defence I would have to say that I don’t believe that Enebakk has thoroughly grasped the gruesome logic of his accusations. But if I’m incorrect in my assumption, and he actually does know what he’s doing, then there is definitely something wrong inside his head. Has Enebakk ever thought about how it affects a person to be accused of having contributed to the taking of 77 lives? Most people would go to great lengths just to clear their name for some minor infraction such as shoplifting if they felt that they had been wrongfully accused. How does Enebakk think it feels like to be accused of killing 77 innocent people? What does he think it feels like for Fjordman’s family and close friends? Has Enebakk no mental boundaries whatsoever? Is he so mentally corrupt that he doesn’t have a single decent bone left in his body?

Let’s take a look at the arguments that Enebakk seem to think are so rock-solid that there can be absolutely no doubt about Fjordman’s moral guilt. Let’s examine the logic behind his accusations. Is it possible to discern the sharp logic behind the thought process that prompted the scientist to reach the conclusion that Fjordman is actively encouraging people to commit violence?

Enebakk’s main justifications for incriminating Fjordman are as follows:

“Both Fjordman and Breivik directly advocate arming the populations — Breivik by including the last of this quote by Fjordman in his compendium (Chapter 2.58):

“In Praise of the First and Second Amendments” (The Brussels Journal 20. July 2006):

“If their governments are no longer capable of protecting them and their freedom of speech, Europeans may have to arm themselves to do this on their own.”

“Civil War in Sweden?” (Gates of Vienna 2. July 2008):

“In general, if you live in any Western European country, you should arm yourself very soon, one way or the other.”

“Will Holland Survive the 21st Century” (Gates of Vienna 9. September 2009):

“My advice to Westerners in general is to arm themselves immediately, first of all mentally with knowledge of the enemy and pride in their own culture and heritage, but also physically with guns and the skills to use them.”

"It isn’t Fjordman’s criticism of Islam that is the problem, but rather his repeated calls for arming the population and to use violence. The problem is not that he is against Islam or favors deportation, but his rejection of our democratic system and the support of violence against political leaders."

As we can see from the above quotes, Enebakk bases his arguments on Fjordman’s defence of the Second Amendment of the American Constitution, which is an absolutely remarkable display of logic. I am also a supporter of the Second Amendment; does that mean that I’m also responsible for the Utøya massacre? It’s amazing that a scientist can justify his arguments on such preposterous and highly illogical basis.

Maintaining that people have a right to defend themselves doesn’t mean supporting the idea that people have the right to indiscriminately start killing innocent humans on a tiny Norwegian island. Being positive towards a principle doesn’t mean that one is an accomplice to a crime if someone decides to carry out a criminal act and then justify this act with a reference to said principle.

Suggesting that people should arm themselves in order to protect themselves if civil unrest breaks out isn’t advocating or condoning violence; it is common sense. It’s also an argument which is espoused by nations and armies all over the world. No one would in their right mind claim that supporting the idea of having a national army is the same as being a supporter of war — unless, of course, you’re using the same logic as Enebakk.

If Enebakk believes that Islamophobia is a despicable act, is he then ideologically responsibility for the murders of Islamophobes in the Muslim world?

Or what about vocal opponents of high taxes — are they guilty of ideologically influencing tax evaders?

Or what about pro-gun Americans, do they share moral responsibility for every single gun crime committed in America, solely on the basis of their opinions?

Enebakk has also stated that he believes that Fjordman is morally guilty because Breivik republished 45 of Fjordman’s essays in his manifesto:

Then I would suggest that in addition to Fjordman’s 45 republished essays in Breivik’s manifesto, that you take a look at page 1405 one more time. Here it is stated explicitly that Fjordman is Breivik’s favorite writer and that, according to Breivik, they both share the same view of the world, but that Breivik alone takes the leap from attitudes to actions: “Our views are quite similar with the exception that I’m an actual armed resistance fighter.”

Breivik’s mother pointed out the same thing in police interrogations: “Fjordman was number one for Anders.”

How do you then justify your claim that Fjordman simply hasn’t inspired Breivik? Who else in the manifest do you think inspired Breivik if Fjordman is as innocent as you suggest?

It’s amazing to see a scientist who so readily uses guilt by association in an attempt to booster his own arguments. What Enebakk is doing is implicating and accusing Fjordman based on something that Breivik has done and which Fjordman had no knowledge of. The “reasoning” behind such remarkable logic is equivalent of a modern day Kafkaesque process in which the defendant has no possible way of clearing his name, as all the normal principles of defence have been taken away from him.

Enebakk places a big responsibility on ytringsansvar, ‘decorum’, and accuses others of ideologically contributing to crimes by the mere utterance of words that have no relations to the crime, but then again Enebakk is also oblivious to the fact that if we apply his twisted logic, his own words also have consequences.

How would Enebakk feel if any harm ever came to Fjordman as a result of his personal crusade against him? Would he be willing to admit any guilt?

Many of the inquisitors in Norway have also made a big point about the terms “quisling” and “traitor” being used by Fjordman and others in the Counterjihad community to describe those responsible for the disastrous mess that the West is currently in. Many of them are so outraged by this that they jump to the conclusion that the traitors in question would be dealt with in the same swift manner that Breivik used when he killed all those youths on Utøya. But what they fail to realize is that Quisling and all the other traitors in Norway were tried in a court of law, and that they had their sentences meted out only after lawful convictions were reached. The same thing is true with the Nuremberg trials.

A nation is certainly entitles to rid itself of its traitors and tyrants. It’s considered a noble goal throughout the world, and it is something that Norway has recently helped Libya, Afghanistan and Egypt to achieve.

Are Norwegian authorities therefore morally responsible for the massacres in Norway? Well according to Enebakk’s brilliant logic, they are.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

When criticism of Islam becomes Islamophobia

Sometime during the last decade the term Islamophobia managed to sneak its way into mainstream political discourse and since then it has become a highly effective instrument in restricting free speech on matters such as Islam and multiculturalism. It is a tailor-made word designed to inflict maximum emotional impact on a mostly leftwing academia and to help further the cause of the Islamists whose ultimate goal is to subjugate the western world with their undemocratic political system. It is important to keep in mind that the term Islamophobia is an oxymoron whose main purpose is to attain preferential treatment and concessions from those in charge. The term can be invoked in any situation where devout Muslims have a grievance and wish to get the upper hand, and in many cases the mere utterance of the pernicious word is enough to sway the outcome of a dispute, whether it is a perceived one or real one.  The term has supplanted the more archaic and well used word racism which in the last couple of decades has lost much of its emotional clout and ability to suppress criticism due to excessive usage.

The vast majority of western liberal intellectuals these days seem to equate islamophobia with intense hatred of Muslims as individuals who for the most part happens to be non Caucasians and hence worthy of their pity. It would have been a noble gesture if this was true, but unfortunately for them it’s not. What they incorrectly see as hatred towards individuals and which they so easily label islamophobia, is in fact a very rational fear of Islam as a political system whose ultimate goal, according to the Muslims’ own holy book the Koran, is to establish a worldwide Caliphate governed by Islamic principles and Islamic law i.e. to overthrow secular western democracies and to force barbaric Islamic rule upon the indigenous populations.  

The reason why we are faced with this problem is a direct result of the failure of those in power to see Islam in a truthful light. They have failed to recognize that Islam is much more than a religion. In our part of the world religion is seen as a spiritual and very personal relationship between the practitioner and God. This isn’t the case in Islam where faith and devotion is a public matter that involves everybody in society. Everything is built around Islam and a political and judicial system with strict codes of conduct and often barbaric punishment methods are employed. Islam is a governing system whose purpose is to completely control every facet of life, no matter how minor and insignificant. Its ultimate goal as prescribed by Mohammad himself is for Islam to spread to all corners of the world by any means necessary, including brute force.

One could say that the main issue with Islam, and the reason why so many people all over the world resist it is so vehemently is that it demands  that non-Muslims who want nothing to do with it are forced to conform or suffer the consequences, which in many cases means death or a life in serfdom.  Surely this knowledge begs for some important philosophical questions to be asked such as, should political ideologies enjoy special privileges, and if so why?  Is it reasonable that a political ideology should be exempt from criticism and ridicule considering that western politics is all about ridiculing and insulting opposing political parties and candidates?

What people need to realize is that today’s criticism of Islam is first and foremost political based as it focuses solely on the violent actions which are often supported and embraced by Islamic doctrines. Very few people criticize Islam for its spiritual aspects, such as praying five times a day, fasting, believing in Allah and believing that Mohammad is his messenger. The criticism focuses solely on the undemocratic nature of the religion/political system and the fact that so many of its adherents are unwilling to respect other religions, cultural practises and political beliefs. This is what it all boils down to. Unfortunately western liberals fail to grasp this or decide to deliberately ignore this. The criticism is merely opposition to a political ideology that is hostile to traditional western values, nothing more and nothing less.

It is also a paradox that the most devoted supporters of Islam in western academia have never actually bothered to read the Koran or the sunnah. Yet they claim to know more about Islam than those who have studied the religion in great detail. Consequently they fail to see the obvious which should be right in front of their eyes, namely that Islamic doctrines espouse views that are far worse than anything they accuse the so-called islamophobes of. Modern western liberals are stuck in a rut which they seem quite content to be trapped in. Many of them display the very same characteristics that were so prevalent among the academics involved in the nurture vs. nature debate that was raging in Norway a couple of years ago where the sociologists interviewed maintained that pretty much everything in life is determined by environmental factors and completely chose to ignore the genetic aspect of the question.

It seems incredulous that anyone can assess Islam as a religion without acknowledging or taking into account its violent doctrines. How is it possibly to understand the underlying factors that motivate a devout Muslim if one doesn’t understand the religious principles that formed him? One could actually refer to the Koran as the genetic component of Islam. Remove it from the equation all together and one will be unable to come up with any meaningful answers or any valuable explanations as to Islam’s true nature. Which brings us to the heart of the matter. Why should anyone feel compelled to embrace and tolerate a political system that is hostile towards those that fail to show it sufficient respect? Another question is of course whether political ideologies really need constitutional protection? Yes, certain political principles should be enshrined in a constitution, but political agendas or ideologies should not. On the contrary ideologies should always be challenged and questioned. 

It is important that people understand that Islam also applies to them as non Muslims. It’s not just practising Muslims that are made to suffer under Islamic rule, every non Muslim will, according to the Koran be treated as a second class citizen and in worst case scenario be killed and these are principles that are practised today in many areas of the Islamic world. The obvious question that everybody should ask themselves is why we should be forced to respect a system that wants to seriously punish those that fail to respect it. It is highly unlikely that anyone would support a law that would legally compel them to respect a political party and ban them from ridiculing it. Islam is unfortunately such an ideology and it has already been given preferential status in many western nations. It’s imperative that people understand this, and in order to do so it is essential to study the Islamic doctrines and get a proper overall picture of Islam as a religion, political and judicial system, and not to be afraid of what one might discover.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

The right to bear arms is a no-brainer

I’ve been meaning to write about the right to bear arms for a while now. The issue of weapon legislation has received renewed media attention in Norway following the terrorist attacks in 2011, where the terrorist Anders Behring Breivik gunned down 69 innocent people in cold blood on the island of Utøya. Many people in Norway claim that this terrorist attack is the best argument for further restricting private gun ownership; I would say that this unfortunate incident is the best argument for allowing law abiding citizens to bear arms and to legally be able to use them to defend themselves. There is no denying that Anders Behring Breivik could have been eliminated with relative ease if any of the victims on the island that terrible day had been armed. But even if we for arguments sake accept that Utøya is a valid argument for further restricting private gun ownership, then it should also be accepted that there are thousands of other episodes from Norway that strongly suggest that the right to bear arms is the only logical way to go. Unfortunately in Norway and in many other countries in Europe the subject of private gun ownership has taken on ideological overtones where people who express pro-gun views are branded as morally corrupt and evil.

One thing that I find rather perplexing is the amount of people that seem to equate Americans' constitutional right to bear arms with the right to literally shoot others at will. This is of course ludicrous and it couldn’t be further from the truth. This very typical European way of looking at the issue is misguided and very simplistic and on the border of being downright naive. The right to bear arms is more about the right to defend rather than the right to cause harm. To get a better understanding of the rationale behind the right to bear arms we need to take a look at the issue from a slightly different angle and by doing so it should become evident that this right makes perfect sense.

I maintain that every law abiding human being on this earth have an inalienable right to not be physically harmed by others. This means that no individual have the moral right to indiscriminately or premeditatedly attack or in any other way inflict pain upon an innocent person, and by innocent I mean someone that hasn’t physically hurt others or violated criminal laws that are based on sound democratic doctrines. This is also a principle that is steeped in traditional western philosophy and which is deeply rooted in our psyche. Now, if we accept this assertion then we also have to accept that a person being physically attacked have a legitimate and moral right to defend himself against the aggressor or aggressors.  To arrive at any other conclusion would be logical fallacy as one cannot possibly agree with one and not the other. To dismiss this logical train of thought would be the equivalent of claiming that the earth is both round and flat at the same time, which of course doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

So if we agree that no one has the moral right to physically harm innocent individuals then we also have to concede that innocent individuals have a moral right to resist and fight back when attacked. And if we maintain that people have a moral right to defend themselves then that would invariably mean that we have to make sure that they have the means and possibilities to exercise this right, if not the principle of right to self defence becomes nothing but a hollow shell without any substance. It is therefore difficult to understand the strong moral aversion that some display when debating whether law-abiding citizens should have the right to defend themselves with weapons against intruders or assailants attacking them for no apparent reason. I am also amazed that opponents of the right to bear arms find the use of force as a method to prevent an innocent person from becoming a victim of a crime so utterly reprehensible. Does this strong aversion imply that they believe it to be morally preferable to see an innocent victim harmed rather than to have a violent perpetrator neutralized?

Another question worth asking is why is it morally justifiable for a police officer to use force in such a scenario and inexcusable for a private individual? Surely the action of both the police officer and the ordinary citizen will have the same outcome. A bullet from a police officer’s gun will cause the exact same amount of damage as the bullet fired from the gun of an ordinary citizen, and considering that both incidents would have to be reviewed by a judicial panel to determine whether a wrongful death had occurred or not and that appropriate judicial steps would have to be taken to punish the perpetrator if this was the case there simply isn’t any difference at all between these two hypothetical scenarios. Shouldn’t the main focus be on the wellbeing of the potential victim in such circumstances, because surely it’s the criminal who is committing a crime and not the victim? What is worse, attacking someone for no justifiable reason or stopping the person that is carrying out the attack?

Another thing worth noting is that people have the right to feel safe. I would maintain that it’s akin to psychological terror to ignore the legitimate safety concerns of law abiding citizens, especially in crime ridden areas. People have the right to be able to walk down the street without having to fear getting mugged or assaulted. They have the right to go to sleep at night without having to worry about intruders trying to break into their homes and hurt them. Likewise women have the right to move around freely without having to live in a state of constant fear of being raped. Stripping individuals of these rights is the equivalent of mental torture that could over time severely affect their mental health. This is particularly applicable to Norway where crime has skyrocketed over the last few decades and where the police have shown that they are incapable of dealing properly with the problem. And on top of that the police in Norway are unarmed.

One could of course argue that if guns are made more readily available people would start using them more frequently and that this would result in disastrous consequences. Personally I don’t believe that there is much substance to that particular argument. Kitchen knives, axes, baseball bats etc are already easily available and can be purchased without any special permit and these items can quite easily be used to take someone life. But there is no evidence that would tend to suggest that people kill each other at an unprecedented scale simply because they own any of these items. If someone is intent on taking another person’s life then they are going to achieve this regardless of whether they have access to guns or not. It’s simply wrong to claim that guns kill, because they don’t. It is the people holding the guns squeezing the trigger that kill and this is very important to keep in mind.

 It’s also worth noting that the US military has conducted studies that show that most normal people would be incapable of shooting someone that they’ve never met before and who hasn’t done anything wrong to them or their families. The act of killing is a skill which has to be taught and it is something that armies around the world constantly have to strive to instil in their soldiers. To take the life of an innocent person goes against pretty much everything we’ve been taught and giving someone a gun doesn’t change this. A person’s moral compass doesn’t miraculously perform a 180 degree turn the instant a person grabs hold of a gun, nor is a person’s mental boundaries wiped clean as a result of it.

The strongest argument for allowing people to bear arms however is of course the fact that the police are incapable of preventing every single crime. This is a logical and inescapable conclusion that even the most diehard opponents of the right to bear arms accept. Even the most effective police force in the world won’t be able to show up straight away and prevent a crime that’s in progress. There will always be a delay from the time the crime is called in and until the police arrive at the scene and can start actively dealing with it. And in many cases the only thing they can do is to investigate. The sad truth is that we will never be able to completely stamp out crime from our societies. We can give it our best shot, but we will never be a hundred percent successful at it.  Nor will we ever be able to prevent Illegal guns from ending up in the hands of hardened criminals. It doesn’t matter how hard the law enforcement agencies work, we will never get there. Thus there will always be armed criminals threatening to commit and committing violence with guns. In a perfect world there wouldn’t be a need for guns but the world isn’t perfect, never has been and never will be. This is something we need to keep in mind when we debate this issue. It is wrong to take a life, but it isn’t necessarily wrong to take a life if the purpose of doing so is to protect your own life or that of others. Most people with a level-headed view of the world realize this.

So would criminals be more violent if they knew that people had a legal right to fire at them if they engage in certain criminal activities? Maybe it would, but then again it would probably also make them think twice about committing crimes in the first place. If committing certain criminal activities becomes just as risky as a game of Russian roulette the odds are that many criminals would seriously contemplate their career options and decide that it makes more sense to stay on the straight and narrow. Another point is that if governments take away people’s rights to bear arms they’re basically playing into the hands of the criminals. There is nothing that hardened criminals want more than victims that can’t defend themselves and a police force that is stretched beyond capacity and incapable of providing them with any meaningful resistance.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The institution of political asylum needs to be scrapped

Is a nation morally obliged to honour current refugee conventions set out by international organizations such as the UN? When considering the consequences of these policies and the severe repercussions they are having on the affected nations the answer has to be a resounding no. No nation should be made to uphold laws and conventions that severely weaken their ability to uphold an orderly society and subsequently surrenders their national sovereignty. To religiously and uncritically follow the recommendations of unelected international organizations without giving the slightest considerations as to whether the recommendations offered by these are beneficial or not cannot be labelled as sound practice and should therefore be rejected on a moral basis. Before any important decision is made in any matter the consequences should always be weighed up against one another. If the benefits exceed the disadvantages then it stands to reason that the decision is a healthy one and vice versa. Unfortunately this principle is no longer held in high regard in the western world. Today important political decisions are largely dictated by emotions rather than reason unlike a couple decades ago when logic was a much more prevalent feature.

Recommendations and laws should always be subjected to strict scrutiny before they are applied in order to avoid undesirable consequences. The current conventions on refugees have become a straitjacket that has been forced upon the nations of the west and one which they seem unable to extricate themselves from. Even hinting about the validity of the laws is equated to racism and is condemned in the strongest of terms. In Europe, the cradle of democracy, new laws have even been introduced to limit and discourage criticism of such politically correct doctrines. We are now at a stage where swift sanctions will be implemented against those countries that are tempted to violate what has been dictated to them by these unelected and highly undemocratic international organizations. The conventions have successfully removed the right of western nations to stake out their own future and thus the right to decide their own fate which flies in the face of the universal declaration of human rights drafted by the UN in the aftermath of WW2. International treaties have become the almighty deity which the righteous elites worship and which cannot under any circumstances be question. It has almost taken on a religious form.

In the western world the principle of offering a safe haven to those who are persecuted for their political beliefs is a noble one which most rational people would agree with. The practice of bestowing indisputable rights to any person entering the west claiming to be persecuted however is not. The reluctance to take on board this simple fact has resulted in the hijacking of these conventions by economic migrants and the organized criminal gangs that make billions aiding them. The conventions have become the most important cog in the economic redistribution machinery in which poor people from the third world are allowed to resettle in the more affluent west at an enormous financial cost to the host nations and with the overhanging threat of severe sanctions against those countries that don’t comply. The refugee conventions have morphed into a system that rewards those on the lower rungs of the social ladder and not those it was intended to help i.e. the ones fleeing political persecution. It’s a system which grants immense rights to the poor at the expense of the middle and working classes.

There is also a racial aspect to it which is largely ignored, as the laws cater solely to ethnic and religious minorities. It’s a paradox that nations claiming to abhor racial discrimination grant political asylum to individuals from Afghanistan with all the financial benefits this entails on the basis that they are poor, but on the other hand vehemently refuse to extend the same favour to poor people from other western nations. It comes across as a discriminatory policy when considering that the element of political persecution has been completely removed from the equation. The system is in fact so flawed that we have now reached the stage where criminals that commit heinous crimes in their native countries cannot be deported on the basis that it’s a violation of their human rights. Even in those cases where they commit violent crimes in their host nations and constitute a real danger for the indigenous population the laws that dictate these matters are so strict that they cannot be deported. The act of granting political asylum to hardened criminals can never be justified morally, nor can it be justified that the act of evading justice has become a criterion for political asylum. If the aim of the conventions was to prevent criminals from being executed one might as well introduce a scheme in which inmates on death row in the third world were allowed to come to the west in order to prevent such penalties. The policy of harbouring fugitives and enabling them to prey upon the law-abiding can never be justified morally.

The current refugee conventions are flawed because they don’t acknowledge that the interest of the nation states has to take precedent and not the interest of the refugees. No one has the moral right to dictate to other nations how they should govern their countries as long as they don’t engage in genocidal policies or in other ways actively engage in brutal persecution of their own citizens. Just as no human has the right to dictate to others what they can and cannot believe in, or to dictate how they should conduct their lives. If a nation refuses to accept asylum seekers, both genuine and bogus, then that’s for them to decide. One can feel morally appalled about such a decision, but the world community should not have the right to force or use sanctions against those nations until they change their ways. If the world community is upset about grave human rights violation then the world community should rather intervene militarily in the country where the alleged abuses are taking place and not punish innocent countries that play no part in such human rights violations. To force a free and democratic nation to accept ideologically driven policies is just as immoral as the decision to refuse to offer a safe harbour for someone who is politically persecuted.

One could also maintain that it is morally unacceptable for asylum seekers to conceal their true identity from the authorities in their host nations in order to receive political asylum. One could easily describe such activities as immoral and criminal. One could also claim that the act of deliberately misleading the authorities in order to receive benefits one isn’t legally entitled to is fraud. Genuine political refugees are individuals who have taken part in activities which aim to democratize the political system in their native countries. Genuine political refugees don’t travel half way across the globe bypassing several democratic countries in the process based on selfish financial considerations which is the case today. Genuine refugees want to return to their native countries when the opportunity arises, unlike today’s asylum seekers whose overriding goal is to relocate permanently to the west based solely on financial considerations. Nor do genuine refugees import undemocratic principles espoused by the regimes they had to flee from, unlike the majority of today’s bogus asylum seekers which overwhelmingly embrace the norms and values of their native countries.  

It’s also a paradox that western governments support and sponsor highly undemocratic regimes, but at the same time acknowledge that asylum seekers fleeing from these regimes are entitled to our protection. How can a government justify granting political asylum to someone who is fleeing from a regime that they are investing huge resources in propping up as is the case with the Afghan regime? It is not immoral to assert that a society has the moral right to stake out its own political path and decide its own future, nor is it immoral to assert that a government has the right to take extraordinary steps to ensure the safety of its citizens. Any international law or treaty that removes this right is a flawed one. The decision has to be made by the nation itself and none other. One could of course dismiss this argument with the assertion that it would be a violation of current international refugee conventions and leave it at that, but one could also try to delve a little bit deeper into the matter and analyse it in a rational way. Unfortunately it’s political incorrect to talk about the very severe repercussions the policies are having for the host nations in the western world. The willingness to uphold the interest of one’s own nation seems to be a thing of the past. It seems that the lack of a tangible external enemy such as the Soviet Union, which was the case during the cold war, have inhibited the west’s ability to see clearly and reject policies that are detrimental to the stability of our societies. It is important that we challenge the political leadership of the west whenever they try to convince us that their hands are tied in these matters and claim that the final decision rest solely with international organizations such as the UN. The refugee conventions are only convenient tools for left leaning governments to implement their own policies which aim to create multicultural societies in the western world, and that is why they should be rejected. Humans are granted inalienable rights maybe it’s time to grant similar rights to nation states too?



Monday, October 22, 2012

The undesirable consequences of Norwegian press subsidies

What constitute a democracy and what specific requirements have to be present in order for a political system to be described as such? Numerous books and thesis have been written on the subject in an attempt to define the true meaning of the word. However when dissecting this question and analysing it methodically one soon realizes that the answer to this question is pretty much straight forward and there is no need to write lengthy books and elaborate on the issue in tedious and boring dissertations. The most important criteria that need to be present for a democracy to exist are a free and unrestricted exchange of opinions and ideas. That’s really all there’s to it. For a democracy to exist its citizens must be able to freely and without the fear of being persecuted express their views on issues such as politics, religion and society in general. Remove any one of these conditions from the equation and a society cannot in good faith be classified as a democracy as it invariably engages in some form of suppression of certain views and opinions. The correct way of describing the act of restricting political views is of course censorship, which has been an indispensable tool of every dictatorship that has ever existed on this planet, its main purpose being to silence views and opinions that it find undesirable and which could jeopardize its position.

In the end however the task of ensuring that a society is free and just fall upon the citizens themselves. But at the same time an extra responsibility falls upon the shoulders of the media as they are the only ones that can provide the framework for a system where the exchange of ideas and opinions can occur on a large scale. The media is the sum of everything that takes place in a society and thus it is the purveyor of essential information that the citizens of a free society need to make sound decisions. The information which is presented to the citizens will ultimately determine which political party ends up in government and thus get to execute their ideas and stake out the future course of the nation. Bearing this in mind it’s of the utmost importance that the media is honest and impartial and that it follows these principles religiously. If the media is unwilling to honour these values then the society in which it exists cannot truly be described as a democratic one.  The last time these principles where set aside in Norway were during the Second World War when the German occupying forces carefully controlled the flow of information and banned any news that questioned its authority.

It shouldn’t really be necessary to debate why the restrictions imposed on Norway during the war aren’t preferable or desirable. Most people understand that it is a bad idea to allow the media to become the mouthpiece of the authorities. During the Second World War the German occupying forces and their Norwegian collaborators made no attempts at hiding the fact that they were censoring the news and everyone in Norway knew what was going on.  It can be a little bit trickier to detect when certain basic principles are put aside in what appears to be a seemingly normal and healthy democracy. For a newspaper or a political organization to publicly admit that they are using the media for their own purposes would be disastrous and be akin to political suicide. But just because no one is willing to publicly admit it doesn’t necessarily mean that it doesn’t happen. To allege that the media in Norway are permitting themselves to be used by political forces isn’t as farfetched as it sounds and this is what we are going to take a closer look at in this article.

But before we go there let’s take a closer look at the role of the media and the principles they should try to uphold. As mentioned earlier is it not necessary to write a book about the subject or dissect it in a long and boring thesis. We can simply cut to the chase and narrow it down to two basic and very simple factors.  The media should be unbiased and honest, meaning that it shouldn’t favour any political parties or steer clear of any difficult subjects because of any perceived undesirable consequences it would cause for the political parties involved. It is the role of the media to accurately recount events, to truthfully analyse political news and to shed light on issues that affect the citizens of a society. Personal opinions and political advocacy should be left to bloggers and political organizations, and not be disguised as serious journalism.

There are several factors that will help us to determine whether a newspaper or newsagency is biased or not. One of the most obvious ways of establishing this it is by studying the stories they print. Are they offering both sides of the story or are they focusing unduly on one aspect? Are they favouring certain political factions or are they presenting all political parties in a fair and balanced manner? Another important indicator is the political leanings of the journalists themselves. Are they allowing their own personal opinions to shine through and influence the content of the articles? And more importantly, who is funding the newspaper and what are the political agenda of these financial backers? Because funding does play an important part in deciding the impartiality of the media. Would it be fair to question the integrity of a newspaper if a political organization donated large sum of money to it at the same time as the newspaper was reporting on the political organizations and disguising it as serious journalism? The obvious answer to that question has to be a resounding yes. In a court of law a motion of conflict of interest would be reached if a judge was in position where he was likely to favour one of the pursuant due to financial or personal interests. It all boils down to personal integrity. One of the most important responsibilities of a newspaper is to keep a critical eye on political organizations and decision makers. When the people or organizations that the newspaper is supposed to keep an eye on start paying the wages of the journalists writing about them the lines start to blur.

In Norway representatives from the media and various political parties have on several occasions, and in particular when it comes to the theory of manmade global warming, discredited research on the basis that it is purportedly sponsored by large oil corporations that would benefit from the discrediting of said theory. In taking such a standpoint they are indirectly admitting that funding does have an impact on the impartiality of the one sponsored. And this brings us to the main issue of this article, which is that the Norwegian press subsidies cast a very dark shadow over the impartiality and integrity of the media in Norway.

Each year the media in Norway receives indirect and direct press subsidies to the amount of Nok 6 billion. The biggest chunk goes to NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) which is the national broadcaster and which up until the mid eighties was the only available TV station for the majority of the population in Norway. The rest of the subsidies go to regional newspapers, many of whom would not be able to survive financially without this additional cash infusion. And what is truly disconcerting is that the media in Norway, with very few exceptions are almost undistinguishable ideologically from one another and by and large share the views espoused by the authorities. The media hardly ever challenge the political establishment in important matters that go against the official line. In Norway both the media and the political establishment are staunch supporters of multiculturalism and hence the media refrain from questioning the establishments’ official policy on this issue. The same thing can be said about manmade climate change, formerly only referred to as global warming, a theory that both the media and the authorities believe passionately in. Keeping that in mind it would not be unreasonable to argue that the media in Norway often mirrors and promotes the ideological views of the authorities who in return heavily subsidizes the same media.

 Is this really a desirable scenario? Wouldn’t it be better for all parties involved if the question of impartiality couldn’t be contested? Wouldn’t it be better if the media refused to accept any financial funding and avoid answering questions about hidden agendas or financial backers with scrupulous intentions? Isn’t it in everybody’s interest to have an independent media without any political ties? From an ethical perspective there is no question that this would be the preferred solution and that maintaining today’s’ practice puts the media and the authorities in a very peculiar light.

How the media subsidies in Norway work

In Norway newspapers receive approximately Nok 2 billion in direct and indirect subsidies each year. Direct subsidies are distributed by the Norwegian media authority which processes applications for direct press subsidies and decides which newspapers are eligible for such funds. The subsidies vary in size from year to year. The newspaper that is currently receives most direct funding from the authorities in Norway is Dagsavisen, which in 2005 received a staggering Nok 41 millions in direct press subsidies. Indirect subsidies refer to the system in which Norwegian newspapers are exempt from having to pay sales tax on newspapers sales. In addition to press subsidies paid out to various newspapers the national TV broadcaster NRK receives approximately Nok 4billion annually in direct subsidies which is financed through a mandatory TV license scheme.

The idea of introducing press subsidies in Norway were first launched in the early 1960’s after several newspaper were forced to close down due to financial difficulties. One of the major media corporations in Norway A-Pressen, which at the time was co-owned by LO (Norway’s biggest Labour Union) and the Labour Party (The Labour Party sold its shares in 1995) proposed the scheme as a way to compensate for dwindling newspaper sales. The scheme was approved and passed in 1969 which was also the first year that press subsidies were distributed.  It should also be noted that A-pressen received 42.1 percent of the overall subsidies the first year and that the traditional conservative newspapers received only a modest 19.5 percent. This was due to the fact that the conservative newspapers were smaller and thus not entitled to the same amount of subsidies as the newspapers owned by A-Pressen. The disparity in subsidies continued to increase in favour of A-pressen in the following years and several of the conservative newspapers eventually had to throw in the towel and allowing A-pressen to greatly enhance its market shares. This would tend to indicate that the press subsidy scheme was instrumental in creating an undue advantage for A-pressen over its conservative counterparts.  

It should also be noted that the press subsidy scheme favours the main rivals of the biggest regional newspapers and that this happens to a very large extent to be newspapers owned by A-pressen. The biggest regional newspapers in Norway only receive indirect subsidies while the number two newspapers receive both direct and indirect subsidies. This is problematic when considering that A-pressen is one of the biggest media corporations in Norway with more than 100 newspapers in its portfolio and that it is a majority shareholder in the national commercial TV station TV2. It is also disconcerting when considering that A-Pressen is strongly affiliated with the Labour Party and that it is a firm supporter of Labour Party policies.

The justification for having press subsidies in Norway is to support smaller newspapers that would otherwise struggle financially and to ensure that there is diversity in the media in Norway. This was the stated intention when the scheme was passed by parliament in 1969. Based on this information one would expect that the media in Norway to be very diverse and that it covers a wide spectrum of opinions and ideas. Unfortunately this isn’t the case. On the contrary there hardly exist any major ideological differences between the newspapers with a few minor exceptions, which clearly go against the stated philosophy of the scheme, which is to increase diversity in the media. As a matter of fact the exact opposite has occurred, namely that the subsidies have favoured newspapers that are closely linked to the ruling Labour Party and those supporting Labour Party policies. This overlapping of public funding and political interests puts the entire industry in a very negative light and leaves it wide open to criticism and it raises the unavoidable question about whether the press subsidies are designed to be exactly what the opponents claim it is, namely a cunning system to booster support for the Labour Party and to promote its policies.

If the sole criterion behind the scheme is to create diversity in the media and give a helping hand to newspapers that otherwise wouldn’t survive then it’s fair to assume that newspapers that qualify for the grants wouldn’t be rejected based on the editorial content of their newspapers. The philosophy behind the scheme is that the more a newspaper diverges from the existing and established the more likely it is to receive funding from the authorities. But unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Both the Christian newspaper ‘Norge I dag’ and the financial newspaper ‘Finansavisen’ have had their application for press subsidies rejected based on their editorial content and format.  The justification given to ‘Norge i Dag’ for the rejection was that the content of the newspaper wasn’t up to standard and that it didn’t cover enough cultural news stories. To be fair it should be pointed out that the newspaper ‘Norge i Dag’ is a weekly newspaper and that slightly different rules apply, but even so the rejection clearly shows that the decision is left to personal whim of the bureaucrats that are tasked with approving press subsidies applications. That a rejection has adverse consequence for those affected and that it leaves them with a disadvantage compared with does that are successful in obtaining subsidies is obvious.

The consequences of press subsidies

One of the consequences of the Norwegian press subsidy scheme is that every single newspaper journalist in Norway is sponsored annually to the sum of Nok 430 000. There are nearly 3 500 journalists working in newspapers (not including magazines and weekly/monthly newspapers) in Norway and the annual total press subsidies amounts to Nok 1.5 billion. On top of this NRK employs approximately 2300 journalists out of a total workforce of roughly 3500, which means that each journalist working for the TV channel is subsidises each year by a staggering Nok 1 140 000. We are indeed talking about astronomical sums of money here just to ensure that journalists in Norway don’t have to worry about losing their jobs. There is no question that the number of journalists in Norway would be considerately lower had it not been for the press subsidy scheme and NRK’s mandatory annual TV licence fee. There would also have been considerately fewer newspapers without the scheme, which takes us to the heart of the matter which is that journalists and newspapers in Norway are dependent on direct funding from the authorities to survive. The labour Party and the Socialist Left (SV) are strong supporter of press subsidies unlike the two main conservative parties FrP (Progress Party) and Høyre (the conservatives), which basically means that it is in a journalist’s best interest to ensure that the Labour Party remains a strong political force in Norway. Political surveys carried out among Norwegian journalists also show that journalists by and large support the Labour Party and SV. Very few journalists support any of the conservative parties. This disparity in political leaning among the journalists could of course be a mere coincidence, but then again it could also be a result of the press subsidy scheme and the media’s dependency on it.

If the original goal of the media subsidies was to encourage diversity in the media then it has definitely failed in accomplishing this. This became especially noticeable in the aftermath of the terror attacks in Norway on July 22, 2011. Despite the blatant incompetence of the various public agencies in the lead up and during the attacks which almost borders on criminality and which can be directly attributed to the policies of the ruling labour Party that has been in government since 2005, not a single newspaper expressed any criticism towards the Labour Party and the prime minister Jens Stoltenberg who theoretically bears the ultimate responsibility for the fiasco and the sorry state of the affected agencies which was supposed to prevent and respond to the attacks.  Even after the official July 22 commission presented its report on what went wrong that day, a report which was basically an unadulterated accusation of the Labour Party and the top echelon of the party, none of the newspapers in Norway called for the dismissal of Jens Stoltenberg or any of his top Government ministers, and one really has to wonder why. Why didn’t one single journalist or one single newspaper raise this issue? There are more than 200 newspapers in Norway and more than 10 000 journalists whose job it is to report and analyse current events in a truthful an honest manner. Why didn’t a single one of them point the finger at the country’s top leadership?

It was equally distressing to see the almost indistinguishable media response in the days and weeks following the attacks in which the Norwegian media targeted conservative bloggers and independent websites, both national and international and indirectly accused them of being ideological contributors to the tragedy. The media’s response almost seemed orchestrated, something which shouldn’t be possible when taking into consideration the sheer number of newspapers and journalists in Norway. Thus it is not unreasonable to speculate about whether this almost uniform response has something to do with the Norwegian media’s financial dependency on the authorities and the way the press subsidy scheme has managed to greatly restrict the diversity in the media to where it is today where it almost appears to speak with one unified voice when it comes to big important ideological issues.  The main problem with this is of course that there is a very real danger that biased reporting will influence and shape the views of the readers. If alternative views and opinions aren’t presented to the readers then how will they ever be able to truly form independent opinions?

If the media deliberately refrain from covering certain issues or covering issues in a biased manner can it really be referred to as journalism? Some believe that the subsidizing of the media can be equated to corruption and they do have a point. No one with a good knowledge of Norway can deny that there exists strong ties between the trade union LO and the Labour Party. LO is one of the main financial contributors to the Labour Party and the labour Party have reciprocated this loyalty several times by awarding special concessions to LO and its members. The trade union owns a large chunk of the newspapers in Norway, as a matter of fact almost half of all the newspapers in Norway are owned by LO through its shares in A-pressen. We also know that it was the Labour Party and the LO that were the driving force behind the press subsidies scheme which they are staunch supporters of to this day. One could be tempted to say that one hand feeds the other something that shouldn’t take place in a supposedly democratic western nation.

Labour Party and public opinion in Norway

Up until the mid 1980’s Norway only had one national TV channel which was and still is one hundred percent publicly funded. Those living near the Swedish border were able to access Swedish state television, but for the great majority of Norwegians NRK was the only alternative. NRK has for many years enjoyed a monopoly on TV and Radio broadcasts and it is no exaggeration to claim that it has been the most influential opinion maker in Norway up through the years and that it has been an important tool for the authorities and it still is to this day. It is the responsibility of the Norwegian government to appoint members to the Broadcasting board which then again appoint the CEO of NRK. It is somewhat of an open secret in Norway that the political leaning of the CEO is more important than qualifications and politicians from all political parties in the country have at some stage  stated that the political leanings of the CEO will influences the presentation of the news. The most vocal proponent of this view was former leader of the FrP (progress party), Carl I Hagen who simpl referred to NRK as ARK (Arbeiderparties rikskringkasting – The Labour Party’s Broadcasting Corporation) as in his opinion the broadcaster blatantly favoured the labour Party and was equally blatant in its hostility towards the FrP and its policies. As a curiosity it’s worth mentioning that NRK up until quite recently has refused to show boxing on TV due to former CEO and Labour Politician, Bjartmar Gjerde’s strong opposition to the sport. This bizarre ban resulted in Norwegian boxing fans being unable to watch highlights from the match between Steffen Tangstad and Michael Spinks for the European heavy weight title in 1986 on NRK, a match by the way which Steffen Tangstad lost.

The Norwegian authorities have always been fiercely protective of NRK’s broadcasting monopoly and this became especially clear in the late 1970’s and early 80’s when they aggressively pursued and closed down independent pirate radio stations operated by idealistic youths who wanted to challenge what they saw as an undemocratic practise. In 1981, in an exceptional show of force twelve police officers raided the apartment of pirate radio activist Rolf Pedersen in Stavanger (City on the west coast of Norway).  Inside the apartment the police found Pedersen and his mom, both of whom were taken to the local police station for questioning. The police also confiscated Pedersen’s transmitter equipment which was the aim of the raid. Pedersen along with several other young activists had on several previous occasions been arrested by the police for disregarding the NRK monopoly. In the end however their perseverance paid off and they were instrumental in breaking up the NRK broadcasting monopoly. And in December 1981 Rolf Pedersen was finally given the first official permit to open up a local radio station in Norway. Looking back it’s hard to understand the reluctance on the authorities’ part to refuse small local radio stations to operate alongside NRK. It’s equally difficult to comprehend how the authorities could justify dispatching 12 police officers to Pedersen’s apartment in order to shut down a tiny pirate radio station. It is also troubling to witness the desperation of the authorities and to see how protective they were of the NRK monopoly. The response of the Norwegian authorities was very similar to that of former eastern bloc dictatorships trying to crack down on political dissidents.

But despite the progress made by small local radio stations which started to pop up all across the country in the following years, NRK still had a monopoly on TV broadcasting and when the first private satellite dishes started to emerge in Norway the police was initially instructed to confiscate the dishes and fine the owners. The justification for going to such drastic steps was exactly the same as the one the authorities used to arrest pirate radio activists, namely that the satellite dishes were in breach of NRK’s TV monopoly. The authorities however finally started to realise that they were fighting a losing battle as the sale of satellite dishes pretty much exploded in the mid 80’s and they eventually caved in and decided to allow private ownership of satellite dishes, and thus the slow erosion of the media hegemony of the Norwegian state continued. 

Again it’s worth asking why the authorities were so reluctant to allow other news broadcasters to tap into the Norwegian market. After all the incentive for the press subsidies was to ensure and facilitate media diversity i.e. to ensure that different opinions and ideas were able to flourish. However looking back it becomes evident that the actions of the authorities have always been in clear violation of these principles. Their actions have always been counterproductive in bringing about media diversity in Norway. The fact that we now enjoy a considerable more diverse media landscape than in the early 80’s is largely due to the actions of private individuals and organizations that have had to endure persecution and harassment from the authorities for having the guts to take them on. Based on this knowledge one really has to ask the question whether the authorities are really interested in having diversity in the media in Norway, and if the true purpose of the Norwegian press subsidy scheme to restrict this diversity.

Another troubling consequence of the lack of distinct political ideology in the media in Norway is that it has become harder to differentiate between the various political parties in Norway. Today there are hardly any ideological differences between the big political parties, excluding the Socialist Left and some very minor fringe parties that have no real political influence. And one has to wonder why the political parties over the last couple of decades have gradually become more alike. Today there are hardly any opposing voices in political circles in Norway when it comes to multiculturalism, social security and climate change. Some very minor differences still exist between the political parties, but not to the extent seen in other nations where true political differences can still be found, which basically means that voters don’t really have any meaningful political alternatives to chose between. There could be several reasons for this dramatic political change, but it’s not unreasonable to speculate that the media have managed to bring about or at least been able to substantially influence this ideological process. Media has a lot of power and they are the most important opinion makers in Norway today. And when they stop or are reluctant to engage in honest and independent journalism and instead starts engaging in ideological based reporting this will with have an effect on the political views of the readers.

A desirable alternative

Most people would agree that diversity in the media in which a wide range of opinions and ideas can be found and debated is an ideal scenario. However, history has shown us, at least when it comes to Norway, that the authorities are ill equipped to bring about such diversity. It has always been private individuals and enterprises that have cleared the path for more diversity in the media in Norway, despite the authorities’ attempts at preventing them from doing so. And the fight to bring about true media diversity in Norway has gained momentum in the last decade and it has managed to put some serious dents in the authorities’ ambition to control the minds of the masses. In today’s digital age with tens of millions of blogs and independent internet based news sites it seems almost impossible for the authorities to control and restrict the free flow of information and ideas. Consumers of news are also gradually changing their habits and are at least in the Scandinavian countries turning to online based independent news sources. And there’s no denying that with the introduction of the internet in Norway people have really started to challenge the media consensus and force the media to cover stories that they wouldn’t otherwise touch. And this is a welcome change; because the more opinions and angles a reader is exposed to the better equipped that reader is to make informed decisions.

Where do we find greater political diversity, in a place like Norway where the media is almost indistinguishable from one another or in a place like the USA where the diversity in the media is diametrically greater and where different opinions and ideas are not suppressed by the authorities? Newspapers do not have to be sheltered and artificially kept alive by the authorities. Normal marketplace mechanisms should decide whether a newspaper has the right to survive or not. A quality newspaper will always be successful and manage to turn a profit. That’s what we should strive for, not to maintain a couple of hundred newspapers that are merely blueprint versions of one another and when true media diversity has been established political diversity will follow and that is as close as we will ever get to an ideal scenario.