Theater of Cruelty

Dangerous opinions

The Norwegian public also has its sacred cows. We saw that last week.


[24. March 2006] On Tuesday, March 21, Professor Norman Finkelstein visited Oslo. Norwegian scientists, like Odd-Bjørn Fure at the Holocaust Center, have not wanted to meet him for open debate. The background is Finkelstein's controversial book The Holocaust Industry, which puts Europe's Jewish extermination in the context of today's politics in Israel.

It is a difficult balance European public is facing when it comes to the extermination of Jews. On the one hand, one must fight the centuries-old hatred of Jews: A recent survey shows that four out of ten Swedes are still skeptical of Jews.

On the other hand, we also need a sobering debate about how the Holocaust memorial can also be abused to support a UN-fighting policy in Palestine. However, it should not be the case that one only responds to Israel's abuses without at the same time criticizing, for example, the Iran dictatorship.

Norwegian researchers' boycott of Finkelstein provides a new perspective on the controversy surrounding the Mohammed caricatures, which both Christians, atheists and Muslims around the world have renounced. The Jutland Post's drawing of Muhammad as a version of Osama bin Laden with a bomb in the turban is not about freedom of expression, but about Europe's religious hatred. For example, writes editor Stella Orakwue in the latest issue of The New African.

If nothing else, the controversy surrounding both the Jutland Post and Finkelstein shows how we all have our taboos. One month ago, Holocaust denier David Irving was sentenced to three years in prison in Austria for his statements. Maybe the verdict was right, in a Europe that is still struggling to accept its minorities. But the judgment also reveals that it is a global common feature to respond when challenged truths are challenged.

The question is whether, globally, are there any cows that should be more sacred than others?

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