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Cultures are killing

I do not know what culture Vebjørn Selbekk thinks he belongs to, but I would say it is foreign in Norway.


[sheep herd mentality] People who break out of their culture tend to become staunch defenders of Culture, regardless of the kind of culture – it is the very idea that we are all products of a specific culture that is defended. They break with their culture themselves, insist that they are individuals, and criticize others because they belong to the wrong culture or the culture in the wrong way.

Vebjørn Selbekk, for example, has transformed from a homophobic and Muslim hostile fanatic on the far right Christian wing to a rebellious cultural radical who stands on the barricades of freedom of speech, blessed by Press Chief Per Edgar Kokkvold of the Norwegian Press Association. It's a miracle. Two years ago, Selbekk stepped in to strengthen the blasphemy paragraph to protect the religious sentiments of Christians. Now he wants it removed because he fears Muslims are hiding behind it.

In the book Threatened by Islamists, Selbekk appears as a warm defender of "our" culture, as if Islam and Christianity are no closer relatives than secularism and religion. Last summer, editor Selbekk wrote in his newspaper Magazinet that "one does not have to be particularly smart or highly educated to understand that homosexuality is somewhat unnatural", while before the summer of this year he called the Muslim view of homosexuality "reactionary". Without blushing, Selbekk also highlights Dutch Theo van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali as role models, but he may be more right than he thinks. As the journalist Ian Buruma documents in his recent book, Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance, all three key actors in the drama underwent radical personality changes in the years before the immensely unwise murder of Holland's biggest chains.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was what Selbekk would call an "Islamic fundamentalist" long after she broke up with her family and long after she came to the Netherlands. She has been a Social Democrat and ultra-liberal, and now works in a new conservative think tank in the United States. Van Gogh grew up in a bourgeois, white and Calvinistic villa district, but later transformed into the rebel who dared to call Muslims "goat poles" where everyone else kept quiet.

Killer Mohammed Bouyeri was as much a product of Dutch culture as the other two, and spent most of his youth with drunkenness and bad pop music. He was a so-called Berber, not Arab, from Morocco, and just one year before the murder he converted to a worldview that was his family's stranger. His formative experiences were two: The father who was degraded in working life because he was a "foreigner" and the local youth club that was closed down. But he did not master Arabic and did not go to mosque. He disliked American foreign policy and condemned the killing of civilians on September 11, 2001. His only girlfriend was a half-Dutch and half Tunisian-looking lady in mini skirts.

Selbekk, van Gogh, Hirsi Ali and Bouyeri are all examples of the sheep that have left the herd, and perhaps for that reason they insist that the survivors are a flock, and not an equally confused group of individual, disparate animals. In the distance, even Dan Børge Akerø can walk to be a newborn lamb. Selbekk, by the way, is not a sheep, but a reef that has now led everyone to believe that his Christianity and democracy can be united. ■

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