"Rage and fear are the normal human responses to cold-blooded massacres such as 9/11 or Anders Behring Breivik’s murderous spree in Norway. The desire to lash out, to find some kind of solace in making somebody suffer for what has been done, is powerful. But it is also deeply corrupting. It ends up reproducing the very inhumanity to which it is responding.
This is why the reaction of Norway, even in the stunned hours immediately after the massacre, is so important for the world as a whole. It is one thing to know intellectually that the only answer to terrorism is, as the Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg put it, “more freedom, more democracy”. It is a much more precious and remarkable thing to be able to say so even as you watch live images of teenagers’ bloodied bodies.
Stoltenberg and the Norwegians have redefined political courage, not as the macho swagger of “we’ll get the bastards”, but as the steely dignity of refusing to drink the toxic Cool-Aid of fear and rage. It is sickly ironic that the person who inadvertently put it best was Breivik himself. In his diary, he recorded a brush with the police two months ago: “I decided then and there that I would not allow paranoia to get the best of me.” By refusing to let paranoia get the best of its great traditions of democracy and decency, Norway has given the world the only real answer to terrorism."