Monday, August 2

Utoya in the heart

Utoya is a name that those of us who want to build a Europe without hatred have engraved in our hearts. On July 22, 2011 the neo-Nazi Anders Breivik executed a plan that ended the lives of 77 young militants of the socialist youths in Norway. The attacks in Oslo and the subsequent execution of the boys and girls on the islet of Utoya at the cry of You all have to die! it showed how fragile democracy can be. The Utoya massacre was an attempt to erase in a few hours a whole political generation from Norway: committed young people who were committed to multiculturalism, gender equality and sexual diversity. Girls and boys involved in the future of their country and who were murdered for their ideology.

Utoya is memory and sadly present. Those 77 murders were ideologically motivated hate crimes as was the murder of Labor MP Jo Cox in the UK. In Spain, a few weeks ago Samuel Luiz was assassinated at the cry of a fagot. There are probably also hate motives in the murder of Isaac López just a few days ago in Madrid. Lucrecia Pérez was murdered for racism, Sonia Rescalvo for transphobia and Rosario Endrinal, for aporophobia. Aitor Zabaleta, Guillem Agulló or Carlos Palomino were assassinated at the hands of far-right groups.

“The greatest evils in the world are the evils committed by nobody” Hannah Arendt left us as a lesson. In ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem’ Arendt conceptualizes the banality of evil to explain how the greatest atrocities can be committed by ordinary people. “Despite the prosecutor’s efforts, anyone could tell that this man was not a monster” Hannah Arendt wrote about the trial of Adolf Eichmann, responsible for the deportation and execution of millions of Jewish people in Nazi concentration camps. The reflection of the German philosopher is extraordinarily current. ‘They are boys from the neighborhood’, ‘He had a normal life’ or ‘He belongs to an ordinary family’ are speeches that we have heard about the perpetrators of terrible murders, assaults or rapes. Those who promote and spread intolerance, those who discriminate, attack and kill for hateful motives may not seem socially “monsters”, they may even appear to be educated and respectable people. They may be normal and ordinary people who live in a society that allows rejection of those who think, act or seem different. That is why we must remain especially vigilant, that is why the risk of not fighting the extreme right is extremely high.

Hatred, intolerance and violence do not come suddenly. Every hate crime is always preceded by a speech that previously legitimizes those acts. Fascism is a fine rain that in every drop has words that damage democracy. Words that dehumanize, that break bridges, that do not recognize the differences inherent in a free society. The best umbrella for that fine rain is a critical, reflective and dialoguing citizenship. An educated and informed citizenry that recognizes that in our society we have to fit all, many and different because we are many and different. A citizenry sensitive to injustice and compassionate in the face of suffering, a citizenry intolerant of the intolerable.

On the 10th anniversary of the Utoya massacre we have an obligation to remember those young progressives who were killed in a summer camp. Democracy is easily damaged and cracked and indifference and oblivion is not an option for those of us who aspire to a Europe without hatred. Democracy is propped up and defended every day in hospitals, schools and in our families. Democracy is not, we make democracy. With memory and without hatred, Utoya in the heart.

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