“Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.” – Hannah Arendt
Thus begins Giovanni Vimercati’s clear commentary in the Huffington Post, on the Breivik mass murder case in Norway. Vimercati asks, “How many people, though firmly condemning his murderous act, share his concerns regarding the so-called ‘Islamization’ of Europe? Is he a deviant exception or a disquieting symptom?” We might ask the same question around the world of our own attitudes to the ‘other’. Here, in Australia, racism against Aboriginal peoples is quietly endemic, finding a louder voice when directed toward Muslims, and, for some reason, even louder against environmentalists.
“Monsters exist, but they are too few in numbers to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are…the functionaries ready to believe and act without asking questions” Primo Levi once said; may this timeless warning guide us in the struggle against evil.
Is Breivik a flagbearer in front of a growing army of ignorance and prejudice who have learnt few lessons about humanity, and who are just waiting for a trigger to unleash their anger on anyone different in colour, nationality or view?