A Few Inadequate Words

John Stuart Mill
"I don't think you fully grasp the concept of Liberty"

The extremists of all flags, whether they laughably describe themselves as Christians, Muslims, nationalists, or what they will, have far more in common with each other than with those they claim to represent. They can hate and kill who they choose because they cannot or will not identify with them as people. This is not fighting for a cause, this is failure of humanity; self-involvement on a horrific scale.

You have to wonder about their mental processes. What does a man think he will achieve by murdering cold-bloodedly? Did he seriously believe that Norway could be terrorised out of allowing immigration? Maybe he thought he could spark a nationalistic uprising by the heroic shooting dead of teenagers.

It seems he wrote a 1,500 page document to explain his actions, but I doubt it will tell us anything – except the incredible lengths an insecure man will go to, to justify himself.

Anti-Islamic Terror?

That’s the front of tomorrow’s Sun. Needless to say, it’s a Murdoch paper. What, you may wonder, is the evidence they have that links Norway’s massacres with Islamic extremism? The main clue would probably be that Al Qaeda sells more papers.

The little actual evidence so far seems to point to a home-grown rather than pro-Islamic terrorist threat. Not that it couldn’t be both of course, but several Norwegian news sources – TV2 for example – has stated that the suspect arrested had connections with Norway’s far right. VG, the major Norwegian tabloid that was caught in the blast, says the suspect described himself as ‘nationalist’. It appears that he was an outspoken opponent of immigration and of Muslims. So it may well turn out that this was actually an act of anti-Islamic terrorism. The irony would then be almost too much to bear.

But you wonder, does understanding the political motivation behind this actually matter? The most salient feature of an ideology that thinks it’s all right to kill people at random is that it thinks it’s all right to kill people at random. There isn’t much ground for further discussion. We may as well say that the attack in Oslo was carried out by The Evil Ones and leave it at that.

Coke Ads, Life

The Two Infallible Powers - The Pope Bovril
God I love this mad old advert

Imagine that. The 125th anniversary of Coca Cola. We tend to think of that brand as symbolic of the modern world. It’s strange to remember that it’s a weird holdout from the Victorian era, like Bovril or Beecham‘s Powders. Perhaps this means it actually is an excellent product. We’ll never really know – how can you possibly separate the actual drink from its image and its history?

Hmm. Maybe there is a way. Apparently Osama bin Laden and his cohorts were fond of the stuff. If someone so vehemently opposed to everything the product is associated with still enjoys it, then surely the only explanation is that it is an objectively good beverage.

Well OK, it might also mean that Bin Laden was deeply conflicted and/or hypocritical. But still, you can’t help feeling that Coca Cola missed an opportunity for the most amazing celebrity endorsement ever.