A comment by Vetle Lid Larssen, Aftenposten August 12, 2011, with thanks to Erwin Kohn who made me aware of it.
Hunting for votes
Every time somebody draws parallels between the fate of the Jews and other forms of racism, I get suspicious. Not because the Jews are the only persecuted people in the world history, or because their story of suffering shall reign alone – but because the industrial mass destruction of 6 million Jews in the midst of the Europe of Humanism remains a particular case in the history of mass murders. Every initiative that tries to draw strength from this catastrophe, the way we now have seen Erna Solberg do, is automatically placed in the heavy shadow of the Holocaust.
There can be little doubt that Muslims and other immigrants in Norway are both discriminated against as well as the objects of hateful harassment in Norway and Europe; and that the Europeans – like many other Peoples, religions and cultures – have a long to go to reflect on this. There can also be no doubt about the existence of some muddy brownish dirt here at home, and probably more than what we have been aware. But the story about Muslims and Europe does not only center on hate and discrimination. Our Muslim friends have been challenged in their encounter with Europe, through important critique of of patriarchal structures in Islam, the attitude to homosexuals and women, forced marriage and freedom of expression. And more importantly, they have been welcomed. They have received help and support, and the official ideology in all European states have centered on tolerance and understanding.
All leading European media defend Muslim rights, and as good as all responsible parties are met, in spite of examples of the opposite mainly with respect both by academics and work places.
The story of the jews in the 1930s was different. After centuries of pogroms and persecution in Christian and Muslim countries, anti-Semtism poisoned society even down to the smallest links, and was prominent here at home, expressed by authorities, leading newspapers, such as for instance Aftenposten and Nationen. while Muslims in Norway are med with ” meet a Muslim for Tea” campaigns and renewed official integration initiatives, the Jews in Germany of the 1930s were denied their civic rights, made stateless, stripped of their rights – and in Norway finally rounded up by Norwegian police officers and sent to the gas chambers.
Comparing suffering is a complicated exercise. But in a time where – according to Dagbladet – 1 of 20 school kids thinks Adolf Hitler was a German football coach, and 1 of 6 children between 9 and 11 think Auschwitz was an theme park, it may very well be more important than ever to carefully choose what to compare with when hunting for votes in an upset Norwegian public opinion.