Sunday, July 24, 2011

the massacre in context

Just a quick remark on a trend I already see building in the Koreablogosphere: I can sense that battle lines are being drawn as old Korea hands look at the massacre in Norway and ponder its relevance to Korea's own meditations on multiculturalism: the mass-murderer, Anders Behring Breivik, is now on record as an anti-multiculturalist. I say that comparing Norway to Korea is like comparing apples to oranges: Korea, in my opinion, can only benefit from a healthy move toward diversity, whereas when European leaders proclaim (along with some US conservatives) that "multiculturalism has failed," they are referring to a particularly pernicious strain of multiculturalism that fetishizes diversity at the expense of other Western values, not to multiculturalism in its more neutral sense.

Whether Korea likes it or not, it's being forced to deal with the increased demographic pressure that comes with being a prosperous country: simply put, foreigners are pouring steadily in, and this is both changing the face of Korea and challenging the old, odious danil-minjok mythology. Norway, on the other hand, may be facing some of the same problems afflicting the other North Atlantic cultures as it deals with the consequences of its own unwillingness to assimilate foreigners who refuse to make the effort to integrate. In the West's case, a stronger move toward assimilationism-- i.e., proactive integration and acculturation of immigrants-- would, in my opinion, be of great benefit. In Korea, it's the larger society that, I think, needs to give ground in order better to accommodate the foreign presence.

There's also this: it's not obvious to me that Breivik's actions should even provoke a debate about multiculturalism. As far as I'm concerned, the man is a nut, a mad dog who should be put down. Bringing ideology and other Big Issues into this will only complicate matters unnecessarily. Let's keep the discussion and speculation at the level of the individual and ask ourselves how a dude could be so fucked up as to kill nearly a hundred people. The larger questions of liberal versus conservative, gun rights versus state control, assimilationism versus multiculturalism, are questions rightly reserved for sane minds. Anders Behring Breivik is an aberration. Whatever ideology he claims motivated him to bomb downtown Oslo and slaughter innocent youths is merely a cover for his deeper-seated problems.


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2 comments:

John said...

well said.

Aaron McKenzie said...

"There's also this: it's not obvious to me that Breivik's actions should even provoke a debate about multiculturalism. As far as I'm concerned, the man is a nut, a mad dog who should be put down."

Bingo. There's no point in asking why fellows like Breivik do the things they do, just as we shouldn't expect a logical explanation from the guy who shot Rep. Giffords in Arizona last year. They're lunatics, plain and simple, and lunatics are not know for their powers of logic.

Even allowing this Breivik character to use the multiculturalism debate as a provocation for his actions seems to give him too much credit (rather like blaming Sarah Palin for Giffords' shooting or a particular musical genre for the Columbine shootings).

We might as well be asking a rabid dog why he bit a toddler.