- The already extensive literature on the 22 July attacks has recently been complemented by numerous new accounts in books written by survivors. They provide harrowing and chilling details, and make it clear that many survivors wanted such a reckoning, focused on the politics of rightwing Islamophobia. But in government, the Labour party faced the political and moral conundrum of choosing between an inclusive political rhetoric, casting these terrorist attacks as attacks on all Norwegians, or emphasising the fact that it had been the Norwegian left in particular that had been targeted. The staff at the prime minister’s office and the then PM, Jens Stoltenberg, chose the former.
That choice had a number of consequences. For it meant that any talk of the undeniable links between the conspiratorial and anti-Muslim world views of Breivik and the wider populist right – including the Progress party, of which Breivik had been a member for several years – became taboo. The mainstream media’s sudden shift from the discourse of terrorism to talk of “tragedy” and “catastrophe” once it became known that the perpetrator was a white, Norwegian rightwing extremist, rather than a radicalised Muslim, was telling in this regard.