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How to react to Norway shootings

Friday's political massacre of Norway's youth could easily focus attention on Europe's immigration debate. But it should first lead to a renewal of basic civic values, such as reverence for life.

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The mass killing of 76 people Friday by a young man in Norway deserves more sorrow than meaning. Yet Norwegians will no doubt try to draw lessons in coming days and avoid overreacting out of fear even as they grieve.

Most of the killings were at an island camp for young people sponsored by the ruling Labor Party. That makes it both particularly tragic and highly political. The confessed killer, Anders Behring Breivik, had posted convoluted reasons online to justify this mass murder, including his naive hope that such an act would spark a revolution against Norway’s liberal policy toward immigration, especially of Muslims.

A democratic nation’s practices on immigration and assimilation can certainly be controversial and worthy of debate. But Mr. Breivik’s frustration and impatience at not getting his way in normal politics – perhaps driven by emotional problems – was no excuse for him to step outside the bounds of the law.

If he truly believes the ruling party is “importing voters” to stay in power, he should have simply rallied Norwegians to his counterview, not killed the next generation of his political opposition.

Persuasion by words and by elections must remain the tools to alter a nation’s course. Using murder to change politics is inherently contradictory – there is no politics if anyone can decide to use murder.

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