Berserkers in Sundvollen

The mindless violence in Sundvollen the other day is a mystery to us and to the Norwegians, it is something outside their universe of thinking. Ours as well. This fellow, this Anders Behring Breivik age 32 is what we would likely call insane. Berserk.

Berserk would most likely be the appropriate term. The term is old Norse - referring to a warrior type who kinda got himself into a frenzy before battle and fought as though on drugs (paraphrasing). Berserk was the old Norse for "frenzy fighting" and perhaps that's what it is with and about Anders. He was all lathered up over the potential of Muslim immigration and the Norwegian policy in its regard and was making some "berserk" point about it by killing kids. Killing kids. Killing Kids.

In these Scandinavian lands, violence is rare to non-existent; the Berserkians - the tribe of Nordic berserk warriors being long gone. I was in Stockholm when their prime minister Olaf Plume was murdered in 1986. Aside from the tragedy of it, the violence if you will, it was the embarrassment of a political or for that matter "any" killing that was in the air thereafter. Plume was killed in a political act. These kids north of Oslo were killed by a berserk Anders Breivik. The point may have been equally political although the distinction is entirely lost on me. A distinction without a difference.
In a country that values its children as we do, any parent does, and to extremes - well we think immediately of that fellow in Brooklyn who kidnapped a child off the streets and killed him - and we think of what we would do to a fellow like that if we could, how terrible his act was and how much we loath and hate the entire situation - now multiply by 90 or so and that must be what Sundvollen is like today and yesterday and for a few hundred tomorrows to come.

Violence serves and solves nothing. Societies like Norway have, by in large, long ago realized that killing begets killing and death serves no master.

Anders sits a jail cell this morning, guilty by admission, and humanity weeps in the streets with wounds to the psyche and soul never to recover. By law, Anders faces 20 years or so in prison - the maximum allowed, although we can pretty well bet that something special will be enacted to make that sentence grow a bit, but it remains what we here give a stock market thief or a drug dealer of some influence, a bit more up to the crime at hand by our reconing - but action like that is unlikely. Norwegians have long ago realized that the punishment dictated by law makes no difference on how people behave or don't. We doubt that Anders would have rethought the entire escapade if he knew the gallows awaited him.

He is and was berserk and fitting the mantle of a Berserker. We will be visited by such folk now and again and that's just the cold hard fact of it. It makes it no easier for the mothers or the society or, for that matter, the nation.

That's what makes this so horribly sad.


  1. Apparently Anders was proud of his lineage; linking his name to the Germanic term for a bear.

    Which is also where the word "beserk" comes from.



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