Late one night two years ago, only days before Christmas, two burglars wearing ski masks climbed through an open window into the Oslo home of Arild Opheim and Elin Ruhlin Gjuvsland. The noise they made woke Elin first. She saw a shadow through the bedroom door. Next thing she knew, the two intruders were on top of her and Arild, holding them down on the mattress and saying, in English, “Don't look. Sleep. If look, we kill.”
The thugs tied up the couple – both of whom have worked for years as journalists and program hosts for NRK, the state TV and radio broadcasting system – and gathered up various items, including computers and telephones. Arild and Elin also handed over their bank cards and pin codes. The men were “very aggressive” – one of them struck Elin in the head with a blunt metal object. But they also attempted, as the couple explained last Friday on the TV talk show Skavlan and in a Dagbladet op-ed, to “win sympathy by telling their story.”
In a mixture of Spanish, Arabic, and broken English, they maintained that they “weren't evil people” but were “in a desperate situation. They wanted to be able to reside and work and lead a normal life in Norway. But their asylum application had been rejected. Now they had no other choice than to rob us and to get money to return home.” In order to get back home “see their families,” they “needed 20,000 kroner” – about $4000. “They'd had a tough life, while Norwegians had it good.” Arild and Elin, said one of the crooks, deserved what they were getting.
(In fact, no rejected asylum seeker in Norway needs to rob anybody to get home. The Norwegian government pays all the expenses for such repatriation. And then some.)
Soon after the traumatic episode was over, both of the perpetrators were nabbed by cops. One of them, an 18-year-old Algerian who'd lived in Spain for several years, was sentenced to a year and seven months in jail and ordered to pay 60,169 kroner to Elin and 26,847 kroner to Arild. His confederate was arrested in Denmark and placed in a “youth prison,” from which he escaped; he's now on the lam. As for Arild and Elin, the whole nightmarish experience made them, in their own words, “skittish and careful.” It caused them to think “ugly thoughts about immigrants.” Elin “couldn't even stand hearing small children speaking Arabic.” Eventually they decided to write a book.
It's now out, entitled Uninvited Guests. On Skavlan, they said that writing it was their salvation. For after that terrible night, you see, they were in peril – in peril of something far worse than just losing their lives. They were in peril, quite simply, of viewing themselves, and being viewed by others, as racists.
Racists! As Elin put it, she came dangerously close to buying the theory “that immigrants are just coming here to exploit us, that we have to make sure that there won't want be too many of them, and that we're going to be overpopulated with certain nationalities in fifty years.” She'd begun to worry that thanks to lax immigration policies, there was “going to be massive crime so that we're not safe in our own city.” In short, she was on the brink: “I thought: 'Damn it, is this going to turn me into a racist?'”
Pause for a moment and ponder that statement. “I thought: 'Damn it, is this going to turn me into a racist?'” Note, especially, the implied definition of “racist” – namely, someone who has a realistic understanding of current criminal statistics, of reasonable demographic projections, and of the less-than-noble motivations of many “non-Western immigrants.”
But Arild and Elin's story ends in victory. To be sure, Elin admits that she's more scared now than before about her children's everyday security. But, she affirms triumphantly, “we haven't become racists.” Au contraire! Thanks to those men who climbed in their window, physically abused them, and threatened their lives, she and Arild have become first-class dhimmis. As they wrote in their op-ed, they now agree with what one of their uninvited guests told them:
Yes, we are getting what we deserve....We're getting what we deserve because of Norway's, and Europe's, immigration policies. Because they're too strict.
Yep, you read that right: Europe's immigration policies, which have transformed the continent in the blink of an eye, are “too strict.” Arild and Elin defend their thesis as follows:
Why do people move? Why do emigration and immigration take place? It's about dreams. They have a dream that life can be better in one way or another if they move – whether it's from one neighborhood to another or from one continent to another.
Whether one moves from Norway to Spain because one is tired of the cold or whether one comes from North Africa to Europe in the hope of working a few years and saving money for a house in one's homeland, it amounts to the same thing. It's dreams that motivate us. It's totally normal. We all have dreams of another and better life. Can there be anything criminal about that?
Dreams! To put it briefly: a retired Norwegian couple who've worked hard all their lives and spent their savings to buy a co-op in Alicante – where they obey the law and contribute to the economy – are no different from Muslim “youths” who make their way to Norway with fake identity documents and set about bullying and tormenting the natives. They come , write Arild and Elin, “with a dream of a better life, for a period or permanently.” And what do Norwegians do?
We stick them in an asylum center – which Progress Party politicians now want to lock up, like prisons. We treat dreamers as if they were thugs. And perhaps that makes it easier for them to actually become thugs? When we crush their dreams of residency and jobs, and force them into an illegal life on the street, perhaps we do get what we deserve when they turn to crime to survive. That was what the guys who robbed us said. Over time, we've come to understand what they meant.
If they're thugs, then, it's our fault. They may rob or rape or kill us – but even as they're doing so, we're still the bad guys, and they're still the real victims.
Such is the argument advanced by these two NRK journalists. It's clear enough what happened here: Arild and Elin, in their urgent quest to avoid thinking of themselves as “racists,” grasped onto their intruder's claim that he and his buddy would never have committed such an offense if their asylum applications hadn't been rejected. This allows Arild and Elin to suggest that if only all asylum seekers were allowed in, such transgressions would be a thing of the past.
The tiny little problem with this proposition is that Arild and Elin's rhetoric bears virtually no relationship to reality. Repeated horror stories coming from the asylum centers – where stabbings and riots are frequent occurrences – only serve to underscore the fact that we're not speaking here about gentle souls driven to violence by cruel circumstance; rather, we're speaking about a systematic, reckless endangerment of the Norwegian people by authorities who share Arild and Elin's immunity to the facts about the people they're importing into the country and planting, like bombs, in previously peacable rural villages. And the facts are very much on the side of those who argue for locked asylum centers and for sending rejected applicants back home at once.
In recent years, violent felonies by asylum seekers have become an outrageously disproportionate part of Norwegian life. One morning in 2004, on the same tram that my partner took to work every day at almost exactly that hour, a Somali man stabbed five people, killing one, 23-year-old Terje Mjåland (who, being deaf, may not have heard his fellow passengers' screams). Did he deserve it? Two years later, an asylum seeker from Algeria walked into the Oslo office of a remarkably kind, gentle doctor I knew, Stein Sjaastad, and stabbed him to death. Did he deserve it?
Arild and Elin have a proposal: “Why not open the borders and let them regulate themselves?” After all, they ask, what are international boundaries other than lines on a map that have been “constantly shifting all through history”? That being the case, how can we think we have the right “to refuse to let people cross the lines we have drawn around us?” Yes, they're aware of Oslo's current wave of robberies and burglaries (the overwhelming majority of which have been committed by “non-Western immigrants”), and they claim to understand the need to fight crime. But the most effective approach, they say, is to “fight the need to commit crime” by “helping the dreamers – illegal immigrants – who are standing helpless on the streets of Europe.” In other words, the solution to bloodthirsty lawlessness by non-Western immigrants is to bring in more of them. If Norwegians don't do so, “we will only continue to get what we deserve.”
So ends Arild's and Elin's op-ed. Reading it online, I couldn't wait to see the reader comments. Alas, at the bottom of the page I found this single sentence: “The comments section was clos ed on Saturday afternoon owing to several hateful and harassing posts.” Not only was it closed – the comments had been removed. Fortunately, the website document.no has reproduced them. There are hundreds, maybe thousands. I read a few dozen. They're not “hateful and harassing.” They're the reactions of Norwegians who have their heads screwed on straight and who've had it with the likes of Arild and Elin, whom they describe, variously, as “naïve,” “warped and indoctrinated,” and fiercely determined “to be politically correct.”
Indeed. For my part, I'm grateful to Arild and Elin for providing this illuminating glimpse into the psychology of political correctness. They describe their burglars as desperate to get home. But it's Arild and Elin who, after their awful experience, were desperate to get “back home” – back home, that is, to the comforting certainties of their PC ideology.
And they did. What a stirring triumph! Their ideology came smack up against reality – and yet they found a way to cling to it nonetheless.
I look forward to their commentary on the country's latest atrocity. On Monday evening, a rejected asylum seeker from South Sudan hijacked a bus in western Norway and murdered three people. He was living in a nearby asylum center that had been in operation for just three months ago. If the Progress Party had had its way, the center would have been locked – but of course that would've been inhuman. If the locals had had their way, according to news reports, the center would never have been there in the first place: it was forced upon them by county officials, who considered their opposition xenophobic.
The murder victims were the bus driver, a Swedish passenger in his fifties, and a 19-year-old girl who was identified as Margaret Molland Sanden, a chemistry and biotechnology student at the College of Oslo and Akershus whose Facebook page shows that she was a fan of Bob Dylan and of 24. Three unfortunate deaths, undoubtedly. But, after all, they got what they deserved. Right?
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