How Norway threw away the term 'lone wolf'

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Aaron Schachter: Events in Charleston and the suspect at the center of it all, Dylann Roof, have eerie echoes for many Norwegians. Norway suffered through a mass shooting four years ago. Anders Behring Breivik detonated a fertilizer bomb in front of a government building, then gunned down scores of young people at a political summer camp. Helene Skjeggestad writes for Norway’s largest newspaper, Aftenposten. Helene, what are Norwegians saying about the Charleston shootings today?


Helene Skjeggestad: Yes, we are definitely talking about the Charleston shooting. Like every time something big happens in the States, we talk about it, and this is particularly interesting because it has some similarities to the Anders Behring Breivik case that we had, but we had no problems calling Anders Behring Breivik a terrorist. And for us, it’s strange that some American medias are not calling Dylann Roof a terrorist.


Schachter: And that’s kind of the first thing that popped out to you and others there in Norway, is how Americans classify this kind of thing.


Skjeggestad: Yes, of course. I can’t speak on behalf of every Norwegian, but for me, just browsing social media today, I found it strange that they didn’t call him a terrorist because his actions are motivated by race and he’s clearly trying to create fear in a bigger part of the population.


Schachter: How do Norwegians, again from what you’re seeing, compare this mass killing in America with what happened with Breivik? Do they see it as symptomatic of something? Do they see it as one man gone crazy?


Skjeggestad: Well, of course we had the discussion with Anders Behring Breivik, about him being a lone wolf, and I also the same being used with Dylann Roof.


Schachter: You were in a newsroom on that day, right? In 2011, July 22nd? What was that like for you?


Skjeggestad: Well, I’m still quite young and I was even younger four years ago. I just went straight into work mode, and most of us did. The first couple of hours were just surreal, and then afterwards it was just hard work trying to do this with dignity and to do it the right way. But I think it’s the most scary thing I will ever experience.


Schachter: How long after the event did you decide to call him a terrorist?


Skjeggestad: Well actually I talked to a number of people working that day about this this morning, because I clearly remember us calling him a terrorist almost right away, and all of them agreed with me because it was so clearly politically motivated.


Schachter: Helene Skjeggestad writes for Norway’s largest newspaper, Aftenposten. She joined us from Oslo. Helene, thank you so much.


Skjeggestad: Thank you for having me.