Thom Hartmann: Bush 'Bluster and Bravado' Inferior to Norway's 'Ballads, Not Bombs'

In Tuesday’s Washington Post, columnist (and former reporter) Charles Lane argued it’s strange to abolish the death penalty even in the extreme cases, like Anders Breivik, the Norwegian mass-murderer of children at a summer camp. He found "threatening Breivik with prison is the reductio ad absurdum of death-penalty abolitionism."

But last Thursday, liberal radio host Thom Hartmann lauded the Norwegians because they “refused to succumb to Bush-Cheney kinds of fear.” He wants to stop any War on Terror, and start defeating killers like Breivik with...songs. "It's time for us to do a lot more singing and a lot less bombing."

Raising the story of a four-year-old in Kansas being declared an "uncooperative suspect," Hartmann declared:

This whole security thing is bizarre. I mean think about this.We’re subjecting our children to abuse because Bush and Cheney decided to use fear to get, to quote George W. Bush “political capital”....Our fear has driven us to the brink of national insanity.  But in Norway, where Christian terrorist Anders Breivik, the people there refused to succumb to Bush-Cheney kinds of fear.

We’re not a nation of fearful people. Well, apparently we are now, post-Bush, but the Norwegians are not...Rather than giving in to the fear that we Americans gave in to after 9-11, instead of going into the place of death with a bullhorn, all full of bluster and bravado, the Norwegian people sang a song, to remind themselves of who they are, of their nation’s values. They reminded themselves they belong to a ‘We’ society, one in which as the song says, ‘together we shall live, every sister, every brother regardless of race or religion.’

That song reminds them they don’t live in a vengeful society. They’re not afraid, and their communities are much stronger than the damage that a terrorist or a hater like Breivik can inflict on them. One can only wonder where we would be today if America had chosen ballads instead of bombs, songs instead of surveillance.

You know, at the end of the day, Osama bin Laden and Anders Breivik had pretty much identical goals. They both hoped that their actions would drive the United States and Norway, respectively, into a fear-driven frenzy, and that once confronted with terror, our governments and our people would react with desperation and eventually become as angry and evil and murderous as were bin Laden and Breivik.

They hoped that their act of terrorism against the United States and Norway would give them exactly what they wanted – a violent, warlike reaction that they could then point to as justification to wage more violence against Americans and Norwegians. But so far, only one of those two men actually succeeded. While bin Laden may be dead and at the bottom of the sea, he died knowing that George Bush did exactly what bin Laden wanted. On the other hand, Norwegian terrorist Breivik? He’s today hearing the songs of a triumphant population, knowing that he failed in his mission to bring fear to the people of Norway. You know, it's time for us to do a lot more singing and a lot less bombing.

Hartmann doesn't believe in the death penalty. He thinks it's much worse for Breivik to hear the Norwegians singing songs he hated about "diversity and love."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis