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The Nazi from Norway

A Commentary By Susan Estrich

They were texting their parents as they were being killed.

The horror in that -- the horror for all of us who stare endlessly at our phones waiting for the texts that tell us our children are OK -- is unspeakable. I've never been to Norway, but I've also never been afraid of it, never thought of it as a terrifying place, never feared that my children might go there.

Add it to the list. No place is safe from man's inhumanity toward man.

I shake my head as I read the articles trying to make sense of pure evil, trying to figure out who to blame and how to deal with it. Blame it on the free speech of anti-Muslim extremists. But he didn't kill Muslim children, someone else screams. So why not blame the elites? Or the liberals who don't punish killers with death?

My favorite scene in the first "South Park" movie is "Blame Canada." Why? Why not?

The most terrifying thing in the world is having no one and nothing to blame but the pure evil that lurks in mankind.

My friend Annie is the child of Holocaust survivors who met in a DP camp. Her parents found love and hope in the rubble. For most of her life, for most of mine, those of us who lived in the shadow of Hitler's atrocities have looked for ways to make "never again" a reality. Stand up to genocide. Educate a new generation. Build our museums, say our prayers, try to educate those who have suffered to replace hatred with tolerance.

And wake up to the news of innocent children texting their parents that they are being murdered by a man whose lawyer claims he is "insane."

I teach law, and I don't even know what that means. Insane? Does that mean he is excusably evil? A beast who deserves to be treated like a man?

I know there are Muslims who hate non-Muslims and non-Muslims who hate Muslims; that there are elites with no love for the masses and poor people with no love for the rich. There are dictators and tyrants and racists and anti-Semites, people who prefer war to peace and confrontation to compromise.

But a mass murder of children? A modern-day Babi Yar?

The only rational explanation is utter irrationality. There is no sense. Just evil.

You are not going to stop this by censoring the Web, by holding a seminar, by holding our hands in prayer. These parents will never recover. These children are lost forever. There is no punishment -- none -- that will ever be enough for this man, and no "justice" to be had.

When I was a child, one of my Hebrew School teachers had a number on his arm. To the consternation of many parents, he made even the youngest of us read the poetry of the children who had been imprisoned and massacred at the Terezin concentration camp. He believed that knowing enough would allow us to fight for never again.

Today, kids don't need a brave Hebrew School teacher to introduce them to the horrors of the world. They are everywhere. Today, it is impossible to cover their eyes.

But what do we say? That it only happens in Norway and Oklahoma City; only on 9/11; only at bus stops in Israel, in markets in Afghanistan and in hotels in India? Where do we go to be safe? What do we do to make the world safe?

How silly our politicians look fighting about who will take the blame for the budget when children are texting their parents as they are being murdered.

Hug your children as close as you can.


See Other Political Commentaries.

See Other Commentaries by Susan Estrich.

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