Haakon Børde, satirist
In the war on anti-American stereotypes everyone has a part to play. Some, like Bruce Bawer in today's Dagbladet, take straight aim at popular anti-American myths, hoping to change people's minds with good, honest arguments. Others prefer to use satire to expose the hypocrisy and ignorance of their enemies. I've sometimes played with satire, (this one keeps fooling people), but after reading Haakon Børde's article on nrk.no I realize that I have much to learn. Børde is a master of the art, and I bow before him.
The key to good satire, in my view, is to mix the believable with the ridiculous so that readers are unable to tell where the first ends and the second begins. You must begin by making the readers think you're on their side. Børde does this well by opening with one of those broad, incoherent complaints about America you hear almost anywhere:
The US concerns everyone. We watch their movies, listen to their music, drink Cola, buy American war planes, say dot instead of punktum when we give away our mail address. And we've given George W. Bush permission to count us in with the coalition of the willing in Iraq. We build fences around our docks because the Americans demand it.
Notice the clever jump from vague fear of cultural imperialism to political disagreement with the Bush administration. You don't need to show a logical relationship between the two, and in fact attempting to do so will give the satire away too soon, for no real anti-American would think that clearly about their fears. You must build the illusion that you're on the same side as your anti-American readers before you can gradually and carefully distort that picture. Børde shows us the right way to do it, and this opening paragraph will appear to readers not as the insanse mess it is, but as something they can read their own particular anti-American gripes into. French movie fans will read "we watch their movies" and skim the rest, linguistic protectionists will read "say dot instead of punktum" and no more. Everyone is happy, and will read the rest of the article with their critical senses on standby. A clever use of vagueness to confuse your readers.
Between plausible expressions of anti-American views Børde then inserts distortions that are small enough to slip beneath the radars of his readers, but which quietly add up to a feeling that something isn't quite right. The power of these distortions is retrospective: When outright ridiculous claims later on tip you off to the satire, you reread the earlier parts and discover obvious mistakes that slipped by you the first time. They force you to question your own ability to tell fact from fiction: If I could be fooled by this, perhaps I'm wrong about my other beliefs as well?
Here, too, Børde does an admirable job. Consider this gem:
We raise the flag on all public flag poles on July 4, because it is the national day of the United States, but not July 14, which is France's, or October 3, which is Germany's.
Shocking! And nonsense, if you think about it. The reason Norway has a national flag day on July 4 is because it is the Queen's birthday. But as if with the hands of a magician, Børde moves on from this remark so quickly that the objection barely has time to form in the reader's mind before his attention is pointed elsewhere:
Soon we'll probably introduce the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag, though without the "Stars and Stripes" actually recieving the 51th star which shows that we are a member of the union.
This is all unrelated nonsense, of course, but like the anti-Americans he parodies, Børde jumps deftly from claim to claim so that the reader is too distracted to consider any one of them at length. The flag day claim, the bogus statistic vaguely attributed to Michael Moore, a deceptive comparison with Cuba, all in the space of five sentences. All these claims fall apart on inspection, and this kind of writing is designed to prevent that. Even the prostitute quote is untrue, it was falsely attributed to Castro by none other than George W. Bush. Falsehood by falsehood, Børde sets his readers up for a real fall when they discover the joke.
Børde continues with an incoherent rant against American foreign policy. He manages to cover every chapter of the anti-Bush litany, with references to Halliburton, Christian conservatives, weapons of mass destruction, Ariel Sharon and Texas. Even hard core anti-Americans rarely cover this much ground with so few words - impressive. And as we near the end, Børde pulls his claims steadily towards the ridiculous:
When Iraq, that is, Saddam Hussein, began to price Iraqi oil in euro instead of dollars, the fate of the regime was sealed, according to the British journalist John Chapman in The Guardian. If the rest of OPEC had followed suit, the abandonment of the dollar could have ruined the American economy. Saddam had to be stopped - "The Axis of Evil" was invented. ..
At this point the satire is obvious. The theory that Bush invades countries for abandoning the dollar, the speculation that bin Laden may have been innocent, the redefinition of antisemitism, the mysterious reference to the racial purity of the Arabs vs the diluted blood of Jews - at this point surely even the most gullible of readers will realize that they've been had. No genuine anti-American would write an article for Norway's public broadcaster with so many ignorant and disturbing variations of anti-American myths.
The reader, used to swallowing a wide selection of claims about America is here forced to question their own worldview: If the path from their presumably sane views to Haakon Børde's satire is so easy to follow that they only got the joke when he began talking about the racial impurity of the Jews, then how well can they trust their own views? Perhaps the mistake isn't just in the foreign policy of George W. Bush, but in their own arrogant ignorance, (hinted at by Børde: "I read in my 1960 encyclopedia").
Either that, or we're in such a mess over here that NRK's readers won't even get the joke. "Yeah", they'll think, "that's so true: Arabs are semites too, and that means the Iraq war was just a continuation of the Holocaust. And how can we know that bin Laden was behind 9/11 anyway? Everybody knows that the CIA is controlled by Big Oil. And anyway: Halliburton! Halliburton!" Entirely possible. But at least somebody at NRK is trying to expose such views with satire, and that is a good sign.
For this is satire. Right?
Andrew X | 2004-08-01 16:38 | Link
Help me out here....
"We raise the flag on all public flag poles on July 4, because it is the national day of the United States, but not July 14, which is France's, or October 3, which is Germany's."
What does this mean?? What flag? Who is "we"?
Are we talking about a Norwegian flag "being raised on July 4"?? Is the flag of Norway perpetually at half staff the other 364 days of the year? If this is true.... uh... news to me, but thanks, I guess. Is he talking about an American flag? Which tells me that the author is a critical American shocked that we raise the American flag on July 4, but not on France and Germany's holiday??
What am I missing here?
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-08-01 16:44 | Link
Andrew: No, he's saying that July 4 is a national flag day in Norway - a day when all public institutions are required to raise the Norwegian flag - because it is America's Independence day. Which would be shocking if it was true.
Stuart, NY | 2004-08-01 16:50 | Link
Bjorn, is there an English translation of Bawer's article in Dagbladet?
David Boxenhorn, Israel | 2004-08-01 18:16 | Link
Sounds like one of those Soviet satires, that the Soviets didn't know were satires.
Taco | 2004-08-01 20:24 | Link
Okay, let me be the first to admit that you got me there for a while, Bjørn. I had to actually read the whole article in Norwegian, before I understood that it is you who is the brilliant satirist and that Haakon Børde was dead serious. An hilarious post, if it wasn't so damn sad. A brilliant satire nevertheless.
Michael Farris | 2004-08-01 20:48 | Link
It occurs to me to ask how much you (Bjorn) are preaching to the choir by writing in English vs. how much you're writing in Norwegian (much more likely to make an impression on your compatriots, despite the snob-value of writing just in English.
Øysten, Kongeriket Norge | 2004-08-01 20:54 | Link
Mr. Børde also writes that Israel has no oil. It's untrue. From http://www.givot.co.il/
"The Meged Oil Field located 20 kilometers north-east of Tel Aviv was discovered by Givot Olam between the years 1994 and 2004 by drilling three wells on a large structure."
David Boxenhorn, Israel | 2004-08-01 21:08 | Link
The Meged Oil Field is HIGHLY speculative, and not many give it credence. Needless to say, it's not in production.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-08-01 23:34 | Link
Michael: "It occurs to me to ask how much you (Bjorn) are preaching to the choir by writing in English vs. how much you're writing in Norwegian (much more likely to make an impression on your compatriots, despite the snob-value of writing just in English."
You mean this as a general question, why do I write this blog in English when I'd be more likely to reach Norwegians in Norwegian? Because I want to be part of something larger than that. I want to be part of an exchange of opinions between cultures. Not just become an alternative gatekeeper who filters information from the outside world through my own worldview, but to make people less dependent on a small number of Norwegian gatekeepers in the first place.
It hasn't happened, but here's what I hope for: A Norwegian blogosphere, part in Norwegian, part in English, that is large enough and read by enough of the right people that they can do what American bloggers do, serve as a check on the larger media. The plagiarist case last week was interesting, because Lars Ruben actually managed to make some small waves. Probably a first for a Norwegian blogger. But what usually happens is that the few Norwegian bloggers are ignored. I always let the people I write about know what I've said, and I always invite them to reply in this forum if they think I've been unfair. Never happens. They don't need to and they don't want to reply to critics, so they don't. My goal is to keep trying until they do, no matter how long it takes.
When that happens, English blogs like this will become a global meeting place, where Norwegians, Europeans, Americans, Israelis, everyone, can exchange opinions with each others. That's what you and me are already part of, and I want to extend that to Norwegian writers and media, to serve as both a watchdog and an open window into other worldviews. Break down the borders. They're the real problem here, not the particular views I'm fighting here and now.
And also there's the community/choir part, as you say. Readers and feedback are motivation, and if I wrote in Norwegian I'd only have a fraction of what I have now. Remember that I'd have to almost create from scratch something that doesn't exist, whereas with English I could just hook into the English blogosphere. So I'll stick with English. I think it's easier to do what I want that way than with Norwegian, even with the advantages. For those people who care about what language I write in, the things I'm writing are a bigger reason not to like me than what language the words are in.
ic | 2004-08-02 01:29 | Link
'...English blogs like this will become a global meeting place, where Norwegians, Europeans, Americans, Israelis, everyone, can exchange opinions with each others.' American cultural imperialism!
Stuart, NY | 2004-08-02 02:29 | Link
I still wish someone would let me know whether there is an English translation of Bawer's article in Dagbladet that Bjorn blogged about? Thanks in advance.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-08-02 06:52 | Link
Stuart: "I still wish someone would let me know whether there is an English translation of Bawer's article in Dagbladet that Bjorn blogged about?"
No, but the message is similar to this article I wrote about earlier.
Totoro | 2004-08-02 11:13 | Link
I'm writing from China. Michael Farris's nasty remark about using English for "snob appeal" certainly misses the mark by a few kilometers.
How many Chinese do you think read Norwegian? How much Chinese do you think I can read? (Answer: some but not a lot.) And yet I get around.
As you probably guessed, English is a handy tool, not just for snobs.
Re the revealed "satire," it's just sad, sad, sad that so many supposedly literate writers are ignorant of the world.
Herbie NY | 2004-08-02 14:34 | Link
It just boggles my mind that the lead articles in the Aftenposten today are "Tummy trouble reduced traffic fine" (a man who got a traffic ticket for speeding on the way to a bathroom" and "Emergency number abuse soars in Oslo" but not one word about an attack on the US and the UK which is all over every other paper in the world.
Herbie NY | 2004-08-02 14:35 | Link
It just boggles my mind that the lead articles in the Aftenposten today are "Tummy trouble reduced traffic fine" (a man who got a traffic ticket for speeding on the way to a bathroom" and "Emergency number abuse soars in Oslo" but not one word about an possible attack on the US and the UK which is all over every other paper in the world.
Michael Farris | 2004-08-02 14:55 | Link
Totoro, there's no contradiction. English can be a handy tool and English can be used for snob appeal. It's not a choice of one or the other. Both happen all the time and one doesn't cancel out the other.
And I often get the idea that Bjorn thinks he's too cool for his own language. He's certainly the only Scandinavian I've come across who seems to think knowledge/use of English in Scandinavia is too low.
What I don't understand: Bjorn apparently thinks public opinion (as in conventional wisdom, what people write and speak about in public) on a wide variety of political issues in Norway is deeply flawed but seems to devote very little effort to engaging his compatriots and trying to change _their_ minds (that I know of, I just know of his web presence). Instead he writes to/for mostly non-Norwegians who mostly agree with him (but who have no way to really access Norwegian public opinion the way he does).
Stuart, NY | 2004-08-02 15:02 | Link
Thanks, Bjorn. I thought I recognized that name (Bawer), and it turns out it was from your earlier post.
Rune Kristian Viken, Oslo | 2004-08-02 15:32 | Link
Michael Farris: You should be aware that most people are fluent in english, or at least have no trouble reading english. Writing in english makes it possible for both norwegians and non-norwegians to engage in the debate, while writing in Norwegian would limit the debate to norwegians.
Jan Haugland, Bergen | 2004-08-02 15:33 | Link
You got me there, Bjørn, until I read the original article ;)
So, Michael, I'm a snob for blogging in English? Well, we would hardly have this conversation if this blog had not been in English, would we?
English to us is today's lingua franca, if you'll pardon the evil pun. It allows people to exchange ideas across cultures. I'm sorry but I don't like writing only for myself (even though there is nothing wrong with that). How many people on the Net read Norwegian?
And it's nothing American about writing English. I usually try to write British English (with varying degrees of success, obviously). My accent, however, is a mess, currently somewhere between New Yorkish and London English.
PS: All the foreign "news" in Norwegian media is translated from Reuters and BBC anyway. Badly translated, often.
Jan Haugland, Bergen | 2004-08-02 15:59 | Link
Oh, I just read that flame thread about "racist message in two towers" on that Ultimate Guitar discussion board. Now that was just hilarious! Pardon me for the bad pun, but most participants in that thread is obviously tone deaf to satire.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-08-02 16:15 | Link
Michael: "What I don't understand: Bjorn apparently thinks public opinion (as in conventional wisdom, what people write and speak about in public) on a wide variety of political issues in Norway is deeply flawed but seems to devote very little effort to engaging his compatriots and trying to change _their_ minds (that I know of, I just know of his web presence). Instead he writes to/for mostly non-Norwegians who mostly agree with him (but who have no way to really access Norwegian public opinion the way he does)."
We have to keep two things separate here: Language and audience. On language there's really not much to discuss. As I said, I want to be part of a global meeting place for exchange of opinions, and I believe that is the best long term solution to the flaws in Norwegian public opinion: Not just replace one opinion with another, but change the whole way the public sphere in Norway operates. You just can't do that with Norwegian, not the way I want it to happen, and knowledge of English is so common that there's no real drawback to using it.
What you're thinking about is not what language I write in, but who I'm writing for. It's true that I have few Norwegian readers. I can't control that. I can't say that from now on I want to have Norwegian readers, make it so. News blogging hasn't reached critical point in Norway yet, and what little I can do to push it in that direction I'm already doing: 1) Create a website where I do things the way I think they should be done, and 2) let people know that it exists, one by one. What more do you think I should do?
The only thing I could do that I don't is to try to get published in the Norwegian media. This would have a high cost and a low chance of success. I'd likely waste a lot of time writing things that would never be published, or if published be ignored. Now I get to write whenever I want about whatever I like, publish it, get feedback, and be part of a larger community. The way I see it, I stand here. Most of Norway stands over there, playing their game. I don't like their game, and I probably wouldn't succeed at it, so I'll stand here playing my game and wait for the others to join me. There's a nice group of us already, and we grow steadily (if slowly).
Jan: "Oh, I just read that flame thread about "racist message in two towers" on that Ultimate Guitar discussion board. Now that was just hilarious!"
I feel kind of bad about it because people are using me to troll their forums, and I hate trolls. But yeah it's hilarious. Which reminds me: I need to check out this TV show.
Michael Farris | 2004-08-02 16:56 | Link
Rune Kristian Viken: You should be aware that most people are fluent in english, or at least have no trouble reading english.
Where? In Norway, I have no doubt, but not where I live (Poland). People who are fluent in English and have no trouble reading English at the level Bjorn writes at (as opposed to having had a several years of courses and being able to read some texts in a particular field) aren't especially common here.
Stuart, NY | 2004-08-02 17:27 | Link
I'm not sure this is on topic, but when I was at a conference of European business executives in Lisbon a few years ago, I noticed something interesting about the spoken English (the conference was conducted in English). The English spoken by pople whose native tongue was Germanic/Teutonic/Nordic (e.g., Germans, Swiss, Dutch, Danish) was very easy for me, an American, to understand. The Latin speakers, however (e.g., French, Italians, Spanish) were a lot more difficult to understand. Both sets spoke English well, but the difference in accents, and the consequent effect on how understandable the speakers were, was striking.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-08-02 18:23 | Link
Michael: "So, for instance, I wonder how much traffic Bjorn gets from Poland or similar countries (and how much of that traffic is native - I wouldn't count from Poland, for example since I'm American, not Polish)."
Here are the top ten top level domains in my log.
I make that about 75% Americans, vs 25% rest of the world, (and I do mean _world_, there are 82 countries in this list). Norway is skewed upwards by me refreshing the page all the time, but it's higher up than it used to be. Poland is actually in the top 10. Webalizer reports ca 1100 daily "visits" in July, and another tool I use tells me there were about 400 unique IP's a day that month, so that translates to a handful of Poles. Or just you refreshing a lot. They/you're welcome all the same.
Leif Knutsen, New York | 2004-08-02 18:29 | Link
Getting back to the article by Haakon Børde (and a similarly appalling one by Johan Galtung), I just keep wondering:
Is there no accountability for this kind of trash?
I don't mean this rhetorically, or even naively (why is there no justice in the world?) It's a sincere question: What does it take for the editors at NRK, Aftenposten, etc., to read an article and say "this simply does not live up to our standards, even if I happen to agree with the general sentiment."
It seems that we write articles, letters, etc., that point out factual errors and logical fallacies, and they just find their way to the great trashcan in the sky, the circular filing cabinet, etc. It's only when another newspaper picks up on an accusation of plagiarism that any attention is paid, and even then it's dismissive.
Do these guys simply not care that they are perverting their own craft?
jsinger, Boston | 2004-08-02 23:10 | Link
I think the concern people are expressing is that it's a lot less important that you point out this lunacy to us than it is that you explain the lunacy to Norwegians. We read and enjoy your site, but if writing in Norwegian would reach more Norwegians, I'm sure many of us would prefer that you did that.
Susan | 2004-08-03 03:25 | Link
Do Europeans understand that the more you indulge in this kind of childish, irrational trash-talking, the less Americans will listen to anything you have to say, regardless of the content? Even if you have intelligent suggestions or criticisms for us, you will be increasingly ignored.
Your temper tantrums are causing you to LOSE influence over American policy, not gain it.
Totoro | 2004-08-03 05:44 | Link
Susan, what you said is so true. I didn't pay attention to what the foreign press said about the U.S. until the early stages of the Iraq war, when I started surfing the net for information.
Then I discovered how mindless and uninformed the press generally is--both in the U.S. and elsewhere. My respect for the "intelligentsia" of Europe and the U.S. dropped to about zero.
As Susan pointed out, many Americans don't care what Europeans think of the U.S., especially us in "flyover country." For those of you who don't know where that country is, check a map. The next few years are going to be very interesting.
Sandy P | 2004-08-03 07:05 | Link
Leif, start reading David's Medienkritic.
Talk about trash in the papers....
Akvelungen | 2004-08-03 08:06 | Link
Yeah, you CAN'T blame America for the dominance of English. Just look at the world! Most of the Western Hemisphere speaks... umm... SPANISH!
So why isn't THAT the "international language" of the Internet?
Because it ISN'T the "international language" of business.
I've heard the complaint from Europeans a thousand times. "Oh, you Americans expect us to speak YOUR language, but you're too egotistical to learn ours..."
Well, with 300 MILLION English speakers in America, and a mere 4 Million (right?) Norwegians, what benefit would a Chinese have from learning Norwegian? What benefit would a German have? What benefit would a Frog have?
Sandy P | 2004-08-03 08:17 | Link
Via No Pasaran:
There's no good reason to suppose that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development was trying to slip anything by anyone when it chose the busiest vacation period to release a study unfavorably comparing the economy of the euro area to that of United States. … Basically, the report's point was that alongside the euro zone's self-image as a succès d'estime, its inequalities in living conditions were greater than those in the United States. That meant that if you superimposed economic disparities in American regions against the euro zone's standards, only two states and 2 percent of the American population would be eligible for the structural fund assistance, or European Union cash aid to regions, that a disadvantaged 25 percent of the euro area can claim.
But why let the truth get in the way of a good rant???
ic, Chicago | 2004-08-03 10:45 | Link
Thursday, June 17, 2004
The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby
In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will
There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the
In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be
By the fourth yer peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing
Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru. If zis mad you smil, pleas
Harald, Oslo | 2004-08-03 16:23 | Link
I saw stuart, ny requestion an enligh version of the article of Bruce Bawer. He has written a very lenghty piece on the subject in english, which the Dagbladet.no article pretty much is a summary of. A link to the whole article titled Hating America.
jsinger, Los Angeles | 2004-08-03 16:27 | Link
In fairness, the US has existed in essentially its current form for a century and the poorest parts have been states for much longer than that. It doesn't seem quite appropriate to me to compare income equality across the US to the recently grafted together "European" economy.
Herbie NY | 2004-08-03 22:02 | Link
"In order to sustain such a press structure, Norway has developed a resource-consuming system of public support, in the form of subsidies towards paper, government advertising, direct grants, loan arrangements, and cheaper distribution. Certain newspapers may be receiving annual subsidies of up to NOK 20 million. In addition, the Norwegian daily press is exempt from VAT. It has been calculated that subsidies to the press as a whole account for about 20 per cent of all newspaper income"
Herbie NY | 2004-08-04 15:23 | Link
Sort of off the subject, or at least to one side, but there are two really interesting articles: "The Terrorism to Come" By Walter Laqueur and "Outline of a Doctrine of French Policy (August 27,1945)" By Alexandre Kojève. Both are in the current issue of http://www.policyreview.org/
Trond B, Oslo | 2004-08-04 16:46 | Link
Norway is not as nationalistic as America, so, in fact, they don't fly the flag at all.
Evil Paul, Oslo | 2004-08-04 18:55 | Link
Børde's article left me amazed. It would surely be tempting to assume it satirical, had it not been published at nrk.no, the website of the state funded and authorised Norwegian broadcasting channel.
At first you could smirk at the thought of Haakon Børde, stirring himself up year after year when seeing Norwegian flags hoisted on July 4th. But I do simply not believe he is unaware of the flagging being done due to the Queen's birthday rather than the American national day - which makes Børde's agenda and means appear far more sinister.
One excerpt from his rant which demonstrates a few words of unintended wisdom: "So why on earth did not Bush attack Iran rather than Iraq - Iran also commands enormous oil reserves", Børde writes. Well, then perhaps oil is not such an all-embracing incentive for the Americans after all.
Bjørn, have you in any way made direct comments to NRK regarding the article by Børge? If so, it would be interesting to learn of any feedback you have received, if any (which would be interesting in itself).
Finally, though not having posted here before, I take great interest in reading this blog. It provides sound thinking and logical assessment in contrast to the horrendous bias offered by Norwegian media, and in turn by the neatly manipulated public opinion. I used to be dismayed by flagrant media bias designed to fail the US and Israel in any possible way, but as the mocking of Bush etc. increasingly becomes near hysterical, things turn rather unpleasant.
Taco | 2004-08-04 19:13 | Link
"...another tool I use tells me there were about 400 unique IP's a day that month, so that translates to a handful of Poles. Or just you refreshing a lot..."
Refreshing don't add to the *unique* IP count.
Sorry, just had to mention that.
Sandy P | 2004-08-04 21:24 | Link
--Norway is not as nationalistic as America, so, in fact, they don't fly the flag at all.--
Not even at the Olympics???
And as for Americans being nationalistic, the SorK have got us beat.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-08-05 15:26 | Link
Evil Paul: "Bjørn, have you in any way made direct comments to NRK regarding the article by Børge?"
I sent him a link to the piece, (warning that I was hitting below the belt but promising a serious exchange of views if he was interested), and asked if he was going to correct the obvious flag mistake. No reply.
Taco: "Refreshing don't add to the *unique* IP count."
Right - but the first tool counts visits, and you can be counted several times a day if it's far enough apart. And of course several users can be hiding behind the same IP.
John Ø. Welle, Norway | 2004-08-05 18:51 | Link
Evil Paul: "Bjørn, have you in any way made direct comments to NRK regarding the article by Børge? If so, it would be interesting to learn of any feedback you have received, if any (which would be interesting in itself)."
Immediately upon reading the article, I fired away an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, pointing out the most grievous errors of the article. I also asked why opinion-pieces like that were presented amidst ordaniry news coverage without properly identifying it as an opinion-piece.
No reply. (Color me surprised!)
Gill Doyle | 2004-08-05 23:28 | Link
Bjoern -- I am not familiar with Haakon Boerde's work, but I did read that article at nrk.no. I suspect that you, Bjoern, are the satirist when you pretend to give Haakon credit for a clever parody. No, I fear that Haakon is serious and is not just poking fun at anti-American cospiracy theorists. If Boerde is serious, then NRK has really given up on serious journalism, I would say. Boerde's commentary really sticks out as an aggregious recent example of anti-American rhetoric in Norwegian journals. Glad that you've decided to jump on him.
Gill Doyle | 2004-08-06 00:05 | Link
I have to apologize for an egregious spelling error in my last comment. Everyone ought to know by now that native speakers of English are not necessarily good teachers of the language.
I, too, have noticed that (1) very few Norwegians seem to attend Bjoern's blog and that (2) most of those who do drop in seem to share Bjoern's opinions. I fit that mold, being both American and in agreement, for the most part, with what Bjoern thinks about the war in Iraq and various other issues.
It distresses me that there are so few Norwegians who visit the site. I have long ago given up on Aftenposten's debate forum and on other Norwegian forums, where mine are minority opinions that are barely tolerated. As Bjoern has already noted in other places, group-think is a great problem in Norway. Truly divergent viewpoints can be very difficult to put across. Bjoern makes a real effort to ensure that discourse here at his site is civil. Folks who are genuinely open-minded and willing to be persuaded -- willing to CHANGE their minds -- will find an opportunity here to discuss issues without fear of personal attack.
Rune Kristian Viken, Oslo | 2004-08-07 07:56 | Link
Gill Doyle: Hi there. Norwegian here. (Actually, a friend of him). I've gotten several norwegians to read this site. Not certain whether it's in their daily todo list - but remember that not everyone feels comfortable commenting on issues.
When Beorn writes something I think is interesting, I tend to plug his site.
Rune Kristian Viken, Oslo | 2004-08-07 07:56 | Link
Gill Doyle: Hi there. Norwegian here. (Actually, a friend of Bjørn). I've gotten several norwegians to read this site. Not certain whether it's in their daily todo list - but remember that not everyone feels comfortable commenting on issues.
When Beorn writes something I think is interesting, I tend to plug his site.
Gill Doyle, California | 2004-08-08 01:15 | Link
Rune -- thanks, it's reassuring to know that there are folks in Norway who pay attention to what I think are sober and well-reasoned arguments.
I would like Bjørn and Rune and anyone else living in Norway to tell me -- what are we to make of these very odd rants that have lately appeared at major Norwegian websites (Galtung's piece in Dagbladet and Børde's article at NRK)? Are we seeing a breakdown in Norwegian journalism, or has the Norwegian public itself gone off the deep end? Are these articles representative of Norwegian thinking today?
Lars Johnsen, Bærum, God's Own Country | 2004-08-10 14:37 | Link
Gill Doyle: As Bjoern has already noted in other places, group-think is a great problem in Norway.
So group-thinking isn't a problem in the United States? A country of two recognised political parties and the home of the "if you're not with us, you're against us" rhetoric. You've missed Bill O'Reilly's talkings points lately, I presume.
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Heretics' almanac: You gotta wonder about Norwegian editors, August 2, 2004 06:54 PM
The remarkable thing is that nobody at these news organizations seem to care. It doesn't seem to matter that these pieces are shabby excuses for journalism as long as the underlying thrust is agreeable, politically. As long as it's anti-Israel and an...
Autonomous Source: Are they serious?, August 3, 2004 02:26 PM
Sometimes it's hard to tell. Bjørn Stærk analyses an anti-American screed and makes a good case that they're not....
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