We must find a way to break mind-set of extremism
AND SO, the heart of darkness now touches Norway, as it has touched so many countries in which extremism asserts itself. It is too soon to reach conclusions regarding the perpetrator in the horrific Norwegian attacks, but this much seems clear: When extremist ideology meets weapons of mass killing, the result is all too predictable.
Extremism should not be confused with mental illness, which is often blamed for so-called senseless acts of violence. Extremism and its kindred spirit, fanaticism, are the marks of what writer Eric Hoffer called “the true believer.’’ This is the individual who is so intensely and invincibly committed to a belief or ideology that nothing and no one can dissuade him otherwise.
We find traces of this mind-set within the present political paralysis in our government, though in a far less virulent form. No matter our faith, nationality, or political ideology, we must all work toward finding enough doubt within ourselves to see the other person’s point of view.
Ronald Pies, Lexington
Those bent on mayhem count on being only one armed
RE “NORWEGIANS in US hope culture isn’t affected’’ (Page A5, July 25): Once again, unarmed citizens are slaughtered by a lone gunman, with hand-wringing and calls for “heightened gun laws’’ to follow. When are we going to learn that people who are bent on mayhem count on being the only ones with a firearm? When a security guard returned fire at John Salvi during his rampage at a Brookline women’s health clinic, he fled. Bad guys can get guns, whether we like it or not; let them pause and wonder whether a responsible, law-abiding gun owner might choose not to cower and take it.