HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Millennium Goals and a Norwegian’s Cognitive Dissonance

This month, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs released its Millennium Development Goals Report. It detailed how the international community was progressing towards its collective targets to address poverty, diseases, infant mortality, inequality, environmental harm and other problems set out in the Millennium Development Goals. While it acknowledges some progress in many areas, there is a long way to go:  

  • The poorest children have made the slowest progress in terms of improved nutrition
  • Opportunities for full and productive employment remain particularly slim for women
  • Being poor, female or living in a conflict zone increases the probability that a child will be out of school
  • Advances in sanitation often bypass the poor and those living in rural areas
  • Improving the lives of a growing number of urban poor remains a monumental challenge
  • Progress has been uneven in improving access to safe drinking water

The same day I read the report, I also viewed the appalling video “Knights Templar 2083” posted (but now deleted and I am unable to relocate it) by Anders Behring Breivik. The video complemented his manifesto, reported on here. As you may know, Breivik is the Norwegian right-winger who murdered 76 people in Oslo in order stop the Norwegian Labor Party from “driving its ideology” and “deconstructing Norwegian culture and mass-importing Muslims,” according to his reported statement in court. The video reveals the foundations of Breivik’s worldview: the supposed post-WWII institutionalization of Marxist views that is leading to the “deconstruction” of European culture though national governments and bodies like – you guessed it – the United Nations.  

All I can say is that I wish Breivik had been born in a developing country to a single mother suffering from AIDS, malnutrition, and a lack of access to clean water. Or had grown up in an indigenous community where the effects of colonization had wiped out most of his ancestors and deprived them of their lands. Then perhaps he would have really understood what cultural annihilation is all about, and even the role that white, Christian European men may have played in it. The response to his actions should not be fear; it needs to be renewed support for inclusive and compassionate programs that celebrate life and human dignity, programs that the Millennium Goals are designed to generate.


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