Henrik Syse

A Word of Warning ahead of 2017

Decency, humility, and thoughtfulness are core virtues in a civilized society. Now we need to fight for them. «Political correctness» can be a sinister labeling for common decency. A wish to preserve dignity and openness, and to avoid willfully disrespecting others’ beliefs or characteristics, should after all be a natural part of all public communication…. Read more »

Receding into the Background?

As 22 July 2011 becomes a more distant memory, we are overwhelmed with massacres and terrorist attacks in other parts of the world, including fierce attacks in Turkey, France, and the United States. At the time of writing, the terrorist attack in Nice, France, is the most recent. Many of these attacks seem to be… Read more »

How Much Should we Tolerate?

In his New Year’s Eve speech last year, King Harald used the expression “We should say kind words”. Some weeks later, many of us were saying “Je suis Charlie”, expressing solidarity with a periodical that published satire that many people certainly found was not kind at all. Can we reconcile these sentiments? Yes, I believe… Read more »

We are being Put to the Test

We must both take in refugees and preserve our culture and way of living. A flood of migrants is coming to Europe. They are fleeing chaos and war. They are from all levels of society. The vast majority would have remained in their homelands if they had been able. But as a result of violence,… Read more »

The Important Debates – Four Years Later

Four years have passed since the biggest terror attacks on Norwegian soil during peacetime. Once again we are solemnly commemorating the dead and expressing our solidarity. The debate about the potential uses of the actual sites that were affected is also very much alive and continuing. But are there other debates that we also need… Read more »

The Hitler Analogy

The Hitler analogy – also known as the Munich analogy – is deployed frequently in political debate. In Munich in 1938, the British prime minister made the historic error of failing to comprehend the extent of the evil represented by Adolf Hitler. Chamberlain signed a peace agreement with Hitler that Hitler never honoured and that… Read more »

After Charlie Hebdo: We Must Never Cease to Protect the Rights of People who Provoke and Challenge

Why do satirists and critics of religion have to be so provocative? Why must they publish images that they know to be offensive to some people’s beliefs and traditions – and that brutal extremists may use as a pretext for terrorist acts? That such questions are asked is understandable. But for many reasons they must… Read more »

“Double Effect” in Gaza

Recent weeks have shown us – yet again – how complex and terrible war is. We can all agree that terrorism and brutal fanaticism must be met with robust responses. But it is easy to say that one must do “something” (not to mention that one must do “more”). When we have to specify what… Read more »

Has Much Time Gone By?

One of the most famous anecdotes about the passing of time is from the early 1970s, when Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was asked what he thought about the French Revolution, to which he replied: ‘It is too early to say’. The fact that the interpreter has later pointed out that Zhou probably thought the question… Read more »