The Corner

Apology (Excuse?) from Norway

I know what the NRO-reading masses are asking: Where the @$#! is the Oslo Journal Part II? Well, scattered elements are asking that question. Yesterday, Part I appeared; the other parts will be coming “in due course,” to use a famous and cherished WFB phrase. Days here at the Oslo Freedom Forum are packed, and so are the nights. It’s not that easy to participate in this extraordinary event and write about it simultaneously. And if I skip certain presentations and people — how will I report on them? There is really not much that is skippable over here. So, the journal entries will come later, but come they will. I have much, much to tell you, of considerable interest.

Gathered in this beautiful capital are some of the bravest and most inspiring people on earth. It is “humbling” to be around them. That is a terrible cliché, and people use that word far too casually — but it’s true, I promise you. Many of the participants in the Freedom Forum are former prisoners of conscience. Some have written books or had movies made about them. Some are basically unknown to the world at large. Some are active politicians or advocates back home who face arrest upon their return — because they have been here.

I had a funny little thought: If you totaled up the years that all of our participants have spent in prison, collectively, what would the number be? A very high number, for sure. Hell, Armando Valladares “contributed” 22 years all by himself.

Tell you one other thing: As I mentioned yesterday, President Medvedev is paying a visit to Oslo, at the same time the Freedom Forum is going on. Medvedev is staying in our very hotel. His entourage is large, and that includes many, many fit young men who look like they could do a great deal of damage with their pinkies alone. A lot of them were in the breakfast room this morning, and so was Kasparov — a remarkable, tense sight, as many pointed out.

Again, I will have much to report in coming days. The Freedom Forum president, Thor Halvorssen, has spoken about the power of one man’s, or woman’s, testimony: the power of that testimony to rock tyranny. He cited the all-time example — Solzhenitsyn, of course. And do you know about the image of the oak and the calf? That is an old image for an impossible task: A calf, young and foolish, butts his head against an oak, thinking he’ll topple it. Solzhenitsyn titled his classic literary memoir “The Oak and the Calf.” Oslo is filled this week with calves who can at least make dents in oaks.


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