As the trial of the biggest mass murderer in Norway's history opened yesterday, the most striking aspect was the calm. It stood in contrast to the bizarre range of emotions on display from the accused, Anders Behring Breivik. The killer – he does not dispute his responsibility for the deaths of 77 people – sat impassive as the screams of his victims were heard, smirked at footage of his bomb attack, but wept as his preposterous romantic propaganda video was played in court.
Much has yet to unfold, but Day One put on display the virtues of liberal civilisation in the face of the deluded chaos of terror. Soon after the massacre, Norway's Prime Minister vowed the country's response would not be vengeance but more democracy, more openness, more humanity. "We will answer hatred with love," he said. Yesterday we saw what that means in practice – moderation, measure, sensitivity, toleration and due process. It is a lesson to the rest of the world.Reuse content