By C. Douglas Golden,
Do you remember your high school graduation? Truth be told, I don’t. I was one of those students who was just happy to be rid of the indoctrination. I apparently sat on a lawn chair on the grass of our high school’s football stadium, listened to an average valedictorian give an average speech, listened to the principal tell us all about how we were at the crossroads of life, grabbed a diploma, went to a dinner with a few families at an Italian restaurant afterwards, and that was that. The most I remember is ordering tagliatelle with shrimp in a tomato cream sauce. It was good.
That said, most people liked high school and, I assume, liked the graduation ceremony. It symbolizes years of hard academic work to obtain a diploma — and, in most cultures, it’s a cause for celebration. The manner of celebration differs from country to country; one graduation gown manufacturer notes on its website that traditions range from throwing caps in the air in Britain to Swedish graduates receiving teddy bears to Finnish Ph.D. graduates bringing swords to the ceremony.
In Norway, they keep things simple. You shake hands with the head of the school as your diploma is handed to you. This seems simple, but as Kathrine Jebsen Moore noted at The Daily Sceptic, a British conservative blog, a handshake is not just a handshake in Norway: “Shaking hands is as required in normal social life in Norway as cheek kissing is in France. Every young Norwegian person learns the value of a firm handshake. I remember being told off for my feeble handshake by my grandmother — she could be quite stern so she only needed to tell me once.”
Norwegians, you also won’t be surprised to learn, are socially liberal on issues of gender, with Moore noting that “[a]nother Norwegian custom is treating men and women the same.”
Yet, in a viral clip that’s reportedly from a recent secondary-school graduation ceremony in Oslo, both of these customs were reportedly trashed by a Muslim student who refused to shake hands with the principal because she was a woman — and when the video went viral, Muslim activists came to student’s defense.
Now, it’s worth noting the veracity of the clip — where it took place, whether it was recent, whether it was some sort of setup — has not been established in most English-language media. However, Norway’s most prominent newspaper, Aftenposten, has reported on the incident and published an Op-Ed cosigned by several Muslim activists who defended the student, which would indicate that this isn’t some dated clip dug up by someone with a grudge.
In the video, the student can be seen coming up to grab his diploma without the obligatory handshake. When the teacher tried to reach for his arm, he forcibly pulled back and left the stage.
At that point, the principal delivered a lecture to the audience.
“Guys, we live in Norway. We can’t have it like this, I mean it,” the principal said. “And you parents … we live in Norway. You will have to work with Norwegian women or else you won’t succeed in Norway.” (As The Publica noted, this was likely a reference to a recent piece of legislation passed by Norway requiring companies to have 40 percent female corporate boards at minimum.)
“You’re parents, you have to tackle this. It is expected that you would shake my hand, as an employer,” she said.
At first, the video was published on TikTok — where it went viral, albeit without English captions:
@unknownb811 Rektor prøver å spise elev💀💀#b9@#viral #school #fypシ ♬ original sound – Unknown_b9
It was lent further viral clout when it was posted to Twitter by a pro-Muslim troll account with about a thousand followers, this time with English subtitles: “Based Muslim teenager who refused to shake hands with his teacher. May Allah bless him with more strength and success,” the caption read.
Based Muslim teenager who refused to shake hands with his teacher. May Allah bless him with more strength and success. pic.twitter.com/r58K9kUqMO
— Raaaaazzzzzzzzzzzz (@issoxwadey) June 26, 2023
The owner of the account continued to defend the student in the most base (not based) way possible:
Feminists clowns for gods sake stop making everything about yourselves and shouting Patricachy and mysoginy. In islam both men and women are not allowed touch the opposite gender. The law is equal here. It's not about discriminating a woman it's simply adhering to the religion.
— Raaaaazzzzzzzzzzzz (@issoxwadey) July 3, 2023
The clip got further viral momentum when an Indian journalist affiliated with Russian state media and India’s Hindustan Times criticized the behavior of the student.
Harmful student graduating from school in Norway refuses to shake hands with his female high school principal on religious grounds. These Harmfuls have no problem committing taharrush and rape of European women but shaking a woman's hand is haram?
Good to see the principal not… pic.twitter.com/Qhf22UxbR9
— Rakesh Krishnan Simha (@ByRakeshSimha) June 26, 2023
“Is this a case of too little, too late? Woke Norwegians allowed hundreds of thousands of Harmfuls to enter their country and now are faced with high crime rates, terrorism, unsafe cities, unemployment doles,” Rakesh Krishnan Simha tweeted.
“And still Norway won’t learn. Instead of focusing on jehad and the virus within, they believe Russia is the enemy and are pouring billions of dollars and weapons into Ukraine. Harmful immigrants are Europe’s karma.”
Again, this is a troll account, this time using the clip to deflect blame from Russia for invading Ukraine. Right. Sad to say, however, that this is arguably the most visible take that sides with the teacher, at least on social media.
Off of social media, there were more defenses of the Muslim student’s behavior to be found. In Norway’s most prominent newspaper, Aftenposten, several Muslim activists authored an Op-Ed on June 27 which criticized the school.
“There is a need to scrutinize the school,” the activists wrote in the Op-Ed, according to a Google translation.
“Most people remember their own graduation ceremony: how proud they were of completing their schooling and how hopeful they were for the future,” the Op-Ed noted.
“What was supposed to be a joyful diploma ceremony at a secondary school in Oslo last week, however, turned into a humiliating affair when the audience was exposed to an aggressive demonstration of power from the school management.”
The authors went on to accuse the principal of having “used the opportunity to alienate Muslim youth” because she “delivered a scolding sermon that if you live in Norway, you have to shake hands.”
“This attack on the self-determination of Muslim youth is paradoxical on many levels: It is happening at a time when there is a great spotlight on embracing diversity and the right to be oneself,” the Op-Ed continued. “You would have thought that the post-Covid-19 period would have taught most people that there are a variety of ways to greet each other in a friendly manner. The attack takes place at school — which is an important arena precisely to counteract negative social control.”
In other words: Muslims should be able to enjoy the cultural perks of living in Norway — which is assumedly part of why they or their forebears moved there, because Islam isn’t exactly endemic to the Nordic countries — without having to follow any of the cultural norms they find offensive to them. In this case, it’s literally a teenage boy treating a grown woman with disrespect because, in his worldview, he believes unnecessary contact with members of the opposite sex is haram, or prohibited by Allah.
And this defense of this behavior is being published in Aftenposten, Norway’s answer to The New York Times. This is the crazy, upside-down world of the cultural left: There’s no need to assimilate into any society or respect their norms, at least if that society is in the West. A Norwegian visitor to Saudi Arabia would not be protected or lauded by anyone at Aftenposten if he encountered “negative social control” when he tried to drink some Jack Daniels from a flask whilst walking the streets of Riyadh.
Granted, we don’t have definitive evidence of where or when this happened — although reports strongly suggest it was in Oslo in June. We do have a good idea as to why it happened, though: This young man believes the cultural values of the nation offering him an education and a diploma are depraved and debauched, in part because he’s forced to shake a woman’s hand in a country where hand-shaking is a custom of some significance. And then, that country’s paper of record allots space for activists to scold the principal this young man set out to insult.
If a nation cannot defend its own cultural values, there is no longer a national culture. All that is left is a managerial state which allots money and resources to whomever happens to be inside its borders at the present moment. It’s enough to make me want to defend the rituals of a high school graduation ceremony I don’t even particularly remember — apart, of course, from the tagliatelle.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.