By Bruce Bawer
Night after night last week, as the tumult in Stockholm not only continued but kept spreading to more and more neighborhoods and then to other Swedish cities, the media in that country, by and large, kept pretending that it was all about things like unemployment and social marginality, all of which were supposedly aggravated by Swedish racism (and, especially, by the insufficiently respectful attitude of police officers toward immigrant “youths”); meanwhile, the foreign media, which, as the disorder persisted, found it increasingly difficult to pretend that all this wasn’t happening (the New York Times finally ran a four-sentence Reuters item about the bedlam on Thursday), largely echoed the domestic disinformation.
Of all the reports I looked at, the one that most effectively epitomized the asinine, mendacious approach of the Western media to this latest nightmare was a piece from Reuters that had no fewer than eight names attached to it. I would strongly recommend that you read the whole thing; in fact, I would suggest that it be taught in future history courses as a prime example of the high level of duplicity of which the early twenty-first-century Western media were capable when confronted with raw displays of Islamic power on their own turf. Credited to Niklas Pollard and Philip O’Connor, with “additional reporting” by Johan Ahlander, Mia Shanley, Patrick Lannin, and Simon Johnson, writing by Alistair Scrutton, and editing by Janet McBride, the Reuters piece was headlined “Sweden riots expose ugly side of” – no, not of “European immigration policies” or “Islam,” of course, but of the “Nordic model.”
Yes, it’s all the fault of the “Nordic model”: the roots of the Stockholm unrest, Reuters (and virtually every other major Western news organization that deigned to report on the disturbances) would have us believe, lay “in segregation, neglect and poverty,” in years of “fruitless job hunts, police harassment, racial taunts and a feeling of living at the margins.” And so on. Which means, I suppose, that 9/11 revealed the flaws of the American model, and the car-burnings in French suburbs reflect the weaknesses of the Gallic model, and the explosions in Madrid were all about the failings of the Spanish model, and the savage murder of Lee Rigby in London last week…well, you get the idea.
The dispatch from Reuters suggested that Sweden’s “lowered taxes” (which are still absurdly high) and “reduced state benefits” (which are still staggeringly bounteous) are responsible for rising economical inequality and segregation, and thus for the pandemonium in the streets. An Ethiopian-born woman interviewed by Reuters maintained that Swedish kids won’t play with her daughter “because she’s dark.” (There was no mention, needless to say, of the real problem in an increasing number of Scandinavian schools, namely the systematic harassment, and worse, of ethnic Swedish kids by their immigrant-group classmates.) On late-night trains from downtown Stockholm to the suburbs, the Reuters team told us, you’ll see “exhausted-looking Arabic or Spanish speaking immigrants returning home from menial jobs”; an “Asian diplomat” lamented that immigrants in the Swedish capital “are mostly selling hotdogs.”
The point of all this being – what, exactly? That it’s the hard-working holders of low-level jobs who are setting fire to cars and buildings? That it’s legitimate for a newcomer to Sweden to go on the rampage because he’s got to work as a hot-dog vendor? Nowhere was there a hint that the extraordinary history of immigrant success in North America, for example, was written by people who worked themselves up from employment of that very sort. Nowhere, moreover, was there a hint that what counts as poverty in Sweden would be considered remarkable affluence in the hellholes most of these punks’ families hail from. Yes, the Reuters gang acknowledged (fleetingly) Sweden’s generosity to its foreign-born inhabitants, but the implication remained that the free housing and endless handouts somehow just aren’t enough – that the state should find a way to shield them from every variety of professional frustration and personal disappointment, from a failure to land the ideal job to the unspeakable fate of being tired at the end of a long workday.
The boys and girls of Reuters, while taking obvious pains not to give a remotely negative impression of the Stockholm hoodlums, cited without comment hoodlums who pretty much blamed the police for everything that’s happened. “In the beginning it was just a bit of fun,” one of the rioters insisted. “But then when I saw the police charging through here with batons, pushing women and children out of the way and swinging their batons, I got so damned angry.” Yes, if the cops had only left them alone to burn a few cars, it would all have been over by now! Plenty of participants in the nocturnal melees – as well as busybody agitators from the mischievous, rabble-rousing group Megafonen – threw around charges that police officers, in addressing the troublemakers, had used insulting language, including racist words.
Those accusations seem dubious, to say the least, given that the Stockholm police, far from treating the city’s delinquents with the aggression they deserved, seemed determined not to hurt or offend them in the slightest. On Wednesday night, according to the BBC, they didn’t make a single arrest – supposedly because their “priority was to disperse mobs and ensure access to fires for the fire brigade,” but really, one strongly suspects, because of Swedish authorities’ manifest terror of doing anything that might open them up to charges of insensitivity, let alone brutality and – heaven forfend – racism. On Saturday night the number of arrests reached 35, but this was still a drop in the bucket (to be followed, one can pretty safely wager, by 35 slaps on the wrist). “Police can put down these riots in five minutes – if the politicians were to allow them,” a Sweden Democrat politician, Kent Ekeroth, said. Journalist Ingrid Carlqvist agreed: “The police could do so much, [but] have told the public that they mean to do as little as possible.” Though police suspect that all the mayhem is being planned via social media, with Megafonen playing a lead role, they haven’t hauled that group’s leaders in for questioning, but have instead, in good Nordic fashion, tried (so far unsuccessfully) to arrange a “dialogue.”
As it happens, both of the above-quoted comments by Ekeroth and Carlqvist about the straitjacketing of the police appeared at the website of the Russian news organization RT – one of the few major outposts of honesty about the week’s events. Ekeroth also observed that immigrants to Sweden get “welfare, access to the educational system – up to university level…access to public transport, libraries, healthcare….And still they feel that they need to riot.” Carlqvist, for her part, called the riots the work of immigrants who “don’t like Sweden” and don’t “want to integrate,” but who’ve settled in the country “because they know that Sweden will give them money for nothing.” Alas, when Sweden’s Parliament discussed the strife on Thursday, Jimmie Åkesson of the Sweden Democrats was upbraided by Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt himself simply for mentioning the plain fact that the whole megillah was started by immigrants. Some of those immigrants, Reinfeldt thundered back, are actually trying to calm the mob. “These are my heroes!” he declared.
On Friday, Friatider recounted remarkably frank comments made by Ulrika By of the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter in an interview with Timbro, a libertarian think tank. Admitting (as paraphrased by reporter Maria Lindström) that Swedish journalists “don’t report on problems in the multicultural suburbs,” By defended this practice, saying that the media shouldn’t write neutrally about things like the Stockholm riots – or, for that matter, on any other developments that might conceivably be exploited by bigots. “Journalists should strive not to exacerbate xenophobia,” she pronounced, acknowledging that “we opt out of stories and events that can be easily put to xenophobic purposes. We do not quote everything we hear and do not tell about everything we see.” What can one say about someone who’s so proudly honest about systematically lying?
The most stirring piece I ran across – the one that did by far the best job of saying what needed to be said – was an editorial in Saturday’s Jyllands-Posten. (That’s the Danish daily, of course, that’s famous for printing the Muhammed cartoons in 2005 and for standing up to the ensuing turmoil and death threats.) Headlined “The Swedish Lie,” the editorial underscored the fact that the goons in Stockholm aren’t just “youths” – as the euphemism-loving Swedish media would have it – but Muslim bullies, products of a “Middle Eastern culture of violence,” who are “turning their aggression on other people’s property and the public order” in what is “clearly a demonstration of power.”
The editors noted that for years, self-congratulatory members of the Swedish elite have contrasted their country favorably with Denmark, which they smeared as racist for its relatively open immigration debate; the self-delusionary implication was always that Sweden – by virtue of its, well, virtue – was immune to the “conflicts, clashes, criminality, welfare fraud, so-called honor killing, innumerable assaults on women, [and] waves of violence” that plagued the rest of Western Europe. But in fact, the “ruthless macho culture” from which these perpetrators spring “knows no national boundaries,” and thrives especially on situations in which it meets with no significant opposition. And it’s precisely this – as the editors of Jyllands-Posten sagely, devastatingly, and eloquently pointed out – that makes Sweden, more than other nations, “a paradise for the masked men of violence, who, under the cover of night and the media’s complaints of police violence, can see their will realized and, house by house, month by month, gang by gang, show who’s boss, while Sweden sleeps.” It’s time, the editors urged, for Sweden to wake up.
They’re right. But don’t hold your breath. Sweden is sleeping very deeply indeed, and its dreams are far sweeter than the reality to which it refuses to awaken.
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