It’s an important and ground-breaking essay, especially since it appeared in the Swedish MSM, which up until now has been categorically unwilling to discuss the issue of immigration in realistic terms.
Our Swedish correspondent HL has kindly translated the entire article for us.
“The Journalists cover up the truth about the Immigrants”
Demands for transparency in Swedish immigration politics: Political correctness is like a poison gas in the climate of debate regarding asylum and refugee issues. During a quarter of a century, approximately one million foreign nationals have been granted residency in Sweden. Nine out of ten of these are neither classified as refugees nor are they in need of protection. It is therefore a lie that Sweden’s welcoming of foreigners primarily is aimed at giving protection to the most vulnerable refugees. But this is kept quiet about by both politicians and the mass media. Especially the journalists have failed to live up to their responsibility. Instead we have engaged in a national cover-up for ideological reasons of everything that touches upon immigration, asylum, and refugee issues. The government should now immediately investigate how much those people who have come here cost in public expenses and contribute through taxes. A society that falls apart because of too much immigration serves the interests of no one. Thus writes Gunnar Sandelin, journalist, social worker and former media spokesperson for Bris [Translator’s note: A Children’s Rights Group].
From the mid-70’s and for ten years I worked at a social security office and a rehab center in Stockholm. As a rookie social worker I found myself in a tradition which I instinctively opposed, even from the start, but which I nonetheless soon fell into compliance with. I was granting residence permits to asylum seekers, vacation trips to the countries they supposedly had fled from. I paid social security money to foreign nationals who I was almost certain had undocumented jobs on the side — all done in order to avoid uncomfortable confrontations. Concerning a certain ethnic group, my boss told me that “we’ll just have to support and regard them as a folklorist’s daub of color.” In hindsight it is obvious that I for one lacked adequate experience and the courage it would have taken to change the yielding and permissive system. Many times the social workers engendered an unhealthy dependency on benefits, regardless whether the clients were Swedish or had a foreign background.
During eight years after this I was a reporter for “The Swedish Television Network” There I was given, among other things, instructions by an editor in charge of one of our largest news shows that it should be such a “crying shame for the immigrants that people should cry in front of their TV sets.” In order for a news broadcast to be considered a “good show” it was preferable that there were victims, but between the lines it was understood that the claims of the victims were never to be scrutinized. Since then I have wondered about the reasons why those who are molding public opinion are so poorly in tune with reality in this matter. How many influential journalists have had a longer and consecutively running job in the very reality which they are trying to describe in their reports? Our molders of the public opinion hardly ever live where the problems exist. The elite of writers and professional thinkers belong to the upper middle class, who inside their safe havens can protect their ideological constructions undisturbed, and frown at the intolerance of the more simple creatures. At SVT [the Swedish equivalence of the BBC] we called the average viewers “Nisse i Hökarängen”. [roughly “Joe in Suburbia”].
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On the website of the Office of Migration there is a table with the title “Approved Residence Permits 1980-2006”. It specifies on what grounds any foreigner has been given a residence permit here during the past 26 years. The information has been available for many years, with annual updates. Nonetheless, it sadly seems that the journalists of Sweden have avoided reviewing it. The result has been that the most profound change which has happened in Swedish society in our time has not been officially discussed in any comprehensive way. The statistics from the Office of Migration clearly highlight this dishonesty, by both the media’s reporting as well as the responsible politicians who fear speaking truthfully to the public.
From 1980 to 2006 approximately one million residence permits have been approved in Sweden, of which almost half are permanent, which makes Sweden different from most other countries. An addition of nearly one million foreign citizens during such a short period of history is a great proportion of such a small population as Sweden’s, and when it comes to accepting asylum seekers Sweden tops the statistics per capita for any country in Europe. Besides this, almost half of those who are allowed to stay, about half a million, are included in family-tied immigration. Together with the second largest portion, “Humanitarian Reasons” (Now labeled “Especially Sensitive”), this immigration makes up two thirds of all approved residence permits. But these are not connected to reasons of protection and fall outside the criteria for asylum.
Only 22,000 or 5 percent of the asylum seekers have been granted the right to stay because they are considered refugees according to the UN convention, which group comprises people who are at risk of being persecuted in their native country because of race, nationality, religious or political views, sex, or sexual preference. Another 35,000 have come here as quota refugees, chosen by the Migration Office and the UN’s refugee body UNCHR, after all other possibilities have been exhausted. Quota and Convention refugees are the only groups which are connected to UN decisions when it concerns protection and asylum. But approximately eight out of ten asylum seekers are granted permanent residence permits without being classified as refugees. Instead they are allowed to stay for humanitarian reasons or given asylum on national special addendums which constantly change names: “refugee-like reasons”, “De facto refugee”, “In need of protection”.
When comparing all those who have been granted residence permits during these 26 years, nine out of ten are neither classified as refugees nor in need of protection. This entire picture shows that it isn’t true that Sweden’s acceptance of foreign nationals primarily is to protect the most vulnerable refugees’ right to stay safe.
The big picture may be difficult to explain, but it is the publicists’ obligation toward the general public, whom hardly have the energy to follow every twist and turn regarding immigration, asylum, and refugee admittance. Journalists have a responsibility, and sometimes a clear duty, to highlight societal issues from a comprehensive perspective. This responsibility is one that the people in my line of work have thoroughly failed. During all years there has been an almost complete one-sidedness in refugee matters. We have not presented inconvenient facts nor debated where Sweden’s topsy-turvy asylum policy may lead. Instead we have had a national cover-up which is maintained for ideological reasons, in which the reality must step aside for an idealized self-image and a disingenuous tolerance.
It is rarely beneficial for one’s career to speak in favor of a more restrictive asylum policy or to question the multicultural society. The political correctness is like a poison gas over the debating climate. The feared stigma “Hostile to foreigners/racist” still works as a choke leash and deters many from going into polemics against the representatives of the good cause, who from pure reflex use belittling generalizations to blunt the edge of all criticism. The actual issue will seldom be discussed, which scarcely improves the chances for the most vulnerable refugees to stay.
The very extensive immigration to Sweden, the world’s leading benefits-giving nation, costs enormous amounts — we know that. Speculations in the editorial sections of the daily newspapers and investigations and calculations which have been made since the mid-nineties vary drastically, and point to annual costs between 40 to closer to 300 billion a year. Not too long ago the two chairmen of the Swedish Counties and States wrote in DN Debatt [Dagens Nyheter’s editorial section) that “only half of the men who came as refugees during the latter part of the 1990s had jobs five years later. Regarding the women, this number was even lower, between 30 and 40 percent.” But we are never given a straight answer regarding the costs by the politicians who have opened our borders. In all other cases expenses are carefully considered in detail, but in this case there is amnesty from such basic common sense. Instead we are forced to guess how great the expenses are.
In Europe it is becoming more legitimate to dare to demand a public discussion concerning the societal costs regarding immigration/asylum acceptance. For example, in our neighboring Nordic countries there is a much more open climate. Great Britain’s head rabbi Jonathan Sacks recently put forth in his book The Home We Build Together his misgivings about the disintegration of the multicultural society. It caused lively debate in the British media, but in Sweden not a word. During the Spanish election campaign, immigration was for the first time brought up as a big issue. With us the Moderate Party has at least given notice that asylum politics and integration for the first time will become an election question. The Migration Minister has labeled the Swedish politicians’ fear to speak of the immigration problem as “issue angst” and that they instead should dare talk about “socio-economical problems which are linked to a certain category.”
Of course we should accept people who can prove that they are escaping in order to save their lives. It is equally obvious that one cannot talk about immigrants as one group. But one must still be given the right to discuss the issue broadly and openly, without facing accusations of racism and hostility against foreigners. The transition from Sweden as a homogenous society to a multicultural one is the greatest change in our lifetime. That our tax billions are routinely given out to large groups that have not been classified as either refugees or in need of protection is detrimental to our social morale, and in the long term results only in genuine hostility to foreigners. The bottom line: it is humanitarian hubris to think that Sweden can accommodate any greater portion of all those who are in trouble on our earth. This established thought pattern was in the beginning an expression of solidarity, but has during this golden age of human smuggling turned into pure irresponsibility.
It is time that our profession dare lift the lid and hold a public discussion which is anchored outside the ivory tower of the elite. It is a reasonable demand that the government should undertake an official investigation into how much the people that have come here during the last ten to fifteen years cost in public expenses and how much they contribute through taxes. By doing this we could finally get to have an open discussion about the multicultural society’s benefits and disadvantages from a socio-economical perspective. A society which falls apart because of too much immigration serves no one. We must limit ourselves to helping those who are the most vulnerable if we in the future will have any resources left over for a dignified welcome of refugees.
— Gunnar Sandelin
Hat tip: LN.