The first anniversary of the massacre on Utøya has been an occasion for breast-beating and soul-searching, especially in Norway and Sweden. Our Swedish correspondent LN has translated an opinion piece from the Swedish MSM about the lessons Swedes should learn from last year’s atrocity in Norway.
The translator includes this note:
This op-ed by Anna Ardin is pathetic — it is just plain nursery-level, and the original is in bad Swedish, too.
Is this an attempt at self-persuasion?
From yesterday’s Svenska Dagbladet:
The worldview of the racists is not ours
The xenophobes will not get the rest of us to imitate a mindset and a language in which people are lumped together by faith or background. The public discourse shall not be poisoned.
So writes Anna Ardin of ‘One Sweden’, along with representatives of several other organizations.
[Photo: The island of Utøya, Tyrifjorden.
The place where Anders Breivik Behring shot and killed 69 young people.]
After the tragedy at Utøya, we expected that the attitude towards people from other countries would change. That did not happen. Xenophobic blogs are still popular, and the number of organizations which are critical of Muslims is steadily growing. When these forces are given free rein and are allowed to decide what we’re talking about, and how, the conditions for both an inquisitive dialogue between people and for a fair and objective criticism of religion are excluded.
In Sweden racism has a long history. Although the government has distanced itself from racism, it is still alive in everyday life, in reckless statements about immigrants or about the opinions Muslims are supposed to have.
The racism of daily life is reinforced by xenophobic organizations within civil society. In official contexts races are no longer mentioned; instead one speaks of cultures. The struggle against ‘foreign racial elements’ has been replaced by ‘foreign cultures’. But these are cultures that one is born into and allegedly cannot change.
To these organizations, ‘Multiculture’ is the great enemy, as our opponents believe that people who are born dissimilar cannot, or should not, live together. They do not believe that multiple cultures can exist within the same country without giving rise to unsolvable conflicts. Especially Muslims, they believe, are impossible to integrate. The racists also are using criticism of religion in their attempts to legitimize attacks on Islam and Muslims, the same tools so often used in attacks on Jews.
To succeed in their intent, the xenophobes designate Muslims as a single group. They are all alike: strongly driven by religion and with certain political ideas. Muslims themselves may not be heard. Organizations or parties like the Sweden Democrats are determinedly hammering in words like “mass immigration” and “Islamization”.
The aim of course is to get readers to believe that immigrants, especially Muslims, are dangerous. They place people with different skin color, ethnicity, and religion against each other and thereby poison the public discourse.
In this environment it is important to the rest of us not to touch upon xenophobia when we are debating. We must be careful with our words and refrain from sweeping generalizations. We must let individuals be free to define their beliefs and political opinions, and never lump together everybody of a particular faith or background to a single homogeneous group.
The core of civil society is full of conflicts. Organizing is often based on exclusive group memberships, and identity is created through differences. This is sometimes but not always positive. In this process we want to be a positive force. Civil society includes hatreds and authoritarian tendencies, but also conflict management, public culture and education, and association and community activities that represent the opposite.
We gather, therefore, organizations from civil society with very different voices, to engage in activities within a framework of an initiative that we call ‘One Sweden’. Respectful collaboration, we believe, is the key to social and economic success in our secular society. Stereotypes are decomposed, consensus is built up. Together we can discuss social problems and welfare challenges as we share the same basic values: an open, democratic and prosperous Sweden. A Sweden where everyone has the same right and opportunity to contribute to the development, regardless of creed, birthplace or skin color.
If the racists succeed in their creation of social structures, it is not about whether certain small parties will enter parliament or not. It depends on whether we choose to see through their rhetoric and stop supporting their worldview and instead build something else.
Project One, Sweden; think tank Sektor3
Chairman, Young Humanists
Focus Question antiracism, Young Humanists
Chairman of Youth Against Racism
Operations manager, Pentacostal Youth
Chairman of Swedish Muslims for Peace and Justice
Principal Paideia — The European Institute for Jewish Studies in Sweden