Christian Christensen Profile picture
American. Professor at Stockholm University. Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin. Write about journalism, politics, culture.

Sep 6, 2018, 11 tweets

(1) So, just three days before the #SwedenElection, and with so many options open to it, the @nytimes decides to run an Opinion piece about Sweden which plays upon many of the stereotypical, simplistic tropes about Sweden we have heard in recent years.…

(2) So, the title. Lazy, clickbait wordplay gives us nothing. The Sweden Democrats are currently polling between 17-24%. So, it's likely that 4 out of 5 Swedes will not vote for them, most of whom do not want their party to enter into a coalition with SD. That's "conquered"?

(3) "Once a racially and culturally homogeneous country." Oh? If journalists are going to publish Op-Eds in the New York Times, at least have the decency to recognize that there are ethnic minority groups in Sweden who have been here for centuries, and in some cases millennia.

(4) Is there violence in Rinkeby? Yes. In some other areas with many immigrants? Yes. Are these very violent areas representative of ALL areas in Sweden with many immigrants? That's not discussed. Nor is the fact that the vast majority of immigrants have nothing to do with crime.

(5) Ah, the "Sweden has never seen murders like this before" argument, which is great if you haven't actually looked. If you do, you will see that the per capita homicide rate in Sweden was lower in 2017 than it was during multiple years between 1979 and the early 1990s.

(6) "Considered no-go zones by some Swedes." Well...yes. There are "some" who think that. There are also a great many, including the police, who do not. As "no-go zone" is understood to be a place where even the police will not go, there is little to no basis for this assertion.

(7) "This could be good for Sweden in the long run" argument is what Žižek said about the Trump election: it will blow up the status quo. The problem is that those who pitch this idea are usually not those to suffer the consequences of that explosion: the poor and minorities.

(8) It's a shame that the NYT decided to go with this stale, tired theme just before one of the most important elections in modern Swedish history, rather than, say, a piece that adds more complexity to the arguments and images of Sweden we have heard many, many times before.

(9) It's not just the overall theme, but the devil in the details. Like no-go zones. Or unheard-of murder levels. For example, I've never heard anyone in Sweden say everyone should get "a state of the art apartment." Don't pitch a non-existent utopia to serve as a juxtaposition.

(10) This piece concludes with a call to reject right-wing populism, but such a call can only be made if one avoids repeating the many simplistic arguments and (mis)representations used by those same populists to present Sweden as "collapsing."

(11) This piece was so flawed I took a lunch break while writing the thread. Even if you forget the arguments I make above, the basic analysis of Swedish politics and the #SwedenElection is, at best, very ill-informed. See these comments explaining why:

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