As President’s Day draws to a close in the US, my mind is drawn to the butchered English spoken with a French accent in the 1980’s BBC comedy series ‘Allo ‘Allo! Like the police officer in that series, I also ‘ave a massage for you. In fact, I have a Swedish “massage” and I hope my message is clear to everyone.
On Saturday evening, US president Donald Trump made a remark about Sweden that the some media outlets immediately made in to a big story. As someone who was born Swedish, grew up in Sweden, and regularly returns to Sweden, I have an opinion about the remark. But I also have opinion about the reality on the ground in Sweden and in the US. When you have finished reading this article, I hope to have convinced you that the latter is more important than the former.
Trump said the following at a rally in Melbourne, Florida, on Saturday evening:
Here’s the bottom line. We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening. We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this. Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible. You look at what’s happening in Brussels. You look at what’s happening all over the world. Take a look at Nice. Take a look at Paris. We’ve allowed thousands and thousands of people into our country and there was no way to vet those people. There was no documentation. There was no nothing. So we’re going to keep our country safe.
If you want more context, see the full transcript of Trump’s speech here.
Trump was referencing a TV program that had aired in the US the night before his speech, and he said so in a Tweet the following day. Clearly, Trump misspoke, and his manner of speaking in incomplete and disjointed sentences is hardly news.
But did Trump actually claim that a terror attack took place “last night” in Sweden? That is what some in the media wants you to believe. For example, Huffington Post led with “Trump falsely suggested at a Florida rally Saturday that Sweden had suffered a terror attack the previous night”. I don’t see that Trump did so, and more importantly: I don’t buy what the legacy media is trying to sell here.
Please recall Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comment from 2012. I always thought it unfair to use it against Obama because it was clear from the context what he meant. In that faux pas, Obama’s mistake was that he used what grammarians called a “vague pronoun reference.” Obama’s grammatical mistake has been exploited by his opponents to this day to suggest that he is deeply ignorant about private enterprise.
The difference between how the media treated Obama’s faux pas and Trump’s is stark. In Obama’s case, the old-line media was either silent, or they came to Obama’s defense (as the New York Times did here). Yet now that same New York Times proclaims in their headline that “Trump’s Remark Baffles a Nation”. Their article begins with “Swedes reacted with confusion, anger and ridicule on Sunday to a vague remark by President Trump.”
Yes, that’s exactly what I recall that my fellow Swedes and myself doing on Sunday mornings when I was a child growing up: reacting with “confusion, anger and ridicule” to a “vague remark” by a foreign head of state. Sure.
The dying portion of the media wants you be upset over Trump’s verbal faux pas, but not upset about a different faux pas by a different president. Instead, please cut the press out of your decision process on this and every issue, judge for yourself and focus on what matters. Trump’s remark is not really important because words are always less important than reality. And what is the reality in Sweden?
During the last 4 months, we’ve had three couples from Sweden visit us. All live in different parts of Sweden, and all 40 years old or above. I asked them all the same question, indepedently of one another: in the area where you live, have people altered their normal patterns of behavior, for example in terms of when they go out, as a result of a perceived or real increase in crime.
All answered “yes”, and one gave an example of thieves running into his parents’ house and stealing items while they were out in their own yard.
Speaking of crime in Sweden, the New York Times wants you to think that Trump’s comments were only about crime. “Trump Pursues His Attack on Sweden, With Scant Evidence”, announces the NYT headline and reports how the crime rate is flat in Sweden. But no thinking person in Sweden (and many other Europeans countries) believes the official crime statistics because they have knowledge, sometimes personal knowledge, that the police actively discourage you from reporting crime.
More importantly, the debate in Sweden isn’t just about crime, it’s about limited resources and how those resources are being used. The central government in Sweden is allowing large numbers of non-European migrants in to Sweden, immediately putting them on public assistance and labeling anyone who questions these policies as being “racist”, “islamophobic” or at the very least: simply wrong. This tactic has been used for 25 years or more, but the population is increasingly resistant to that particular tactic.
Swedish retirees are not getting the services they need, the health care system is under strain, housing shortages are worse than ever, and many school classrooms have a majority of children who don’t speak Swedish (every pupil suffers as a result). All this is happening because resources are being directed at “helping” migrants. The voters are also well aware that the politicians making these decisions are not exposed to the consequences of their own decisions. Hence the rise in this decade of the Sweden Democrats, a political party skeptical of immigration from outside of Europe and deeply skeptical of islam.
Many Swedish workers feel like fools going to work every day so that one more “unaccompanied minor” muslim, claiming to be a “refugee”, can live on public assistance. I personally know retirees in Sweden who have voted for the Swedish labor party for over 50 years….but not any more. These retirees feel like they are being treated like idiots by lecturing and hectoring career politicians. Their vote for the Sweden Democrats is a loud protest vote…..but the establishment isn’t listening.
Many municipal pools in Sweden are offering women-only swimming hours to accommodate new muslim arrivals. There is a general bowing down to islam in Sweden. Just 10 days ago, Swedish trade minister Ann Linde traveled to Iran with the prime minister. That is Linde in the picture below, speaking to Iranian prime minister Ali Khamenei, as the Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven looks on.
When a high level female Swedish government representative dons clothes she would never, ever wear, just so as to please the leaders of an islamic dictatorship, the message to the islamists is clear. That message is: you are stronger than us. Perhaps that is why German foreign minister Ursula van der Leyen didn’t wear a head covering when she visited Saudi Arabia last December. Yet the average establishment politician in Sweden sees no contradiction between being in favor of “women’s rights” while simultaneously submitting to people who seek to deny women those very rights.
Trump’s larger point about Sweden was correct. “Sweden, who would believe this,” Trump said. Well, I believe it, Donald, because I have been following immigration issues in Sweden for a long time. Already in 1994, I wrote to the Swedish minister for refugees and immigration and expressed reservations about government policies. The letter has been recorded in the Swedish national archives, but here is a copy of it.
In 1994, I asked for a reply to my respectful letter, but received none. The political establishment in Sweden didn’t listen then, and they aren’t listening now. Like some of their elitist counterparts in the US, they are of the opinion that democracy is sacred..unless the voters deliver the “wrong” outcome. Then the will of the people must be subverted. If your parents, retirees with decades of hard work and life experience behind them, should suffer real harm as a result of the government’s unicorn and rainbows policies, that’s just too bad. You’re still wrong….and a racist.
Many Europeans don’t understand why many Americans stand by Trump no matter what he says. The reason is simple: they are more interested in what he does than what he says. Europeans should consider applying that same age-old “don’t listen to what they say, look at what they do” principle to their own politicians.
The volcanic eruptions in Iceland in 2010 actually increased tourism long-term for that island nation plagued by rotten weather. Maybe Trump’s remark will do the same for Sweden? Let’s hope so. And that is all I have to say about Trump’s remark on Sweden.