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Category Archives: Political Correctness
Heres the data that shows Americans who rage against political correctness are the most xenophobic and most likely to vote Trump – AlterNet
Posted: March 26, 2020 at 6:24 am
Though Trump has previously raged against political correctness explicitly, and indeed, campaigned on it in 2016, when it comes to this recent COVID-19 labeling campaign, other far-Right thought-leaders have been doing this for him. For example, in a March 14th interview on Fox News, Arkansas Republican SenatorTom Cottonstated, Anyone who complains that its racist or xenophobic to call this virus the Chinese coronavirus or the Wuhan virus is a politically correct fool, and they ought not to be listened to about anything.
And March 20th, Former Fox News hostBill OReillytold Glenn Beck: The worst thing in this pandemic virus outside of the actual illness itself of course is the political [sic] correct media still, still peddling garbage that hurts the American people. Quoting an ABC News reporter, OReilly said in a whiny, mocking voice, A lot of people think its racist if you call it the Chinese Virus.Its sickening.
But survey data confirm that white Americanslike President Trump, Senator Tom Cotton, Bill OReilly, or their followerswho attack politically correct language as the enemy are in fact the most likely to hold racist or xenophobic views.In a nationally representative survey fielded in February 2020, we asked Americans to indicate how much they agreed with statements about using politically correct language. We also asked Americans for their views on refugees from the Middle East and Americas control over its Southern border.
In the first figure [left], we see that, as Americans agreement with the statement Too many people are easily offended these days over language increases, the more likely they are to believe that the federal government should do more to secure the Southern border and that Middle Eastern refugees pose a terrorist threat.
In the second figure [below, right], we see a similar trend, but in the opposite direction. The more strongly Americansdisagreewith the statement People need to be more careful with language to avoid offending people, the more likely they are to hold xenophobic views about refugees from the Middle East and to want stricter border control.
In sum: both figures show that white Americans who voice the strongest opinions against politically correct language also hold the strongest anti-immigrant attitudes.
Just as important, they are also the group most likely to plan on voting Trump in 2020.
The last figure [left] shows the percentage of white Americans who indicate they plan on voting Trump in 2020 by their level of agreement with our two statements regarding politically correct language. Nearly 80% of white Americans who strongly disagree that People need to be more careful with language to avoid offending people, or who strongly agree that Too many people are easily offended these days over language, intend to vote for Trump in November.
Seen in light of these data, Trumps dual strategy is clear. By unapologetically referring to COVID-19 as the Chinese Virus, Trump is first able to signal to his white base that he too is disdainful of scheming, disease-ridden outsiders. But he can also intentionally provoke a backlash against his hurtful and xenophobic language, which he and his followers can dismiss as leftist political correctness. Trump shores up support against both a perceived external threat (immigrants) and an internal threat (liberals) with a single dangerous and offensive swipe.
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Posted: at 6:24 am
By Gail Travers | on March 25, 2020
To the Editor:
One would think that politically correct is such an innocent term. How can anyone be against something so friendly, something supposed to encourage harmony and peace between all people? Think again.
This movement calledpolitical correctness has ignited controversy across the land. And although the movement arises from the desire to sweep away the debris of racism, sexism and hatred, itonly has intensified it by replacingold prejudices with new ones.
Racism is a fire that the political class cant put out. Intentionally or not, politicians, the media and academics are all stoking the fire of racism. When all else fails, bring out the race card. Liberal progressives know that certain words can hurt you when you talk about your rights and liberties.
The latest weapon in their arsenal is the word xenophobia, defined as the fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners.The liberal American media would have you believe that if you refer to COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus, as the Chinese virus, that would be xenophobic or racist.The far left wing of the Democratic Party has done a good job of manipulating the language. You would think the conservatives would be the ones to fight all this nonsense, yet their voices are quiet. The PC brigade has them on the run because they are so frightened of being branded as racist.
Little Egg Harbor
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Posted: at 6:24 am
The spread of coronavirus has hit America hard, infecting thousands and causing significant disruptions to daily life. In such difficult times, citizens turn to their elected leaders for guidance and aid.
President Trump has risen to the moment in admirable fashion, delivering timely and crucial federal assistance to those affected by the outbreak and taking every measure necessary to protect the health and safety of the American people.
The Trump administration has coordinated an unprecedented, aggressive, and whole-of-government approach to fighting coronavirus. President Trump instituted travel bans to protect our borders, first making the bold call to ban travel from China, a life-saving decision made ahead of the curve and prompting other countries to follow his lead. Even far-left New York Mayor Bill De Blasio described the ban as in many ways, warranted.
Then came the tough decision to cut off travel from Europe. This decision proved prescient when days later Europe was deemed the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. With a disregard for political correctness, President Trump made strong decisions that directly mitigated the spread of coronavirus within our borders.
President Trump has also directed the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide financial relief to businesses and workers affected by the outbreakmuch-needed federal assistance in an uncertain time. This is being followed by a fight to secure an $850 billion stimulus package.
Finally, President Trump has directed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to pursue the prospect of direct cash payments to Americans, proof that the Trump Administration will explore every possibilityhowever creative or unprecedentedto safeguard the health, safety, and incomes of the American people.
Here in Florida, weve received over $27 million in federal aid, as well as thousands of coronavirus test kits each capable of testing dozens to hundreds of patients that will be immediately employed to fight the outbreak.
This response is led by President Trumps world-class Coronavirus Task Force, headed by Vice President Mike Pence and comprised of the most qualified group of experts in the world working around the clock to fight the virus on every front.
The Task Force has worked in a transparent and aggressive manner on many fronts. They are holding regular press conferences and announcing new CDC guidelines with steps Americans can take in their daily lives to keep their families safe and stem the outbreaks spread. The President and his Task Force have also led the negotiations to enact crucial legislation that will cut red tape and allow Americans to be tested for the virus without cost.
In addition to working with partners in government, President Trump is also working with the private sector to combat COVID-19, which allows for a more comprehensive and accelerated effort to tackle the spread of the virus. Examples of innovative private-sector solutions include tech giants like Facebook and Google using smartphone location data to track the spread and make sure Americans are isolating themselves.
By cutting red tape and using private sector resources, he empowered medical professionals to expand access to telehealth services thereby allowing patients to consult with their physicians without having to leave their homes.
The success and dedication of the Trump administrations efforts is perhaps best exemplified by bipartisan plaudits for President Trumps response. Prominent Democrats Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, longtime Trump critics, through Monday described the President as very creative and energetic in fighting the outbreak and that every single thing [Trump] said [the administration] followed through on. CNN analyst Dana Bash praised President Trump as the kind of leader people need.
Its clear that President Trump has led an aggressive, transparent, effective, and timely response to the SARS-CoVID-19 epidemic. Its my hope that Democrats in Florida and around the country stop politicizing this threat, and work with the President to protect the health and safety of all Americans.
Neal Dunn, a Republican, is the U.S. Representative for Floridas 2nd Congressional District.
Originally posted here:
Posted: at 6:24 am
Its sometimes hard to disentangle them, but there are several different debates about China and the coronavirus knotted together. Some of these debates are very important; others much less so:
(1) Look for the Made In China label. First, and most prominently, theres the debate about whether it is appropriatehistorically, politically, prudentiallyto refer to the cause of the pandemic as the Chinese coronavirus or the Wuhan flu or other similar names. Does the name matter all that much? The people most exercised about this question are those who want to score political points, or who enjoy slipping into their accustomed culture-war roles of (on one side) political-correctness scolds and (on the other side) politically incorrect goads. Sadly, what happens on Twitter doesnt stay on Twitter, because the president and his state media allies have used the debate for deflection.
As a historical matter, it is true that our forebears did assign a national-origin label to the 1918-19 pandemicits still sometimes referred to as the Spanish flu even though there is reason to believe it originated in Kansasand there are many other diseases that have been given names based on geography. But as a prudential matter, what value is there in labeling the current pandemic as Chinese? President Trumps talk-radio and MAGA world supporters seem to think that reminding the American people of the threat that China poses to the United States is worthwhile. And indeed, it might be useful to the president as a matter of domestic politics. But as my friend Mike Mazza has pointed out, this is precisely what the Chinese government wants. This nomenclature blame-game will help the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) position itself as the defender of the Chinese diaspora, especially if the press continues to report on East Asian Americans anecdotal accounts of being stigmatized.
(2) Bats for brunch. For all the talk about bats, pangolins, and Chinas wildlife markets, we do not yet know for certain how SARS-CoV-2 made the jump from animals into humans. If Chinese eating practices and sanitary conditions do indeed increase the risk of zoonotic diseases that could turn into global pandemics, then they should certainly be reformed. But thats a debate to be had after the worst of this pandemic has passed, and after researchers have learned more about the coronavirus and its origins. (It is worth noting that Western dietary habits are also sometimes blamed for endangering the worldin particular, beef production, which climate-change researchers associate with greenhouse gas production and, in some countries, deforestation.)
(3) The weapon theory. Did China create the coronavirus in a lab and release it on purpose or by accident? If youll permit me to use a technical term, this notion is what we in the political science community call hot garbage. (The same goes for the even more bizarre theory some Chinese propagandists were circulating that the coronavirus originated as an American weapon.)
(4) Clear as mud. Should we blame the Chinese government for its lack of transparency? Yes. We have little reason to trust Chinas statistical reporting after the Chinese governments early deliberate suppression of the reports of the outbreak. The physicians who initially reported the outbreak reportedly received a gag-order and were instructed to destroy the samples. Even when officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention visited China in early January, they were not shown the full picture. Given the Chinese regimes dishonesty, can we believe them when they report that they have flattened the curve? And the recent moves Beijing has taken to silence critics by disappearing them, and now to kick American reporters out of the country, only make things worse.
(5) Was China competent in its handling of the outbreak? Forget what President Trump has saidas Jim Swift has documented here on The Bulwark, Trump spent several weeks praising China and its president Xi Jinping for how their handling of the crisis before he pivoted to talking about a China virus. Surely many Chinese doctors worked extraordinarily hard and made tremendous sacrifices to save lives. But we will likely never have enough information to judge fully how well China handled the outbreak. Had China acted three weeks earlier, according to at least one analysis, the number of COVID-19 infections would have been reduced by 95 percent. Even one week earlier action would have reduced the number of the cases by 66 percent. Chinese authoritarianism may have made it easier for the regime to enforce quarantine measures in Wuhan, but the regimes lack of transparency and trustworthiness likely slowed its response time and contributed to the rapid global spread of the disease.
Lets take a step back. How does the coronavirus crisis fit into the broader geopolitical struggle between the United States and China?
After the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, China began slowly to adopt a series of economic reformscreating a socialist market economythat led some observers to hope that political liberalization might someday follow, in the belief that competitive markets and liberal democracy have a kind of natural affinity. Major liberalizing reforms never came. Still, even as late as 2010, some analysts believed the United States and China could join together in a grand alliance for world stability.
But Xi Jinping, Chinas presidentalthough dictator would now be a more apt termsees his countrys relationship with the United States as fundamentally one of conflict: economic, political, and perhaps military.
Between 2000 and 2018, Chinas share of global trade rose from 1.2 percent to 34 percent. During the same period of time, Chinas share of U.S. imports rose from 8.2 percent to 22 percent, and its share of U.S. exports rose from 2.1 percent to 7.2 percent. Virtually every other country in the world has experienced similar increases in the Chinese share of their economies. Initially, these increases looked good because they resulted in reduced global prices for goods and they lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty.
American businesses love China. Many of them produce goods or at least parts there and import them to the United States or sell them directly to the rest of the world. And many American businesses, from such industries as agriculture and entertainment, export U.S.-produced goods to China.
There is, however, a price to pay for that: It makes America craven about criticizing China. Recall how, less than six months ago, the NBA rushed to apologize for offending the Chinese Communist Party after the manager of the Houston Rockets spoke in support of the Hong Kong protests. Think about it this way: All these American businesses heavily invested in China are helping to finance the regimes oppression of the Chinese people and the concentration camps Xi has created for perhaps a million ethnic Uighurs. The global economy has financed the CCPs hold on power for decades. Indeed, the United States helped to facilitate Chinas membership in the World Trade Organization in hopes of more responsible domestic and international behavior by China. It never came.
The COVID-19 outbreak has opened the worlds eyes to some of the problems of the authoritarian Chinese regime. But China has a large share of just about every countrys economy and trade and controls a large portion of the global supply chain. In the midst of this public health crisis, China controls one-fifth of U.S. medical imports and four-fifths of antibiotics imports. There is a reason that China is sending aid everywhere that there is an outbreak: They fear the backlash.
China poses a threat to the world. This outbreak is just one dimension of that threat, and it is not the greatest one. The greatest threat is Chinas ascension to global hegemony and ruling the world the way they rule China. This pandemic is just a preview of what that world might look like.
Once this episode is past us, American policymakers need to have a serious discussion with the U.S. private sector about the threat that the CCP by nature poses to the entire world through corruption, incompetence, and malice, a threat we are getting a small dose of. American consumers, as well as foreign consumers, should also ask themselves if cheaper goods are worth the horror we are going through, or even something far worse.
Posted: at 6:24 am
What's in a name? Very little or a lot. It depends on the name and who you ask. William Shakespeares Juliet didnt think names mattered when she said to her lover Romeo: What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
Romeo and Juliet is a tragic story about two lovers from feuding clans with different family names. More than four centuries after Shakespeare wrote his classic play, the name of a virus causing global tragedy is also the source of hate, racism, and a Cold War-like clash between the worlds two economic titans.
I so wish the fictitious Juliet were here today. She would wag her finger at our 21st century world and sternly say: Whats in a name? A killer virus by any other name would still kill. But alas, she cannot help us. We have to help ourselves.
Does it really matter what people call the virus now sweeping the world that has infected hundreds of thousands and already killed more than 18,000?When it first emerged in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, late last year, we called it the Wuhan virus for easy identification. This name evolved to become the nova coronavirus after it spilled out of Wuhan to Hubei and later to the rest of China.
In 2015, the World Health Organization chose to be politically correct rather than accurate. It decided infectious diseases should no longer be named after countries or regions where they originated to avoid stigma. Thats why the Wuhan virus is officially called Covid-19, a meaningless name to most ordinary people.
One of Hong Kongs top microbiologists, Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, co-authored a newspaper article with his colleague insisting it was totally fine for ordinary people to call it the Wuhan virus because it originated there. They said the mainland Chinese habit of eating wildlife spawned the virus and it was a joke for Chinese officials to claim the US military brought the virus to China.
Truth-telling can be hazardous in Hong Kong, a city with eroding freedoms that is part of an authoritarian regime. A merciless onslaught by China loyalists forced Yuen to withdraw the article. He went on mainland TV to declare himself a patriot.
So much for Hong Kongs media freedom, which Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor insists still exists. A tit-for-tat expulsion of journalists between the US and China struck at the heart of Hong Kongs media freedom last week when Beijing made clear a dozen US journalists it ordered out would not even be allowed to work in Hong Kong. Commerce Secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah gave his usual wishy-washy answer when asked if that violated one country, two systems.
Prof Yuen had no choice but to be politically correct on mainland TV where he said no one loves China more than he does. US President Donald Trump doesnt give a damn about political correctness. He proved that again last week by repeatedly calling Covid-19 the Chinese virus after mainland foreign ministry official Zhao Lijian tweeted his unproven claim that the virus started in the US.
It amuses me to see Chinese officials and diplomats using Twitter to globally spread their propaganda when Twitter is banned in China. Why dont they use Weibo so their own people can see their propaganda too?
In June 1987, the late US president Ronald Reagan called on the former Soviet Union to tear down this wall in reference to the Berlin Wall that separated West and East Berlin. I call on Zhao and other mainland officials who use Twitter to tear down the firewall that shuts the mainlands internet from the outside world. A regime afraid of its own people knowing the truth has no legitimacy.
Trump calling the coronavirus the Chinese virus infuriated Chinese Americans, who feared hate crimes against them. I sympathize and understand but cannot understand why Chinese Americans were not likewise infuriated when Zhou claimed the virus came from the US. Chinese Americans are quick to criticize their own president but refrain from criticizing Chinas excesses, such as Xi Jinpings internment of a million Uyghurs. When push comes to shove, they have to decide where their loyalties lie.
Political correctness whitewashes the truth. Thats why I have never believed in it. The coronavirus started in Wuhan, as Prof Yuen said, plain and simple. Ordinary people understand Wuhan virus, not Covid-19. If the WHO wants to be politically correct, especially after its head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cozied up to Xi in Beijing when the virus first struck, then it should give equal treatment to other infectious diseases too.
The WHO should immediately rename Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, otherwise known as MERS, and Ebola. Both are named after regions the Middle East and Africa. Please note both were named when the China-backed Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun was the WHO head.
If China finds it so offensive for Trump to call the new virus the Chinese virus, Chan should campaign to rename MERS and Ebola. Better late than never. An infectious disease by any other name would still kill but if we are not allowed to stigmatize China for political reasons, we should also not stigmatize the Middle East and Africa. Lets choose fairness over double standards.
Contact us at [emailprotected]
A Hong Kong-born American citizen who has worked for many years as a journalist in Hong Kong, the USA and London.
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Posted: at 6:24 am
Historically, Sweden has been a generous safe haven for refugees. Of all the countries featured in this Brookings project, it has taken in the most refugees per capita, and is third in the world on this measure behind Canada and Australia.1 In 2015, Sweden had a record-high of 162,877 applications for asylum, primarily from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistanor about 1.6 percent of Swedens population of 10 million.2 This would be proportionally equivalent to over five million people applying for asylum in the United States, which in fact only received approximately 83,000 asylum applications that year.3
For a country like Sweden that has grown increasingly secular over recent decades, the influx of Muslims from war-torn countries has greatly impacted politics and society. The Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna), a right-wing populist party once politically verboten because of ties to neo-Nazis at its founding in 1988, is now the third largest party in the Riksdag, the Swedish parliament. It has effectively fashioned a narrative linking the surge of predominantly Muslim immigrants to a perception of an uptick in violent crimes and perceived strains on the prized Swedish welfare system. Swedes who are disgruntled by the establishment response to these concerns, especially regarding sociocultural issues,4 are attracted to the populist refrain of the Sweden Democrats: We say what you think.5 Unsurprisingly, the Sweden Democrats primary talking point is to specifically halt asylum immigration, which is predominantly Muslim.
This case study offers insight into why Swedes are joining the Sweden Democrats and the connection to their perception of Islam. Through interviews with Sweden Democrat voters and officials primarily in Skne, the southern party stronghold, this paper provides an intimate portrait of Sweden Democrats and their frustration with a political establishment over Muslim immigration, the perceived impact on the welfare system, and the cultural fallout in secular, liberal Sweden.6Interviewees eagerly shared their experiences of changes in Sweden, such as the introduction of Muslim children joining their kids classes, witnessing crimes in neighborhoods with more immigrants, and experiencing what they think of as religious concessions for Muslims who should be assimilating to secular Sweden.
Sweden Democrats do not believe that problems of crime or integration stem primarily from failures of socioeconomic policy or government bureaucracy; rather, they also blame culture, both of Muslim immigrants and political correctness. The Sweden Democrats and their robust network of alternative media7 offer narratives that make sense of these phenomena, regardless of whether claims might be unverified or false. When faced with allegations of racism, however, Sweden Democrats double down on the populist message that they are normal, working-class people trying to call attention to socioeconomic and sociocultural challenges posed by an influx of non-Western refugees, which they claim traditional political parties do not tackle head-on.
To understand the rise of the Sweden Democrats, it is important to first consider how the party exists in opposition to Swedens pre-existing political landscape, which had been governed more or less by a centrist consensus emphasizing humanitarianism and social welfare. The current ruling party, the Social Democrats, has been in power for the better part of the twentieth century with the exception of a few election cycles. Under the idea of folkhemmet or creating a peoples home, the Social Democrats in the 1930s were responsible for setting up much of Swedens robust social welfare system. It is the oldest party in Sweden and is currently leading the government in coalition with the Green Party.8
The second largest party is the Moderates, a center-right party and the main opposition to the Social Democrats. They differ from the latter in their support for free market principles, economic liberalism, and tax cuts. From 2006 to 2014 they were the lead party in coalition with the Christian Democrats, Liberals, and Center Party. Yet when the Sweden Democrats became the Riksdags third largest party in 2018, this coalition split, with the Liberals and Center Party offering support to the Social Democrats and refusing to make common cause with the Sweden Democrats to form a conservative government.9
There is a proud national narrative of Swedish Exceptionalism for welcoming refugees and providing asylum. While Swedes might have guarded their ethnic homogeneity before the 1930s, by World War II, Sweden began accepting Norwegian, Jewish, Danish, and Estonian immigrants.10 In the decades following, they welcomed Iranians after the Islamic revolution, Chileans fleeing Pinochet, and war refugees from the former Yugoslavia. Being a safe haven for others became a point of pride.11 As other European countries moved toward stricter immigration policies in the 1990s and 2000s, Sweden opened up.12 With some exceptions, politicians on both the left and right supported generous asylum and immigration policies well above the EU-minimum standards.13
All of this changed with the refugee crisis of 2015, marking the end of Swedish exceptionalism, when political parties changed their rhetoric and policies in reaction to fears of a system collapse from the massive influx of migrants.14 By November 2015, even the Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Lfven noted, It pains me that Sweden is no longer capable of receiving asylum seekers at the high level we do today. We simply cannot do any more,the near opposite of what he said just seven months before.15 By this time however, the Sweden Democrats had already seized the opportunity to position themselves as the only authentic party calling for curbing immigration not just recently but for decades.
It was against a backdrop of de-industrialization, public spending cutbacks, rising unemployment, and the violent breakup of Yugoslavia that caused an influx of refugees, that the Swedish Democrats grew up after their founding in 1988.16 Like other radical right parties, they called for restricting immigration across the board, not just of Muslims.17 Initially, the party had connections to Swedish fascism and explicit white nationalism.18 They elected Anders Klarstrm as party chairman in 1989, who had been linked to the neo-Nazi Nordic Realm Party.19 After photos surfaced of some members wearing Nazi uniforms in the mid-1990s, the party banned the wearing of uniforms of any kind and explicitly denounced Nazism in an attempt to present a more respectable image.20
Most of my interviewees acknowledged the racist origins of the Sweden Democrats but insisted that the party had outgrown them. A party official and Iranian immigrant who joined in 2013 rejected claims of racism, despite his own initial fears to the contrary: I was afraid that when I became a member, when I was coming to party headquarters in Malm, I was expecting like, oh, will there be a Southern Dixie Flag. But I came here and there was coffee and cookies and there was nothing like that.21 Other respondents claimed that while extremists still sometimes showed up to local Sweden Democrat meetings, they were summarily expelled. A few interviewees shrugged off the partys past or denied pieces of it, saying that political adversaries draw attention to the racist past to delegitimize the party.
Despite dark origins, the Sweden Democrats have surged both in Riksdag seats and in public opinion polls. In the 2018 Riksdag election, the Sweden Democrats gained 13 seats for a total of 62, while the Social Democrats lost 13 seats, dropping to 100.22 Since 2014, the Sweden Democrats have been the third largest party in parliament.23 Particularly in the southern Skne region, Sweden Democrats have made up the largest party in 21 of the regions 33 municipalities since 2018.24 During the writing of this paper, the Sweden Democrats tailed the Social Democrats as most popular among voters in opinion polls, at one point besting them with 24 percent of support, compared to the Social Democrats at 22 percent.25
Why the increased popularity? Scholars Anders Hellstrm, Tom Nilsson, and Pauline Stoltz describe three phases of the Sweden Democrats development. The first was before 2006, when the party was more or less out of public view and perceived as a small movement with neo-Nazi flourishes. In 2005, the 26-year-old chairman of the Sweden Democratic Youth, Jimmie kesson became the party leader, a position he still holds today. A former web developer and ex-Moderate, kesson strove to change the partys image after various neo-Nazi leaders were expelled.26 The change in leadership arguably ushered the party into a second stage (2006-2010), pushing it away from openly racist groups and toward a populist message advocating for ordinary people against a corrupt elite at the height of a global recession. This catapulted the Swedish Democrats into the media and public consciousness and gave the party its first significant electoral gains. The third phase came in 2010, when they entered parliament for the first time with 20 seats.27 The party officially changed its self description from nationalist to social conservative in 2011, and in 2012 introduced a zero tolerance for racism policy, which expelled party members with public opinions deemed as too racist.28
Notably, anti-Islam and anti-Muslim sentiments were not included in this expulsion. The Sweden Democrats had been laying the groundwork for a more focused anti-Islam narrative long before 2015, identifying Islam as public enemy number one. kesson claimed in 2009, As a Sweden Democrat I see this [Islam and Muslims in Sweden] as our biggest foreign threat since World War IILeading representatives of the Muslim community will demand the implementation of Sharia law in Sweden; that the Swedish municipal health board would use taxes to circumcise totally healthy young boys; that Sweden would have a higher level of rape and that Muslim men would be strongly represented among the rapists; that Swedish swimming clubs would introduce separate timetables for women and men.29
These warnings about Islam from kessons 2009 speech, such as rape by migrants and religiously segregated swimming pools, came up in many interviews, despite most interviewees only joining the party in the past five to seven years. Survey research shows that Sweden Democrats have significantly different opinions of Muslims than those in other parties. According to recent Pew Research Center polls, 59 percent of Swedes with a positive opinion of the Sweden Democrats express an unfavorable opinion of Muslims in their country. Conversely of those with a negative view of the Sweden Democrats, just 17 percent see Muslims negatively.30 Of Swedes, 70 percent had favorable attitudes toward immigration in 2015, yet Sweden Democrats higher skepticism toward immigration has framed it as an increasingly important political issue.31
Building on Hellstm, Nilsson, and Stoltz, I suggest there is a fourth phase in the partys evolution, marked by the 2015 refugee crisis. In a span of three months, 114,000 predominantly Muslim asylum seekers arrived in Sweden, primarily into Malm and small towns in the South, overwhelming the capacity of both government and civil society organizationswhile garnering continuous media attention.32 After that, the asiktskorridor or opinion corridor of what was socially acceptable in Swedish politics widened as discontent grew with how established parties handled welfare, immigration, and cultural concerns emerging from the crisis.33 Leading up to the 2018 election, immigration and healthcare polled nationally as the top concerns, respectively.34 The Sweden Democrats seized the opportunity to draw attention to the failures of the governments approach, cultural clashes with visibly observant Muslims, and reports of growing crimecreating a recruitment mechanism for disaffected Swedes.
There is an experience of coming out as a Sweden Democrat,where after suppressing opinions on Islam or migration perceived as politically incorrect, members would reveal their beliefs more publicly, to family and friends and then to the rest of their community.35 By 2015, the Sweden Democrats had come out.
When I asked Sweden Democrat members why they joined the party, most everyone mentioned the 2015 refugee crisis, violence, or strains on the welfare state. Many elaborated with personal experiences of crime or new refugees in their childrens small classes, impacting the quality of education. They generally believed that while these issues have socioeconomic dimensions, they are also connected to the nature of Muslim culture. When Islam came up, most interviewees began by emphatically stating they were not racist (The worst thing to call a Swede is a racist36), did not inherently hate anyone, and that there is a difference between extremism in any religion and private faith. However, they also admitted to being more than a little concerned about the scale of religious Muslim refugees introduced into Swedens secular welfare state and the governments response. At least in these interviews, Muslim and immigrant were used nearly interchangeably.
These interviewees felt that only the Sweden Democrats and the alternative media spoke directly about contentious issues like religion, immigration, and crime, situating them in a connected narrative. In a recent description of their core policy goals, the Sweden Democrats highlighted four objectives: a migration policy that ends asylum immigration; a reformed welfare system; a united country; and a safe society protecting Sweden from Islamism or any other extremism,though the manifesto does not specify what Islamism is.37
Similarly, the alternative media profusely covers topics relating to immigration, culture clash, and crime, and may exacerbate, falsely report, or erroneously correlate these phenomena. For instance, mainstream journalism might cover a bombing. Alternative media links to this coverage, but embeds it in a larger explanatory narrative emphasizing Islam or Muslims role.38 This approach has been proven to impact political attitudes on immigration.39 Meanwhile, mainstream media outlets rarely directly challenge claims made by the alternative media. This can leave such rhetoric to dominate digital media without the same volume of counter-arguments (at least those with good search-engine optimization) for queries like migrants and rape in Sweden. Additionally, these causal claims have increasingly entered mainstream discourse.40
This section explores, in their own words, interviewee reflections on the issues, the media environment, and personal experiences that inspired them to join the Sweden Democrats. The subsequent section then dives deeper into the role their perception of culture and Islam has in making sense of the issues in question.
Though immigration has since slowed significantly,41 the political and social impact of the 2015 refugee crisis still looms large. Like many interviewees who live in the South, the Sweden Democrats party chairman in a seaside town recalled the arrival of the asylum seekers: In 2015, when the war and all the immigrants came to Europe every 24 hours, they came from Germany by boats. We have a big harbor here in Trelleborg. Between 800 to 1,300 [came] every 24 hours.42 These numbers may be somewhat exaggerated, and trying to confirm data in a moment of crisis can be difficult, but the final numbers were daunting.43For example, Sweden spent 6 billion or 1.35 percent of its GDP on the 162,877 asylum seekers in 2015amounting to 1.6 percent of populationfrom predominantly Muslim countries.
Typically, the Swedish government funds language training and labor market integration of asylees in their first two years.44 The Swedish Migration Agency website also details stipends, housing, language training, healthcare, and other support available to asylum seekers,45 though services and applications are still backlogged because of the influx.46 At the height of the 2015 crisis, the increasingly strained migration agency began to rely on local non-government organizations and charities to fill in gaps of services.47
Generally, after two years of support for new asylees, the national government then passes responsibility over to municipalities who administer most social services locally.48 The majority of refugees in Sweden tend to be placed in peripheral and rural areas experiencing economic decline, rapid native depopulation, and few opportunities for employment, making social and economic integration difficult for migrants, and straining already economically declining municipalities.49
Every interviewee cited the 2015 crisis and the governments response to it as one of their main reasons in supporting the Sweden Democrats. Interviewees mentioned several specific policies they disliked, but the governments ultimate sin was that it had opened its doors to large numbers of predominantly Muslim refugees while having problems integrating Muslims immigrants who were already in the country. Even though the government moved to institute border checkpoints, began to limit asylees as soon as November 2015, and temporarily revoked permanent residency and family reunification privileges to most new asylum seekers,50 the Sweden Democrats positioned themselves as the insurgent voice calling the government out for acting too late and ineffectively, for too long. One participant in the local Sweden Democrats party meeting said he was angry at every politician on television for years, but the governments reaction to the 2015 crisis was the last straw; after that, he joined the Sweden Democrats.
Frustrated by the establishment approach to immigration, one municipal councilmember in Svedala described joining the Sweden Democrats: Thats what its about. Weve been too generous. We have had immigration much too high for a long time. But I never thought about, you know, entering politics. I went to vote. I had an opinion about this and that. In 2015, we saw the large wave of immigrants all over Europe. And I was really appalled at the response of the government, or lack of response.51Like all of other interviewees, he favors ending asylum migration entirely, but not other types of immigration, like skilled labor, provided these immigrants can assimilate.
The Sweden Democrats advocate ending asylum immigration and instead propose increasing economic aid for refugees abroad in their respective countries. This avoids the problem of assimilation, particularly Muslims who interviewees believe are hard to integrate in large numbers. Sweden Democrats argue that the country had economic, criminal, and cultural problems due to unassimilated immigrants, especially Muslims, even before 2015, and more refugees were just exacerbating the problem.
Every interviewee cited the governments inadequate response to violent crime as a reason to support the Sweden Democrats. Data show an increase in certain types of crime over the past few years, including bombings, gang violence, and rape, which interviewees blamed on a multiplicity of factors, some socioeconomic and some sociocultural relating to Islam. However, the reality is far more nuanced. Accurately assessing these claims and discerning a comprehensive picture of the violence is not straightforward.
Certain trends in violent crime have provoked public debate. Sweden saw over 100 bombings in 2019, twice that of 2018one of the highest percentage increases of any other industrialized nation.52 While the homicide rate remains one of the lowest in the world, figures of 300 shootings and 45 deaths in 201853 and 320 shootings with 41 deaths in 2019 shocked Swedes.54 Though its murder rates have fallen since the 1990s, there has been a significant estimated rise in firearm-related violence in Sweden.55 These crimes have been connected to a rise of gangs and organized crime groups, which are predominantly composed of first or second-generation immigrants, though not strongly correlated to a specific country, ethnicity, or religion.56
Yet a major difficulty in assessing the nature of these crimes is the limited availability of official data. For instance, the Swedish Police Authority only began to collect data on the number of non-lethal shootings in 2017. Similarly, while the government has conducted studies on the national origin of crime suspects, the most recent one was in 2005, which, among other things, found immigrants more likely to be suspected of crimes, with discrimination playing a role. Comprehensive official data on national origin of criminal suspects is not readily available,57 even though various parties have demanded new investigations to find data that will substantiate their claims.58
Of the data that is available, interpretations and implications can be misleading, depending on bias. For example, official statistics do show a large increase in reported rapes, or 34 percent, in the past ten years,59 but convictions remain low.60 The Swedish government caveats that the increased statistic could have something to do with the nature of Swedens criminal reporting style, changes in the definition of rape, and a new cultural willingness to report.61 Thus, conclusions based solely on the increased rape statistic might be at least partly misleading.
The media has stepped in with the aim of filling in the gaps, sometimes contradicting government claims. In 2018, a public broadcaster investigated court convictions and found that 58 percent of convicted rapists were foreign-born, feeding into a narrative that the rise in rapes was due to some cultural proclivity among Muslim refugees. The piece attracted endless media attention, yet this statistic does not consider the ethnic breakdown of non-prosecuted cases nor is it an official statistic given that the government does not report national origin of suspected rapists.62 To combat this narrative, the government pointed to a 2013 study showing that the main difference in terms of criminal activity between immigrants and other populations is due to socioeconomic conditions rather than culture.63 Yet Sweden Democrats posit that individual and cultural factors must also play a role. Think of Social Democrats and their worldview: they have a dogma that crime is due to poverty, a Sweden Democrat told me. But you cant blame everything on that! They think it is societys fault, not the individual. This doesnt explain rapes and bombing.64
Irrespective of the cause or severity of the violence in Sweden, the narrative that violence is getting worse and more grotesque because of immigrants is having a very real impact on political opinion. This is due in part to an alternative media ecosystem, one of the most robust in Europe, which shares politically slanted news primarily through Twitter and Facebook, often in closed groups. The main media sources, Samhallsnytt (News in Society) and Nyheter Idag (News Today), were founded by Sweden Democrats and another, Fria Tider (Free Times), is often viewed as the most Kremlin-friendly. They have the appearance of professional news sites and are shared at increasingly high levels. For instance, in the leadup to the 2018 elections, Swedish Twitter users shared one link from this ecosystem for every two links shared of professional news.65
Through alternative media, reports of attacks by people of color and Muslims are continuously shared and exaggerated. In one case, they were staged by a Russian television crew.66 Many respondents discussed reading local papers in addition to the aforementioned online sources which they referred to as alternative media, acknowledging them as distinct from other news. The narratives from these outlets have spread through international alternative media sources such as Breitbart.
Violent riots in immigrant communities have captured considerable media attention, such as the 2008 Malm Mosque Riots, the 2010 and 2017 Rinkeby Riots, and 2013 Stockholm riots, with alternative media dubbing these as ungovernable no-go zones,67 though police say this is not the case.68 Even U.S. President Donald Trump used Sweden as a cautionary tale in a 2017 rally, referencing a non-existent terrorist attack there saying, They took in large numbers. Theyre having problems like they never thought possible.69The aforementioned Rinkeby Riots occurred two days later, drawing more attention to the issue.
Complementing these media narratives are personal experiences, local stories, and a sense of injustice. A councilmember in the seaside town of Trelleborg said he joined the Sweden Democrats in 2006 after a personal experience with violence. He spoke about how his daughter had a child with a Tunisian Muslim who ended up assaulting the two, causing the baby developmental damage. He said the man was imprisoned, but on appeal was set free and given money to compensate for wrongful imprisonment. The councilman claimed that if a non-Muslim Swede committed the same crime, he would still be imprisoned, but because the man was Muslim, the court was more lenient. Trying to verify elements of stories like this with third party sources can be difficult in this information environment. As a charismatic local leader, however, his story is well-known.
All of this leads Sweden Democrat supporters to a hyperawareness of nearby crime, alleged and real; according to one poll, respondents expressing great concern about crime has increased from 32 percent to 43 percent in the past ten years.70 When asked if the problems would be visible to them if they just logged off social media, one interviewee remarked, We see the problems with our own eyes. We cant shut that off.71
Several interviewees used to live in Malm, but they said witnessing violence there caused them to move to small towns and later join the Sweden Democrats. Malm is a city that is about 45 percent of immigrant background72 and though certain types of violent crime decreased in 2018, there are still high-profile shootings, increased rape reports, as well as bombings.73 One party chairman in Svedala, where the Sweden Democrats have the most seats of any party,74 described his move from Malm in 2010: We experienced an increasing sense of not being safe. Especially my wife.  That summer, they blew up the cash machine outside the bank. The night before we moved, a man was shot down in the parking lot just next to my house. You know, when we loaded the furniture in the truck, we could see the stains of blood.75 Another council member described moving 30 minutes outside of Malm in 2010 after a person was murdered 100 meters from where he lived. Yet he did not blame the new refugeeshe thought they were mostly immigrant gangs from the former Yugoslavia and not specifically new Muslims.76
Interviewees discerned that not all of the gang violence was coming from the most recent refugees, but many believed that adding more immigrants to already economically and socially depressed areas would create more problems. A Christian Iranian immigrant and Sweden Democrat official in Malm joined the party when he saw a rise in anti-Semitism in the immigrant neighborhoods he grew up in. As has been reported elsewhere, he noted that some immigrants like himself were joining the Sweden Democrats because of violence in their neighborhoods.77 He said, [Immigrants are] usually the ones who have to live in these areas and these areas take most of the migrants when they come to a city like Malm. And therefore, we have a lot of social problems. If we have less migration, these areas can somehow heal because we cant have new people coming into these areas all the time. Like many newly arrived migrants, they have difficulties getting a job. So there are a lot of unemployed people in these areas. So these areas can never create some kind of community. Ive grown up with all these problems. So I wanted to do something about it.78
Given that Swedes pay some of the highest personal income taxes in the world, there are regular public concerns about any decreased quality in healthcare or education. On healthcare, for instance, recent reports show some of the worst wait times for emergency care in Europe,79 delays in specialist care, nurse shortages, fewer beds but an increased population, and clinic closures. Compared internationally, Sweden still has good healthcare, cancer survival, and life expectancy.80 Yet, quality of care can range widely because responsibility for health and elder care is decentralized to the county and municipal levels.81 This means sometimes more rural or aging areas struggle to provide care in a timely manner.
Sweden Democrats often blame the systems struggles on immigrants, especially visibly Muslim ones. Unemployment for the foreign born is 15 percent, compared to 3.5 percent for Swedish born.82 Yet daunting headlines in alternative media like Sweden: Around 90 Percent of 2015 Migrants with Residency Status Are Unemployed83 can insinuate that refugees are one of the core strains on welfare. Because of the perceived strain on social services by unemployed migrants who receive an unfair share of benefits, a discourse of welfare chauvinism has set in. This term has been used in the Nordic context to describe a primarily right-wing belief that better social services should be privileged for the native-born over undeserving unemployed newcomers from certain cultures.84 A perfect illustration of this is a 2010 Sweden Democrat campaign video showing a group of burqa-clad women with strollers outrunning a pensioner for government assistance.85
Various respondents told stories of the injustices of a system giving more to immigrants than native Swedes. A Sweden Democrat in Trelleborg explained that his 93-year-old father had to pay 37,000 Swedish Krona ($2800 USD) for dentures, whereas he claimed a refugee would only need to pay 50 Krona ($5 USD).86 The dentures examples was brought up in several interviews, underscoring its viral spread. Yet again, trying to verify such stories is a challenge when the search terms lead to either more alternative media sensationalism or government statements of general benefits that neither confirm nor deny specific cases.
Interviewees also discussed strains on education and personal experiences with refugees in the classroom. An official in Svedala discussed the challenges of teaching computer science to non-Swedish refugees.87 A Sweden Democrat official in Hrby described why he put his daughters in a new school in Lund: When they went to summer break, there were 15 pupils in her class. And after summer break, there were 22. They got seven new arrivals in her class. They were young men from Afghanistan, just put in her class. And they didnt speak the language. They were illiterate. They couldnt write. The whole educational framework, so to speak, in that class was totally demolished.88 Given that 70,000 children, 35,000 of whom were unaccompanied minors, sought asylum in 2015 alone, the increase of refugee children in Swedish schools impacts the education experiences of both local children and refugee childrenwho might not be getting the trauma, language, or integration support they need.89
Ultimately, several interviewees perceived Muslim immigrants as not only poorly integrated, but choosing to live in non-Swedish speaking parallel societies and not working because of cultural preference, not economic or prejudicial disadvantage. A Hrby council member explained his belief that previous waves of non-Muslim immigrants wanted to work and become Swedes, but not so with Muslims:
I think that the recent waves of immigration, they are from a totally different cultural standpoint  And you cant ignore that. For many Somalis, they consider work as a punishment. For instance, they dont see the virtues of working to earn your own money. It made me see that they dont want to work in Sweden. They are just staying here and making a lot of babies. We have a welfare system that is very generous for families having babies. So they are flourishing here.90
Alternative media sources and political rhetoric from groups like the Sweden Democrats can frame Muslims as culturally incompatible by contrasting them to other generations of assimilated immigrants that had come in smaller numbers or from different (but typically European Christian) cultures. This points to the deeper issue of whether or not Sweden Democrats see the presence of Muslims as compatible with Swedish society.
The Sweden Democrats portray themselves as defenders of the peoples home (folkhommet), a term used in the 1930s by the Social Democrats in their effort to mobilize support for a robust, class-crossing welfare regime. But who gets to be part of the people when the number of non-Native Swedes is growing? Of Swedes, 19 percent were foreign-born in 2018 compared to 11 percent in 2,000.91 Muslims make up about eight percent of Swedens population, or around 800,000.92 Many Muslims came from labor migration in the 1970s, refugee crises prior to 2015, or are children of those two groups.93 Approximately half are secularized,94 one-third are school age or younger, and about 110,000 are part of a registered Muslim organization.95Beyond this, reliable statistics about the makeup and practices of the Muslim population are limited.
Yet certain types of Muslims (and for some, all Muslims) are not included in the Sweden Democrats vision of the people in the peoples home. However, the defining characteristics of who the people are and what a Swede is are not entirely clear, even to Sweden Democrats.
When asked during interviews what it means to be a Swede, Sweden Democrats sighed and mentioned love of fika (coffee-driven snack breaks), a strong work ethic, respect for nature, speaking Swedish, and equality between the sexes. Those aside, each respondent had a difficult time describing what exactly it meant to be Swedish, which turns out to be part of what it means to be Swedish. One interview subject brought up the concept of lagom. Roughly translated as equal or just the right amount, the word was described to me by a party chairman in Trelleborg as being that sense when Swedes expect you to do something but wont tell you to do it, it is just what should be done. This makes it more difficult for newcomers (or those born in immigrant enclaves) to discern how exactly to be Swedish. When asked what is Swedish culture and what its rules might be if you were to explain them, the chairman paused, then reflected on the reality that Swedish culture is rather muted. Unlike Islam, which has proscribed religious rules for being and living, Swedes do not have rules so much an intuitive understanding of their mild-mannered culture. As such, he said Swedes embody lagom.96The word is popular and came up several times in interviews. Lagom has been described as permeating all facets of the Swedish psyche.97
Swedes have generally been uninvolved in conflict, instead asserting their tolerance of others, acceptance of refugees, and humanitarian efforts. This has backfired, says one man in Klippans local board meeting of Sweden Democrats: Theres a famous person who writes historical books and he said that the Swedes are peace damaged. We look to the neighbor countries and they have been through something that binds them together as a people.98 The Sweden Democrats I interviewed did not think Swedes have a strong culture, making them vulnerable to cultures that are. One speaker in the local council who served on the education and social welfare boards in Hrby said, I think the Swedish culture is a weak culture because we dont have so many strongly defined dos and donts. We are in danger from becoming run over by some more strong culture. I think that Islam is a strong culture because it has a very strong moral codes, strong beliefs.99
In turn, according to some Sweden Democrats, the lack of specificity on what it means to be a Swede makes it difficult for non-Swedes from non-Western cultures to assimilate because they dont know the rules. Despite efforts to build an egalitarian multiculturalism, anthropologists have noted there is a tendency in Swedish political culture for equality (jmlikhet) to connote sameness (likhet).100 Thus, some Swedes perceive that being too different can threaten the equality that the peoples home relies on. At median growth projections, according to Pew, Muslims would not approach anything close to a majority. By 2050, they would comprise around 21 percent of the population,101 but some Sweden Democrats fear that Islam, and what they perceive as a distinct, strong, rule-driven religious culture, threatens to displace or dominate secular Swedish culturemaking it wholly different in the process.
Sweden takes civic secularism seriously102 and surveys indicate it is one of the least religious countries in the world.103 Sweden Democrats interviewed were no exception, and several expressed a distaste for all organized religion, but especially public displays of religiosity, like the burqa. There were split feelings amongst respondents about whether or not Islam is compatible with Sweden, based primarily around whether or not the respondent believed Islam could be practiced privately or if it was inherently political and public.
Some respondents asserted there is a difference between radical Islamists and Muslims. In the small town of Klippan, I was able to sit in on the board meeting of the local Sweden Democrats. The chairman, a businessman and army reservist who had served in Bosnia, expressed, You really got to distinguish two different parts: Islam as a religion and Islam as a political agenda, which is going to extremism. When I asked why others in the room had joined the party, one woman said, For me it was the big problems in immigration. And I am really afraid that the Muslims will take over Sweden in the future if we cant stop it. The chairman quickly chimed in, The extremists, you mean? Yes, the extremists she said.104 In some ways, this correction felt like a reaction to having a researcher in the room, and some respondents uncomfortably speaking in English, yet interviewees in different cities noted they remind other party members not to make blanket statements about Muslimsperhaps to educate against blatant xenophobic language that could threaten the partys reputation. As one Sweden Democrat respondent in Malm said, People shouldnt shout out stuff that doesnt make sense, like Muslims are taking over. This wont help the party. They need more sophisticated politicians, less crazies.105
Other respondents felt there was no distinction between Islamists and practicing Muslimsall were incompatible with Swedish life and even democracy. To illustrate, many pointed to Sharia law in Islam, which they see blending the political and spiritual. The party chairman in Svedala described Islam as inherently being a political ideology:
I do not think [Islam] is compatible with Western democracy because Islamic law is a lot more far reaching than, for example, the Christian Ten Commandments. Islamic law covers a lot more of everyday life. And if you have a law that is set by God I have seen studies that say that about half of Muslims in the West believe that religious law is above democratic manmade law. And if that is the case, you know, whats the point of democracy? Why elect someone to make laws if you already have laws that govern important aspects of life? So I do think there is a problem with Islam and democracy.
A Sweden Democrat from Hrby also insisted, There is no reformed Islam. And maybe sometimes people speak about moderates or reform Islam. But there is one Islam. And when you talk to Muslims themselves, they acknowledge that theres only one.  The Quran, its a warrior manualIts like, kill your enemies, take their wives and rape them. Sell them as slaves. Its spreading the word with the sword.106
There is no party consensus around whether Muslims are completely incompatible with Swedish culture or whether a significant number might be able to assimilate, but all agree that the increased rate of Muslim immigration makes integration impossible. In Staffanstorp, where a council of Moderates and a Sweden Democrat made news by voting to ban burqas in schools,107 a councilman said, I think Islam is compatible with Sweden. It is. The big problem is that its going too fast.108
Some Sweden Democrats interviewed were immigrants from Poland and Iran. Another had an Italian immigrant parent. Many insisted that they had immigrant friends and that they were open minded enough to talk to this potentially judgmental American researcher. Almost all argued that the new waves of Muslim refugees could not assimilate because there were simply too many, arriving too fast to possibly integrate into Swedish society. Some believed smaller numbers of Muslims could have integrated, but when Muslim communities were large, their powerful non-Western culture remained intact making Swedish language unnecessary and unspoken.
Given economic realities, many immigrants end up in poor neighborhoods with other immigrants. The council member in Staffanstorp said, They get put in ghettoes [by the government]. They dont feel Swedish. They feel left out and get into criminality. Not discrediting the impact of prejudice, he reflected that these immigrants might self-select into these neighborhoods to move where they feel at home.109 To this point, debates are underway about the nature of state-supported religious education and how it impacts assimilation;110 many Muslim immigrants send their children to religious schools less for religion and more to escape disrespect, racial prejudice, or a general lack of cultural understanding at municipal schools.111 Some interviewees thought the multi-faceted failure of integration, a result of both poverty and two-way prejudice, makes it even more difficult for immigrants and their children in the long term, who might dream of their home countries, which they might see as superior.112
Yet, at the heart of the assimilation debate is the issue of gender. Across the board, interview subjects felt that certain customs among some Muslims such as gender segregation, marriage practices, and treatment of women was incompatible with something as central to Swedish culture as gender equality. A council member from Hrby described his belief: I fear that this natural assimilation is not possible for Muslims because they dont tolerate assimilation. Basically. For instance, if a man meets a Muslim woman, its not possible for him to marry her. But if I were to marry, I must convert to Islam. And its not possible for that woman to become Christian.113 I asked if the 1970s wave of Turkish labor immigrants114had integrated into Swedish society and he insisted their fewer numbers and secularism promoted by Turkish leader Kemal Atatrk mitigated the impact of Islam. Studies show, however, that more time spent in Sweden is a core factor in increasing labor force participation of female immigrants, though origin country culture does impact their rate.115
Some women say they join the Sweden Democrats because they fear rape by Muslim migrants or because they think Islam is a cultural threat to gender equality. In the Klippan town hall, one woman said she joined the party because she wanted her daughters to be strong and independent, citing arranged marriage in certain Muslim cultures that had come to Sweden.116 In another story, a female former Sweden Democrat in a Stockholm suburb, left the party with her husband to join an even more right-wing party modeled after Germanys Alternative for Deutschland called the Alternative for Sweden, which has no seats in the Riksdag. She felt the Sweden Democrats were sexist and leaving women out of power but also not tough enough on immigration by not calling to repatriate migrants. She thinks Islam was simply incompatible with Swedish society, which is why Muslims chose to and wanted to live in unassimilated, non-Swedish speaking parallel communities and no-go zones.
She brought up an experience of going to a bath house during a womens only time, which she thought of as an un-Swedish concession to Muslims. Like many Western countries, swimming pools are mixed-gender in Sweden. The local council had agreed to make certain hours of the bath house women only to accommodate cultural and religious needs of Muslim women who do not want men to see them in immodest dress. When she went on the womens-only day, she described fights with Muslim women. She said she pointed out the Swedish norm of not wearing clothes in the sauna for hygienic reasons. She described their response: They told me to my face: We dont listen to you. We dont care about you. Were sitting in the sauna with clothes on. And you can do nothing about it.117 While this appears to be a dramatic retelling, pools and bath houses have become a hot button and newsworthy issue in Sweden. The debate has brought up questions on how to accommodate different cultural practices regarding gender that might conflict with the more progressive, secular status quo. Swedes are debating if it is appropriate to make religious accommodations like gender-separated swimming in public pools, with those in favor supporting the needs of a multicultural society and those opposing encouraging cultural assimilation.118
Sweden Democrats do not deny that Europe has historically experienced the movement of people and cultures. Yet, one interview subject reflected that the recent influx of Muslims is non-European, making it different: Were going to cope with them, but we have to find the means to make them European in style, because in Europe, there have been people coming for millennia and they have all, so to speak, formed their own nations and their own societies. I think this time its a danger. These volumes [of people] are going to change Europe for good.119
Sweden Democrats are aware of other European parties fighting to counter Muslim immigration, political correctness, and the elite; a few get a newsletter from the party each day telling them about the family abroad.120 A couple from the Alternative for Sweden advocated adopting the sort of hardline anti-immigration policies overseen by populist leaders in Italy, Hungary, and Poland.121 Another party leader in Haninge enumerated his respect for President Donald Trumps America First policy.122
Like other European countries with growing right-wing populist movements, Sweden is asking itself what egalitarian multiculturalism looks like if immigrants live in parallel societies. As a Sweden Democrat who immigrated from Iran pointed out, When I was growing up, there was no reason to define your Swedish culture. Nobody talked about that. But today, people are questioning a multicultural society. People are questioning what is the dominant culture.123 Another party member from Svedala asked, The society we have today, Sweden? Im not even sure it should be called multiculturalism. We have parallel cultures that dont mix.124 As more and more immigrants grow up in what police call vulnerable areas, unintegrated in Swedish economy or culture, more questions emerge as to what the Swedish mainstream culture is and how and if immigrants should assimilate to it.
Sweden Democrats believe their party will continue to grow, especially if it is continuously left out of the national conversation; they semi-joked they were a political culture not included in politically correct multiculturalism. One official cited a beer hall cancelling an event reservation once they discovered it was for Sweden Democrats.125 The couple from the Alternative for Sweden funds some of the alternative media and is using the building from their former label factory to make a meeting space for those discriminated against for their beliefs. Many interviewees pointed out that the Sweden Democrats were not invited to participate in a recent national working group on crime in which all the other major parties participated.126 When this happens, Sweden Democrats retort they are just ordinary people, not bred politicians127 trying to solve problems but that the dominant parties try to squash their dissent. The party chairman in Klippan invoked Swedish author Vilhelm Mobergs idea of Demokrator, a Swedish word that blends democracy and dictatorship to describe a government that poses as a democracy, but like a dictatorship, suppresses anti-establishment speech. He said leaving out the third largest party from conversations gets people suspicious, and thus Sweden Democrats are benefiting and earning and growing by the fact that [the establishment parties] dont want to involve us.128
The humanitarian doctrine of Swedish Exceptionalism might have been a point of national pride and a marker of Swedish identity. That capacity has now been challenged by taking in the most refugees per capita of any European country. As the government moderates its more ambitious and idealistic commitments, what will inspire Swedes as time goes on? What are sources of national pride as they face 21st century challenges of accommodating aging populations, strained welfare systems, and greater ethnic and religious diversity? What duty do they have to the other? What are Swedish values?
Interviewees saw themselves as Swedish humanitarians, but by other means. They expressed they did not hate Muslim refugees and wanted to offer significant aid in their countries of origin. They stressed that they needed to fix their own existing problems before inviting new challenges in the country. These plain talk populist talking points challenge the reputations of other parties for charity and humanitarianism by offering alternative policies that satisfy Swedish values of peace, tolerance, and humanitarian effortsjust on other territory. This does not mitigate deep prejudices and xenophobia in the ranks of Sweden Democrats. As for Muslim immigrants already in Sweden, they will continue to confront Islamophobia and discrimination as the Sweden Democrats continue to hold up the 2015 refugee crisis, its daunting statistics, and visible media spectacle as the epitome of government failure.
Socioeconomic explanations for crime, poverty, or strains on the welfare system can give hope to more progressive voters that there are technocratic solutions, fulfilling their commitment to values of tolerance, equality, justice, charity, and human rights. Yet there are many ways for a society to understand and fulfill these values. Sweden Democrats think these values have not only material and economic dimensions but also cultural onesinviting uncomfortable conversations about cultural differences which at best can be constructive but at worst can invite ugly racism. Right now in Sweden, there is a battle between parties to define and own these values. One cannot write off the Swedish Democrats attempts to persuade a growing number of voters of their own particular interpretation.
As indicated by these interviewees, the spirit of lagom might not sustain a cohesive national culture especially when other new, competing culturesnationalist or Muslimdisrupt the status quo whether by Internet or immigration. The Sweden Democrats themselves are challenging a political status quo and a centrist consensus, by offering something different with new faces. In an age of confirmation bias, where at least some dirt can be found on any political party with just a click, voters can more easily accept overlooking egregious past rhetoric or affiliations. Many new voters supporting the Sweden Democrats appear to be attracted to this new political alternative as they experience what can feel like new dynamics of immigration, crime, religiosity, lagging social services, or cultural clash. They feel the Sweden Democrats are slowing down the change, instead of hastening it and leaving them behindnot unlike other populist parties in this Brookings series.
Establishment parties risk distancing themselves from average and prospective Sweden Democrats if they downplay the challenges of immigration or dismiss perceptions of social problems in immigrant neighborhoods as purely racist extremism. Similarly, assuming that Sweden Democrats are misinformed dupes, instead of people with fundamental disagreements (however illiberal) on definitions and values, might lead to reductionist thinking that fact-checking or banning alternative media on social platforms will solve the problem of populism. In turn, Sweden Democrats must take seriously and acknowledge that some of their amplified rhetoric can inspire xenophobia, Islamophobia, and racism which risks turning violent, as it has in other parts of Europe.129
Only if the Sweden Democrats have any real governing power will their rhetoric be tested against the results they create, and considering their growing popular support, such an outcome isnt nearly as implausible as it might have once seemed. Until that happens, if it ever does, there will likely be a near continuous stream of sensational stories about cultural clashes with Muslims, outrageous examples of government welfare injustice, and blistering critiques of mainstream parties and leaders. As the Klippan party chairman said, We always try to show the crises. We always want to push the panic button. This could mean that in the media and rhetoric of the Swedish Democrats, Muslim immigration will continue to feel like a crisis, even well after the crisis subsides.
The author would like to thank Anders Hellstrm for his helpful suggestions and feedback, interviewees who shared their networks and time, and her hosts in Helsingborg for opening their home.
See the article here:
Wole Soyinka, in self-isolation, blast Nigerian government for treating coronavirus pandemic with kid gloves, calls for action on rogue churches and…
Posted: at 6:24 am
Nobel laureate and Nigerian author, Wole Soyinka has added his voice on the coronavirus pandemic currently taking siege of the African continent and across the globe.
The author, who lives in Nigeria which has confirmed 46 cases of the deadly Covid-19, has criticized the Nigerian government for sitting back and watching as religious leaders run amok and be indifferent over the virus.
While the national government has issued directives about social distancing, over the weekend some preachers in the West African country ignored the directive and went ahead with Sunday services, which were attended by thousands of congregants.
They have been treated with kid gloves for too long I think there is too much political correctness going on. Soyinka told the BBC's Charles Mgbolu.
The 85-year old poet and playwright said the government ought to take on religious institutions who continue to defy the directive.
What the government should do in such instances is to take note of these contraveners of common sense and ensure that they are punished after this crisis is over or at some point or the other.
We have to take on churches and mosques, religions of any kind including traditional religions that misbehave and let them understand that they are living in very different times than that of their imagination."
Prof Soyinka has been in self-isolation for nine days after returning from the United States.
Despite Sonyikas sentiments, there are concerns that there is too much indifference towards the deadly virus in Africa's most populous nation which could spell disaster.
If at all there is anything like coronavirus its for rich men not for the poor man. So, we are free men and we will continue to live free. Thats their business, a trader in Lagos told Al Jazeeras Ahmed Idris.
Whats worse, Africas most populous nation with more than 200 million people has only has 5 molecular labs.
Meanwhile, an outbreak of Lassa fever, caused by a more common virus, has been active in Nigeria for the past few months and has even promoted calls for the declaration of a national health emergency.
Between January 1 and March 15, the Nigerian Center for Disease Control reported 161 deaths of Lassa fever patients, with 3,735 suspected cases and 906 confirmed cases, across twenty-seven of Nigerias thirty-six states. For the same period in 2019, Lassa killed 114 with 1801 suspected cases and 455 confirmed cases across twenty-one states, but the 906 confirmed cases for 2020 is already greater than the 810 confirmed cases for all of 2019.
See the article here:
Posted: March 24, 2020 at 5:55 am
Political correctness has been around for half a century and throughout that time the world has witnessed many great changes; the end of apartheid, Australias first female Prime Minister and the passing of the same-sex marriage bill.
The term describes an avoidance of actions and language that offends or marginalises groups, particularly those that have historically been discriminated against.
Yes, political correctness has a powerful place in society, but in our increasingly diverse workplaces, PC culture has stifled curiosity, understanding, and our ability to empathise.
Australia is a proudly multicultural nation. Because of this, many believe our diversity rates and inclusive behaviours are ahead of the pack. In reality, we are not as progressive as we think. Working with global organisations from Shanghai, Japan, Pakistan, Malaysia and Silicon Valley taught me that Australias relationship with diversity and inclusion is fraught and no-one wants to talk about why theyre uncomfortable.
The smile-and-nod mentality is futile; on the surface workplaces are agreeing, while deep-down theyre not buying in. There is an artificial harmony between the politically correct way to embrace diversity and inclusion, and the real feelings, concerns and questions we have about the practical implications of change.
We must do better, and if that means being politically incorrect for the greater good of true progress, then so be it.
Humans are organically wired to be exclusive creatures; we gravitate towards similarity and comfort, and often we find that in reflections of ourselves. When asked to not only support, but prioritise difference, its a common reaction to feel uncomfortable or threatened.
This needs to be acknowledged, and that begins by proactively inviting dissent. Everyone has a bias be that unconscious or otherwise that informs their understanding of what diversity and inclusion is.
We use three fluid classifications to categorise individuals level of awareness on the subject:
Of all groups, rarely do we encounter anyone that wants to openly discriminate, rather its misinformation that fosters resistance.
Creating psychologically safe spaces to be politically incorrect and ask taboo questions without fear of judgement is the way to having honest and effective conversations.
The one size fits all approach rigid workplace policies or lectures on the issue only moralises workers, rather than actively engaging them in what they think diversity and inclusion means. This has the potential to create a culture of blind acceptance by suppressing curiosity and real understanding.
Acknowledging resistance is the first step to dropping the false pretence of artificial harmony. We are often told about the benefits of diversity and inclusion; the increased performance results; diversified skill sets; expanded talent pool; increased innovation the list goes on. But little attention is paid to the myths and challenges associated with implementing change.
A common myth is that women and minority groups are promoted or given special treatment over men, sparking all sorts of heated debate around the role of meritocracy. In reality, diversity and inclusion is not about superiorising women and minorities, its about adopting and learning an alternate view of what success, skills, experience and potential looks like when it encompasses a greater portion of society.
Another common misconception is that all people want to be treated equally, that the goal of diversity and inclusion is to see no distinction between men, women, and minority groups. But the dream is not equality; its equity.
Treating everyone with equity is part of the reason why diversity and inclusion is challenging, not only to implement but to maintain.
As a leader, it takes more money, time, resources and work to authentically manage individualism. Yet within many organisations, theres a sense that once the right boxes are ticked, the job is done.
Diversity and inclusion create friction that can proactively encourage dissent, but the belief that creating change is easy discourages the hard work behind progress and the benefits that come with it.
Its politically incorrect to openly acknowledge the difficulties of diversity and inclusion, but until we start to accept that its okay to imperfectly participate in conversation and be honest about the complexities that making real progress brings, we will continue to cultivate artificial harmony by wavering on the precipice of change.
Sarah Liu is the founder and director of The Dream Collective, Australias most influential network of high-calibre young women. Through this networking platform, The Dream Collective has been responsible for empowering and equipping thousands of professional women into leadership roles through leadership training and mentoring opportunities. She is also the co-founder of Gemini3 and has lead branding strategies for some of the worlds most recognised brands including Revlon, Olay and Coca-Cola.
Read next: Do you really need more inclusive language in the workplace?
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Charles H. Bradley: It is not racist to name a virus after where it started? – The Laconia Daily Sun
Posted: at 5:55 am
To The Daily Sun,
Ive been resisting the temptation to record my thoughts and misgivings about the coronavirus pandemic and pandemonium. Marie and I are following President Trumps guidelines, but my concern is that the supposed expert, Dr. Fauci, has caused an extraordinary overreaction because of his political goals. So the question is not whether the coronavirus is a pandemic (it is), but whether the pandemonium is necessary.
1. Here is what Dr. Fauci said about the H1N1 virus (Swine Flu) in September 2009, when Barack Obama was president and after millions had become infected and thousands had died: People just need to use good judgment. Parents should not send their kids to school if they are sick, if youre sick dont go to work . . .. avoid places where there are people who are sick and coughing, now that is a difficult thing to do," he said, "You cant isolate yourself from the rest of the world for the whole flu season.
2. Almost every flu season since September 2009, the cold virus and the flu have caused anywhere from 35,000 to 65,000 plus deaths and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and millions of people infected (see numerous articles from American Thinker). Dr. Fauci has held the same position at the CDC this entire time. Therefore, it does seem reasonable to ask Dr. Fauci why the clarion call to arms now when you have presided over 650,000 deaths from the flu since 2009? Having watched the presidents daily reports to the USA, I am astounded the snarky idiots of the White House kiddie press corps have been unable to ask Dr. Fauci this question, while attempting to create national pandemonium over, at least by Faucis past standards, an incipient pandemic, whose ultimate toll can only be known in retrospect.
3. Political correctness has again reared its ugly head. The ignoramuses of the mainstream media, including Covuto and John Roberts on Fox, have decided it is racist to label a virus from whence it came. Apparently, they have never heard of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. In November 2019, China refused President Trumps offer of assistance. There is a more sinister goal in their Chinese Virus Syndrome Obsession (CUSO). The Chinese globalists and panderers understand that Chinas failure to inform the world in a timely manner of the Wuhan virus will accelerate President Trumps Americanization of our means of production, including our pharmaceutical and medical device industries. The choice is Make America Great Again or Let China Rule the World.
4. Finally on Sunday, the Valerie Pflames, John Brennan and Comey proteges began to emerge from the denizen of our intelligence community. I am so sick and tired of the criminal leaks from the nincompoops of the CIA and NSA. They are so dumb that these scalawags do not understand that the only audience they have are the Demolitioncrats, Pravda on the Hudson (NY Times) and Pravda on the Potomac (The Washington Post).
Out of words, decide for yourself! Time will tell.
Charles H. Bradley
Here is the original post:
Posted: at 5:55 am
People dont generally like to read old news. In most cases, stories on the Ohio State News website like most news sites reach peak readership within a week or so after they are published and arent read much after that.
But then again, the second most read story on the Ohio State News site in 2019 viewed more than 90,000 times was one that was published 16 years ago. Thats not a typo. The story first appeared March 7, 2004.
But it gets even stranger when you realize that the story was not about a blockbuster medical discovery or tuition announcement, but a book on European and African history from 1500 to 1800.
It only starts to make some hazy sense when you find out the title of the book: Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, The Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800.
The Ohio State news story on the book is titled When Europeans were slaves: Research suggests white slavery was much more common than previously believed.
In the book, now-retired Ohio State University history professor Robert Davis used a unique methodology to estimate that a million or more European Christians were enslaved by Muslims in North Africa between 1530 and 1780 a far greater number than had ever been estimated before.
A web search of the book and the Ohio State News story shows why their popularity has soared.
In an era of political polarization in America, much of which is related to issues of race, it appears that a portion of the political spectrum often termed the alt-right has produced itsown particular take on the book and is sharing the story widely over social media.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says the alt-right is a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that white identity is under attack by multicultural forces using political correctness and social justice to undermine white people and their civilization.
The alt-right take on the book, in a nutshell: The fact that some white Christians were once held as slaves by black Muslims essentially excuses slavery in America.
This take on his work disturbs Davis, who was surprised when he was told about the recent popularity of the old Ohio State News story. He said that over the years he has regularly received emails and requests for interviewsabout the book, but he had no idea how much attention his book was receiving and for what reason.
The early attention for the book was much different.
Thanks in good part to the original OSU news release, which was picked up by several wire services, there was a rapid and largely enthusiastic response all over the world to my book.Feature articles were run in major newspapers and magazines from Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy all the way to India, Malaysia and Australia.A French translation of the book even received a major prize from the Acadmie Franaise, Davis said.
But even at the beginning, there were hints about what was to come.
At almost the same time, I started being contacted by various right-wing broadcasters and conservative pundits who believed the book or the news release supported their own take on racial history. Some have specifically used it to back their claims that the slavery suffered by white European Christians somehow lessens or even negates the great historical horror of the trans-Atlantic slave trade from Africa to the Americas, he said.
Some on the alt-right have gone so far as to assert that Davis findings that white Christians had themselves once been enslaved by black Muslims mean that Americans today need not be concerned about either African American slavery or its aftermath.
One Facebook page discussing Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters makes its message plain: Never feel guilty about slavery in American again!
As time has passed and mainstream interest in my findings unsurprisingly began to fade, the commitment to this racialist interpretation seems to have only intensified, as especially people of thealt-right have taken to using my book or at least the news release for their own, unrelated purposes. And while Id really like to distance myself from such use, or rather misuse, theres not a lot I can do at this point, Davis said.
He said that some people have begun taking one of his findings (about the number of Christians enslaved by Muslims) out of context and not really comprehending the whole book.
I see the book as a kind of highway towards certain historical conclusions, but some people are getting off the first exit that has some information they can use, without seeing where the highway ends up, he said.
It is telling, Davis said, that his follow-up book which Ohio State News also wrote about has not received nearly the attention of Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters.
Thats probably because the second book (Holy War and Human Bondage: Tales of Christian-Muslim Slavery in the Early-Modern Mediterranean, published in 2010) spread its focus to include the North African Muslims taken as slaves by European Christians, as well as Protestants and Orthodox Christians enslaved by Catholics.
In that book, Davis estimated that more than 1 million Muslims were enslaved in Europe and 2 million Christians suffered the same fate in North Africa and the Near East. Jews also fell victim to slavers on both sides of the struggle, he pointed out.
It was in this book that Davis coined the term faith slavery.
During this period, both sides, Muslims and Christians, had nearly equal power, Davis told Ohio State News at the time. It really was a clash of empires and taking slaves was part of the conflict.
Even then, Davis was clear that the fact that some white Europeans were slaves did not mitigate or diminish the enslavement of 10 to 12 million black Africans who were brought to the Americas.
That (argument) doesnt make sense to me, Davis told Ohio State News in 2010.
Though faith and race slavery were both pervasive in those centuries, the enslavement of some white Christians can hardly balance the moral wrong of the slavery that other whites inflicted on Africans. Two such enormous wrongs dont make anything right.
Since the two books have come out, Davis has retired and moved to California, where he continues to research and write. He said he probably receives an average of two or three emails a month from people inquiring about Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters or the Ohio State news release.
He thought it must be normal for historians to be asked about their old research a few times a month, until he talked to another retired colleague.
I mentioned something about how as a historian you must get these emails all the time about your research. And he said, No, I dont. That was when I started to realize my book was somewhat peculiar in that regard.
Davis said he is still proud of the work with both books, particularly the methodology he developed to calculate the number of people who were taken as faith slaves.
Taking the best contemporary estimates of how many slaves were at each location at a given time, Davis calculated how many new slaves it would take to replace the ones who died, escaped or were ransomed.
Davis believes this is the best way available to make estimates of how many were enslaved, given the limited records of the time.
Even rough calculations make it clear that Mediterranean faith slaving was not some minor phenomenon, a petty problem for people at the time, as has been assumed by many historians today, Davis told Ohio State News in 2010.
After its moment in the spotlight when it was released, Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters faded from view somewhat, until the rise of social media and the alt-right.
The first recent spike in readership of the story at the Ohio State News site occurred in February 2019, when more than 1,100 people viewed the story on one day. On a day in June, more than 5,000 people clicked on the story. Since then, more than 100 people a day have visited the story.
In 2020, it is still the sixth most viewed story on the Ohio State News website.
Davis said that while he realizes that issues of race in America have driven a lot of the interest in his book, he is reluctant to speculate too much about why the alt-right has embraced Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters.
Youre moving outside my skills as a historian into sociology or political psychology. Im not certain what motivates people. I just know that some people are using my research as a standard to rally around without really following it to its conclusions or trying to understand its implications, he said.
Then again, there have been only limited attempts among American academics to either develop or refute my findings, so perhaps non-academics interested in this subject feel they have nowhere else to go.
Davis said he is realistic about how his books on faith slavery will be remembered, but he still hopes his research encourages people to remember a historical reality that has often been forgotten or ignored.
Faith slavery played an important role in history. It deserves more attention.
As for Davis, he has moved on to researching a topic that should be somewhat less controversial: He has begun writing a series of historical novels on 16th-century Italian bandits.