Archive for the ‘Swedish politics’ Category

Swedish intolerance

2006-03-14

A very remarkable report has been published in Sweden.

The report is titelled “Intolerance: Anti-Semitic, Homophobic, Islamophobic and Xenophobic tendencies among the young”. A small snippet from it:

The findings from the study indicate that the vast majority of youths profess a positive attitude towards the different minority groups. The young people included in this study tend for example to agree with statements that most Muslims (or Jews or homosexuals) are undoubtedly ‚Äúgood people‚Ä? whereas they tend to distance themselves from negatively charged statements. The scale mean on the combined general intolerance index against Muslims, Jews and homosexuals lies at a score of approximately one (with the scale assuming a maximum value of four). The corresponding score on the three subscales varies only slightly around this value (from 0.9 in relation to homosexuals to 1.2 in relation to Muslims).

This report consists of replies from 3000 randomly selected Swedish citizens, and questions them on tolerance. 41% are partially or wholly negative when it comes to jews. 5% are anti-semitic. 25% are negative against the idea of having a jewish Prime Minister. How very nice. The entire report on these matters, as well as anti-Islamic, homophobic and xenophobic views is available in English, in this PDF-file. The report is available in more languages here.

The report is commented through this post in Dagens Nyheter, one of the biggest Swedish morning papers.

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The Swedish Migration Board

2005-12-22

I’ve posted a couple of very blood-stirring posts at my blog regarding recent revelations on how employees at The Swedish Migration Board have celebrated the fact that they’ve ejected families who have sought permanent stay in Sweden. I’m not making this up. Some had cake, some drank champagne – during work-hours – to celebrate this.

Read my posts to see evidence of this, (very muted) confessions from two of the criminals and read the very muffled voice of Janna Valik, the General-Director of The Swedish Migration Board, as not much, apparently, happens with said culprits.

My first post is found here, and the second one here.

Noam Chomsky on propaganda

2005-12-16

In “Imperial Ambitions: Conversations With Noam Chomsky On The Post-9/11 World“, David Barsamian interviews Noam Chomsky. Here’s a brilliant piece on propaganda:

How does one recognize propaganda? What are some techniques to resist it?

There are no techniques, just ordinary common sense. If you hear that Iraq is a threat to our existence, but Kuwait doesn’t seem to regard it as a threat to its existence and nobody else in the world does, any sane person will begin to ask, where is the evidence? As soon as you ask this, the argument collapses. But you have to be willing to develop an attitude of critical examination toward whatever is presented to you. Of course, the whole educational system and the whole media system have the opposite goal. You’re taught to be a passive, obedient follower. Unless you can break out of those habits, you’re likely to be a victim of propaganda. But it’s not that hard to break out.

On May 1, 1985, Reagan declared a national emergency in the United States because of the threat to the security of the United States posed by the government of Nicaragua, which was two days’ drive from Harlingen, Texas, and was planning to take over the hemisphere. If you take a look at that Executive Order, which was renewed annually as a way of building up support for the U.S. war in Nicaragua, it has almost the same wording as the October 2002 congressional declaration on Iraq*. Just replace Nicaragua with Iraq. How much critical intelligence does it take to determine how much of a threat Nicaragua was to the United States? Again, people outside just look at this in wonder and don’t understand it. Right through the 1980s, the tourist industry in Europe collapsed every few years because Americans were so frightened as a result of some spike in media coverage of terrorism that they thought, if we go to Europe there will be some Arab there who is going to try to kill us. Europeans don’t know what to make of this. How can a country be so completely frightened of something completely nonexistent that they’re afraid to travel to Europe?

That’s happening again right now.

Yes, it’s happening again. But in answer to the question “How do you break out of this?” just use your ordinary intelligence. There are no special techniques. Just be willing to examine what’s presented to you with ordinary common sense, sceptical intelligence. Read what’s presented to you the same way you would read Iraqi propaganda. Do you have to have special techniques for deciding that the minister of information in Iraq isn’t to be trusted? Look at yourself the same way. If you’re willing to apply to yourself the same standards you apply to others, you’ve won. From then on it’s easy.

*=Executive Order 12513, Prohibiting Trade And Certain Other Transactions Involving Nicaragua, See also New York Times, 2 May 1985; and Noam Chomsky, Turning The Tide (South End Press, 1986), p. 144, for more detail.

Timbro tankesmedja – intellectual death

2005-10-13

As I’m reading Sam Harris’ “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason”, I’ve come to page 29, where the following is mentioned regarding the planes crashing into America on 2001-09-11:

Why did nineteen well-educated, middle-class men trade their lives in this world for the privilege of killing thousands of our neighbors? Because they believed they would go straight to paradise for doing so. […] The consessions we have made to religious faith–to the idea that belief can be sanctified by something other than evidence–have rendered us unable to name, much less address, one of the mest pervasive causes of conflict in our world.

This is, of course, not only applicable to faith, but any matter where evidence is not apparent.

Today, Tiina Rosenberg (whom I’ve written about before) has resigned from politics, not only because she is constantly under attack from homophobes and anti-feminists, but also because she has been indirectly threatened by a right-winged group of people calling themselves “Timbro tankesmedja” (which translates as “Timbro thought-forge”). Exactly what does said threat consist of? I will tell you.

In this article [in Swedish], posted today in DN, Rosenberg publicly explains why she has now decided to leave the board of Feministiskt Initiativ (Fi), one of the reasons being the indirect threat: Rosenberg recently received a book, a thriller sent by Timbro tankesmedja, with a note. The note read as follows [my translation]:

Hello, Tiina! This is a book about a frustrating existence where one after the other goes missing. A situation which probably isn’t unheard of.

How nice. Apart from attacking the Swedish government with false claims (see my notes about Johan Tralau’s mad and anti-intellectual attack on Rosenberg and the Swedish government here), said “thought-forge”, of which Tralau is a member, may be using mafia tactics. According to Cecilia Steg√∂ Chil√≥ at Timbro, Rosenberg has left out a part of the note, reading “deflects and goes missing” instead of “goes missing”. In this article in DN today, Steg√∂ Chil√≥ adds that the book has been sent to “several” people in Sweden, and not just to her. She adds that she does not feel sorry for Rosenberg.

To iterate on the sheer intellectual value of Timbro tankesmedja: my friend Rade recently wrote this angry post regarding a statement by another member of Timbro tankesmedja, namely Johnny Munkhammar. On the day that the Nobel Prize Committee were to announce the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, he was part of a panel of people discussing who deserved it most, and came up with two nominees. McDonalds and George W. Bush/Tony Blair.

In his letter to Rade, he quoted this speech (as read) by Bush, saying Bush and Blair have “liberated 50 million people from oppression“. Of course, Bush said “It is courage that liberated more than 50 million people”, but let Munkhammar equal the word “courage” with Bush/Blair. It’s a free world. Only, our world wouldn’t be very free if Bush/Blair reigned, which apparently does not bother Munkhammar. He is not even bothered with critique of his source: if we all would actually believe all statements made by our governments, we would have a lot of problems. Remember the words of Juvenal: “Who watches the watchmen?” This is especially noteworthy, as Bush frequently, since the advent of 2001-09-11, refers to biblical passages in his speeches, and at times replaces “God” with “the USA”, when lifting passages. That’s a tad risqu√©, don’t you find? You can see much more about how Bush and his administration caters to the American extreme christians in the excellent documentary titelled “The Jesus Factor”, streamable in its entirety, for free, here.

So, apart from the fact that Munkhammar believes George/Tony should have the prize, his other nominee was McDonalds – one of the most fierce corporations in history, that is, like every other corporation on this planet, motivated solely by making as much money as possible – that he thinks should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Please, see “The Corporation” before you note another thing about the true goal of corporations. Munkhammar says McDonalds should receive it as they “work for openness, trade and exchange between countries” which “in turn, leads to peace”. He doesn’t say anything about what this corporation wants, what they trade, what said “openness” or “exchange” consists of. However, judging by his standards in that statement, Hitler wanted peace. Bush evidently wants peace in the same way (which is especially noteworthy in appointing John Bolton as ambassador for the USA, in the UN). HalliBurton definitely wants peace.

I say McDonalds aren’t about openness in the least. For a popular stance on how open they truly are, and how much worth their products truly carry, see Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me“.

All in all, I haven’t checked out Timbro tankesmedja more than this. Of course, the above claims by a couple of their members are atricious, and their indirect threat against Rosenberg is a direct threat against democracy as a whole, but I’m not saying they’re wholly devoid of any form of intellectual thought – simply because I haven’t wholly checked them out. What I hope my quoting Harris makes clear, is that when one is debating, driven by emotions instead of carrying facts and intellectual capacity, one should look oneself in the mirror once an hour and say “I’m not making any factual claims. I’m simply talking rubbish that has no basis in reality.” Then, either mend your ways or don’t make these claims in the reality in which many of us happen to live, because it only adds to the rubbish-pile. How would you like to be remembered: as an intellectual person who can back claims and stand by them, or as hot air with as much worth (in every way) as a cheeseburger courtesy of McDonalds?

Gender-based hatred in Sweden

2005-10-11

As this article from DN [in Swedish] points out, Tiina Rosenberg, whom I’ve written about previously, is constantly under fervent attack, apparently because she is intellectual, strong and a leading member of Feministiskt Initiativ (Fi).

The most recent attack is courtesy of Johan Tralau, a scientist, who has accused Rosenberg of cheating, in order to attain her professorship in Gender Sciences.

His claim to this, is saying Rosenberg has stolen a piece of research and used it in a book of her own, without referring to her source. A reporter from DN has researched this claim, and sees that Rosenberg has, in fact, referred to the one sentence that Tralau is accusing her of stealing; if one can say anything to Tralau’s defense, the referral is made before said sentence, and not after it, which is customary.

So, was that all? No. This one, non-customary reference to one single sentence in an entire book, written by Rosenberg, was enough for Tralau to accuse the Swedish government of “letting gender politics pass before academic merits”, i.e. Tralau says Tiina Rosenberg shouldn’t be allowed her professorship because she added a referral to one sentence, of all her referrals in mentioned book, before, instead of what customarily comes afterwards, said sentence. Either that, or he’s anti-feministic. But, he’s a scientist, so he be that as well.

Hence, here’s what I suggest: let somebody rummage through Tralau’s list of writings, and let anybody who finds any single spelling-error or dubious full-stop, publicly exclaim that’s a sign meaning the Swedish government lets people who carry a penis pass before true intellectuals. And, of course, don’t forget to accuse Tralau of cheating to get to call himself “scientist”. For, as you know, scientists only use science as their tool of choice. They don’t go accusing people of theft on prejudiced grounds, do they?

The above would be funny in a Monty Python-esque way, if it weren’t for the fact that Rosenberg has now stated that she is thinking about leaving politics altogether, because of the hounds constantly following her (and her family). And they aren’t exactly few in number; even as they’re mostly intellectually incapacitated, the sheer legion of morons attacking can make a person mentally tired, ready to pack everything up. Everybody knows this. When the headlines of the country spell your name and every type of deranged adjective beneath in huge, capital letters, at least a day a week, you can probably guess Rosenberg’s situation is quite horrid at times.

If you who are reading this are not from Sweden, you may have heard that Sweden is “the most gender-equal country in the world”. By some slide-rulers this is true, but alas, men still are much more privileged than women in this country (and hence, in the world). Since Fi was founded this very year, giving birth to the first 21st-century political organisation that put feminism as their top priority, I haven’t witnessed anything like the attacks against them, of which extremely few have had any type of intellectual validity; most of these, I’ve heard through people who, instead of checking out the facts, have guessed what Fi are on about, and twisted this aggressively in their minds, blurting it out without caring for the consequences. When I’ve asked some of these people for solid proof backing what they’ve said, they’ve mostly laughed and said “what, you expect me to refer to what I read in some paper a week ago?”, to which I’ve replied “yep”. Go ahead! Further laughter and can-you-believe-this-guy-looks (when a discussion like this has taken place in the company of several people, and not in a one-on-one confrontation). I retort: “OK, you actually expect me to believe in something you’ve ‘read somewhere’, which in turn means you apparently believe any type of printed word without having to question the source or its validity? Don’t you think that would be wrong?”. Usually, this question just makes the person quimper and studder pap. Reason against aggressive, unbelievable trash always works: at least intellectually.

I hope Rosenberg stays on the political arena and I really hope the people who attack her and Fi on loose grounds can start using their minds. Sweden desperatly needs intellectuals like Rosenberg in order to stay afloat.

2005-09-29

Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins This evening, I saw a great documentary called “The God Who Wasn’t There“. In it, the main maker of said documentary, starts with an image of the Sun. Then, you get to see Earth circling it. “But”, a narrating voice tells us, “it wasn’t always that way”, he continues. “The Sun used to revolve around the Earth, it was like that for hundreds of years, until it was discovered to be otherwise – and, even, for a few hundred years after that. But, ultimately, after much kicking and screaming, the Earth did, in fact, begin to revolve around the Sun. Christianity was wrong about the solar-system. What if it’s wrong about something else, too? This movie is about what happened when I went looking for Jesus.”

From an actual web-site, ladies and gentlemen. That’s the voice of Brian Flemming, the man who made the documentary. In it, he goes looking for the truth behind Christianity. It’s quite the interesting doc, and I don’t want to give too much away, but this is a snippet of what it contains:

In this provocative, critically acclaimed documentary, you will discover:

The early founders of Christianity seem wholly unaware of the idea of a human Jesus

The Jesus of the Gospels bears a striking resemblance to other ancient heroes and the figureheads of pagan savior cults

Contemporary Christians are largely ignorant of the origins of their religion

Fundamentalism is as strong today as it ever has been, with an alarming 44% of Americans believing Jesus will return to earth in their lifetimes

And God simply isn’t there

Well, there you go.

Wait, I’m not through. The interesting part of this is where Sam Harris says something like: “If a person says he or she is a great surgeon, that he/she has come up with ground-breaking surgical methods and would like to practice them, you would probably go ‘Well, let’s see your scientific evidence for it’, and if that person tells you he/she can’t show it to you, that said practices are felt and not scientifically proven, he/she’d get laughed out the room. But that doesn’t happen to people of faith.”

The power of faith is indeed strong, and at times runs over the intellect without stopping. At work today, a bunch of my colleagues and myself sat around a table, where we discussed issues. Once again, we slipped into the old man-vs-woman stuff. In Sweden, there’s a new political organisation, called Feministiskt Initiativ (Fi, for short). When they first arrived on the political scene, just a few months ago, people started stirring almost immediately, throwing quotes and images making me recall Valerie Solanas’ “S.C.U.M. Manifesto”. I didn’t care much about the organisation at first, until people started talking shit incessantly about them. I decided to check their web-page out, where they’ve got their agenda written down. Anyway, about Fi: I haven’t heard as many distorted quotes and pre-conceptions about a Swedish political organisation (or even a party), since Ny Demokrati, a very short-lived anti-immigrant party, came along and flaunted such themselves. Fi is, according their official web-page, a non-profit organisation that place feministic questions first, when it comes to the political agenda.

Mind you, I’ve found that a lot of people cannot define feminism. I have met many people who’ve instantly retorted a “Everybody knows that!” but cannot explain the term. What it actually means, is a point of view stating that men and women should be equal, in social, political and economical senses. Does anybody say that should not be the case? Thought you’d agree with me. Many Swedish political parties say that they obviously share that feministic sentiment of Fi, even though they don’t say it as loud. Now, the problem is that Swedish women still are very much second to men, when it comes to quoted “obvious stands”. Of course, this means that feminism still does not yet truly exist in Sweden.

Back to the milieu at the tableu. Usually, I find that people say things hap-hazardly. I do it myself, but I can stand corrected with no error, if that’s the case. Caught red-handed not knowing what to say? No problem, I’ll gladly admit my mistake and move on, taking something of value with me. The problem is not that I think many people don’t know what to believe about Fi. My problem is that ignorance isn’t stopping a lot of them to accuse, and even slander them without a thought about facts. Here are a few of the quotes from the people around the table at this specific time:

  • Fi wants to fight for women only to have the right to work 6 hours a day
  • Tiina Rosenberg (one of the members of the board) has said that women who sleep with men are gender-traitors
  • “What damn bitches they are.”

Except that I didn’t ask the person who called them bitches to explain away, the rest had to. The first quote quickly turned into “Well…maybe it’s V√§nsterpartiet (=Swedish leftist party) that said so”, which is also wrong, and the other one is simply jibberish. Check out this interview (in Swedish) with Rosenberg, who by the way is a Professor in Gender Sciences, where she debunks that quote (among a lot of other pap, plus writes about receiving death-threats just because she’s a member of the board in the most popular Swedish feministic organisation).

I told the person who called them bitches that I understood Fi thoroughly through their web-site and that I think their politics make more sense than that of any of the current Swedish major parties. I also told said person that even though Fi want to attain a feministic society by destroying the patriarchal system we live according to, today, it’s equivalent of any struggle where the discriminated want to destroy the evil that’s opposing them. In this case, they want to destroy a really bad thing, of course. As a parallel, I suggested Iraqis who fight for their life against American forces. My dear colleague said “That’s not a good comparison” to which I said “Why not?” to which he said nothing. Dead silence.

Once again, here’s something felt, but not scientifically proven. One doesn’t have to be a demi-God to ask for proof. If there is none, rest assured a person who says he/she’s telling the truth, is probably lying.

So the bitch was, in fact, he.

 

/Niklas