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Sweden, Twitter, and when a Progressive icon becomes the darling of the Right
by Ritt Goldstein
FALUN, Sweden - When most people think of Sweden, it's of a country that once virtually defined the meanings of both integrity and social justice, a place that for many was once more an ideal than a nation. But unrealized by most, that place we knew was slowly dying, victim of the same neoliberal toxins that have poisoned so much, with another Sweden, a 'Brave New Sweden', rising in its place.
Today's Sweden is one that's troubled, one whose official 'Tweets' are even disturbing, with the leader of Sweden's Jewish communities just asking for the removal of the current 'Tweeter' because of troubling comments upon Jews. But it seems such conduct is simply a part of the 'Brave New' state now emerging, a state whose changes have led it to be increasingly defined as the new icon of the Right.
The conservative Kansas City Star headlined in May, "Time to take a cue from Sweden , of all places"; Bloomberg News just ran "Booming Sweden's Free-Market Solution"; and, as early as September, the unabashedly right-wing American Spectator published its own love letter, "Free Market Sweden, Social Democratic America". Make no mistake, the Sweden we once knew is gone, harsh neoliberal transformation leaving an empty souled beauty beckoning the unwitting towards her once warm embrace. And while that description may sound a bit strong, the nightmarish effects of such transformations do make themselves evident.
Far-right and xenophobia surge
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In 2010 a far-right party with neo-Nazi roots, the Sweden Democrats (SD) was elected to Sweden's parliament. Since April, polls reveal their support jumped 85% -- 40% in April/May, 35% in May/June -- the May/June poll numbers highlighting that the increase from the level of support they had in March totaled 85%. Notably, famed Swedish novelist Stieg Larsson was known to fear such changes would occur, and an earlier article I penned for Op-Ed News indeed addressed Sweden's turn to its 'dark side' - "Sweden and its dark side, Stieg Larsson, and Hollywood's 'The girl with the dragon tattoo" . And, the evident changes are far more than political.
Just days ago, Sweden's Twitter account -- Sweden's official Twitter where a different citizen takes over the account every week -- began 'Tweeting' what the New York Times termed "odd questions about Jews", and even the Wall Street Journal reported troubling comments upon both Jews and Gays. The culprit, a 27 year old single mother of two, genuinely failed to perceive the implications of what she was saying, and that is a real problem here.
To quote from a just published EBook of mine, "Living as a Sub-Human in Sweden" (without charge at http://www.coldtype.net/Assets.12/PDFs/0609.RittBook.pdf )...
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I am an American investigative political journalist living in Sweden, and have lived in Sweden since July 1997. My work has appeared fairly widely, including in America's Christian Science Monitor, Spain's El Mundo, Sweden's Aftonbladet, Austria's (more...