Sweden and its dark side, Stieg Larsson, and Hollywood's 'The girl with the dragon tattoo'
By Ritt Goldstein
Dateline Dalarna, Sweden - The film's US opening was December 20th, with a Reuters review of David Fincher's too-real thriller titled, "Dragon Tattoo" film paints Sweden in darkest shades. But, the sad fact is that there's a very uncomfortable amount of truth in Stieg Larsson's fiction.
Larsson's riveting story of moral wasteland and Nazi heritage, the courageous investigative journalist and troubled feminine genius that rise above it, does depict a number of real-life issues
According to an English language article in
This story, as with many that The Local prints, was also pursued widely in regular Swedish language media. But, much of the nation's darker side just doesn't make it into the major english-language press, and -- to my thinking -- not every 'rape' here need involve sex.
Recent other scandals include: a senior charity official having been convicted of defrauding the Swedish Red Cross and the Swedish Cancer Society, over a million dollars said to have been involved; city officials in Gothenburg's building and housing sector facing assorted corruption charges; government acknowledgement and the promise of $38,000 each to what is estimated as thousands of children that were badly abused in foster care, and, the list goes on. The common thread running through the scandals is an abuse of power by those placed in authority by this society, and worse still, long term neglect and/or tolerance of abuses by those charged with preventing them.
As I said, not every 'rape' here need involve sex.
In Larsson's two subsequent works, The Girl Who Played with the Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, Larsson addresses the issues of Salander's violent abuse as a child at the hands of the Swedish System's bureaucracy, portraying elements of the bureaucracy with a tolerance of, and complicity in, the worst kinds of criminal activity. This is not to say that Larsson implies the majority of those in the Swedish bureacracy act in a monstrous manner, as that certainly isn't the case, but -- in this journalist's opinion based upon what I have personally witnessed -- too many do, and too often they are not stopped.
The dichotomy, between the 'proper and noble' image versus a 'shameless and brutal' reality, is highlighted by Larsson again and again.
Repeatedly, the actual fact of Steig Larsson's 'dark Sweden' has been seen in Swedish news accounts, including those relating to the country's Nazi heritage. Just this past August, a Swedish book was published that claims Ikea founder and philanthropist Ingvar Kamprad was "active in recruiting to Sweden's main war-time Nazi movement the National Socialist Workers' Party (Svensk Socialistisk Samling - SSS)", according to The Local and the Swedish News Agency TT.
"It confirms only one thing -- that Ingvar time after time has told about the biggest mistake of his life and apologised to all involved 20 years ago", the article noted a Kamprad spokesman observing. But today, while all of the Nordic countries have far-right parties in their parliaments, it is only Sweden's party, the Sweden Democrats, that has neo-Nazi roots.
Perhaps more troubling still, following the Norwegian mass-murder rampage of far right Islamophobe Anders Behring Breivik, the Swedish daily Expressen revealed that it's believed Breivik had lived in Sweden and acquired a substantive portion of his political beliefs here. A Swedish hamburger chain even made international headlines some months ago when parents found their young son had received a swastika tattoo with his child meal, and, just days ago, neo-Nazis marched past the Jewish community's headquarters, decrying a so-called 'Jewish conspiracy'.
Contrary to its progressive image, Sweden also founded the world's first 'racial biology' institute in 1922, the Statens institut for rasbiologi (SIFR), with the SIFR subsequently associated with the forced sterilization of 63,000 in a program that only ended in the mid-1970s. According to a Swedish government 2005 report upon the country's "structural discrimination", Det blagula glashuset (The blue/gold glass house), in some areas Roma were sterilized simply for being Roma. But, the report also notes how strong 'structural discrimination' still exists in