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Living in Sweden and the meaning of ‘subhuman’ - Intrepid Report

by Ritt Goldstein Tuesday, Apr. 17, 2012 at 12:28 PM

Reports indicate devastating 'structural discrimination' against minorities, a recent headline charging "Swedish society forces immigrants to emigrate". And, more Swedes emigrated in 2011 than at any other time in the nation's history.

Living in Sweden and...
photo_by___a_concerned_swede___-_11_jan_2012.jpg, image/jpeg, 1697x2684

11 January 2012 photo of protest against court discrimination in front of Sweden’s Parliament. The Swedish portions of the sign read: Cronyism in Uppsala. Nonsense in law; Nonsense in justice; Who cares about minorities in Uppsala District Court; To lie under oath is risk free in Uppsala District Court. I will have Justice. While some of the placard’s English-language words are misspelled, the Swedish is entirely correct. (Photo by ‘A Concerned Swede’)

Living in Sweden and the meaning of ‘subhuman’
By Ritt Goldstein

FALUN, Sweden—This winter, the temperatures here were sometimes below minus twenty (Celsius), but that’s relatively warm compared to some aspects of what everyday life has become. With the accompanying photo shouting forcefully against what indeed seems to exist for many, accepting its message means that illusions about Swedish justice and integrity fade, uneasily being replaced by haunting questions. Of these, by far the biggest question revolves ever more unsettlingly around the security of one’s life and property, not to mention concerns regarding what Sweden’s future may hold for those of foreign origins.

According to the online dictionary Merriam-Webster (MW), the noun ‘subhuman’ refers to “a subhuman being,” with the first known use of the term being in 1937, a time marked by the ascent of ‘far right’ power, the horrors it meant. Much has been written about the rise of Europe’s far right, its impact upon Muslims and other minorities, but prejudice remains an empty word until one experiences the crushing weight that can come of its actions. Times change and so do countries, with this journalist’s own experiences in ‘progressive’ Sweden suggesting far worse circumstances than many imagine.

While an ever increasing number on our planet find themselves drawn to ‘Nordic noir,’ the novels of Sweden’s Stieg Larsson, few appreciate how much fact is contained in Larsson’s fiction. Larsson’s references to Nazism, the Swedish bureaucracy’s capacity for brutalization, do exist for a reason.

A far right legacy

Contrary to Sweden’s image as a fastidiously correct bastion of progressive thought, seldom appreciated facts of this nation’s history highlight there’s indeed another and far darker side to this state. It is a side that’s neither very pretty nor nice, but one that a well-known newspaper editor here privately told me he believes the country is again reverting to. It is a side that created the world’s first racial biology institute in 1922, the Statens institut för rasbiologi (SIFR), the SIFR subsequently associated with the forced sterilization of 63,000 (over 90% being women) in a program only ending in the mid-1970s. And, it is a side that even allowed some Swedes to serve as Nazi concentration camp guards at Treblinka, a death factory where 900,000 Jews were ‘exterminated.’

Of course, it can be argued that such things are in the past, but the past is too often merely prelude for the future. Emphasizing the point, visiting the website of the UK’s Independent highlights that even in 1996 it published an article titled "Sweden is ‘hotbed of neo-Nazism’", thus footnoting a portion of why Nazism was indeed a theme Larsson strongly touched upon.

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