Sunday, October 14, 2012

Racism against immigrants has entered Sweden's leading newspaper

Racism against immigrants is on the rise in Sweden.  The mock slave auction, the Somali woman who was forced to pour milk over herself in order to symbolise that she should be white  and the racist children’s movie featuring a racist depiction of a black girl child, are but a few of similar incidents. But a month ago racism in the form of hate speech has found a new platform in Sweden's leading newspaper. 

In September Sweden's largest newspaper Dagens Nyheter published an editorial of Swedish author Lena Andersson entitled: "With the secateurs at our defence". Her focus of interest seemingly revolved around the problems of killer slugs, but in reality she was referring to migrants in Sweden.

The editorial was translated by an Afro-Swedish scholar and was emailed to senior scholars in Europe and US to inform them of this new dangerous phase in Sweden. In the mail entitled, "A Letter from Sweden: Post-politics and the demonization of racial difference in the daily press‏‏", the author adds: “Sweden's particular brand of political exceptionalism is strong – so strong in fact, that even the most menacing rhetoric in the public arena can be expressed with any serious consequences, such as straightforward contestation. What scares me and many others, is that, to an increasingly high degree, hate-speech has become an acceptable form of discourse even in the respected daily press. Of course, I'm aware of that from an international perspective on backlash phenomena, this is not an unique situation; the difference is that resistance is so incredibly weak in Sweden. “


Editorial


“With the secateurs at our defence” 

Published 8th of September, Dagens Nyheter, 2012

Lena Andersson

"The violence against the murder slugs means giving up Herrenvolk mentality. Or entails a detrimental encouragement to brutality.

 One can read the daily paper that one should put the killer slugs to death. It is the right thing to do. We must help each other to defend our tilled land, to form a citizen army, as it were. You couldn’t call me a lover of animals. The animals and me keep a distance of respect. I regard them as menacing, something that makes me one of them.

 I have never myself witnessed the harm done by killer slugs, only read about it. I trust the daily paper, the experts and those infested with them. The best thing to do, you can read, is to cut their necks off with secateurs. I have no secateurs, so, egged on to schtotch every killer slug I see, I use the heel of my shoe. Their neutral name is Spanish forest slugs, but it is easier to justify putting them to death when the activity is self-defence and a resistance struggle against evil. The creepy-crawlies are described as invading swarms that spawn, and ruin our culture, and therefore should not have migrated here.

 It is probably not a prejudice that killer slugs have different needs than humans. Their interests seem more single-minded, their inner lives less rich. Can they feel pain and fear? Considerations such as these, of course, determines how we handle them. Or maybe not. Most animals that we systematically put to death can feel pain and fear. And if we discover a human specimen which does not feel all the things that a human being is expected to feel, this person still continues to be embraced by the privileges that the species enjoy, by virtue of his or her group belonging.

 Is it really a good thing that I stamp out slugs? The fact that I have done it because it says so in the daily paper definitely feels bad. And the fact that the media promote brutality and spree killing appears unsavoury. It can very well be the same cerebral paths that are activated and maintained no matter in what direction the brutality is pointed; so, instead of gripping the secateurs, maybe one should practice putting them away.

 The 19th-century poet Heinrich Heine once wrote that in places where books are burnt, eventually become places where human beings are burnt as well. And where brutality against slugs is encouraged, other forms of violence are close by. (Books are burnt because they are regarded to be damaging.)

 The emotional and verbal aggressiveness directed towards murder slugs is too great. I wonder what it expresses. Might it be the relief in being able – for once – to release the uninhibited loathing for those who destroy the order of society with impunity? Or is it an expression of what J M Coetzee’s fictive figure suggests in 'The lives of animals”… that man despises the animals for slaughtering because they allow themselves to be treated as such: ”Once upon a time we waged war upon the animals (…) It is only after the victory was an absolute fact, that we could afford to cultivate compassion. (…) Yet, there are still animals that we hate. Rats, for example. Rats have not capitulated. They strike back. (…) They will not win, but they are not losing either. Not to speak of insects and microbes. They can still defeat us.'

 The murder slugs do not step aside either.

 But one problem with showing murder slugs respect is that you cannot demand anything of them. They are not reasonable. They do not devour your garden because they have had an absent father, or grown up in poverty. You cannot alphabetise them, or get them to expand their parsimonious sphere of interest. The same thing goes for a small amount of human individuals. Yet, it is not socially acceptable to want to put them to death.

In general, humanity has shown a Herrenvolk mentality vis-à-vis other species. So, if we had the ambition to spare the murder slugs, we would soon be infuriated by their failure to show us their gratitude for their newly-won rights – that they did not respond by behaving like people, and give up ruining gardens. We would loathe them even more. There are two sides to Herrenvolk mentality. It may be expressed as superiority, or as contrived humility. Sometimes, humbleness is a form of reflected superiority.

 In between them, there is a third state, equality. Equality does not mean wanting to socialise with each and everyone, or to like every one, but an attitude towards those one does not know or like. In the long run, such a relationship requires reciprocity in order not to turn into something twisted or self-effacing. Murder slugs disregard equality, both as a mental attitude, and as material practice.

 Still, this is not an argument. Many people also show a disregard for equality. When we ransack ourselves regarding why we (no longer) exhort each other to bring out the secateurs (the guillotine) against people that ruin things for us, the answer is far from given. The philosopher Lars Bergström writes in his book ”Death, life and reality”… that: 'The claim that all human beings have a value that other creatures on earth do not, is as strange as claiming that people of a certain blood type should be better than other people.'

 But what to do with the destructive swarms? A reservation camp, a public garden? Faced with the murder slugs, we ourselves behave as the murder slugs do. Maybe that is the most dignified and equal way to go about it. We oppose what we experience as a threat, and do not act as Coetzee’s submissive animals for slaughter.

 All the same it feels wrong with this appeal to violent instincts.

 Might it be the relief in being able – for once – to release the uninhibited loathing for those who destroy the order of society with impunity?

Lena Andersson is an author and freelance columnist in Dagens Nyheter."

Update: The text was "black immigrants", but it has been changed in "immigrants".  (Thanks for the correction.)

17 comments:

  1. Have to say, loving all of the new Afro-Scandinavian related posts within the last few days...even if some of the content is highly troublesome and problematic.

    As far as Lena Andersson is concerned, I CAN'T. But to be fair, I'd probably have a similar disposition if I too were a hate mongering, embittered, black-hearted, soulless, psychopathic, pathetic, insecure, hard-faced, ogre-ish, Lord of the Rings looking monstrosity. Clearly, she hates herself and sees fit to project that outwardly.

    She believes "murder slugs" should be be-headed. Well, I say, let's start first with hogs and pigs like her who wobble around, treading in filth and feasting on their own sh**. Hog-head cheese and bacon for everyone! That's the most civility I can muster for her and her ilk. What she said basically amounted to a call to arms with violent aggression against black immigrants.

    Afro-Swedes, the Revolution will not be televised. Stand the f*** up!

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    1. Thank you so much for your supportive comment, BlkViking. And many thanks also for your image at notyourmotleycrew.com.

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    2. Dude, I read your post on "Black people in Spain" and I was pretty amazed. You did a great job, and with this post not bad either. However, bro you can't have such an aggressive attitude: Malcom X and friends alike all had their time, place, and purpose in the Civil Rights movement, but dude you simply can't think like that anymore. Communicating and compromise is the only way that negative attitudes like Lena's will fade. Bro, I'm so there with you on not taking it from anybody, but fighting fire with gasoline does not work. Granted some people will never change, but most people don't know better. That’s why we as Black people must take the first step. With that being said, you’re right, the Swedes who happen to be black should not just sit there and allow material like this to be published, or as soon as it published the newspaper should regret hiring her in the first place. I dare for something like that to happen in America that is something we don’t go for. Americans (Black, White, Oriental, Asians, and Hispanic-Latino) we simply just don’t sit there and take it. Maybe the Swedes should take notes on great American protests.

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  2. Dear all readers of this post,

    Just a small correction from the Swedish horizon; Lena Andersson does not specifically target the Black minority in her editorial, but all grous who represent racial and cultural difference (meaning people of colour,muslims, etc). Dear admin, when the correction is made, you can feel free to erase this comment

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  3. BlkViking: I for one feel that it's very important not to resort to the same rhetoric of violence and dehumanization as Andersson.
    /Oivvio Polite

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    1. Admittedly, I'm more "early Malcolm X" than "Martin Luther King." Huey P. Newton and Stokely Carmichael fall more in line with my personal philosphies.

      Lena Anderrson is a sociopath. Make no mistake about it. I fervently believe that she lacks conscience and empathy. I BELIEVE her words. Maya Angelou wisely says, when people show you who they are, BELIEVE THEM. I believe that she would see us all dead if she could. That type of person can not be reasoned with. There is no civility. She does even think that "murder slugs" like us are even capable of or deserving of civility. She sees us as animals, worthy of our torment because we ALLOW it. And I will NOT allow it. And I think that is where you and I will differ...in how we individually manifest our "resistance."

      I absolutely respect your right to "combat" her in the way that you see fit. And I don't believe in or condone offense-centered violence, making the first blow. But I absolutely believe in defense and protecting myself and my own people by any means necessary.

      The ironic thing is that I'm sure Lena Andersson would rationalize that is precisely what she's doing. She thinks that whites need to arm themselves against the "murder slugs." But we know that particularly in recent history, whites have USUALLY "delivered the first blow" and have USUALLY been the aggressor, whether physically, socially, culturally or otherwise. But sociopaths and narcissists are blind to their own shortcomings and wrongdoings. They can not be coddled and woo'd into "coming around" and seeing another perspective. They only see/think/feel in terms aggressive and passive, strong and weak. Anything passive is by default WEAK. You and I know that to be false. But narcissists and sociopaths do not. And I will not lay down before them.

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  4. To BlkViking: Your heartfelt response to Lena Andersson was some of the most moving, visceral writing I have read on the Internet in a long time. I know little or nothing of the situation of Afro-Swedes, living in Sweden or in the United States, so I am grateful to read and learn from individuals like you, who have lived and live this reality daily. THANKS for contributing!

    And keep a journal, bro, if you don't already! One of these days, after awhile, you will go back and read what you've written in your journal and find that you've created a poignant memoir!

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    1. Thanks John! I know that I'm "loud mouthed," aggressive and very opinionated. And I certainly don't intend to speak for everyone. Personally, I am just sick and tired of being sick and tired. Yes, Sweden is at least 60 years behind the United States when it comes to anything concerning "Civil Rights." But I don't intend to let her catch up gracefully. My endurance is spent. I shouldn't have to wait for them to "get it." The world is a very different place than it was 60 years ago. We have literally become a world united by the power of the internet; technology. Ideas can spread faster than ever. If Sweden doesn't get the memo, that's her stubborn, pig-headed CHOICE. And I won't coddle her for it.

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    2. BlkViking, good to hear.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZELXvAT_B04&feature=related

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    3. **Standing Ovation** :) I LOVED that documentary. It was very powerful and very moving. Some of those images, especially at the end, I can't remove from my head. And I couldn't agree more with Angela Davis.

      Hussein Abdilahi Bulhan (author of Frantz Fanon and the Psychology of Opression) defines violence as “any relation, process, or condition by which an individual or group violates the physical, social, and/or psychological integrity of another person or group.” Even if we didn't consider the fact that Sweden profited from the commodification** of black bodies, under Bulhan's definition, she has certainly committed violence against black bodies since then. Look at the racialized housing! Look at the labour market! Look at the cultural traditions she holds dear! Violence that destroys the heart and mind, if not the body.


      **The ONLY reason Sweden didn't make more money from the slave trade is because there was no such thing as Sun block back then! Poor Sven and Gustaf couldn't handle the sun.

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    4. I just found "Frantz Fanon and the Psychology of Oppression" @ Amazon.com for $36.00 hardcover, including shipping. Frantz Fanon's "Black Skins, White Masks" is a classic; absolute mandatory reading for unraveling the diabolical mental twines and cords imposed upon Black people's psyches globally via slavery and/or colonialism. I've never read Hussein Bulhan's work, so I'm ordering that asap! Thanks, BlkViking, for the tip!

      And THANKS for the "Svedish history lesson", too! LMBO! (Sun block for Sven & Gustaf's exposed skin). :-)

      If/whenever you happen to be in San Francisco lemme know and we can hang out. But then, I take that back. San Francisco's becoming too genteel and even gentrified in many neighborhoods. You'd be TOO MUCH for this place! We'll hang across the Bay in Oakland. Now. That's better. Ooof. LOL!
      jstephens718@gmail.com

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    5. lol Thanks John, and sorry about responding so late. I'm just now seeing your post. I'll be e-mailing you shortly.

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  5. I agree with blkviking sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. I too am sick and tired of being sick and tired, white people came to rule the world through force and by going to unbelievable levels of cruelty, they don't respect you if you don't fight back and when they don't respect you they destroy you.I'd like it to be another way but it's not.

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  6. We will all be waiting for your fiery report about Afro-Spanish Youth Day, this Friday, October 19th.

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  7. One must explain to Ms Andersson - what goes around comes around, at least Britain has understood that one - if you are going to partake in the Slave trade and or have colonies its most naive to think that the descendants of those "Slaves ", colonies will not come to your country. What soever a man sows that he will also reap.

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