Instinctively the reader might find the headline as rascist slur intended as a provocation against Swedish migration policies. It is not. It is a a fitting description of several observations of Swedish society the latest couple of weeks, although it can be said that Swedish society from a social perspective has been stuck in a descending spiral for many years know. This weekend a Police officer, Peter Springare, with 47 years on the force wrote on Facebook that he was “so f*cking tired” of the situation in today’s Sweden and that he was fed up with political correctness and described his week at work. What he described was a whoeful overrepresentation of immigrants amongst criminals that took all resources of the Police force. This was politically extremely sensitive, especially for a Police officer. It didn´t take long before an official notification was filed against him to the Specific Procuratorate. At first it was unclear on what charges but eventually it was made clear that he was under suspicion of hate speech. Whether Springare actually will end up in court or not remains to be seen. He remains in service while a formal investigation is being made.
Springare however almost immediately became a hero and whistleblower among citizens that are critical against the public political narrative. A Facebook group, Stå upp för Peter Springare – Stand up for Peter Springare, was created and grew to almost 100 000 members in just a couple of days. The Police station received bundles of flowers and many began to talk about a Swedish spring with reference to the upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East during the Arab spring. One of Sweden’s largest newspapers, Expressen wrote early on about “the rascist support for Peter Springare” before changing the headline to just read “the support for Peter Springare” when it became apparent that it wasn´t just rascists and sympathizers of the right wing Sweden Democrats that supported Springare. However anything that can be even remotely described as nationalistic in todays Sweden is seen as politically subversive.
The postings made by Springare really puts the finger on the polarisation of Swedish society and brings fundamental questions about democratic principals. One doesn´t have to agree with Springare as such to find the official notification against him as abhorrent from the perspective of free speech. What possibly could compromise Springare is that he is a state servant and thus should not reveal information of cases under investigation. However what his highly critized superior, Chief of Police Dan Eliasson, who has very apparent connections to the ruling Socialdemocratic Party, was very ardent to point out that the issue was that Springare talked about etnicity among criminals, which he should be very careful about doing, rather than talking about cases undergoing investigation.
The question regarding the empirical relevance of surveing etnicity amongst criminals is a highly sensitive one in Sweden. There are no public information available after 2005 and yet leading criminologists like Jerzy Sarnecki continues to claim that it is “empirically not interesting” to update public information. Neighbouring countries like for instance Norway has up to date information that clearly shows a vast overrepresentation among immigrants when it comes to crimes like rape. Rationals like cultural differences in perception of women is disdained in Sweden, here it is viewed as a common attitude trait amongst men per se. Representatives of the left wing party Feminist Initiative claimed for instance that it was just a coincidence that the absolute majority of the men that committed sexuals assaults at the New Years Celebrations in Cologne were non-Germans. Hence one can assume that it is politically not interesting rather than empirically so in Sweden since a result similar of the Norwegian one would raise questions about failed migrations policies and lack of integration. It would even question the entire narrative of the Swedish Model that is so intimatly part of Socialdemocratic self-image. This is what makes Springares rebellion against the public paradigme so politically sensitive. Thus anything that could benefit the right wing Sweden Democrats is from a socialistic and neoliberal perspective not interesting. The problem is that this apparent denial only fuels the opposing part’s narrative. If Springare is wrong, why not show him wrong? Empirical surveys are not rascist in themselves, it is what is made out of them that could be POTENTIALLY rascist. However the political paradigme in Sweden of today is that it is rascist by defintion to survey ethnic background amongst criminals. The question then arrises how we are supposed to put the correct resources in use in order to reach out to ethnic groups that are more prolific than others in certain types of criminality? Such a perspective is hardly rascist. Concerned citizens, whether they are rascists or not, are becoming increasingly fed up with what more and more can be described as a society that can be compared to the old fairlytale “The Emperor’s new clothes”. This only acts as a self fullfilling prophecy and thus only favors the right wing Sweden Democrats.
If Peter Springare is found guilty of hate speech this could potentially have severe repercussions for free speech in Sweden. This is something that should be concerning to all democrats, regardless if you define yourself as a liberal, conservative or a socialist and regardless if you agree with Springare or not. Free speech is under siege in today’s Sweden. The later is only emphasized as our Department of Culture, run by the Greens, in it’s proposal for a new media legislation is suggesting that only media approved by the state should receive subsidies. The later bears a stale smell of the Eastern Block during the Cold War.
Thus we could face a situation in which only socialistic, neoliberal or socialliberal views are approved of. This in a nation that prides itself as a bulwark of free speech and that sees it fit to lecture others like Hungary and the Czech Republic who´s right wing governments are less than popular among liberals and socialists over here. Another proof that freedom of speech is under threat in Sweden is how the outspoken Czech-born writer Katerina Janouch a couple of weeks ago was more or less crucified in mainstream massmedia after an interview in Czech TV in which she described a deteriorating situation in Sweden in which women feel increasingly unsafe. Even our Prime Minister Stefan Löfvén as well as our former Prime Minister Carl Bildt saw it fit to comment on a common citizen´s views on national television. Löfvén described Janouch’s statements as “strange”. I was quite evident that the political elite was annoyed about the image of Sweden being increasingly tarnished internationally. However, if you ask the common citizens, fewer and fewer are willing to describe a positive development of our society. Janouch was accused by left wing and neoliberal media of running the errands of the Czech right wing Prime Minister Milos Zeman and for “fishing in murky waters” . Some even went to lengths to try to have her publisher terminate her contract after that they had dissociated themselves from her statements. In such a context it is hardly surprising that outspoken persons like Janouch and Springare are seen as heros by an increasing number of concerned citizens, whether the latter are rascists or not. Sweden of today certainly bears parallels to the surreal works of the Czech writer Franz Kafka, in which the narrative of the ordinary citizens is becoming increasingly different from that of politicians and the cultural elite. The latter seem to have become stuck in a past that no longer exists. However nationalists and populists are often described as longing for an idealised past. Populism in today’s Sweden is thus becoming increasingly blurred.
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