The Ulf Nilson column 01.15.2009

Looking back in time, as one invariably does at this time of the year, I'm struck by the fact that the mood in Sweden seems to have changed in one important area, while in another one – equally important – it remains very much the same.
I noticed the change after writing a column (in Expressen) about immigration in Sweden. The column included a sentence that said:
We took in too many, too quickly.
Only a year ago or so, that sentence would NOT have made it into the paper; very likely the whole column would have been spiked. Swedish media were dead set against any reporting which tried to establish that there are now more than a million and a half men, women and children of foreign origin in the country and that this creates a problem – any report saying so would have been stamped “hostile to foreigners” and stopped. Sweden has, in fact, had censorship since the early 1970’s. To use the word “problem” in connection with refugees (which is what the overwhelming majority of the immigrants are), was simply not allowed. To be hostile or contemptuous of Christians has long been OK, but do not say anything negative about the voluminous amount of newcomers because then you are… well, “hostile to foreigners”.
In Sweden, you should know, it is considered very bad form to say that the majority of prisoners serving more than four years (which means guilty of serious crimes) are “new arrivals”. Neither has it been cricket to report that all major Swedish cities have bad, sometimes very bad, ghettos populated by yes, “foreigners”. In crime reporting, you are not allowed to state that the perpetrator was of “Serbian descent" or “a black man”. Funny enough (or maybe not so funny), some reporters have taken to write that the criminal in question is “a citizen of Sweden”, which almost always means that the person in question was not born by Swedish parents and probably not in the country.
I should add, since it is important, that the people on the street, ordinary Swedish men and women, are quite angry with the media. And, alas, this creates a lot of bad will against the immigrants and those who are law abiding, hard working.
Today, as I noted, the tune seems to have changed, at least to a degree. There is more open discussion – particularly after the violent riots in Rosengård, Malmö’s main ghetto. Maybe political correctness will have to accept free, open and honest debate in the new year. One can always hope….
What has not changed is the attitude towards Israel. With a few notable exceptions (yours truly being one of them), the Israelis are pictured as the big, bad guys, beating up on the little, timid and defenseless Palestinians. When it’s mentioned that those Palestinians have for a long time rocketed Israeli cities, one often adds that the rockets are “homemade”; the truth is that some are, but that most come from Iran by way of Egypt, which could stop the traffic, but hasn't. In other words the old leftist admiration for the PLO has shifted to – of all unlikely organizations – Hamas. That Hamas is a fanatical group, dedicated to the destruction of the democratic state of Israel does not seem to have registered. Neither does the fact that the Hamas activists hide behind the Gaza civilians, quite happy to see as many of them as possible be killed.
Oddly enough, everybody now hopes that the US will be able to rectify the situation. The reason: Barack Obama. Bush is considered hopeless, not to say catastrophic, but the new man is eagerly and enthusiastically awaited.
What a difference an election makes….