We receive a great many letters all the time. Our favorite comments are, needless to say, like these:

Of the many decades as a subscriber I believe Nordstjernan has improved 1,000%. Keep up your good work.
Arthur Carlson, Chenango Forks, NY


I thoroughly enjoy condensed Swedish news, the facts and trivia from Sweden and on Swedish literary giants and the kings and queens. The new variety of reporting from all parts of Swedish America makes reading so much more enjoyable. I also like the twice monthly frequency, which gives me time to reflect and read it over again.
Ruth Ann Swensen, Chicago, IL

But, every so often we also receive letters that offer food for thought in a different way and reason to review policies or content, and sometimes even question content:

Ulf Nilson, not a dissident journalist but a reactionary Swede …

Ulf Nilson’s "What happened to Sweden?"
Ulf Nilson’s book is a shallow and glib denigration of his native Sweden, which country provided him the environment to grow up well fed, protected and subsidized so he could pursue his education to become a journalist. What he did with this largesse is travel to the USA, allegedly live here for twenty years or so and understand absolutely nothing of his couple of decades tourist visit here while he either knowingly or foolishly played into exactly what the American establishment desires of immigrants/visitors from liberal western European countries: have them trash those countries’ social welfare policies.

While I understand the temptation to become such a shill because of the fawning but insincere attention one might receive along with the access to publication and subsequent largesse one thus acquires, allowing one to believe they are a successful “dissident journalist” from another land, those journalists’ sense of relevancy is a self-indulgent illusion. One can imagine how the writing would differ would those of Mr. Nilsson’s ilk had done a “tour” or two in Vietnam or nowadays Iraq et al. as a “grunt runner” at nineteen or twenty years of age facing hard choices with no money to do much else. Then later find themselves receiving slipshod medical care should they be so lucky to have “V.A.” care for any wounds thereby received, promised an education but ending up unemployed. I don’t hear about many young Swedes being forced to face such choices.

I have seen the phenomena of the twenty- and thirty-something Swedes come to America and bask in the warm glow of relatively high wages and lower taxes allowing them to jump full grown, like Boticelli’s Birth of Venus, into the first stages of the American middle class allowed only by the cozy youthful education and training they received from that backward socialist disaster of Sweden. After a few years when they realize just what type of casino they are playing in, some of them find it not so fun when they are on the losing side.

In short, your [Nordstjernan] reporting and viewpoint is highly skewed.
Jack Knutson, Freemont, CA

Food for thought. Thank you for submitting your comments. The opinions expressed in Nordstjernan's Viewpoint section are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff and management of Nordstjernan or Swedish News, Inc. The same is indeed true about the content of this page, albeit for more obvious reasons.
That said, however, the fact remains: There is no such thing as objective reporting. Only by covering an issue from many subjective angles can we arrive at our own opinions—in themselves hardly objective. We are fortunate to have our correspondents covering events in Sweden or America from highly personalized points of view. Each of them has a different viewpoint of Sweden, as well as on the United States, all from experience in living for long periods in both countries. Each of them is sometimes critical of either country but patently no doubt does love it as well. So far, this is the view of the staff and management of Nordstjernan.

We shared the reader’s letter with Ulf Nilson who didn’t feel inclined to respond at this time. I'll do it instead.
I think our reader’s general observation about many Swedes coming to America and quickly forming opinions based on very little knowledge is probably correct. In Ulf Nilson’s case, however, I have to respectfully disagree with his belonging to this group.
As the son of a stonemason, Nilson started work as a volunteer at a local newspaper immediately after high school. His pay, if memory serves me right, was a penny per line, when published. He never went to the School of Journalism but worked his way to a position as U.S.- and later world-correspondent at one of the leading papers in Sweden. As such he has seen most war zones from the Russian atrocities in Hungary he mentions in this week’s column, to Israel, Algeria, Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, to the present day infected areas of Somalia, Africa, Bosnia. During his time in the U.S. he went on 15 longer tours of Vietnam, as a war correspondent joining U.S. troops in war zones. He marched with Martin Luther King, was arrested by Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence Rainey in Philadelphia, Mississippi in conjunction with the murders of Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman, got a bullet in the back during the riots in Harlem and was “arrested” by the Black Panthers …. The story goes on but suffice it to say, yes, Swedish youth are and have been privileged in many ways for many years, pampered by a society which leaves little room for dissidents and those that break out from the crowd. But no, Ulf Nilson can not be considered one of the pampered, nor a tourist observer. Ulf often takes what is considered a conservative stance, no doubt. I appreciate that: It’s always food for thought. And although conservative in stance (excuse me for this, Ulf!) I have to add, he is on a human level one of the more liberal* people I have ever met.

A final word on objectivity and reporting: At the time of our publishing Nilson’s book we also offered another book title to our Nordstjernan readership, “The Swedish Secret, What the U.S. can learn from Sweden’s story,” which took a completely different approach to the two countries. As luck has it, both titles were later reviewed simultaneously by the Swedish American Genealogist, the SAG Journal. We’ll run both reviews in our next issue, if re-print is permitted by our colleague in publishing.

Ulf Barslund Mårtensson
Editor & Publisher

*Liberal: broad-minded; especially: not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms. Synonyms liberal: generous, bountiful, munificent meaning giving or given freely and unstintingly. liberal suggests openhandedness in the giver and largeness in the thing or amount given.
— Merriam-Webster Dictionary