Society

Why Sweden Has An Antisemitism Problem

In October 1943, nearly the entire Jewish population of Denmark made a perilous crossing from their Nazi-occupied country to neighboring Sweden. Setting out from ports and beaches along the coast, some 7,000 people arrived in rowboats and canoes to the safe shores of the port city of Malmö.

Now, 78 years later, in the same city, Jewish books in a storefront have to be covered up due to fears of vandalism.
It was the Malmö City Archives that last week was preparing a display of Jewish literature to be open to the public on Friday. But at the end of the day, the books and posters were covered with a blanket — with the archivist fearing damage to the windows over the weekend, Swedish daily Expressen reports.

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Nordic Mob? Why Organized Crime Is Exploding In Sweden

While remaining a remarkably safe country, Sweden is facing a recent surge of gang crimes that worries authorities, including a bombing in Gothenburg on Sep. 28th that injured more than 20. The fact that these family-based networks often have roots in North Africa and the Middle East is fueling criticism about the country's immigration policies.


Is this Sweden … or Sicily?

An explosion in a multi-family complex in the western Swedish city of Gothenburg on Tuesday has sparked a national debate over harsher punishment for organized crime.

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Jesus to Yoga, Sweden Finds Other Uses For Empty Churches

But in the end... is it enough?

So my fellow Swedes are turning churches into yoga studios. Live from the world's most atheist nation, the report from Swedish public broadcaster SVT adds to an ever-expanding list of houses of worship being turned into something else: sport centers, conference halls, art galleries, even camping sites.

Each time, critics lament the temporary or permanent, er, conversion as a troubling sign of the times, of the "undermining of the Christian faith." Some conservative lawmakers are now saying that repurposing churches might in fact violate laws on cultural heritage.

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What Greta Thunberg Reminds Us About The Limits Of Adulthood

Now 18 and officially an adult, the climate activist's message isn't changing. And what about our own grownup rationalizations?

It's 2021, and that means Greta Thunberg can lawfully grab a beer in her hometown pub. Of course, to someone who's started a global movement, dressed down heads of state and fronted Time Magazine as Person of the Year, obtaining Swedish drinking rights may not seem like a big deal.

And yet in her unlikely rise from 15-year-old school protester to global icon, Greta's reaching official adulthood is noteworthy. She made global headlines on her 18th birthday back in January, taking the opportunity to troll her critics: "Tonight you will find me down at the local pub exposing all the dark secrets behind the climate- and school strike conspiracy," Greta tweeted.

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Sources
Carl-Johan Karlsson

A Swedish Preacher's Warning About QAnon Fundamentalism

God speaks to me in Norwegian. This will seem treasonous to my Swedish compatriots, so let me explain. Way back, I spent a couple of years waiting tables on a 600-passenger cruise ship on the Norwegian Sea, where the sparsely furnished staff cabins — located on the lower levels, underwater — featured two elementary amenities: a life vest and the Holy Bible.

I'll be honest: It's hard to take God seriously in Norwegian, especially in the guttural mountain tongue that was official on the ship. Still, having mostly slumbered my way through Religion 101 back in high school, those late-night Bible sessions were a personal record in religious immersion.

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Coronavirus
Carl-Johan Karlsson

Even Scandinavia Can’t Get Along: On COVID's Cold Diplomacy

-Essay-

What does it say at the bottom of a Norwegian ketchup bottle?

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WHAT THE WORLD
Carl-Johan Karlsson

In Stockholm, Camel Man Returns With Chainsaw

It was quite an entrance earlier this week in Stockholm, when a man came rushing into a local bar holding a revving chainsaw. The guests managed to flee through the backdoor and no one was harmed, reports Swedish daily Expressen.

Following the suspect's arrest on Tuesday, it was revealed that he had a history of bad first impressions. Last summer, the same Swede rode a camel into a hotel in Turkey, attacking guests and staff with a wooden club. "I have no idea why he's doing this," commented prosecutor Sonja Seligmann.

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Geopolitics
Carl-Johan Karlsson

Contagious Narcissism Began Long Before Trump — Or Twitter

When I was a kid — 12,13 — my dad's shrink friend was a frequent guest in our house. His usual business on these visits was to review for us the degenerating state of the world, and list the ways it all made his profession difficult.

"Wanna catch a glimpse of the future?" he asked during one dinner, raising an eyebrow. "Just visit the waiting room of a psychologist!" Then he raised a finger: "I'll tell you, they're no neurotics left, just narcissists!"

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Sources
Carl-Johan Karlsson

Sweden Revisited, From Nordic Model To Pandemic Pariah

MALMÖ — On one of the final Fridays of 2020, I passed through the Malmö airport customs and underwent that subtle metamorphosis from The Swede to a Swede. This crossing from the definite to the indefinite is familiar to all returning expats, and its downside (deflated exceptionalism) and perks (nostalgia, familiarity) are felt at the first native exchange, and then sporadically with depreciating force — until, if you stay long enough, you're once again part of the herd.

At this year's homecoming however, the usual reassimilation also included a new adjustment: to a country that had lost its international shine. Yes, Sweden is still perceived abroad as exceptional. But this past year, the government's refusal to impose rules to restrict contact to combat COVID-19 led to a death toll higher than all of the country's northern European neighbors combined. By flirting with a strategy of so-called "herd immunity," decades of reverence for the Swedish model of common sense and social protection has steadily turned from doubt to outright disdain.

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Geopolitics
Farid Kahhat

Taking The Ideology Out Of Quarantines And Herd Immunity

Sweden was not driven by any libertarian ideas when it chose not to impose lockdowns. It simply opted to play a long-game when on the pandemic, for better or worse.

-OpEd-

There is a tendency to take a polar view of the strategies undertaken against COVID-19, and for some, that means seeing — and politicizing — quarantines as a Marxist-style experiment in social control. Sweden, in the meantime, is hailed as the libertarian alternative in resisting the pandemic.

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Coronavirus
Carl-Johan Karlsson

Sweden, The Final Proof That People Must Be Told What To Do

PARIS — Like much of the rest of the world, Sweden is now facing a second wave of coronavirus infections. But while other countries are debating which mix of restrictions to reinstate, the Swedish government has finally decided to announce its very first ban: closing bars and restaurants after 10:30 pm starting tomorrow.


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Coronavirus
Carl-Johan Karlsson

Herd Immunity And A Deepening Generational Divide

Sweden's youth see caring for the old and sick as the business of the public sector. But as the welfare state gets weaker, the elderly can rely on neither the system nor the family.

My home country, Sweden, has had the world's attention since the outset of the pandemic. Its COVID-19 strategy included flirting with the so-called "herd immunity" approach that chose lighter government restrictions and broader acceptance that the virus can't really be stopped. But back at home, the deaths of thousands in nursing homes during last spring's initial peak put a spotlight on a more longstanding public neglect of the country's elderly population. In the months since, and as Swedish politicians have kept busy trying to explain away this failure to protect the most vulnerable, an uncomfortable question has hovered over the rest of us: Could it be that our society doesn't actually care all that much about old people?

The ethical debate over how to value the lives of old people is of course not a province of Sweden alone. Yet, it is particularly in such countries in the West considered socio-economically advanced where respect for the elderly has been called into question. In a recent article in Paris-based daily Les Echos, French political scientist Dominique Moïsi puts the blame at the feet of Western individualism, pointing out that this generational rift is far less pronounced in Asia:

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Economy
Carl-Johan Karlsson

How Sweden's Social Democrats Fell In Love With Amazon

"Amazon is ‘un-Swedish"..."


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Coronavirus
Carl-Johan Karlsson

COVID-19 Lockdown Policy: Are We All Sweden Now?

It's now been four months since most of the world reached the agreement that Sweden's no-quarantine strategy had failed. In the end, it was the only European country to never go into lockdown, and as the virus spread inside nursing homes, Sweden's death toll raced beyond that of its Northern neighbors to eventually pass the 5,000-mark in June.


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U.S. Election 2020 - Views From Abroad
Carl-Johan Karlsson

A Swedish Boxer, Donald Trump And Our Culture Of Shame

Long before his sex scandal took over the front pages, every Swede knew Paolo Roberto.

The son of an Italian father and Swedish mother, Roberto gained some notoriety in his teens as a street fighter, eventually earning a place on the police's national list of "10 most dangerous youths'. After turning things around following a lead role in a movie drama loosely based on his teens, Roberto would also earn a place in Swedish boxing history after two world championship title fights. He would ultimately become a national household name after retiring from the ring, thanks to a successful career as a cookbook author, TV personality, entrepreneur and occasional actor (he again played himself in the 2009 film adaption of Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played With Fire).

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EL ESPECTADOR
Carl-Johan Karlsson

Back To The Countryside: How COVID-19 Is Fueling A Rural Boom

For a long time, urbanization has been one of the defining features of our societies — a tendency that has accelerated with the growth of the information economy, with now half the world's population living in cities.

But some believe that we may have reached a peak, as COVID-19 has not only paused the trend but might come to reverse it. The long months of quarantine turned the perks of solitude and access to greenery into a physical and mental health priority: Some 400,000 New Yorkers left the city during the pandemic, according to Deutsche Welle figures, and many Paris and London residents have done the same.

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