After Segerstedtseminariet outside Gothenburg in the autumn, where members of the media from Norway and Sweden usually meets every two years, traveled to all home and was angry. The norwegians had spoken about the strait Swedish åsiktskorridoren and called for cooperation with the SD. The swedes replied that the Norwegian media is characterized by a brunblå consensus. Since then, the debate has continued in the newspapers, with big words and great self-righteousness.
I participated in the same seminar in 2014 and then said largely the same things: it's too crowded in Sweden. You need to speak more openly about immigration. Afterwards arose an american commentator and said: ”I disagree about everything you just said.”
So it will be often. But recently, I experienced the opposite in a debate, Aftonbladet's cultural section, Åsa Linderborg. In the many years she has been a symbol of the narrow Swedish åsiktskorridoren. But it turned out that we both have moved in the direction of the last few years. I do not believe anymore how I and Norway, have handled the debate on immigration. She no longer thought of how she and Sweden made it.
to appreciate open debates when I was 17 and a neo-nazi got into a discussion forum where I was active. The owner of the forum felt that we would respond to his ideas with factual counter-arguments instead of censorship. So we did it. Nynazisten argued so seriously he could of the gaps in the story of the extermination and of the differences in IQ between white and black. We did our best to answer.
We were unable to convince him, but I learned a lot of the debate. It was a classic liberal idealdebatt such as John Stuart Mill described it, where you learn something about his opponent, about reality and about himself. The lesson I took with me was that a debate should be open and factual. It is in order to say that the jews control the world as long as you argue in a decent way.
But when I think back on this today, twenty years later, I see things I didn't notice the time. There were no jews in the debate about the extermination. There was no black with in the debate on the rasskillnader. We felt generous that sounded nazi to be held, but it was not us he hated. And it was just a neo-nazi who participated in the debate. There is a difference between a neo-nazi that asks a read David Irving and a hundred marching with torches through the city where you live.
in the Past, I discussed with the radical right, but to feel that something was at stake. Today is islamhat and white nationalism as a force in american politics.
we had actually done was to create a safe zone where the liberal idealdebatten allowed themselves to be carried out. A zone where nothing was at stake. But there is a world outside the idealzonen where everything is more difficult.
into the public sphere in recent decades. The network gave us a decentralized public sphere, where traditional media is squeezed from all sides. And there was a new right, built around invandringsmotstånd, islamkritik and populism.
I was a part of both the waves. In the 2000s, I maintained a kind of högerpopulistisk blog. I wrote some stupid things, but I was not especially radical, and I tried to see both sides of the matter. But the reactions from the readers scared me, and forced me to think about. It seemed as if the only thing they wanted was a daily dose upset over immigrants and muslims.
Nevertheless, I kept the belief that there could be factual invandringskritik from the new right, and that it was important to keep the door open for it. But every time I found someone I was hoping to be able to contribute to it, I got regret me.
On Segerstedtseminariet 2014, I pulled out a book by the Swedish invandringskritikerna Karl-Olov Arnstberg and Gunnar Sandelin, who I felt had been undeservedly ill-treated by the Swedish media. I remember it as a fully acceptable book but maybe I remember wrong, for shortly afterwards began Arnstberg spread anti-semitic ideas. Recently, he published a book that celebrates the identitära movement.
2013, I defended the core network Document against those who accused it of being racist. A few years later gave the Document out to a Norwegian edition of ”the camp of The saints”, a racist satire where zombieaktiga refugees are flooding across Europe.
idealdebatt I learned to like as a young meet ideas in the factual battle. The invandringskritik I have met in practice is more of a social phenomenon, built around a group's need to feel upset.
They say that they speak for ”the people”, but people generally don't write sorgesånger over The destruction that they see a woman with hijab on a street. And once the policy is put on the table and you see that those who hate islam actually want to deny muslims access to the country, and to those who excuse the authoritarian nationalists actually want authoritarian nationalism, then falls, as a rule, the majority away.
But more and more often they manage to still find their way to power and influence. Before, I discussed with the radical right, but to feel that something was at stake. Today is islamhat and white nationalism as a force in american politics. All european countries have important environments where it is airing nationalistic and fascist ideas. The world has gone in the wrong direction, and I ask myself: why?
in Norway is that it went wrong for invandringskritikerna was shut out from the public eye. When people can't speak freely about their concerns, it becomes like a pressure cooker without a safety valve. Finally, it explodes. However, if we talk openly about everything going to the extreme ideas that crack like trolls in sunlight.
But let us test the theory in Norway and Sweden. Norway has given invandringskritiska votes and politicians place in the public sphere. It has not Sweden. If the theory sued should Sweden have received a major, radical högerflygel that grows until it takes power. In Norway, should the radicals have become more moderate.
Sweden received a major and radical right. But it has achieved little in politics, and the growth slowed down after the refugee crisis. If the SD one day gets power, it will be for others to cooperate with them. Tryckkokarteorin is too easy to say something about this kind of political game.
In Norway, the progress party has been in government since 2013, but they have not become more moderate. They are still talking about how the elites allow muslims and immigrants destroying the country. Their voters demand it. Their justice minister was forced to resign after an aggressive move against the labor party. The islamhatande the organization Human rights service noted large in the media and recently participated in a NRK-debate on the UN immigration agreements. Thanks to FRP the public contribution. But their ideas have only hardened with the years. Recently applauded the a Czech proposal to ban islam.
We should be open to a diversity of ideas. But we are not babies that get sight of the world for the first time. Invandringsmotståndet is mostly a game with the emotions.
therefore, not the less radical to be heard. It seems to me rather as if it is the moderate that move and are gradually becoming more open to nationalism, western chauvinism and islamhat. The outer edge puts the premises and the moving boundaries of the normal.
Åsa Linderborg says that the Swedish media has gone too far in shielding itself against ideas they do not like, and that they are not able to talk about the challenges that immigration has brought. I think she's right, and that Sweden needs more yttrandevänlighet.
But it means a Norwegian extension of the åsiktskorridoren, so that the media representatives we sent to Segerstedtseminariet claimed? I don't think that anymore. If Sweden, Norway, invites kommentarfältkrigarnas commander to the debates and let SD be included in the government they will continue as now, only with greater power.
We should be open to a diversity of ideas. But we are not babies that get sight of the world for the first time. Invandringsmotståndet is mostly a game with the emotions. The irritation against criminal immigrants and ungrateful muslims. The feeling of internal enemies betrays us and takes from us our pride.
the liberal idealdebatten. Now I see that it is not fruitful to talk about immigration policy for the real world with people who are not living in it. I see that it is difficult, but possible, to reduce the oxygen supply to the radical environments. And to those who have the most power to make it is they who control the debattarenorna and the moderate right. We have not been able to do in Norway.
Bjørn Strong is a Norwegian author and debater. His latest book is ”Raiders of the grønne lykken. Tanker fra sykkelsetet” (2018, Humanist forlag).
Translation from Norwegian: Lars Linder