The Associated Press's Karl Ritter clearly doesn't recognize how close to parody his report ("Rightist group jolts Sweden's tolerant self-image") on the mini-rise of the right-leaning Sweden Democrats Party is (I'll use "SD" as an abbreviation in this post).
Ritter is not afraid to label the SD, but won't label others. He begins by telling us that the SD is "far-right" because it is "preaching sharp cuts in immigration and calling Islam the greatest threat to Swedish society" -- conveniently, I believe, omitting the term "radical" in describing Islam. Other parties, of course, are "mainstream."
The AP reporter describes Sweden as having "a self-image of being more tolerant."
Self-image notwithstanding, a reader who gets as far as the nineteenth paragraph of Ritter's report learns that "tolerance" is a decidedly one-way street (bolds are mine):
In some cities immigrants are nearly 40 percent of the population, and in certain neighborhoods nearly 90 percent.
What worries many Swedes is the clustering of immigrants in neighborhoods with nicknames such as "Little Baghdad." Few native Swedes ever set foot in these districts, viewing them as dangerous slums infested with criminal gangs and Islamic fundamentalists.
Critics say the extent of those problems are often exaggerated by the Sweden Democrats, but there is no doubt that Sweden is becoming increasingly segregated.
In the Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby, aka "Little Mogadishu," a 20-year-old Somali woman in a black head scarf says: "Not even a non-Muslim dares to walk around with a short skirt in Rinkeby." She doesn't give her name for fear of neighbors' reaction.
... (SD leader Jimmie) Akesson says he fears Sweden is adapting to the Muslim minority instead of the other way around and has written of Islam's impact on Swedish society as "our biggest foreign threat since World War II."
He mentions cases of public schools that have stopped serving pork and no longer celebrate the end of the school year in church.
Akesson also points to attacks against artist Lars Vilks, who drew the prophet Muhammad with a dog's body. Last month furious protesters chanting "God is Great" in Arabic disrupted Vilks' guest lecture at Uppsala University and vandals tossed firebombs at his home.
The party's views have provoked fierce reactions. Some high schools have prohibited party members from handing out flyers on school grounds. In 2007 the party struggled to find a venue for its annual meeting when several conference centers turned it down, citing security concerns.
Police say the party is exposed to "systematic threats" from activists, and the it keeps the address of the Stockholm office secret.
Some of the SD's "far-right" (by Ritter's definition) positions include the following:
- "Immigration has become an economic burden, draining the welfare system and channeling jobs to newcomers who work for lower wages."
- They are "convinced that a large part of the Swedish electorate believes that the immigration policies have been too lax and far too generous."
- Akesson opines that "Swedishness is not in your skin color or in any part of the body. It's in your values and how you behave."
Isn't it amazing how people who issue "systematic threats" can be described as "activists," as long as they are either on the left or oppose the positions of a group that appears from here to be mostly interest in fiscal sanity, safety, and preserving a country's national identity?
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.