Sweden’s Democratic Twitter Experience Implodes – Stephen Colbert Offers to Take Over

UPDATE: June 21st, 2012. I found some more shocking things Sonia said that put together, qualifies her for a padded white room. Quotes are listed below.

You know it’s always fun when a country fucks up. And fucks up royally via Twitter.

I totally missed this but a few days ago, a Swede on the Twitter account @Sweden went a bit weird and started a debate about what is a Jew.

I.e. What’s the Fuzz about Jews?

If that wasn’t weird enough, she did it not on her personal Twitter, but on the Twitter account run by government of Sweden, run by the Swedish Institue. They’re a government entity responsible to pick these fine, outstanding Swedish citizens (citizens only…UT and PUT holders can take a hike) thought she represented the views of Swedes.

WOW, what an epic fail!

Sonja Abrahamsson, the “low educated” Swedish mother had her “I don’t know what a Jew looks like” moment and sparked outrage.

While I’m all okay on offending people, what she said went too far. It starts with:

Before WW2 Hitler was one of the most beautiful names in the whole wide world. I know. Its as chocking as dolphin rapists.
– @sweden / Sonja (@sweden) 10:37 PM – 11 Jun 12

On her blog, she even nicknamed herself Sonia “Hitler” Abrahamsson. Ummm, psycho, troll, or nutcase?

“Whats the fuzz with jews. You can’t even see if a person is a jew, unless you see their penises, and even if you do, you can’t be sure!?”

— @sweden / Sonja (@sweden) June 12, 2012

And then turns into:

“In nazi germany they even had to sow stars on their sleeves. If they didn’t, they could never now who was a jew and was not a jew.”
— @sweden / Sonja (@sweden) June 12, 2012
Poof! And Sweden’s democratic experience to be tech savvy and a neutral nation implodes.

The only useful statement she did make was:

Im sorry if some of you find the question offensive. Thats was not my purpose. I just don’t get why some people hates jews so much.

— @sweden / Sonja (@sweden) June 12, 2012

You can see the Twitter feed here:

While it is great a country allows its citizens to share their thoughts and ideas, there is a fine line of funny and apocalyptic stupidity.  But Sweden’s Twitter account has not been without controversy.  The first Swede to represent the account was an open masturbator, and though hilarious, not quite appropriate for the general audience.

And though Swedes are all about free speech, they have stifling strict hate-speech laws. Nearly every time Jimmy Åkesson opens his mouth (the leader of SverigesDemokraterna), he’s arrested for hate speech against the immigrant communities.

But when a Swede starts questioning what a Jew looks like, it is acceptable. Perhaps she has never met a Jew because they don’t want to be known as the people “wearing yellow stars or with cut penises.”

Those Twitter messages are still live and the Swedish Institute and the government has not apologized for them. Perhaps they want us all to wear stars so we can be figured out? Or it’s okay to make fun of hungry gays with aids.

At least there’s hope that Stephen Colbert can take control of the Twitter account and bring complete mayhem to Sweden’s face.

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Sonia made a rebuttal video to Stephen Colbert’s second news coverage of the incident.

And if Sweden ever wants an immigrant to poke fun of Sweden (they’ve had very few colored people run their account…)…well, I am here!

15 thoughts on “Sweden’s Democratic Twitter Experience Implodes – Stephen Colbert Offers to Take Over”

  1. Hum, I don’t know. While I do understand your point (and that of many persons who might have felt offended), I can also read those tweets in another way. Honestly, the first tweet about the penises sounded like a bad joke to me, but the tweets about what jews look like and the use of the stars during nazi dictatorship sounded to me like someone questioning only that: why would they ever be treated differently if you can’t even say who is jew and who is not. Why all the hate? To me, that’s what she said, and it doesn’t sound offensive at all. But of course, that is my interpretation – and things can be said in many different ways (including intelligent and debate-stimulating ways, which was clearly not her case).

  2. @Maira – I see your point and I think she was *maybe* trying to have an intelligent discussion. Instead it came out really crude and borderline racist. And, what does the conversation have to do with Swedes?

    She could have talked about how much Sweden, especially one Swede Raoul Wallenberg, did to save the Hungarian Jews during WWII. Total missed opportunity on goodwill.

    There is of course, no reason to hate Jews or any other community of race/religion/skin color but some people just hate.

    One weird thing I read somewhere is that she nicknamed herself “Hitler.” I don’t know if it was true or in jest or made up by the media.

  3. I read it over again and I agree with you. Even if she had no bad intentions, using the official swedish account to advertise her ideas in such a way was a very unfortunate idea. I mean, don’t they keep their own personal twitter profiles? You have one week to be “Sweden” and like you said above, that was a missed good opportunity to say things in a different way…

    I would vote You to be next Sweden :)

  4. So would I. I didn’t find her comments racist, just woefully ignorant, but you had to read them carefully twice to be sure. So she was ignorant on two counts – her use of language and her knowledge of history. Not a good examole of the swedish education system.

  5. @Janerowena – I just found some more tweets that she said (e.g. Hitler was a beautiful name) and did (adding Hitler to her name in quotes) and together she’s racist, troll, nutcase, or psycho. I pick all.

  6. I’ve read through all her tweets regarding Jews, and I find no racism in them whatsoever. Let’s go over the key points, shall we:

    She asked what a Jew looked like, pointing out that to her eyes, there was no particular, easily identifiable physical characteristic to set them apart from any other people (with the possible exception of circumcision).
    She mentioned that during World War II, in Nazi Germany, Jews were forced to wear the Star of David for identification, because they did not usually have any overly distinctive physical characteristics with which to otherwise identify them.
    She mentioned that, because of these facts, she saw no reason for anyone to treat Jews differently than anyone else, and that she did not understand why some people hated Jews.
    She mentioned that, before WWII, “Hitler” was considered a beautiful name.
    She asked why, in some instances, Jews are referred to as a race, and at other times, not.

    In other words, she showed no racism whatsoever. On the contrary, she clearly stated that she did not understand why anyone should be racist (in regards to Jews). She did, however, show a remarkable ignorance of history and the difference between the Jewish people and the Jewish faith. To the point, however, she asked questions because of her ignorance; she did not make any actual statements beyond stating her ignorance of these matters.

    As for Hitler being considered a “beautiful name before World War II” she is partially correct; it was not an entirely uncommon name up to World War II, and following the war people thus named fairly stampeded in their efforts to have their name legally changed to something else – in order to avoid persecution by ignorant idiots (read: most of humanity, really).

    Interesting fact: unlike Hitler, “Adolf/Adolph” was most definitely considered a beautiful name up to and including World War II; with the literal meaning of “Noble Wolf”, it’s not hard to see why. Just as with Hitler, however, the name became taboo after the war (although not quite as severely as Hitler, obviously).

    So, @Sapphire: I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to disagree with you this time. Looking at the facts, and ONLY the facts: No, she is not racist. Nor is she psycho or a nutcase. Troll? Quite possibly; either that, or woefully ignorant. Not in the least bit racist, however. Simply mentioning certain words in conjunction does not make a person racist whatsoever, I’m afraid.

    As for using the Sweden twitter account for these tweets: Yes, she is either being ignorant or intentionally trolling people. Still zero percent racist, though.

    And just to clarify for those who (for whatever reason) disagree with me:

    Racism, definition:
    1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
    2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.
    (particularly note the “and” in #1)

    Her tweets do not fulfill either of those definitions, hence, no racism involved. On the contrary, her tweets contain the antithesis of #2, since she expresses the idea that it is stupid to treat people differently because of race. Therefore, if anything, her tweets are in fact *anti-racist*, not racist.

    Thus, having looked at the facts, and ONLY the facts, I can only surmise that the (predominately U.S.?) media is chiefly staffed by barely-literate idiots who will do anything and twist anything in order to get a headline.

    That is all.

  7. Agree to disagree Heidar :-)

    She nicknamed herself Sonja “Hitler” Abrahamsson. As a joke, it would be a very sick one. So either she’s mentally unstable or a closet racist.

    This reminds me of when people post Confederate flags to their windows, cars, doors. The flag is rooted in racism and a history of intolerance. Even if that person doesn’t agree with those philosophies, by just parading the flag on their belongings or home sends the signal that they support the South and its former habits.

    I’ve seen a lot of Swedes have a Confederate flag and I find it offensive and racist. Even if they are ignorant to its social significance, they are still responsible for learning about it. And if not, they become a racist, willingly or not. Claiming ignorance is not an excuse.

    That flag speaks for something more than just a flag. And in that, it’s likened to Hitler, the name speaks for something more than just a name. You don’t want to be associated with either, jokingly or not.

  8. It is likely (but not certain, obviously) that the nickname is a way of making a statement, the statement likely being that IT IS JUST A NAME. The name itself does not possess any objective qualities that render it “harmful” or “hurtful” in any way; any such harm lies solely in peoples’s heads, in their chosen perceptions of it. In other words, people can only be “offended” by it if they deliberately choose to be (subconsciously or not). Therefore, the problem lies with those same people, not with the name itself. It is highly likely that she is merely trying to bring this psychological phenomenon to people’s attention, nothing more.

    As for the Confederate flag, I actually read about that the other day (apropos something else entirely): Apparently, Swedish “raggare” use it because it reminds them of the U.S., and it is solely used in conjunction with their image of 50s-60s American youth culture (for more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raggare – it’s actually in English!). Ignorant, yes, but once again, not racist (well, in the majority of cases, anyway; I’m sure there are some “raggare” who are also racist).

    Again, check the definition of racism. Anything that doesn’t fit that definition lies solely in your own head; it is the direct result of the same type of social conditioning that Ivan Pavlov performed on his famous “Pavlov’s Dogs”; by creating a subconscious association between events, he found it possible to create a physiological response to external stimuli that initially had no connection to the response in question. People work the same way, and one of the most common political “tricks” is to gradually create this sort of response in people in order to more easily manipulate them. This happens in most countries, but here in the so-called “western” nations, it is by far most common in the U.S., and is more-or-less the sole cause for irrational responses to certain events involving such things as supposed racism that, when observed objectively, has nothing to do with racism at all.

    For more info on Pavlov: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Pavlov

  9. Disagree – It’s not just a ‘name.’ It’s the connotation of the word that matters. Definition: the associated or secondary meaning of a word or expression in addition to its explicit or primary meaning: A possible connotation of “home” is “a place of warmth, comfort, and affection.” Compare denotation ( def. 1 ) .

    Logic . the set of attributes constituting the meaning of a term and thus determining the range of objects to which that term may be applied; comprehension; intension.

    The denotation of Hitler is that it is a ‘ last name.’ The connotation is how people feel toward the word.

    By your logic, the Nazi swastika is just a swastika not the symbol of persecution/war/fascism; the cross is just ‘two bars intersecting’ not the symbol of Christianity; and a skull and crossbones is just that not something that implies something dangerous. Furthermore, as a simple example, when people hear the word ‘chocolate cake’ they should only think of a flour, butter, chocolate, egg concoction baked in an oven at 180°C. Not “delicious” or “fluffy” goodness to eat. Words, objects, names always have a secondary meaning. Your world would exist only in black and white if you choose to only see the denotation of words.

    And I still find it offensive that the raggare use the Confederate flag. It’s a symbol of racism, slavery, and many other things. Just like when I hear Swedes say the n-word at work, it’s an attempt to justify a derogatory, racially charged word as a normal word. You can’t un-define the connotation of a word; you can make improvements to the meaning but you can never fully erase the social connotation of it.

    Racism: Racism is the belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another, that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics. Racial separatism is the belief, most of the time based on racism, that different races should remain segregated and apart from one another.
    via http://www.adl.org/hate-patrol/racism.asp

    No idea what your point is when you say, “…check the definition of racism. Anything that doesn’t fit that definition lies solely in your own head…” so I put the definition of racism here.

  10. The swastika is actually a much older symbol, and was originally a symbol of the sun; by your logic, then, it can mean either one, and presupposing that it is always a symbol of racism is, then, prejudice on par with racism. Therefore, your argument, at least in this regard, is self-defeating.

    The cross is indeed, technically, “just two bars intersecting”. The symbol is only in people’s heads. Otherwise, every two intersecting bars or sticks in the world, past, present, and future, would be a symbol of Christianity, which is just ridiculous. And that’s not even mentioning how, according to the Bible, actually having such a symbol for one’s faith and deity technically entitles the user to the death penalty; as I have mentioned before, Christians rarely actually read the Bible.

    And on the contrary, the world *ceases* to be “black and white” when you drop the silly subjective connotations of words and terms and stick to the actual meaning thereof. “Chocolate cake”, for example, refers to a cake made of chocolate – an actual, physical entity which, in turn, has certain physical qualities, such as “fluffy goodness”, as you put forward, albeit in your subjective, descriptive words. A “cross”, however, only has the physical quality of being two intersecting bars or lines, whereas “Hitler” has…no physical quality whatsoever; it is only a name. Therefore, any connotation of the name Hitler is “merely in people’s heads”, unlike the connotations of chocolate cake, which are the result of actual physical characteristics. Thank you for mentioning chocolate cake, as it served a perfect example of the difference between objective and subjective qualities that I was trying to illuminate.

    As an aside, if one were to accept you reasoning in regards to the name Hitler, then that means you calling yourself “Sapphire” would mean that you support all the tens of thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of deaths that have occurred in connection with the mining, refining and trade of sapphires throughout history; this includes many thousands of murders. Being a person who most often chooses to ignore words’ silly second- or third-hand connotations, I assume you do not. Would you say I am wrong in ignoring the connotations, in this case? Do you support wanton murder and greed?

    Logically, I cannot ignore these connotations without also ignoring the connotations of the swastika, the cross or the name Hitler. Which option do you find more rational, less prejudiced, less insane?

    Anyway, thank you, for once more putting forward a defitinion of racism. As you will note, there is nothing in there that can be connected back to the tweets we are discussing, save that one or two of them expressed the antithesis of the definition of racism, thus rendering them, by definition, an instance of *anti-racism*. Therefore, all claims of racism in regards to the tweets are by definition false, and only express the accuser’s ignorance and social conditioning (and thus, ironically, prejudice on par with actual racism) à la Pavlov’s dogs, as previously mentioned.

    Once again, I have thus shown that there is no racism to be found in the aforementioned tweets.

  11. @Heidar – I specifically mentioned the Nazi swastika not the swastika, two very different symbols which should not be confused. You confounded the symbols and muddled your argument.

    I’m going to leave it at that we do not agree. We’re not going to come to the same conclusion at any point.

    Please leave the discussion open for others to speak.

    For me, the end result is that what this girl said was totally uncalled for (unprovoked as well) and if @Sweden feels vaginal fungus, hitler, and whatever else crazy stuff she and anyone talks about is appropriate for a government tourist channel, than I won’t be following them anymore. (I did stop.)

    I lost a lot of respect for their curation idea when garbage fills the tweets.

    (And *yes*, there is supposed to be a connection to Sweden: “The idea with Curators of Sweden is that each curator will share both their own and relevant third party’s thoughts, stories, information and other content that is somehow linked to Sweden… create interest and arouse curiosity for Sweden and the wide range the country has to offer…”)

  12. I cannot help but note that you are intentionally ignoring the points I made regarding the faulty logic of your arguments. The point of the matter is that my “conclusion” is based solely on facts and logic, whereas yours is not, and in fact many of your key points intentionally disregard logic and fact. Hence, by definition, my conclusion is correct, whereas yours is not. Choosing to ignore that is merely avoiding the issue of your own shortcomings, specifically those concerned with prejudice and ignorance – being precisely the issues you accused Sonja Abrahamsson of, this makes you a hypocrite as well.

    In other words, all you have proven in our discussion is that you are prejudiced, ignorant, and hypocritical; and all three to a much greater degree than Sonja Abrahamsson ever even hinted at in her tweets, even taking into account the (as have been proven, incorrect and ignorant) accusations you yourself have made against her.

    Given that you, yourself, claimed that ignorance is not an excuse for prejudice and similar behaviour, you cannot even use ignorance as an excuse for your actions without making yourself even more of a hypocrite.

    The rational thing to do in a situation such as this, when you have so thoroughly painted yourself into a corner, is to apologize for your wrongful actions and strive to better yourself; given your intentional ignoring of the logical points while at the same time making the vague statement “I’m going to leave it at that we do not agree” while also raising points that are irrelevant to the key points of the discussion (presumably in an effort to draw attention away from your own hypocrisy) shows that you are unwilling to make the rational choice, and would instead willingly choose to ignore reality in favour of your own prejudices – again showcasing your own hypocrisy and ignorance.

    I expected better of you; I see I was wrong. I shall, as you have said “leave the discussion open for others to speak” (which is itself an illogical statement, as the discussion was never closed in the first place…but no matter).

    Good day.

  13. Heidar – This blog is about the Swedish experience from an American perspective. Maybe these tweets are not shocking for Swedish people, but for Americans, who are highly sensitive to minority issues, they are appalling. Perhaps you don’t want to call the comments, “racist” but they are undoubtedly racially insensitive – meaning they are likely to offend a Jewish person. For Americans, these terms are basically used interchangeably. I am not sure why you wanted to defend Sonja so much, but my suggestion is that if you aren’t interested in seeing an American perspective on Sweden, you should probably stop reading this blog. Perhaps you just wanted to better-explain the Swedish point of view, but instead you just got off-topic and combative. It’s just not really helpful.

  14. To my knowledge Jimmy Åkesson have never been arrested.. And I understand that you as an “American” must be shocked that a person admitted to masturbating.

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