The fate of the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls — the worst man is as strong as the best at that game; it does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot-box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning. – Henry David Thoreau, Slavery in Massachusetts
Let’s get this straight, I don’t support Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden’s Democrats). I am also a brown person and an immigrant in Sweden. My vote may not matter, but my voice does. The SD has an ugly history of racism and more extreme, Nazi party ties (basically bat shit crazy). SD supports France’s Le Pen’s National Front, strong nationalistic views and a “multicultual world not multicultural society”. This usually makes for a bad combination.
Today, the Sweden Democrats won 5.6% of the national vote and obtained seats in the Swedish Parliament (Riksdag) along with the conservative parties. Swedes are in an uproar that they could even be voted in and appalled that a “racist” organization can obtain legal representation. As a note, in Sweden, being openly racist and making racist comments can be considered a hate crime. Now, there is an entire party based on anti-immigration, specifically anti-Islam, which has government power.
In a democratic society, you may disagree with others’ opinions but they have a right to representation. That exactly what the 5,6% did: express their displeasure with the current government and vote for change. I disagree with Sverigedemokraterna; I think they are crazy but I believe they have a right to be represented in the government. Maybe they will not be the villans Swedish society portrays them.
But there is another side to this whole story. The SD is troubling in many ways but it serves a necessary evil in society. Take this example, millions in Arizona supported checking anyone “suspicious of being legal in the United States,” which in turn meant “if you’re brown, we can ask for your papers.” It was the next level in combating illegal immigration problems in the US (more than 11 million people are verified as illegal). States are taking control to discover “suspicious non residents,” chiefly Mexicans. Obviously racist and xenophobic.
As disturbing as the Arizona law was, millions of Americans, the Department of Homeland Security, the border watchdogs and more are concerned about immigration. Tea Party supporters are screaming “Take back America” while others want to kick out all illegal immigrants. It’s scary, it’s frightening and it’s terrifying as a brown person to know that some citizens watch with suspicion and derision.
This leads to the point: the racists, the ones supporting deportation/anti-immigration, are a necessary evil IF I know who they are. Because they protest, voice their opinions, and cast ballots, I know they exist. I also learn that I must combat their rhetoric. Because if they, be it SD or the Tea Party supporters, are forced into hiding, no one know what racist thoughts and actions they can execute.
I have to know who my enemy is in order to fight them. I also understand that peacefully through civil disobedience both sides (mine and theirs), have the right to assimilate and protest. We also have the right to persuade others to do the right thing (fight racism in my case).
Without SD or the Tea Party baggers existing in the public, I never know who they are. They are the KKK, but invisible; capable of terrorizing people without being found. It could be a neighbor, store clerk, boss, friend, bus driver but if they are in hiding, I will never know. And when they strike at me, I will be caught unaware.
Racism did not grow from thin air; it grew from discontent, violence, and instability in society. Swedes, just now realised racism is a problem in their country. That is Paradise Lost; the failure and hubris to believe racism does not exist in their land. It is no wonder other countries snicker at the election today.
There are no easy solutions. America continues to battle its part that nearly destroyed the nation. It also battles new forms of xenophobia every generation. But as a start, the immigrants in Sweden must be given means to achieve a better life through education, vocation classes for adults, and true Swedish learning programs. Fuck SFI, give me a real class that teaches Swedish.
But for the immigrants, including myself, it is not a carte blanche to ‘do as you please.’ We are in Sweden, we must assimilate and abide by Swedish laws. We can add some flair to the melting pot, but we cannot change the majority and a country’s heritage to suit our religious/cultural whims.
That is where America has done right. American takes in a melange of cultures and pushes out what complements American culture. The United States has a strongly defined culture. There is a reason why people take a citizenship test and receive a citizenship ceremony upon becoming Americans; it attests to the American way.
Socialdemokraterna and the RödGrön alliance expressed they will “never speak to SD in the Riksdag.” But where does that put society? To ignore people’s suffrage in the country’s highest governing body, undermines democracy and free speech. SD maybe against every single feeling of your body, but if you are representing the populous, so are they. To ignore SD in the Parliament, will lead to the exact opposite reaction we want: SD will play the victim and earn even more support. Instead of heading for a standoff in the Riksdag, why not work together? Perhaps SD is not as bat shit crazy as we believe…perhaps they are. Only legislation votes will tell.
I want all political parties, red, blue, green, purple, orange, to work with SD to form policies that support Sweden and Sweden’s national interests. THAT is political power and representation. Center left or right, the Parliament has to function as one. Otherwise you could end up like the US Congress: a schism of disunity.
This is the time for Swedes to rise up. To take action. It is, for the first time in Swedish history, that race relations plays a significant part of society. Sweden must accept that with different races/ethnicities discrimination and racism inevitably exists. However, the Riksdag must step forward and pave the way for a more equal and open society.
In the end, Sveriges Democraterna are Sweden’s necessary evil to open race relation discussions in the country. How else can we assimilate 10% of our foreign population if the government cowers away from decisions?
Fellow Swedes, take this not as a loss for Sweden. If you take defeat, you will lose. Take this as a way to support immigrants and create legislation for a more harmonious and equal society.
With best wishes for a hopeful Sweden,
The voices that matter
PS. Flaming, insulting, discriminating, or derision of any sort will not be tolerated. Take your shit elsewhere.
PPS. “Necessary evil” does not mean someone/something is evil. It means someone/something is an unpleasant and unpopular choice but exists to achieve a result.. A “necessary evil” balances the scale.