by Max Brantley
Norway is far from hardhearted. ... But Norwegians understand that an open-border policy would strain their resources, disrupt the integration of other recently arrived immigrants, and undercut the legitimate desire of Norwegians to preserve their nation's culture and character," the congressmen wrote."Preserve a nation's culture." Ominous words those. Particularly when Cotton and Pompeo use them to reinforce Trump's views on the evils of immigration. What follows comes from a close reader of Swedish news in Arkansas (!).
The basic premise of the piece is that Sweden has dealt horrifically with the refugee crisis, Norway has handled it perfectly, and that the USA should learn from that by listening to Donald Trump.
Confused? You aren’t the only one. Fortunately, Cotton and Pompeo know Norway and Sweden inside out. After all, they “recently visited Norway and Sweden to understand more about the European migrant crisis”. And there was me thinking that the refugee crisis was a complex issue that requires more than a mere visit to adequately grasp (and in truth, probably isn’t fully grasped by most people who live here). The writers in question aren't the first to propagate such a simplistic view on Sweden, by the way, they just happen to be the most recent.
Putting flippancy aside, there’s a serious point to be made here about how time and time again people parachute into Sweden, stay a few days, then make broad conclusions about this for many foreign but vaguely recognizable place to suit their own agenda. Unfortunately, while it doesn’t necessarily make the best headlines, nor evoke the strongest emotions (and in the internet age, emotional reaction is king) the truth about Sweden almost always lies somewhere in the middle.Cotton seems to complain that many Swedish politicians won't work with the Swedish Democratic Party, which has made some gains on anti-immigrant feeling. No wonder there's reluctance. Some see ties between that party and neo-Nazis and one leader has even said Jews should abandon their religion if they want to be true Swedes. Oh, yeah, and they also seem cozy with Russians, just like Donald Trump.
Like any country coming to terms with a rapidly changing, increasingly global world, there are legitimate problems here. There are certainly legitimate challenges to be dealt with around immigration and the impact it is having on what until not so long ago was a largely monocultural society, too, but to reduce those issues to a few short paragraphs with little context then use that to make a partisan value judgment on the state of the place is dangerous.