Not Neutral on Sweden

Not Neutral on Sweden

Carl_Larsson_Christmas_Morning_1894Two and one half years in Sweden, living with my aunt and uncle and attending 4-6th grade had a profound impact on my life. These are identity forming years, in which we begin to perceive the values held by our families, our tribes, our nations, at an intellectual level. This period was all the more profound for me, having landed in Sweden as a result of domestic kidnapping (see The People of the Sign). Given that I was a focal point of a contentious divorce proceeding that wound its way to the Supreme court of Sweden it isn’t surprising that I adopted neutral Sweden’s version of socialist nationalism over that of the individualistic and very competitive United States, where I had been kidnapped from, or my native Canada.

Swedish IdentitySwedish society in the late 60’s and early 70’s reflected the best that Socialism had to offer: universal employment, universal education, universal access to health care, tolerance, justice, and a causal reduction in extremes of poverty and wealth. Sweden was a world leader in equality, freedom and international humanitarianism. It was easy to root for Sweden in World cup hockey, Soccer and the Olympics – especially when its major competitors were often totalitarian regimes from within the Soviet Union. I was very proud to identify with their Neutral stance, neither for nor against the West or the East

Sweden's Summer Solstice CrisisThere have always been accusations of hypocrisy against Sweden, whose neutral position has roots in WWII when it opted not to become an enemy of Hitler’s Germany. These could be brushed off fairly easily, since no nation can lay claim to a perfect pedigree, and the tiny population did what it felt it needed to survive.  It’s decision gave it a head start in economic terms, once the war ended, empowering its meteoric rise after the war. Sweden’s population when I lived there hovered around 8 Million, but it had international stature that easily exceeded that of nations 10 times its size, and a reputation as a champion of human rights that was in a league of its own.

I used to defend her, always. Then I became more neutral. These days her neutrality rings so hollow that I can no longer be nuetral on Sweden.

Tel_Aviv_university_students_support_IDF_and_Israel_against_Gaza_Flotilla_3Sweden’s activism in Middle East politics is clearly wrongheaded and hypocritical and her decision to support Islamic countries in opposition to Israel has removed all doubt that she has lost her way. What began as neutrality towards Nazi Germany, which was the primary driver of the Holocaust has morphed, over time, into a malfunctioning moral compass that today welcomes any Trojan Horse that knows how to ring a Swedish doorbell. Sweden now routinely welcomes and protects hate preachers & jihadists in its continued efforts to convince the world that it is non-judgmental. After standing by while millions of Jews were murdered in WWII Sweden proceeded to lay down a long track record of opposing Israel’s right to protect itself from terrorism. There is nothing neutral about her activism against the lone Jewish State on the planet in favor of those who have turned a desire to destroy Israel into a political cause. Launching the ship Marianne from Gothenburg to break the Gaza Blockade, the so-called “Freedom Flotilla III” is just the latest example in an ongoing campaign.

humans_respect_humans_by_rbeloniojr-d4y9ceuIn pulling a random Virtues Card to conclude with, Respect came up.  “Respect is an attitude of honoring ourselves and others as people of value. We care for each person’s dignity. Everyone has the right to expect respect.” That pretty much calls Sweden’s bluff. Its pretense at respecting everyone has enabled her to hypocritically pick and choose which aggression to turn a blind eye to, a mask to hide behind while interfering in the self-defense of a nation even smaller than her. In the past Sweden leveraged its Geographic isolation to avoid dangerous confrontation, with great success. Her respect-less international meddling will certainly result a continued loss of respect for her as well.


Sweden’s Political Crossroads

Sweden’s Political Crossroads

Wallstrom on Women It’s been almost six months since Sweden’s decision to recognize a Palestinian State. My blog on that topic highlighted the double standard being employed to bolster that decision. I stated “Regardless of intent, I believe the acceptance of, and open practice of double standards and false equivalencies on the International stage is destined to make matters worse, leading to more, not less, war and bloodshed.  Swedes don’t like to think of themselves this way, but sometimes the truth hurts.”

Thankfully, I suppose, double standards and false equivalencies (which, by the way, is how I believe we can identify hypocrisy) tend to eventually become clear, even to the hypocrites themselves, in this case, Sweden’s leaders. Truth, Lies or just hypocrisy?One can only hope that Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, who was recently blocked from speaking at an Arab League meeting and who is now being denouced across the world of Islam as “an enemy of the Prophet”. Ms. Wallström, countered, before Swedish Parliament recently, that she had no intention of criticizing Islam.

Why then the outrage? Read all about it here, including how Veronica Nordlund, from the Swedish Foreign Ministry’s press service, apparently was unaware that Saudi Arabia abstained from signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights because it violates Sharia Law. The chickens are coming home to roost, on Sweden’s hypocritical stance, as the article outlines.

Will she retract her criticism of Saudi flogging and misogyny, and announce that it was never her intention to offend the great Saudi nation or its culture? In that case, she will have dealt a devastating blow to Sweden’s claim to be a “moral superpower” and to a foreign policy based on human rights and feminism.

Or will she stand by her words and accept that Sweden — and any other country in Europe that claims to stand for humanistic values and the primacy of human rights — is in for a debacle that may well be more severe than what Denmark experienced during the Muhammad cartoon crisis in 2005/2006?

Perhaps perversely, the random virtues card I pulled to conclude here was Flexibility. Not, frankly, what I was hoping for. But here goes…

“Flexibility is the ability to adapt and change amid the fluctuating circumstances of life. We go with the flow, seeing the choices, challenges and opportunities in all that happens. We do not insist on our own way.” All of this would seem to support Sweden’s stance, but wait, there’s more.  “When the unexpected comes, we rise to the challenge with resilience and confidence. We are willing to change unproductive habits… The winds of change may bend us but they only make us stronger. We are willing to grow.”

The first affirmation is “I adapt when change is called for”.

Wallstrom flexibilityIt turns out, this virtue may be just what Sweden needs. Will the country be able to change its course – that of accommodation and even praise for that which, if properly understood, is actually antithetical to their stated values? Can Sweden admit that it has been hypocritical, and rebound from that, with a genuine change? Can Sweden be that flexible? It will be interesting to watch.

Islamic State Has No Dignity

Islamic State Has No Dignity

Flag_of_the_Islamic_State_of_Iraq_and_the_LevantI just read a most fascinating article by Nadim Shehadi which answers a question that comes to my Western mind with regard to the Islamic State (ISIS, or ISIL).  The article states “Islamic State has been described as a virtual entity, its visibility a product of a sophisticated media strategy designed to make it seem like the fount of all evil.” My immediate reaction to this is “Why?”  Why choose a path of such obvious offense?  The article answers this, using history and regional legal practice.

But it doesn’t for one second diminish the horror of what is occurring, nor, for those who see beyond and behind today’s headlines, does it do anything to diminish the ominous nature of the gathering global thunderclouds.  A global polarization is occurring, one that is so dramatic it threatens to reverse the polarity of the planet, turning everything upside down.  At its center is the tiny nation of Israel.

Israel is the primary focal point of an intolerant fundamentalist hatred that has come to permeate much of the Islamic World.  Supporters of Israel, such as the United States, are caught in the dragnet.  Labels like “The Great Satan” are applied not only for supporting Israel, but also for representing a different civilization, a different way of life. Support for Israel is a topic for other blogs, as is the soulless materialism and hypocrisy of the West, all catalysts of Islamic antipathy.  But while two wrongs do not make a right, there are degrees of wrong.  Just as there are degrees of, dare I say the word… Evil!

Seeing Evil for what it is

See evil for what it is.

I use Virtues to filter my thoughts now and for this blog I randomly selected Dignity.  The card I pulled calls Dignity “a sense of worthiness and respect.  It comes from remembering who we truly are and our purpose for being.”  Dignity requires us to stand up for what is right and true, for the good of ourselves and those who are behaving in ways that destroy Dignity.

I’ll leave you with the request to read the article that inspired this one and reflect on how an inherent deception, the desire to “establish” legitimacy by covert, and vicious means, is anything but dignified.  Millions are impressed, and inflamed with adoration and emulation for an entity that establishes itself by mounting a propaganda campaign that appeals to the most base and destructive urges of friend and foe alike.  This is destined to cause irreparable damage.

We’ve seen this movie before. We cannot follow the example of Neville Chamberlain.

We, as a species, must oppose Evil.  We, as a species, must find a means to stop it.

Not in reaction.  Not in anger.  But with Dignity.

Before the havoc it wreaks can grow to unstoppable proportions.



Sweden Recognizes a Palestinian State

Sweden Recognizes a Palestinian State

Sweden recognizes Palestinian StateFransson is a Swedish name and I’m proud of my Swedish Heritage.   I lived and went to school in Sweden as a child, and for years carried a Swedish Passport.  My love for the country and its people is great.  I’ve argued for decades about the superiority of Sweden’s “Middle Way”, in which they found fertile soil in the middle ground between polarized opposites.  Perhaps they are searching for their own true North, in announcing their recognition of a “Palestinian State”.  This time they’re leading in the wrong direction.

I am an ardent advocate for peace, but peace cannot come through double standards and false equivalencies.  I cannot imagine a clearer example of the dangerously confused double standard being applied in this case than Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s statement about the decision: “The conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law. A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine.”

If peace depends on mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence, Sweden must first demand this from any Palestinian entity prior to recognizing them.  How could Löfven possibly miss the the tragically ironic error in his own pronouncement?  Wrong Way on PalestineSee my recent blog about handling the truth for a perspective on how we blind ourselves to the obvious.  Perhaps the source of Löfven’s “Truth Handling” is confidence in Sweden’s 20th century role as alluded to in my opening paragraph – Sweden’s history of leading by living the role of pragmatic intermediary.

Regardless of intent, I believe the acceptance of, and open practice of double standards and false equivalencies on the International stage is destined to make matters worse, leading to more, not less, war and bloodshed.  Swedes don’t like to think of themselves this way, but sometimes the truth hurts.

What do you think?

If you would like to share your thoughts and join in friendly open dialogue with people who may or may not believe as you do, but who are open to exploring topics of political importance, such as the issue of Israel and Palestine, please accept my invitation to join The People of the Sign on facebook.  The discussion might challenge your current perspectives, which is something I hope you look forward to.