Sweden was the first neutral country to acknowledge the United States of America after the American Revolutionary War. The relations since then have been good, even when Sweden was under Social Democratic rule during the initial years of the 20th Century. Swedish politicians were inspired by prominent American scientists, and the younger generation was in awe of American cars, cartoons and tales from the Wild West.
The Anti-American sentiment started during the Vietnam War, when Sweden’s Prime Minister Olof Palme, following the bombing of Hanoi during Christmas of 1972, in a speech compared the attack to the Nazi concentration camp Treblinka. In the wake of these events, Marxists and a wave of political Leftists flooded the Swedish universities and academia.
Despite all of this, the United States kept its romanticized view of Sweden: Abba, Volvo, Swedish meatballs and IKEA…A beautiful little country in the North, with an intriguing people and a place where Socialism actually seemed to work!
This view completely changed in 2017. After watching a news report on Fox News in the United States covering the violence and lawlessness that is occurring in certain immigrant-majority Swedish suburbs, so called “No-go zones,” President Donald Trump on February 18th exclaimed; “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden! They took in large numbers. They are having problems like they never thought possible.”
This statement was so contrasting to the idyllic and romanticized general conception of Sweden that most people dismissed his statement as just “another outburst” from Trump. The former Prime Minister of Sweden Carl Bildt even went as far as to turn to Twitter, asking “What has he been smoking?,” implying that this was all just nonsense. Leftist liberal media US correspondents and journalists also were quick to defend Sweden’s honor: “Carl Bildt actually knows,” tweeted political journalist Anne Applebaum. “Sweden stood with us after Bowling Green. Today we stand with Sweden,” author Gary Shteyngart chimed in.
However, in Sweden there were many voices who claimed that Trump was right.
To explore whether Trump was right or not, American independent journalist Tim Pool traveled to Sweden. First he went to Malmö, a high-crime city, where he was celebrated by the Swedish media after coming to the conclusion following his visit that Malmö wasn’t so bad after all. And definitely not worse than his own hometown, violence-ridden Chicago. However, things changed dramatically when he entered the suburb Rinkeby, outside of Stockholm, where he was stalked by a mob of people and ended up having to be escorted out by the police. Pool changed his view on Sweden after that experience and pointed out that there definitely seemed to be significant problems that were being swept under the rug. He was immediately shunned by the Swedish media.
However, all the attention in the media paved the way for new connections between those voices of Sweden that claimed that the country does in fact have serious problems with violence, murder, rape, Islamism and anti-Semitism connected to immigration, and the more right-wing oriented media in the US, which offered a more welcoming attitude towards different opinions.
On February 20, 2017, an article I wrote was published on Robert Spencer’s website Jihad Watch, entitled “View from Sweden: Donald Trump was right.” In June 2017, Swedish right-wing podcaster Aron Flam was interviewed by the Rubin Report, and the other day outspoken politician Hanif Bali from the Moderate Party of Sweden discussed the situation in Sweden with Tucker Carlson on Fox News.
The President of the United States let the floodgates open, and the American media provided the infrastructure necessary for the Swedish dissidents who refused to close their eyes to what was happening and who would no longer be silenced.
Therefore, 2017 became the year when the idyllic and romanticized image of Sweden shattered. But also it was the year during which Swedes finally could start debating without fear of being branded “racists” or “xenophobes,” as in past years.
Ironically, this new movement started due to one of those “Trump tantrums” that the Swedish elite love to hate, because he is so simple, unrefined, rough around the edges…Without the polished surface that we have.
Or, rather, that we pretended to have.
Ronie Berggren is a Swedish Conservative who runs Sweden’s most active podcast about American politics: American News Analysis. His lifelong ideological inspiration is Thomas Jefferson. He is currently working on a book in Swedish about the presidency of George W. Bush, for whom Ronie campaigned in 2004. This article was translated from Swedish by Carolina Åhs.