Today Cavatus’s blog proudly presents the guest blogger S R Larson, known as author (some books are: America Occupied, Remaking America, Arla Gryning) and research fellow with the Wyoming Liberty Group (read more here). He runs the blogs larson4liberty, Hayekinstitutet and Frihetslarson, where the two latter are in Swedish and the last lies fallow at the moment.
On September 11, 2003 Ms. Anna Lindh, the foreign minister of Sweden, was fatally wounded by an attacker while shopping at a department store in downtown Stockholm. Her death sent shock waves through Sweden and expressions of sympathy came from everywhere.
While her assassin was later arrested and convicted, the motive behind it was never entirely clarified. It was fairly clear, though, that political factors were behind the killing. Ms. Lindh had been actively involved in the political process to stabilize the Balkan in the aftermath of the end of the Balkan War. Some political factions with one foot in Sweden and one in former Yugoslavia were allegedly unhappy with her efforts.
International media coverage of the Lindh murder never quite reached the level that followed the assassination of Sweden’s Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986. But it was nevertheless a rare exception to the coverage – or, more appropriately, lack of coverage – of political violence in Sweden.
Unfortunately, the international perception of Sweden as being largely saved from political violence is dead wrong. A slew of incidents through last year’s election campaign were only the tip of the iceberg: for a number of years radical totalitarian groups, Socialists/Communists and Nazis, have fought each other with increasing determination and violence. This violence has also spilled over into the realm of established parliamentary politics. Since at least 2006 representatives for the Sverigedemokraterna, or Swedish Democrats, have been victims of intimidation and assaults on both their persons and their property.
Since 2006 the Swedish Democrats have had elected officials at the city and county levels. In 2010 they won seats in the Riksdag, the national parliament. It would be fair to expect the attacks against them to die out as they become part of the established political scene. However, this has not happened.
Quite the contrary. A telling example: on May 12, Mr. William Petzall, member of the Riksdag for the Swedish Democrats, was within an inch of being seriously hurt during an event at a high school in Gothenburg. Mr. Petzall has just left the building after having participated in an information session for students when he was attacked in his car. He was sitting in the front seat when someone threw a large piece of rock through the side window. The piece was large enough to cause serious trauma if it had hit Mr. Petzall, who escaped physically unharmed.
Only days later, Mr. Petzall was in the Riksdag directing a question to Mrs. Beatrice ask, Sweden’s Attorney General and member of the Prime Minister’s cabinet, about what she planned to do in order to curb politically motivated violence. At the very moment she was presenting her response to his question, a group of anarcho-leftists attacked five members of the Swedish Democrat youth league. The Swedish Democrats were handing out fliers on a downtown street – a common practice for Swedish politicians and political parties – when the anarcho-leftists encircled them and attacked.
In addition to disrupting the Swedish Democrats in their legitimate exercise of free speech, the anarcho-leftists went so badly at one of their victims that he ended up in hospital.
These examples barely scratch the surface of political violence in Sweden. While no member of the Swedish Democrat party has thus far had to pay with his life for his political choices, the escalation of assaults on members of the party begs the question how long it will be before that happens.
When Ms. Anna Lindh was assassinated there was a rightful outcry of sympathy from the entire political establishment in Sweden. On the rare occasions when less serious attacks by the anarcho-left have been directed at members of other political parties than the Swedish Democrats, there has been an equal outcry of frustration and calls for “political civility”.
When, on the other hand, politically charged violence hits the Swedish Democrats, the political elite is silent. During the aforementioned session in the Riksdag, Ms. Beatrice Ask declared that the government was not planning to do anything in particular to curb that type of violence. Her view that violence against members of the Swedish Democrats is of no consequence echoes the views of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, who in September last year said that those who are active in the Swedish Democrats should not be surprised that they are the targets of attacks – because of their political viewpoints.
Not only is the Swedish Democrat party duly elected into the Riksdag, but their criticism of the country’s extremely generous immigration policies are in no way racist or authoritarian. On the contrary, they are close to the Danish People’s Party – well established both in Denmark and the EU Parliament – and more moderate than, e.g., the OVP in Austria, the British National Party and the Pim Fortuyn party in the Netherlands.
It is difficult to tell whether the Swedish political elite is naively ignorant about the seriousness of the political violence, or if they genuinely believe that some political viewpoints represented in the national parliament are legitimate targets of violence. Regardless, the effect is that the scope for free speech is steadily shrinking in Sweden, and the dark shadows of totalitarianism grow ever more ominous.
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