This poster was shared with me by a Jewish friend living in US. The poster supposedly preceded
the right winged extremist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, where one person was killed and 19 injured by one of the extremists.
Does the poster need any comment? Or can we just get a hands up from everyone who understands that what is going on is a return of a madness?
Racism is becoming more normalized in Sweden – in all of Europe, I dare say, and people with xenophobic views who previously kept quiet about their views now feel more free to express them openly. Still, most of them reject the label of being racist.
A young Syrian man in Sweden recorded this woman on a tram in Gothenburg, Sweden, when she verbally abused him and his friends. Check the video out on his Facebookpage.
Don’t speak Swedish? This is the bottomline of what the woman yells about:
She gets 3.800 SEK a month, while “they” (presumably the young man and his friends) are receiving 8.000 SEK a month, to study Swedish for immigrants.
And at the end of her speech, she states that she obviously has the wrong skin colour, white, in Sweden, but even if she does, she still has the right to have opinions in her own country, and she’s not a racist.
Now with this kind of narrow definition, who is really left to be a racist?
Post from the activist Sholom Yitzchak Neistein’s Facebook:
“Not today motherfucker! We Jews knows what this type of crap leads to!”
Photo credit: Sholom Yitzchak Neistein
The world is falling apart and people’s minds are going downhill with it.
Intolerance are increasing everywhere. People with intolerant views believe they are finally right.
What before was off the record is now on the record. Everything is possible. Everything is true. It’s like the Holocaust never happened. WWII never happened.
You try to stick to your values anyhow. You try to stick to what’s right. Maybe not stick up for, but stick to. That’s the least you can demand from yourself.
Does it pay off? Maybe for your soul.
Does it pay off for your every day life? No.
Does it pay off for your social life? No.
Does it pay off for your relationships? No.
At the other end of sticking to your values in a time when most people don’t, comes this: loneliness.
You believe you are a decent person. You believe you never do harm. Then you open your mouth and intolerance comes out.
You believe you are a tolerant person. You believe you are a humanitarian. Then you open your mouth and ignorance comes out.
You’ve never been to places. Never left your hometown, never broadened your views. You don’t have friends a different shade then your own. Never rubbed against other cultures. Never rubbed against what could be good and could be bad. Still you know everything. Know about Them and the Bad Things They Do. You open your mouth and hate comes out.
It doesn’t come from you. It comes from what seeps in everywhere. The wrongs where we once were more right. It’s the Poison.
We have to speak about what happened in Cologne on New Years Eve, so as not to let the right-winged extremists get another ball to play with. Plus, why silence victims of sexual violence? That is far too often the case anyways.
Here’s my view:
Sexual violence needs to be condemned whenever it happens and by whoever carries out the attack. It was supposedly men of Arab/North African decent that carried out the attacks. Unfortunately after the largest refugee crisis after the second world war. These men come from societies that are far more patriarchal than European countries. The legislation and the culture and the religious practises favours men; sexual violence can be done without any repercussions; women can be killed without anyone arrested. Not all groups nor individuals in the Middle East and North Africa follows this order. There are plenty of exceptions and there has been a rapid development in some countries and regions when it comes to human and women’s rights, many of them I have been happy to be able to portray on this site.
But there is still a patriarchal norm that lies behind this high number of sexual harassments in many Middle Eastern and North African countries. And if the men who carried out the Cologne attacks descended from these countries, we have to address the issues of men having such deep patriarchal values that they don’t respect women – no matter where they are.
What I think should happen is: we need to discuss how to make these men accept and respect women’s rights. We need to address official, cultural and religious leaders of these communities so that they bring up these issues with their community members. The perpetrators should be traced and punished. If the German legislation brings that they would be deported after the penalty, in case the men don’t get have residency in Germany, than that’s a part of the punishment. What’s most important is: we need to not shy away from the subject because these men were from a – in Europe – already targeted minority. Because what they did is a horrendous crime and if we don’t address the underlying issues of men from patriarchal societies we will let the racists run the game – again.
Now I know most of my Middle Eastern male friends will not post anything about this on their social media sites. Especially if living in the West, they constantly feel they’re objects of suspicion in the eyes of whites, assuming they’re violent and patriarchal, and they don’t want to enhance this picture. Many of these men also frequently share posts about racism and how Arabs and Muslims are mistreated in the West, which is as much of a fact, but I would like to challenge them to bring up another group that is often mistreated within their own communities – women.
Because I also know that some of my male Middle Eastern friends most likely will post something about the Cologne attacks – men who are women’s rights activists and men who are challenging the patriarchal norm in their own societies. And I wish these men will set the agenda for everyone, all men, worldwide. That is the only way forward.
Photo credit: dw.com
The beach in Åhus, southern Sweden, in October
I have fond memories of my native country, a country that I believe is one of the best countries in the world. Here’s a sample of my memories:
I the summers I participated in summer camps hosted by the local municipality, offered to all teenagers in the municipality and the fee based on a sliding scale according to the parents income, where families on welfare paid nothing. In the camps we got to practice creative writing and drama during a few weeks. The youth leaders were young and enthusiastic, we often went swimming, created new bonds of friendship. The summer camps made is feel important, that we deserved these amazing weeks in the countryside together.
In middle school during election time our teacher encouraged us to form our own political parties, with different agendas, creating posters where we formed slogans and after presenting them all we got to vote on the ones we thought were the best. The posters then decorated the classroom for the rest of the school semester, reminding us about the power being in our hands.
My parents often spoke to us children on justice and how it was important to support each other. One Saturday morning when going down to the garage in our building, we saw a young but weathered man sleeping on the ground floor, outside the lift that we stepped out of. Me and my sisters got agitated and said that he shouldn’t sleep there – we had never seen such a sight before – because it wasn’t his home and it was disgusting. Our mom then explained that we shouldn’t say that because the man probably had nowhere else to sleep, and we shouldn’t speak so loud, so that we wouldn’t wake him up. A small thing but it made a strong impression on me, the constant reinforcement of empathy for others.
This country taught me amazing things and made me who I am today. I still believe in you, my country, Sweden. We are still a country that cares about others, where it’s possible to coexist. Let it remain like this, Sweden. Please don’t let me down.