Addressing a political rally on Saturday, US President Donald Trump made some remarks about Sweden, seemingly stating that there had been a terror attack in Sweden the day before. In this post we respond to his remarks and also to the tweets that he published after recieving criticism about the accuracy of his wording. We provide information and statistics that should lead to the conclusion that, instead of listening to rightwing propaganda, Mr Trump should try to learn from the successful policies that have made Sweden one of the most prosperous, peaceful and free countries in the world.
Note: Some of the sources below are in Swedish, but should be accessible for English readers by using the Google translate browser plugin.
The photo above is Flag countryside by © Håkan Dahlström licensed according to CC BY 2.0
What happened in Sweden Friday night?
During his “Make America Great Again” rally at Orlando Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Donald trump listed European countries hit by terror attacks. In connection to that he also said
You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden. Sweden! Who would believe this? Sweden! They took in large numbers, they’re having problems like they never thought possible.
The US President was seemingly referring to an immigration related terror attack that would have taken place in Sweden on Friday.
This of course baffled a lot of swedes, who were scratching their heads, wondering what on earth he was talking about. In response to Mr Trumps remarks the former Swedish prime minister and foreign minister Carl Bildt tweeted:
Swedish media was not late to debunk the claims made by the US President.
The Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet put up an article in English with the headline “This is what happened in Sweden last night, Mr President” where they listed all major events that took place in Sweden during Friday. A man put fire on himself on a square in Stockholm, a man died from a work related injury, Swedish singer Owe Thörnqvist had some technical issues during the rehearsals for a national Swedish music contest, some roads in northern Sweden were blocked due to harsh winter weather and a story of a moose trying to mate with a wooden moose in the backyard of a house in northern Sweden, went viral.
Mr Trump should watch the moose. It’s hilarious. It’s the best, ask anyone, they say so, great fun.
The Fox News segment was dishonest and distorted
After receiving criticism for his inaccurate statements, Mr Trump wrote a tweet where he said he was referring to a Fox News segment about the situation in Sweden. The segment in question was broadcast on the show ”Tucker Carlson Tonight” featuring xenophobic filmmaker Ami Horowitz who has made a movie about Sweden named “Stockholm Syndrome”. The movie essentially blames crime and violence in Sweden on immigration.
In the movie, two police officers are interviewed to substantiate Horowitz’ claims. They have both come out with statements in Swedish newspapers, after Trumps remarks and the Fox News segment, to emphasise that the interviews with them were distorted by Horowitz and Fox News.
Speaking with the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, one of the police officers, Anders Göranzon, says:
I don’t understand why we are a part of the segment. The interview was about something completely different to what Fox News and Horowitz were talking about
when asked about the purpose with the interview by Horowitz he says
It was supposed to be about crime in high risk areas. Areas with high crime rates. There wasn’t any focus on migration or immigration
when asked about what he thinks about Horowitz and Fox News handling of his and his colleagues statements in the interview he says
We don’t stand behind it. It shocked us. He has edited the answers. We were answering completely different questions in the interview. This is bad journalism. It feels like hell. The real questions should be shown along with our answers. We don’t own the rights to the film, but the end result is that we don’t want to talk to journalists after this. We can’t trust each other.
This kind of distortion of reality is unfortunately nothing new for us swedes.
The last couple of years we have gotten used to extreme rightwing propaganda targeting our country, trying to connect social issues with our generous immigration policies. Those who oppose generous immigration are keen to make Sweden a bad example since we, along with Germany, have welcomed a great portion of the Syrian refugees, among others, who has fled to Europe.
Sweden has benefitted from immigration
The Fox News narrative couldn’t be further from the truth. As former prime minister of Finland tweeted in response to Trumps speech, Sweden is one of the most peaceful, prosperous and free countries on earth.
This is a fact, not despite immigration, but to a great extent thanks to immigration. In 2015 swedish economist Sandro Scocco and Lars Fredrik Andersson, associate professor in economical history at Umeå university, published a report concluding that Sweden has benefited a net value of about 900 billion SEK (approximately 100 billion USD) due to generous migration policies since the 1950’s.
Sweden is actually doing very well
Former prime minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt, also followed up on the discussion with this tweet, as a comment on the narrative that Sweden has become an insecure nation:
Yes. That’s right. Sweden with a population of about 10 million people has a smaller rate of deadly violence than Orange County, Florida, with it’s about 1.1 million people. According to the Swedish authority Brottsförebyggande rådet (The Council for Crime Prevention), Sweden had 112 incidents of deadly violence during 2015. Compared with the 90’s, the general rate of deadly violence during the 2010’s has decreased with about a third. This decrease has taken place despite the fact that the Swedish population has grown with more than a million since. According to the UN, the intentional homicide rate per 100 000 people is about 1 in Sweden while it is about 5 in the US (2014). The average for the whole world is 5.3. Sweden has, as you can see, come far in developing a peaceful society.
Sweden certainly has issues with segregation, socioeconomic divides and gender inequality. But compared to other countries, we have come a long way in reducing these problems. Our comparatively low crime rates is probably a function of the social progress of our country.
Here are some statistics and reports that Mr Trump might want to read, in order to get a real perception about the Swedish society (and maybe to get inspired by successful Swedish policies):
- Sweden is a good place to start a family in. In Sweden we have paid parental leave for 480 days.
- Sweden provides tuition free university education for its citizens.
- Sweden is a great country to do business in. Sweden ranks no 1 in Forbes annual list of the Best Countries for Business. Furthermore, Sweden is ranked as the second most innovative country in Europe by the European Commission in its European Innovation Scoreboard for 2016.
- Swedes work less, but the swedish economy stays competitive. The average Swede works 1 644 hours per year. The OECD average is 1 776. But Sweden still ranks as the 6th most competitive country in the Global Competitiveness Index.
- Sweden has come far in eliminating gender inequality. Save the Children ranks Sweden as the best country in the world for girls in the report Every Last Girl. Since the US ends up as number 32, Mr Trump seems to have a lot to learn from Swedish policies on gender equality. This is emphasised by the fact that Sweden ranks number 4 on the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index, having closed about 81 per cent of the gender gap, while the US ends up far behind as number 45.
- We take care of our senior citizens. Sweden ranks third overall in the Global AgeWatch Index 2015. The US hasn’t come as far, ending up as number 9.
- Sweden has low levels of corruption. Sweden ranks as third overall in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2015. The US ends up as number 16.
- Sweden is a great place to move with your family to. According to the HSBC Expat Explorer survey, Sweden is the best country in the world for expats to raise their families.
- You listen to our music! Sweden is the world’s number 1 exporter of chart music in relation to GDP. Abba, Roxette, Avicii, Zara Larsson, say no more. Many have attributed this success to the fact that the Swedish municipalities run “music schools” for children and youth, accessible for everyone, where they can learn to play instruments and create music.
Be assured that we will continue to listen to your speeches and debunk the myths you are spreading, Mr President. Your mistakes won’t pass us by unnoticed. Because in Sweden, we are quite good at English. Everyone says so. Ask EF. Sweden ranks third in their English Proficiency Index for 2016.
Instead of spreading myths, you should learn from the Swedish policies that have rendered us one of the best countries in the world when it comes to equality, prosperity and freedom.