Turn off Fox News and read this, Mr Trump

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 pro­vi­des tui­tion free uni­ver­si­ty educa­tion for its citi­zens. 

  • 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.

  • 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.

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