Scandinavians need a history lesson

Norwegians don’t really debate racism. We have strong opinions when someone says that we shouldn’t use the word negro. We usually start the debate with whining, and it doesn’t get any better from there. I was surprised to find out that the Americans do the same. Not all of them, or maybe it is something they learn when they move here? I’m a member of a Facebook group for Americans in Norway, and their partners. When the group discussed H&M yesterday it was just like a Norwegian discussion about negroes.

H&M published a photo of a black child wearing a hoodie with the text COOLEST MONKEY IN THE JUNGLE. Many couldn’t understand how calling children monkeys was anything but cute, and maybe it would have been without the black child, but it’s hard to believe that no one knows anything about the history behind.

There is a long history of depicting Africans as monkeys. It goes back at least to the 16th century with books by European thinkers describing Africa south of the Sahara as a place where animals and humans had sexual intercourse. Jean Bodin even described Africa as a breeding ground for monsters because of this sexual union between humans and animals, and he used this as a justification for slavery. Josiah Scott and George Gliddon wrote several books in the 1850’s where they tried to establish a hierarchy of races, and Africans were in their view between Greeks and chimpanzees.

This is just a little of the large amount of information people can find online if they are interested, and it continues with relatively recent books like The Bell Curve (1994). Some Europeans may be ignorant about this today, but a lot more know about racism in football. You don’t see it as much today, but just a decade ago you could hear fans making monkey sounds and throwing bananas at black players. I don’t think anyone saw that as a compliment.

The maddening thing about the story I read in several outlets yesterday was the fact that H&M were only sorry this offended people. They didn’t see that they had done something wrong. I was also irritated when I read the comments on some of the websites that wrote about this. When people say that they are offended it’s not our right to tell them how they should feel. I wouldn’t stop shopping in H&M because of this, as some have suggested, but I don’t agree with those who seem to think that consumers shouldn’t speak out when they think a business has done something wrong.

My wife is African-American and our daughter has visible African ancestry. According to some people racism doesn’t exist anymore because they were raised to see only human beings. They were not raised to see skin colour, but I have been in many situations that tells me that people are not going to respect us if it’s up to them. It’s not that long ago that my daughter would have been too black to be fully included, and some people still see her as less because she is less white. Those attitudes may never go completely away. Perhaps the best we can do is to insist that people behave. It doesn’t matter what they think as long as society makes them behave, and correcting errors or ignorance is perfectly acceptable.

A Swedish company should know better, but maybe they just don’t get it? This is a story from 2012 where the Swedish culture minister opened an installation about female genital mutilation, Her job was easy. She was going to open the event by cutting a piece of cake, but understandably the event made the headlines for the wrong reasons. Art is supposed to shock I guess, but perhaps the minister should have been more circumspect in this case:

Sweden: the country where racism is just a joke

We have the same thing going on in Norway. We seem completely unable to see other people’s point of view because we don’t experience racism ourselves, but perhaps we should try harder? Autism research talks about theory of mind, aka mindreading or mentalizing, which means that you can predict what’s on other people’s minds. Autistic people take longer time developing this skill, and some don’t. Maybe few neurotypical do when it comes to racism? Theory of mind involves observation and interpretation, because the information isn’t always available to us, but in some situations it should be pretty obvious. Do you think I would be happy or angry if people started referring to my wife and daughter as the monkeys?

It’s not a pleasant sight, but if you want to understand a search for “blacks as monkeys” or “coons” would fill you in That’ll give you some idea of what experiences you haven’t had.



You have no honour!

Integrity is your word of honour, and if you lose it, you are not honourable. So where do mainstream media stand? They are welcome to cover politics, but if they want my attention they need to do a better job.

The world we, as in NATO, have stabilized by “liberating” countries like Libya, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan could have developed a lot differently. Every decision made could build or destroy an entire region of the world. The goal was to get rid of Saddam Hussein once, and it may have looked like a success, but it also led to ISIS, and Kurds wanting their own state in Northern Iraq. NATO can’t allow that because it would make the situation in Turkey difficult. This NATO-member has always defined the Kurds as a terrorist group, which gives them the right to use the military against their own people. That’s basically what Saddam Hussein and Bashar al Assad have done as well, but then we didn’t allow it.

The protests in Iran could be a sign of trouble because it probably isn’t what many assume. This is not about regime change because most Iranians may not like the political system, but they support the religious leadership, which is really in charge. These protests are more about unemployment and the state of the economy than the regime, which is bad news. It means that the protesters aren’t making any specific demands, and what demands could they make?

Mainstream media may feel that they haven’t deserved Donald Trump’s attention, but for someone claiming to be honest and hardworking, fake has a remarkable ability to make the headlines. MSM has a tendency to pick up stories from social media without asking the necessary critical questions about the source. I don’t know who went first, but several have posted a video supposedly showing 300 000 Iranian protesting on December 31.

A Twitter user from Bahrain noticed that the video she posted from a demonstration in Bahrain in 2011 had been viewed 50 000 times in two hours, compared to 18 000 times the past 7 years, and when she re-posted this video on Twitter it had been viewed 1,25 million times.

This reminds me of the time when MSM, knowing it was incorrect, ran the story of how 4 year old Marwan had walked alone through the desert from Syria to Jordan. This article in The Guardian explains it well. Many news outlets reported two years ago about 110 year old Aziz. His 60 year old daughter and a few other family members had carried the blind man from Afghanistan to Germany in just one month. According to another story the 105 year old woman Bibhali had been carried from Afghanistan to Croatia. Her 67 year old son and some grandchildren had carried her part of the way. Read about it in The Independent.

These stories were spread all across Europe, but no one seemed to ever ask themselves how realistic this was. Now we seem to be getting coverage about Iran that is not entirely trustworthy. It is only logical to end this post with a quote from my favourite fictional characters, Spock:

Insufficient facts always invite danger

The journey of hope

Nativity scene exhibited in a Christian book shop. It's the most inspiring story ever told.
Nativity scene exhibited in a Christian book shop. It’s the most inspiring story ever told.

I am astonished at people, and not just the few genuine atheists, or the masses that have chosen this path out of convenience. Many of us seem to forget the awesomeness of the story, and then I am thinking of the Biblical meaning of the word. Awesome used to be a strong reaction to something so amazing that anyone witnessing it found it hard to describe the experience in words. The closest a dictionary can get is defining it as a strong feeling of fear, wonder and inspiration. The Christmas story is the most awesome ever written and it isn’t over yet.

The Christmas story is a fascinating story about journeys. Take the three wise men for example. There are many legends about them, but the point isn’t really where they came from, how many they were, or when they came to see Jesus. The point is that they had to travel a long distance, and they didn’t let anyone or anything stop them. It probably wasn’t an easy journey, but they were determined to find what they came there for, and they did.

Mary and Joseph had to travel too. They went from Nazareth to Betlehem, and then they had to go to Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath. I don’t think we reflect enough on the difficulties these parents faced. Jesus probably heard a lot of comments as well. That’s how people are today, and human behaviour hasn’t changed that much.

It is true, as some have pointed out, that Mary was betrothed to Joseph, which was legally binding in the Jewish culture. It may not have been that shocking with a pregnancy in between the betrothal and the wedding, if Joseph was the father. He wasn’t. People would have seen Mary as just another pregnant teenager, and the punishment would have been stoning. Joseph’s initial reaction was divorce, so they both had a long journey ahead of them. The big story is of course that God invited all people to make the journey, to be united as his family.

The next big oil platform is currently at the ship yard. It's a giant Christmas tree reminding us of the star the three wide men followed.
The next big oil platform is currently at the ship yard. It’s a giant Christmas tree reminding us of the star the three wise men followed, their courage and the hope for something better..

It’s silly, like some people do, to argue whether or not Jesus was poor. That’s irrelevant, but there are indications suggesting that he was born into a family that did quite well. It may not have been very rich, but Jesus had a profession that would have been a strong currency at the time. There probably wasn’t a place where he couldn’t find employment. According to the genealogy presented in the gospels Jesus was related to Noah, Abraham and David, three men that God made a pact with. That doesn’t look like low status to me.

I think Jesus had different experiences because he was intended to represent everybody, It is true that his beginning was humble. It doesn’t matter whether it was a real stable or a part of a house where the animals stayed. The point is that Jesus was unusual no matter what you believe or don’t believe in. He surrounded himself with powerful friends, as well as enemies, but he was never afraid of controversy. He protected children, defended women others despised, and in the end he was betrayed by his most trusted friends. Many say that life comes without an instruction manual, but the ideals Jesus expressed isn’t a bad recipe in today’s chaotic world. Jesus didn’t just inspire the Jews and gentiles, because most of what we see as our best humanist Western ideas don’t differ much from the life and teaching of Jesus.

It is often said that Christmas is about hope, and this is where the courageous people in the story can inspire us. Hope is not necessarily something we have to wait for. It could very well be a decision we make, and hope doesn’t have to feel good at all. That comes later when you see the consequences of you decisions.

One of my favourite bloggers, Extra Dry Martini, wrote a very sobering post the day before Christmas (we celebrate on the 24th). I like the phrase I’m on the other side of darkness now from her post Instructions. I know what she’s writing about. I have written a lot about autism spectrum disorder, nonverbal learning disorder, ADHD, and their comorbid conditions depression and anxiety. That may seem like a sad topic, but I think many people see the wider story. It’s a journey and there is always a path leading back from the outland. There is hope along the way, and that isn’t a bad reminder to get on the darkest time of the year.

The attack on America

Picture of a pawn chessmate. Considering how old chess is it is surprisingly progressive. The pawns are the weakest pieces, but can win the game or become the powerful queen.
Considering how old chess is it is surprisingly progressive. The pawns are the weakest pieces, but can win the game or become the powerful queen. That’s a serious coup!

I can’t stand Fox News. It’s not because others have said I shouldn’t, but Fox reporters usually say something so ridiculous I just have to stop listening. Fortunately I don’t have to try hard as I cancelled my cable several years ago. I use Facebook mostly as a start page for news. I follow news sites that are good alternatives if you want a more balanced view of the world, and I occasionally get headlines concerning Fox. I did today after a reporter had accused the FBI of being involved in a coup against Trump.

Many were quick to condemn this language as dangerous and irresponsible rhetoric. Did the reporter use the word incorrectly? I guess that depends on where you are viewing this from. A coup usually happens quickly, because in order to succeed you need to paralyze the regime’s ability to prevent the coup from happening. That’s where the coup in Turkey last year failed. A coup is also about bringing down the government, frequently a democratically elected one. So if you look at what has happened in the USA it may appear to some that the campaign against the president isn’t fair. I understand the necessity of doing it right, because if you want to impeach the president, as many seem to want, you have to make sure you are justified in even trying. At some point the question should be asked whether or not it has gone on for long enough. I have a feeling the investigation against Bill Clinton went on for too long too, but as some point a search for the truth needs to produce something.

So if you supported Trump before the election, and still do, this probably looks like an attack on a legitimate government. Coup is a strong word, but the crucial thing is what the outcome of the investigation will be. I wonder if anyone will be satisfied with an inconclusive decision now, because the way this has developed since before Trump moved into the White House it seems like something big is inevitable. As for the Fox allegations I get the impression that the biggest shock was hearing the words uttered on a major station. The idea isn’t new, though.

There was substantial opposition to Trump within the Republican Party and some members of the Stop Trump-campaign went as far as trying to block Trump’s nomination at the Republican National Convention. There has been headlines like Trump has been subject to a military coup behind the scenes in Independent, while The Nation asked in February whether we were witnessing a coup against Trump. The Spectator asked the following question at the beginning of this year: Will Donald Trump be assassinated, ousted in a coup or just impeached?

So there are some people that have thought of that as a possibility. Personally I hope that won’t happen. No matter what you think about Trump he is the president, and losing the president, no matter how that happens, is not a good thing at all. It’s not something anyone ought to wish for. I wish for some stability both for the USA and the world the next year. That’s in everyone’s best interest.

Net discrimination

Screenshot. The phone isn't used much for talking anymore.
The phone isn’t used much for talking anymore.

Having lived in socialist Norway all my life I have some difficulties understanding the major objections to this political system. It’s democratic, and somewhere between capitalism and communism, but definitely closer to the USA than China. There are still, as I have pointed out in previous posts, things I don’t like about Norway and Norwegians. Yes, I admit that there are times when I wish people could mind their own business and allow me to be different..

Some may feel that if I don’t like it I could leave, but why would I leave what may be the most stable and possibly the best country for low income families? I like most of it, and I can live with the things I’d like to change. We often look at the USA and wish that was us because we believe that living in the land of the free would be better. Perhaps the biggest issue in the USA is deregulation. I get a feeling that US media see things as black or white, either or, heaven or hell, good or bad. Capitalism or deregulation is good. Everything else is socialism, which is no less than pure evil.

It would be remarkable if a political system was inherently moral or immoral, good or bad, but it’s all about how we choose to organise it. Capitalism isn’t a bad thing, but I don’t know how many times I have heard that an industry can regulate itself. How did that work out with regards to the pharmaceutical industry, the banks, insurance companies, the weapons industry, ececutive bonuses and so on? Lobbyists have a lot of power and the next battlefield seems to be net neutrality. There is a danger of this disappearing in the USA, which means that internet providers will have the right to only offer the highest speed to the companies that pay the highest price. They can also choose what content to promote, which means they could leave out competitors sites. This sounds like an attack on independence and the infrastructure that has made it possible for whistleblowers, activists and alternative media to get their information out. It’s a fight between old and new. Old companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T will benefit from deregulation, while new companies like Facebook, Amazon and Netflix do better when everyone pay the same price. There will be less competition, less diversity, which is probably bad for a search engine like Duck Duck Go or an operating system like Ubuntu.

Some say that the USA did just as well before Obama signed the net neutrality law in 2015, and that nothing will change. The neutrality isn’t lost yet, but if it happens it remains to be seen how fair the businesses can be. Let’s just say I have a certain skepticism, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this slowly made it harder to find the correct information and the best entertainment at a price everyone could afford. Then this would be another area where the gap between rich and poor increased. One wonders how much better Americans would be off if working hard was enough to get a house, an education and the best medical treatment. It is admittedly hard all over the world now, but life shouldn’t be a struggle when your country’s economy is growing. That’s one of the challenges with expecting companies like JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, AIG and Bear Stearns to share the growth. Sometimes the government need to interfere. After all , it should be in the government’s interests to raise healthy, knowledgeable citizen that don’t have to struggle through life.

Our tribal war of whatabouts and hypocrisy

Franklin D. Rooosevelt gave a speech in 1942 that became a source of inspiration to Norwegians fighting the German occupation. The occasion was a handover ceremony of a ship to the Norwegian Navy. This is a well known quote:

If there is anyone who still wonders why this war is being fought, let him look to Norway. If there is anyone who has any delusions that this war could have been averted, let him look to Norway; and if there is anyone who doubts the democratic will to win, again I say, let him look to Norway.

Roosevelt praised the Norwegian resistance on several occasions, which may have been a response to an impression made by an American journalist that happened to be in Oslo the day the Nazis marched down the main street. He described shocked bystanders, but he was wrong to interpret this as indifference and acceptance. The Norwegian politicians may have been naive believing they could remain neutral, but there is no doubt about the willingness to fight, and there were a lot of unsung heroes all over the country, as well cooperation with Britain and the USA. The phrase look to Norway has had a nice ring to it ever since, but it’s just a distant memory now.

There seems to be a negative version today aimed at one of our neighbours. Look to Russia seems to be the slogan today. If it’s bad you can be sure Russia did it. No investigation or journalism is needed. We already know the truth. I noticed a comment on Facebook today where someone referred to an opponent’s argument as whataboutism. This is supposedly old Soviet tactics, and now Trump’s solution, which to many people is the same. It’s an attempt to discredit the opponent or to derail the discussion. If for example the USA accuses Russia of violating civil rights Putin could respond with multiple whatabouts from the USA. My own country likes to talk about how Russia and China violate human rights while the UN say we do the same, especially with regard to the prisoners and children’s rights.

Photo of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton before election.
What about Hillary’s support of Bill?

We may conveniently pretend that whataboutism is a Soviet trick, and thus confirm the Trump-Russia connexion, but this is very old, probably as old as humankind. It starts in kindergarten, and these days politicians from both US parties can say what about Bill Clinton? The problem with moral indignation is that most people or the country they represent have done the same thing in the past, if not in the present as well. When we watch news coverage from a demonstration in a foreign country we don’t like, and the police break up the crowd with tear gas or water, we frequently say that only a totalitarian state would do that. A demonstration isn’t necessarily about creating chaos, but it is usually about change and using your democratic right to be heard in a society that wants to limit the people’s influence. So what about Ferguson, Paris, Belgium, London, Catalan, Australia and other countries?

Whataboutism was a new term to me, but it sounds very familiar. I wrote about the Hitler card or reduction to Hitler a while back, which means that sooner or later someone is going to compare someone else to Hitler. It happens in a lot of debates. They are both old rhetorical tricks and should be ignored without going into an argument where you defend yourself. It’s interesting how quickly we develop a moral indignation when we can point to someone else. It may feel amusing when China, Israel, Russia, North Korea or a number of Muslim countries point to our lack of democracy or respect for human life, but we don’t have any reason to feel superior. I guess this worked a long time ago, but Internet put a stop to it. Media did ocassionally intervene before that too. What about the Vietnam War and Watergate? What about Kissinger and the Russians? What about Kennedy and the Russians? What about most of Europe and eugenics before and after Hitler? What about most Western countries and the indigenous population?

The back side of climate change

Photo from my fridge. I buy imported, but locally produced Chinese cabbage and Asterix potatoes cost less.
I buy imported, but locally produced Chinese cabbage and Asterix potatoes cost less.

Most people are extreme creatures of habit. I get daily reminders of that from one of my Facebook groups. My wife is American, and we are both members of a group for Americans in Norway and their partners. One of the services they provide is to tell other members where they have found American products, and to show the packages their families have sent from the old country. There is something many nationalities have in common. They want the brands they are used to, and an equivalent will never be quite the same.

What would you say if you could no longer get the products you were familiar with? When international media report on Norway it’s frequently on something embarrassing, like that time we ran out of butter in December. That happened in 2011 and the world was lead to believe that the authorities had a riot on their hands. I guess some may have been afraid they had to bake for Christmas with margarine, but this drama was mostly just dramatic headlines. There was still margarine and butter imported from Sweden, Netherlands and France, so there really wasn’t a crisis. Incidentally, there was a European “butter crisis” last summer, especially in France, but no one wanted to import from Norway then.

Norway usually don’t import oats because we produce enough ourselves, but this year my country has to import 5 000 tons. There is also a concern that the stores will run out of potatoes, carrots and onions, partly because the farmers have produced less and partly because the quality is worse. This is all because it’s been an unusually wet summer and autumn, which is a bad sign in the long run. The researchers have been telling us for decades that a milder climate will mean more rain during the winter, and more extreme rain in summer. This will change food production.

There will still be fruit and vegetables in Norwegian stores, but they may not be produced in Norway. Being somewhat skeptical to eating food that will make me sick I am naturally interested in where the food is produced and what they put into it. As for GMO there is plenty of research indicating that the health effect could differ from what the consumers aim for, to say the least. It’s more than just a habit, but I am like most people, I choose what I grew up with. That’s why breakfast cereal to me is oatmeal from Axa and not Quaker.

How about you? Would you hesitate if you knew that the meat and lettuce on your burger came from Namibia and China?

Americans are not welcome

Donald Duck mug. One of the last survivors of a childhood with American influence. I'm afraid I lost my Fozzie Bear mug.
One of the last survivors of a childhood with American influence. I’m afraid I lost my Fozzie Bear mug.

I mentioned in my previous post, The attack on America, that no one wants to think badly about their own country. I am no different than other people. I wanted to think that Norway was as perfect as some of the articles in foreign newspapers suggest. The perfect society doesn’t exist, not if there are people in it.

It’s not that the Scandinavian countries are horrible, because they are not, but they are not easy countries to live in. Business Insider wrote about a recent study where expats rank the Nordic countries among the best for excellent healthcare, childcare and education. They also like the balance between work and having enough time to spend with family. There are a lot of good things about being an expat in the Nordic countries, but there is also a dark side.

It’s hard to make friends here. I am sure that many have acquaintances, but it’s hard to find true friendship. That may surprise a lot of people. After all, people in Norway and its neighbouring countries dress the same way as Americans and Brits. They listen to the same music, watch the same films, play the same games, eat the same type of food, and our societies have been shaped by the same religions and philosophers. On the surface it looks like we have a lot in common, like we should be alike, but it is pretty obvious that we are not. I can only speak for Norway and there is a tendency here to like foreigners, including people from our old allies USA and Britain, as long as they agree with us. I didn’t know this about us before I got married, so I didn’t know anything about the difficulties ahead. I didn’t know we would be on constant probation, but that’s how it feels like. It’s not something just immigrants experience. Being different is bad here and the pressure to blend in, become invisible is pretty strong.

I stated in my previous post that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages in Norway, but people thinking about moving here should know that there are deeper issues involved than figuring out where to get their supply of Pop tarts, Twinkies, Ding Dong chocolate cake and cereals. You can find a lot of American products in the stores, but there are also many things you have to manage without. Living here is worth the effort, but it shouldn’t be a job. It is for many immigrants. Norwegians tend to see them as aliens if there is something different about them, like an accent.

The Nordic countries are the worst in the world for making friends

The attack on America

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The cover of a Norwegian newspaper the day of the election. They both vowed to make America great again. Who would be included in this America?
The cover of a Norwegian newspaper the day of the election. They both vowed to make America great again. Who would be included in this America?

I have criticised the U.S. government when I feel that it is justified, as I have my own government. I criticise Norway more, but I don’t think I am anti-American or anti-Norwegian, as some wrongly label it. This is what democracy is about, and it would be something entirely different if voicing an opinion was wrong. The alternative is to never question the decisions the politicians make on our behalf, which is hardly likely to produce a healthy democracy.

Criticising the USA is a popular sport, which is understandable. Decisions made in Washington DC will have consequences for the whole world, both good and bad. It is possible to go too far, though, or to focus on the wrong issues. I recently came across Benny Lewis’ post 17 cultural clashes this European had in America, and by America he doesn’t mean everything between Alaska and Chile (+ a few island north and south of the continent). He means the USA of course, and that’s where he scores one of his minor points. America is more, or as comedian Judah Friedlander puts it in a Netflix special: America is the greatest country in the USA.

I’m not going through the whole list, but would like to comment a few. I encourage you to read the rant yourself. The third complaint on his list is that smiles mean nothing. Americans smile all the time, according to this Irishman, so you never know when they mean it. I don’t know what kind of Americans he has encountered, but it’s probably not that simple. I have almost 50 years of experience being a Norwegian in Norway, and during the 15 years I have lived here with my African-American wife I have seen a lot of smiles, as well as backstabbing. Smiles don’t mean more here than anywhere else, and I probably wouldn’t find more genuine smiles in Lewis’ Ireland either.

His next point is tipping, and I agree that employers should pay higher wages, but when the food is relatively inexpensive I don’t think most people mind giving a little extra. There is not a strong tipping culture in Europe, which makes it confusing, because knowing when it is expected is almost impossible, but Tripadvisor recommends 10 percent in Benny Lewis’ home-country Ireland. Incidentally, this is such a big problem in neighbouring Britain that the government there published a report last year saying that tips should go to workers, not employers. In other words, that hasn’t been obvious to business owners. Is that ok?

The whiny Irish has some points about wasteful consumerism, stereotypes of other countries, always in a hurry, obsessed with money, and thinking America is the best, but are the Americans really the only ones doing this? We all have the inclination to whine. We just whine about different things. Besides, it’s not fair to generalise. There are undoubtedly Americans believing that the military is justified in taking any action, or refuse to act, if that is required to keep America ahead. There are probably a few that would never leave the USA because any other country would be inferior, but I don’t think all 320 + millions of them feel the same.

Besides, we all have some of this attitude. Canadians, Germans, Italians, French, Danes, Japanese and others all believe they live in the best country in the world. They may not be completely satisfied, but when they compare themselves to other countries they probably conclude that life is pretty good. I think my own country has enough bonuses. There are many things I don’t like about Norway, and some of them I only discovered after I got married (there are a lot of smiles that don’t mean anything). The pressure to conform can sometimes be too much for example, but all in all it’s not a bad place.

That doesn’t mean I am not critical, but the goal should be to improve society. I am critical to the naive attitude many seem to have that we should allow unlimited immigration, but the truth is that if too many of the immigrants are refugees, there is a risk there won’t be enough people working. I think people with some sense agree on the main issues, but people are also sensitive to outside criticism. The Swedes don’t like it when we criticise them and we certainly don’t like it when they lecture us on the issues they have so thorughly failed on themselves. The French and British don’t like it when they target each other’s arrogance, and Americans don’t like any European telling them what to do.

Incidentally, you want to avoid using words like anti-American or anti-Norwegian. As Noam Comsky pointed out many years ago the term has been used against dissidents in the old Soviet Union. It basically means that you support democracy. It’s interesting that someone criticising the government is labelled with words used by a dictatorship, and asked to leave the country. That is one of the attitudes one might criticise both America (all of it) and Europe (especially the EU) for. Whether people make sense or irritate me isn’t quite as important as politicians playing a poker game with our lives as the stake.

The Race

There is a race, a fierce competition. Everyone wants to be popular. Everyone wants to be best at something, right? There are a lot of different surveys with different criteria and winners. The Scandinavian countries usually do well when the UN rank the best countries to live in. They also do well on the Social Progress Index, with Canada, New Zealand and Australia being the only non-Europeans on the top ten list. Read more

The U.S. News and World Report named Canada the 2nd best country together with Switzerland. These countries,  together with Scandinavia, are also favourites among stand up comedians and journalists wanting to score cheap points against what they claim are selfish countries. When the so-called Syrian refugee crisis started there was a big pressure on the Norwegian government to allow free immigration. The attitude was that this wouldn’t cost us anything because the Syrians would start working as soon as they arrived. It turned out that around 40 percent were Syrians, so there were a lot of migrants from other countries. Not that they didn’t need help, but unlimited immigration is a pretty tall order.

No one seemed to consider the fact that refugees have never changed status that quickly before, and there was no way of verifying the claim that these were highly educated people. That turned out to be vastly exaggerated. No one ever mentioned the fact that refugees may need psychiatric treatment, or that they may have problems becoming a part of a society with a strong aversion to religion (almost self-loathing our own culture), and with a strong suspicion to everything different. In fact, we only talked about them helping us, our economy.

Canada seems to have chosen the same path as Sweden, an extremely liberal immigration policy. In Canada’s case it is understandable because the country is underpopulated, but I believe it’s not just a matter of getting enough people. There are suburbs in Sweden with 90 percent immigrant population, very high unemployment, and it’s so bad in certain areas that police and ambulance are reluctant to go there. Yet, the only accepted view is that immigrants make Sweden a better society. I think the main problem is that the government decided something and left it to the people to deal with the consequences.

The Canadian government recently announced a plan for increasing immigration. The authorities will admit 310 000 permanent residents next year, followed by 330 000 in 2019 and 340 000 in 2020. The idea is that this will spur innovation and economic growth, and by importing young workers they counteract the problem with an aging population. I believe there are good chances of that happening if you get the right people, but there is a limit to how altruistic you can be and still prosper. The news release states that “the 2018-2020 multi-year immigration levels plan also fulfills our commitment to offer protection to those in need.” Read the news release.

I don’t know how many asylum seekers they intend to accept, but I believe there needs to be a balance. Statistics from Norway show that the employment rate among immigrants from Asia and Africa is a lot lower compared to any other group in Norway. The logical consequence is that these people need different types of social benefits, possibly for life. We have to help, but there is a limit to how many we can support in our own country. It might help if we don’t create more problems in their country.

There are of course refugees and migrants that will adapt quickly, but some are going to require assistance for years, possibly for the rest of their lives. We would all like to believe that racism doesn’t exist in our society, that we are far too liberal for that nonsense, but in reality Norwegians, Swedes, Swiss and Canadians are no different from people that admit to being racist. The attitude among many Norwegian employers is that it doesn’t matter how qualified the candidate is if he/she has the wrong skin colour. It may not even be about ethnicity or religion because I have heard many stories of people from the USA and other English speaking countries that suddenly get called in for job interviews when they start using their Norwegian partner’s name. Yet, the only accepted view is that immigrants have enriched the country in so many ways. I have a feeling that this is the case in many liberal countries.

This Canadian is defending the book The Inconvenient Indian, and it suggests that there is already a problem in the country that wants to accept everyone:

I am in no way out to get Canada.This is my favourite country outside my own. It’s a fantasy of course, a world that doesn’t exist, and never did, but Canada has always had a special ring to me. I grew up with excellent TV series and music from Canada, as well as writers like Margaret Atwood and :Lucy Maud Montgomery, so when I dream of moving to another country, I dream of Canada. I don’t think anything is perfect, though, but maybe it will be less so in the future.

This is still fixable. I think everyone agrees that we need immigration because of our low birth rate. The problems starts when authorities make decisions without listening to the people, and I don’t think most people want more immigration than their society can integrate. It doesn’t mean that immigrants are not welcome.