Stockholm: "[W]hat is the Problem?"
Fredrik Sandberg/Agence France-Presse (Getty Images)
New York Times
As reported by Andrew Higgens, "In Sweden, Riots Put an Identity in Question" (New York Times, May 26, 2013), the recent riots by Muslim youth in a suburb of Stockholm got an interesting reaction on the part of social workers visiting from America: bafflement.
But perhaps we'd better back up and see to what the Swedish left attributes the riots:
The left, which dominated Swedish politics for decades and devised the cradle-to-grave welfare system, has blamed reduced state benefits and a modest shift toward the privatization of public services for the unrest, pointing to an erosion of the country's tolerant, egalitarian ethos. A recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said that income inequality had grown faster in Sweden than in any other industrialized nation between 1985 and the end of the past decade, although it remains far more equal than most countries.Such an explanation belies the actual conditions in which the immigrants live:
"The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer," said Barbro Sorman, an activist of the opposition Left Party. "Sweden is starting to look like the U.S.A."
But Stockholm's immigrant enclaves, including Tensta and the nearby suburb of Husby, where the riots began May 19 . . . , show few outward signs of deprivation.The Swedish left's explanation makes the visiting Americans' reaction even more interesting:
Created in the 1960s as part of a state building blitz to create a million new homes in a decade, Stockholm's northern suburbs now offer well-tended parks, graceless but well-maintained public housing, well-equipped schools, youth centers, libraries and legions of social workers financed by the state.
Dejan Stankovic, the Serbian-born manager of a team of government youth workers that has joined parents and other volunteers on nightly street patrols, recalled a visit to the area by a group of mystified American social workers. "They said, 'It is green and safe, so what is the problem?'"Good question from these American social workers, themselves probably on the left in the US. The Swedish left has a few answers other than environment. Racism. Or maybe police brutality. Or unemployment. Or all of these, since the riots started "after the police fatally shot a 69-year-old immigrant wielding a knife," this particular immigrant likely also being unemployed. Certainly nothing in the Muslim culture of the rioters would give them leave to burn cars and then throw stones at the non-Muslim firemen who arrive to fight those fires, right? The rioters are simply responding as anyone would to the dire conditions under which they live, right?
Studies should be conducted comparing Muslim and non-Muslim communities of immigrants to demonstrate that the latter react just as violently to the dreadful conditions imposed on them by the rich, violent, racist Swedes who simply refuse to give those rioting youth the employment essential for solving all the rioters' problems . . .