NRK has done it again. I’ve written before about Norway’s state broadcasting service, which magically converts Norwegians’ compulsory “license fees” into – as I put it last October – “outright, shameless, and (not infrequently) downright vile propaganda.” Propaganda, for example, against the critics of Islam. Propaganda, a few weeks back, about a gypsy lady whose involvement in child rape NRK omitted from a report early this year in a plain effort to burnish the image of gypsies. Propaganda about the niqab, which NRK depicted last month as “liberating.”
NRK’s flagrant disregard for journalistic ethics in the gypsy and niqab stories was widely criticized. But you can’t keep a good propaganda machine down. This week NRK teamed up with the government’s official statistical bureau to try, not for the first time, to extinguish concerns about the long-term impact of Muslim immigration on Norwegian society and culture.
As I’ve noted previously, Statistics Norway (SSB), like NRK, is an old hand at the propaganda game. Instead of just collecting and publishing data, it’s made a habit of quietly suppressing some findings while distorting others, always with the manifest goal of deep-sixing uncomfortable truths while reinforcing left-wing truisms. In January, for example, Lars Østby, the agency’s public face (and “head ideologue,” as Hege Storhaug of Human Rights Service puts it), cheerily declared that immigrants to Norway were successfully integrating, getting college educations, and so on – a series of claims that were quickly and efficiently shot down by those who know better. Now, in a shamelessly obvious attempt to damage the Progress Party, which now seems likely to emerge from next September’s elections as part of a non-socialist coalition government, NRK and SSB, both essentially pawns of the ruling Labour Party, have collaborated to shoot down the argument – central to the Progress Party platform – that if current immigration policies aren’t radically altered, Norwegians face becoming a minority in their own country.
The headline at NRK’s website was itself a marvel of chutzpah (as they say along the fjords): “Experts dispel Progress Party myth: ‘We will not become a minority in our own country.’” Well, that settles that! Thanks for coming! (Note that the first verb in the headline, avliver, which is most commonly used in connection with the euthanizing of cats or dogs, can also be translated as kill:“Experts kill Progress Party myth.”) “This week,” the article helpfully explained, “NRK is focusing on myths about immigration. There has been no lack of Progress Party politicians who have fronted for the myth that Norwegians will become a minority in their own country within a couple of generations.” NRK usually at least pretends to be politically neutral; not here. The honesty was refreshing. The whole piece, in fact, read like an op-ed, taking on a January 3 opinion piece in which Progress Party politician Christian Tybring-Gjedde argued that the Labor Party “has for several decades permitted an immigration that within a few generations will make Norwegians a minority in their own country.”
To NRK’s credit (I guess), the article quoted Progress Party leader Siv Jensen at length, giving her a chance to defend her stance. She did a fine job, pointing out that whatever the numbers, Norway is plainly moving in a certain direction vis-à-vis immigration, and tightening the rules can only help. Confronted with the claim that Norwegians won’t become a minority in Norway “either in our or our children’s lifetime,” she replied: “So we should close our eyes to it and let it happen to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, then?” NRK asked her if she focuses too intently on refugees, as opposed to other immigrants; she pointed out, quite rightly, that the crime statistics make it “wrong to sweep this problem under the rug.”
Jensen made a lot of sense. But NRK’s “reporters” (the article is credited to no fewer than five writers) were undaunted, following her common-sense observations with what they represented as expert refutations by Østby. Yet those refutations weren’t really refutations at all. Asked whether Norwegians will become a minority in Norway, Østby replied: “If we look at people without immigrant backgrounds and compare them with immigrants and Norwegian-born individuals with foreign-born parents, the answer is no.” Note the sleight-of-hand here: Østby neatly massages the numbers by defining “people with immigrant backgrounds” as immigrants and their children, period, and omitting grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on. This is familiar SSB practice, based on the assumption – which, in the case of Muslims in Europe, has long since been recognized as a pie-in-the-sky fantasy – that the grandchildren of immigrants will be so thoroughly integrated into Western society that it’s justifiable to remove them from the category of “people with immigrant backgrounds.” Strikingly, Østby follows this statement with an uncharacteristic disclaimer: “That being said, we’ve been wrong before, and I won’t live long enough to be confronted with this in 2100.” The NRK team dutifully prints this statement but has nothing to say about it.
Instead they point out cheerily that in recent years “immigration from so-called Muslim countries [yes, 'so-called!'] has constituted a steadily smaller percentage [of total immigration to Norway], despite the fact that net immigration has risen.” In other words, largely because of the massive rise in labor immigration from Poland and other Eastern European countries, Muslim immigration has – duh! – dropped as a percentage of the total. Which proves what? This is called grasping at straws. Or, maybe, sheer innumeracy.
The NRK hacks also quote Kristian Rose Trondstad of the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research, who tells them that according to SSB’s “main alternative,” the number of Norwegians with immigrant backgrounds “will be around 1.3 million in the year 2050.” Trondstad is referring to a SSB population forecast, made many years ago, that was founded on the premise of declining immigration levels. NRK, by quoting Trondstad uncritically on this matter, is thus using a forecast premised on far lower immigration levels to discredit the Progress Party’s call for far lower immigration levels.
But it’s even more dishonest than that. SSB’s “main alternative” is one of three distinct SSB population prognoses, each premised on a different level of future immigration. As Hege Storhaug of Norway’s Human Rights Service noted on Wednesday, actual immigration levels in the years since these three prognoses were promulgated have regularly been higher than those assumed even in SSB’s “high alternative” – and according to that “high alternative,” she pointed out, Norwegians will become a minority in Norway during the decade after 2050 (and that’s even if you don’t count the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of immigrants as “people with immigrant backgrounds”). Moreover, according to SSB’s “main” or “middle alternative,” Norwegians will become a minority in Oslo some time around 2040; but since actual immigration levels are as high as they are, this transformation will almost certainly take place much sooner. Of course, if NRK’s lies have the intended effect, it’ll happen much, much sooner.
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