When I first moved to Norway in 1999, I often heard the term amerikanske tilstander – “American conditions.” It was never, ever used positively; it didn’t refer, for example, to things like freedom and prosperity. No, it was always used to describe some dreaded social or cultural or economic phenomenon that was supposedly on the rise in Norway and that threatened to make the country look more like – horrors! – the United States. Evangelical Christianity? Amerikanske tilstander! Gun crime? Amerikanske tilstander! Rough-and-tumble election campaigns? Dumb TV shows? Private medical options? Growing economic inequality? Amerikanske tilstander!
Back then, you never, ever heard of svenske tilstander – “Swedish conditions.” On the contrary, the three countries of Scandinavia prided themselves on their very similar “conditions.” Often, after one of the countries passed a law permitting or (more frequently) restricting or forbidding something, the other countries would snap quickly into line and pass a similar law, lest they drift too far apart legislatively.
No more. For many years, there’s been one major legislative difference among the three countries, a difference that has given rise to a significant divergence in socioeconomic outcomes. The difference is this: while Sweden, until relatively recently, kept its gates very wide open for Muslim immigration, Denmark began cutting down the flow many years ago, and Norway has been somewhere in the middle. The result: massive Islamic violence, criminality, and other varieties of malefaction in Sweden, considerably less of that sort of thing in Denmark, and, again, a state of affairs somewhere in the middle in Norway.
In recent months, the Swedish mayhem has been steadily ramped up. Not that Norway is the peaceable kingdom it used to be. Women used to walk at night in downtown Oslo without fear of being raped; that sense of security ended years ago. These days, pretty much every weekend brings a new round of stabbings in the city – something that just didn’t happen a few years ago – and a while back the hobby of car-burning, long popular in Sweden, started to be taken up by the capital’s young Muslim set. On June 25 of last year, an Iranian gunman killed two people and wounded twenty-one outside Oslo’s major gay bar. Still, so far Osloites have yet to become accustomed to the bombs, hand grenades, and massive explosions that have made many parts of Sweden feel like wartime Afghanistan.
In both Denmark and Norway, as a result, the citizenry have been increasingly attentive to Sweden’s Muslim mayhem. But since Norway’s border with Sweden is 1000 miles long, while Denmark and Sweden are connected only by a single bridge, the level of concern is, I think, even greater in the land of the fjords than in the land of Lego.
The result? Lately, almost daily references in Norway’s media – especially its alternative media – to svenske tilstander. (Just the other day, it occurred to me that I hadn’t heard about “amerikanske tilstander” in a very long time.)
On September 29 alone, a headline in Norway’s newspaper of record, Aftenposten, explained that two of the country’s major political parties were now saying that Norway needs to “Look to Denmark to Avoid Swedish Conditions”; an article in the “radical socialist” daily Klassekampen bore the headline “Swedish Conditions”; Aftenbladet ran an editorial, “Poor Sweden,” in which the subhead read “‘Swedish conditions’ is not an anti-immigration slogan. It’s a gloomy lesson. Norway can’t afford to be naive, because gang violence is here already.” Also on the same day, a column in VG, Norway’s biggest daily, was headlined “Fear of Swedish Conditions.” In it, one could read that according to Jale Poljarevius, the head of the Swedish police, his country hasn’t been as dangerous as it is now since 1945.
Then there’s an opinion piece in Nettavisen in which veteran reporter Anders Magnus writes: “Cramped housing, poverty, and alienation get much of the blame for the wave of violence in Sweden. Does it have nothing to do with culture?” The answer, of course, is yes. Magnus recalls being in Stockholm’s Rinkeby neighborhood seven years ago to conduct an interview at a café and being told by a threatening group of young men: “You’re not allowed to be here. This is our territory.” There ensued a bout of stone-throwing. Even then, Rinkeby wasn’t ruled in accordance with Swedish law but by clans from, as Magnus puts it, certain foreign countries; instead of police, they had gangs of “armed young men,” although, Magnus adds, to call them gangs makes them sound more harmless than they really are.
Today there are fifty or so “our territories” in Sweden. Magnus hastens to add that the situation isn’t yet quite as bad in Norway, though such clan-governed enclaves – which, again, is Magnus’s rather delicate way of putting it – can be found in certain Norwegian cities. We must, he says, dare to ask whether the time has come to put the brakes, temporarily in any case, on immigration from clan-dominated honor cultures. Note that, for a mainstream journalist in Norway, these are actually strong words. But in 2023, they’re nowhere near strong enough. Note, too, all the euphemizing in which he engages in order to avoid mentioning Islam.
Also published on September 29 was an article by a Swedish refugee. No, not a refugee to Sweden, but a refugee from Sweden – to Norway. “I’m done with Swedish conditions!” proclaims Micke Larssen at the alternative news and opinion site document.no. “Two exploded residential buildings, a murder, and proposals for the introduction of ‘emergency schools’ for pupils who can’t go to a normal school without threatening and beating up teachers and schoolmates”: this, Larssen points out, was part of a single day’s news fare on taxpayer-financed Swedish Television – which, despite such content, still strives “to maintain the illusion of Sweden as the peaceful ‘country that’s just right.’” Larssen explains that he moved to Norway because he
“was tired of living in a country where violence increases month by month, without anyone even trying to reverse the trend. A country where police officers sit paralyzed in their police cars while masked perpetrators throw large rocks at the cars to try to break their windows, a country where healthcare has gone from world-class to almost non-existent, where more and more students go through the entire school system without learning to read and count.”
Sweden, Larssen pronounces, “is lost for the foreseeable future, maybe forever!” I’ll bet on forever. He goes on to say something that’s been said a million times before: that Swedish politicians, many years ago, welcomed immigrants on the assumption that they would eventually integrate. The politicians turned out to be wrong. The same thing has happened in Norway, and throughout Western Europe, on a somewhat smaller scale. Which is why Larssen closes his article by fretting that he’ll eventually have to become a refugee again. His article reminded me of a news report I saw in the Netherlands about fifteen years ago. It was about the fact that Dutch people were now, in larger and larger numbers, moving to Norway to escape the increasing immigrant crime in the Netherlands. I wonder how many of those people now wish they’d picked Hungary or Uruguay or New Zealand instead.
The problem in Sweden is so bad now that even international media that have gone out of their way for years to avoid addressing the Islamic issue honestly have felt obliged to pay heed to the Swedish crisis – and to hint, at least, at the reasons for it. “Swedish PM looks to military for help amid gang violence spike,” read an AP headline on September 28. The article quoted PM Ulf Kristersson: “Sweden has never before seen anything like this. No other country in Europe is seeing anything like this.” Well, it’s been coming for years. Good of you to finally notice. Also noted was that Kristersson had met with an American official to get advice on crime-fighting. Which official? Hilariously enough, New York Mayor Eric Adams, under whose lax, incompetent leadership the Big Apple has descended into anarchy.
On September 29, CNN covered the Swedish story, noting Kristersson’s promise to be tough on gang criminals: “We will take them to court. If they’re Swedish citizens they will be locked up for a long time in prison and if they are foreign citizens, they will also be expelled.” Alas, most of those young gangsters are second- or third-generation immigrants with Swedish passports, and, whatever Kristersson says, his nation’s courts are presided over by judges to whom a tough sentence is six months’ probation. And the prisons are country clubs.
In any event, many of the news media that are now suddenly paying attention to the Swedish crisis are reporting on it as if it happened almost overnight – and as if it’s unique to Sweden. On the contrary, some of us, all over Western Europe, have been writing about these dire developments – and prophesying doom – for at least a quarter of a century. And we’ve been endlessly demonized for it by bien pensant academics, journalists, and politicians who’ve painted us as the existential threats to European social harmony; some of us have been hauled into court, others summoned to police stations for questioning; people like Peder “Fjordman” Jensen, a brilliant, Arabic-speaking Islam expert – and patriot – who should be considered a Norwegian national hero, was so cruelly defamed that he found it unable to find even the most menial work in Norway and had to move abroad. When does he get his restitution? Where does he go to get his reputation back?
Another quote from the newly awakened Swedish PM: “It’s political naïvité that brought us here. It’s an irresponsible immigration policy and failed integration that have brought us here. Parallel societies that create criminal gangs, where children can be educated into being future murderers.” So now it’s OK, I guess, to say this in Sweden? For decades, Jimmie Åkesson’s Sweden Democrats were treated as if they were criminals simply for stating these home truths. They’re now the biggest party in the Riksdag. Which, of course, is a major part of the reason why the Swedish PM has suddenly snapped into line. To politicians like Kristersson, it didn’t matter when it was just their country in peril; the moment of truth didn’t come until their careers were on the line.
Another line from Larssen. “Norwegians,” he opines, “don’t want ‘Swedish conditions,’” but they don’t really “understand what has happened to Sweden,” and are thus, he worries, perhaps incapable of preventing the same thing from happening to their own country. On the contrary, while the mainstream media and all but a few brave politicians have routinely ignored or sugarcoated the facts (“diversity is our strength!”), my impression is that an increasing number of ordinary Western Europeans – including Norwegians, and even including Swedes – get it by now. And they care about it. Growing numbers of them vote for politicians like Åkesson, or the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders, who’ve campaigned on their determination to take serious action on the immigration front. But somehow, these crusaders never get quite enough votes to empower them to act.
And so things just get worse and worse. In 2011, after having lived in Oslo for twelve years – and witnessed the city’s increasing nocturnal terrorization by marauding youths – I settled in a small mountain town two hours west of the capital. At the time, while certain parts of Oslo were already teeming with Muslims, in this little burg there was a mere scattering of young Muslim husbands and wives, most of them pushing baby carriages and strollers. Years later, when I’d see groups of children walking home from school, there’d be a sprinkling of Muslims amidst the ethnic Norwegians.
Then, the other day, waiting for a bus in the late afternoon, I noticed a group of about six or eight teenage Muslim boys making their way up the sidewalk on the other side of the street. These, I reflected, were the children who’d been in those carriages and strollers. They weren’t quite a gang. They didn’t have that threatening air. But they were all hanging with one another – not with their ethnic Norwegian schoolmates. Which meant that the peeling off, the self-segregation, had begun. And that’s the first step.
A couple of days later, someone close to me, whose hometown this is, was walking home at night through the historically safe and sleepy center of our little town when he saw a group of immigrant youths hanging around a car, talking loudly and giving off an unmistakable air of aggressiveness. It made him feel suddenly as if he was in Oslo, where he’s been physically assaulted by Muslims twice (in addition to being beaten up in Kongsberg and mugged in Amsterdam). So instead of taking a chance, he chose to linger behind some bushes and wait until the group moved off. “I’ve never felt so vulnerable in this town before,” he said.
I left it behind in Oslo. But it’s coming here, too. And you can’t keep running.