lördag 25 december 2010

Open letter to Pat Condell

Dear Pat,

First I would like to thank you for most of your videos. Your strong uncompromising stance against religion and your eloquent way of expressing it is like beautiful music to the staunch atheist I am.

But I am also Swedish, and interested in politics, and that's why I must complain about your video "Goodbye Sweden", simply because knowing something about Swedish politics is basis enough to complain here. Not because the video steps on cultural sensitivities, but because you provide a picture that simply is not representative.

I recognize everything you say in the video, because it all seems copy-pasted from the election campaign of the Sweden Democrats – a nationalist, isolationist, and racist party (I mean actual racist, not “Oh my god you can't criticize Islam you're a racist”-racist). To put it in a way that you might relate to: they are the BNP of Sweden. They oppose Islam because they want to establish an ethnically pure, Christian monoculture instead. And everything you say in the video has been said by them, word for word.

They employ the tactic of not really lying, but instead just picking and choosing from reality and only utter what's suits them and ignore the rest. Nothing new really, politicians do it all the time, but SD do it on an unprecedented scale. For example, about the rapes: they were very happy to blame the rising numbers of reported rapes on immigrants (not individual immigrants, but immigrants as a group) without being able to supply any evidence for it. In fact, the number of reported rapes has increased in Sweden since a new broader definition of rape was introduced to Swedish law in 2005. If you follow the current case against Julian Assange, you will see that this definition causes a lot of problems in itself, but that's a separate discussion.

I could keep on going about the other examples you use in the video, but the basic thing you should know is that for every apologist action in Sweden (like the stupid comments by the mayor of Malmö) there is a reaction (massive public criticism). There is an open debate going on, not silence as you seem to think. About the constitution: it's being changed by the government all the time, but it doesn't really mean anything since there is no constitutional court so the government never needs to care about following the constitution anyway. You talk about “multiculturalism” and “Swedish values” as if those were important concepts, but there is no clear definition on either, so they don't make any sense from a lawmaker's point of view.

Back to SD. They employed another tactic when they got criticized (about things like their budget proposal which didn't hold up to the scrutiny of even a freshman economics student), they played the conspiracy card. “The government and all, really all, media are in on it. And if you criticize anything SD says, you are also in on it, or just too much of a coward to speak the truth”. Pat, I'm sad to see you bought that part as well. It's all an act to make SD look like the martyr soothsayer, when in fact they aren't the least bit critical of the sources they themselves quote. There is freedom of the press in Sweden, and the media are bringing up many of the issues about Islam. It does no good to scream “Censorship!” just because the media doesn't say what you want them to say.

Now, I'm not a fan of the Swedish government. They are doing a lot to take our freedom away. But not in the name of Islam (I challenge you to name even one piece of Swedish legislation that has been made according to Muslim guidelines) but instead they are using the threat of Islamist terror to push through some awful anti-privacy laws. I'm not worried that any islamization of Sweden will happen any time soon, I am much more worried about the 1984-style Soviet state that is being constructed.

You may at this point think of me as an apologist for Islam, and I really hate sounding like one, but I feel forced into taking this position because using rhetoric from the Christian fascists is the wrong to go. They have succeeded in spreading a carefully crafted picture of Sweden that makes things seem a lot worse than you would experience if you actually spend some time in Sweden. I'm sad to see an intelligent debater as yourself couldn't penetrate their smokescreen. There are not only two sides in ths fight. I suggest you take contact with The Swedish Humanist Association next time you need some facts on religious influence on Swedish society, I'm sure they will be happy to provide it to you. They know who you are since you are somewhat of a star of the online atheist community, but I know many of them have reacted strongly against your video about Sweden for the same reasons I have.

Personally I spent much time during the last election campaign to counteract the vicious propaganda that you so uncritically have passed along now. I hope to be spending my time up ahead with something more constructive – a new party is being founded, it's called Liberaldemokraterna (no relation to the British LibDems). It will have secularism as a cornerstone, and I hope it will be the right tool to fight all fascism, both Muslim and Christian. Don't worry about any impending Islamic State of Sweden, because it will have to happen over the bloody corpses of me and countless other Swedish secularists.

We need a strong voice as yours, Pat. But please be careful about your sources before you make strong statements about another country.

Yours sincerely,

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