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On a recent post, I discussed the possible current or impending invasion of Europe, either from Russia via military strike or from Muslim countries via immigration. There were a few commenters that thought that describing high levels of immigration as an invasion was a bit of a stretch. A fair criticism, although I’m not sure I agree with it. Regardless, it reminded me of a conversation I had with a very nice Swedish lady a couple years ago.
At a medical conference in Dallas, I heard a Swedish accent in a nearby conversation. I looked at her (and her nametag), and thought she just must be Swedish. According to her nametag, she worked for Novo Nordisk, a Danish company that produces diabetes medications. I didn’t get the chance to say hello then, but that night at dinner there was a seat open next to her and I sat down. We talked about how much we both liked Sweden, where I’d lived, where she was from, and so on. She was from a nice section of Stockholm, but I mentioned a friend of mine from Gothenburg who said that immigration had created such high rates of violent crime there that he wouldn’t let his wife or daughter go out without a male escort, or three. She seemed offended. “Strange that an American would be so critical of immigration. You are all immigrants here, aren’t you?”
We had been having a lovely conversation, but suddenly she was outright hostile. This sudden shift in our conversation took me aback, and I mumbled something like, “Yeah, well, I haven’t been to Gothenburg in 25 years, but my friend says that there really was no such thing as violent crime — um, not until large numbers of Muslim immigrants moved into certain neighborhoods. I’m not criticizing immigration, I’m just acknowledging what is happening there in terms of crime.”
She was peeved and spat, “Swedes are a generous people by nature. We just want to help those who are from dangerous parts of the world. Would you refuse to help someone escape violence simply because you don’t like their religion?”
I had recovered my footing a bit. I paused, looked thoughtful, and responded, “Rotten luck.”
She didn’t get it, and asked, “What’s rotten luck?”
I said, “Well, these poor people are from a dangerous part of the world. Very violent place. Then you bring those poor people to Sweden, a very safe part of the world. And wouldn’t you know it, just as soon as these poor people show up, Sweden becomes a violent, dangerous part of the world. Just like where they came from. What rotten luck.”
She just stared at me coldly.
“I mean, honestly, who knew? What a weird coincidence. You know, now that I think of it, maybe this is because of Islam!”
She continued to stare at me coldly. Much more coldly.
I continued, “I don’t mean that Islam is causing it; I mean that it’s because of insufficient amounts of Islam in Sweden. You know, Islam means peace. So if you have too much violence all of a sudden in Sweden, perhaps you could fix that by importing more Muslims. You’d have peace in your streets again. Who knows, maybe if you famously stubborn Swedes could learn to adopt other cultures, maybe the Muslims could teach you a thing or two about peace. I believe there’s hope for advancement of all cultures — even Swedes!”
That crossed a line. Her face turned red. She got her plate, stood up, and walked to a table on the other side of the huge conference room. I think the only thing that saved my life was her innate Swedish tendency toward peace that I had just questioned.
Now there’s a fine line between being a witty conversationalist and being a jerk. In retrospect, I probably pole-vaulted over that line into “jerk” territory. Like some other things, that line becomes blurry after a few glasses of wine.
But what a weird response. I acknowledged the irrefutable fact that Sweden has been a ridiculously safe and peaceful country for a long time. Then a bunch of immigrants from notoriously violent countries move in, and guess what: now Sweden is violent too. Perhaps it’s not the dirt in those countries that’s violent, perhaps it’s the people who live there who are violent. Perhaps culture matters. And perhaps religion plays a role in culture.
And if she disagrees with any of that, perhaps she could explain to me why I’m wrong. Then I could answer her, as best I could. And she could answer me. We could have a wonderful time discussing a fascinating topic. It’s called conversation; it’s fun!
But no — two very nice people are suddenly at each other’s throats.
The problem that we had in our conversation was probably religion. Stereotyping someone because of where they’re from is largely ok. In Ohio, we laughed at West Virginian jokes (I presume the West Virginians laughed at Ohioan jokes). In Sweden, we laughed at jokes about Norwegians. It’s all in good fun.
But stereotyping someone because of their religion is different. Especially if that religion is not Christianity or Judaism. Islam is a favored group of the modern left, for reasons that I don’t fully understand and you criticize it at your peril. Perhaps she just can’t conceive of criticizing Islam, and she hates anyone who does; I’m not sure.
Perhaps Islam is no more violent than Christianity — if she believes that, she should explain her reasoning. She made no effort to do so.
But she had an incredibly strong reaction to a fairly obvious observation about a truth that she chooses not to acknowledge. Since she couldn’t really argue that my observation was wrong, all she could do was talk about America’s history of immigration and so on, in an effort to lash out and change the subject to something on which she wasn’t obviously wrong. Her tactics were aggressive, but it made her seem weak, somehow.
In an invasion, the strength and determination of the invading force is important; so is the strength and determination of the defending force. But it doesn’t really matter what either one of those is in absolute terms — it’s the difference between the two that really matters.
I think Europe is being invaded, but I guess I’m really not sure. But I am fairly sure that Europeans really don’t care.
And that’s too bad.Published in