Tag Archives: diversity

Sweden: a failing state

Translation of this. Not very confident in it; I don’t speak Swedish.

There are now 55 residential areas in Sweden where the police cannot maintain law and order. The National Criminal Intelligence Section has identified the geographic areas where local criminal networks are considered to have a major negative impact on the surroundings. There are areas where confrontations among criminals can result in gunfire on the streets, where residents do not dare to testify and where the police are not welcome.

The report, A national survey of criminal networks with major impact in the local community(En nationell översikt av kriminella nätverk med stor påverkan i lokalsamhället), was published last week. It describes areas where unattended police cars are attacked,” where police officers will be “attacked” and where it is “common for police officers to be exposed to violence and threats.” Traders suffer from vandalism, burglary, robbery and extortion. Narcotics are sold openly, and although/even if (även om) the gangs do not control the territory, “there are checks on cars” as part of the struggle over the drug trade.

The police do not want to talk about these parallel societies, but in some areas residents are seeing that “the ordinary justice system has been partly eliminated“, while police note that a wider clientele turn to the criminal environment for rightskeeping.” The residents believe that it is the criminals who control the areas.”

The report covers famous places like Rinkeby (89.1% immigrant background) / Tensta (The open unemployment rate is 43.5% (2009) and the rate of people on social welfare is 40.2% (1999). In 1999 the employment rate was 44%. Immigrants make up 66% of the population and 95%-100% of the children in local schools are of foreign origin.) and Alby (a very high concentration of immigrants) / Fittja (contains the tallest minaret in Europe; 64.7% of the population is of non-Swedish origin, of which 25.1% are not Swedish citizens) in Stockholm, Bergsjön (Over 80 percent of students in Bergsjön have Swedish as a second language) and Biskopsgården in Gothenburg and Herrgården (Generally considered the worst part of Rosengård, 96% of the neighborhood’s population is of foreign background (67% born abroad and 29% born in Sweden to two immigrant parents). 47% of the population is 18 years and younger. The most common countries of origin include Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and Somalia. Just 15% of the population is employed. Herrgården is a social-democratic stronghold, with the Swedish Social Democratic Party garnering 82% of votes in the 2006 elections.) / Rosengård (In 2012, the figure for those of “immigrant background” was given as 86%.) in Malmö, but also Koppargården in Landskrona, Araby in Växjö and Brynäs in Gavle, to name just a few. In these 55 locations, the police have little power to curb crime. Police operations are greeted with stone-throwing, and investigations are difficult because people do not want to testify, if the crimes are even reported.

The police do not use the term no go”-zones. It is originally military slang for rebel-controlled areas. But the question is whether there is a clearer description of the places where the public, generally understands (allmänheten i flera fall uppfattar) that it is the criminals that control the areas” and where “the police are not able to operate.”

Police are talking about older gangs and younger: the former operate more professionally and are more structured, whereas the latter are loosely-connected networks, mayflies” that come and go in different configurations, where the common denominator is the social context and the geographical area“.

The established gangs which are held together by ethnicity, kinship or friendship(etnicitet, släktskap eller vänskapsband) can probably be countered with targeted efforts against organized crime, while the younger ones can hardly be reached without broad approaches in the local community. Police are now investigating whether there is overlap with what the government callsexclusion areas(utanförskapsområden; see here), to possibly identify socioeconomic and other factors behind the development.

And, of course, exclusion plays a role(Right, of course.) But it may be worth recalling that many so-called exclusion areas do not seem to have lapsed into lawlessness, and that the vast majority of people in isolation are victims, not perpetrators. The 55 identified areas need, first and foremost, safety and security. Only then can the fields evolve in a positive direction. We need a permanent police presence– well staffed police stations to remove criminals from the streets and to regain control of the areas.

The situation is not entirely hopeless, yet. “In most areas, after all, it is experienced that police officers can walk freely and patrol on foot without fear of being attacked.” (But it just said that police officers in these areas will be attacked!)


NYT on diversity, 1993

This is a central idea of the rape-crisis movement: that sex has become our tower of Babel. He doesn’t know what she wants (not to have sex) and she doesn’t know what he wants (to have sex) — until it’s too late. He speaks boyspeak and she speaks girlspeak and what comes out of all this verbal chaos is a lot of rapes. The theory of mixed signals and crossed stars has to do with more than gender politics. It comes in part, from the much-discussed diversity that has so radically shifted the social composition of the college class since the 50’s.

Take my own Harvard dorm: the Adams House dining hall is large, with high ceilings and dark paneling. It hasn’t changed much for generations. As soon as the students start milling around gathering salads, ice cream and coffee onto green trays, there are signs of change. There are students in jeans, flannel shirts, short skirts, girls in jackets, boys in bracelets, two pierced noses and lots of secondhand clothes.

Not so many years ago, this room was filled with boys in jackets and ties. Most of them were white, Christian and what we now call privileged. Students came from the same social milieu with the same social rules and it was assumed that everyone knew more or less how they were expected to behave with everyone else. Diversity and multiculturalism were unheard of, and if they had been, they would have been dirty words. With the shift in college environments, with the introduction of black kids, Asian kids, Jewish kids, kids from the wrong side of the tracks of nearly every railroad in the country, there was an accompanying anxiety about how people behave. When ivory tower meets melting pot, it causes tension, some confusion, some need for readjustment. In explaining the need for intensive “orientation” programs, including workshops on date rape, Columbia’s assistant dean for freshmen stated in an interview in The New York Times: “You can’t bring all these people together and say, ‘Now be one big happy community,’ without some sort of training. You can’t just throw together somebody from a small town in Texas and someone from New York City and someone from a conservative fundamentalist home in the Midwest and say, ‘Now without any sort of conversation, be best friends and get along and respect one another.’ ”

Catharine Stimpson, a University Professor at Rutgers and longtime advocate of women’s studies programs, once pointed out that it’s sometimes easier for people to talk about gender than to talk about class. “Miscommunication” is in some sense a word for the friction between the way we were and the way we are. Just as the idea that we speak different languages is connected to gender — the arrival of women in classrooms, in dorms and in offices — it is also connected to class.

When the Southern heiress goes out with the plumber’s son from the Bronx, when the kid from rural Arkansas goes out with a boy from Exeter, the anxiety is that they have different expectations. The dangerous “miscommunication” that recurs through the literature on date rape is a code word for difference in background. The rhetoric surrounding date rape and sexual harassment is in part a response to cultural mixing. The idea that men don’t know what women mean when women say no stems from something deeper and more complicated than feminist concerns with rape.


Abstracting away from the particular concerns of the article, there’s an important point here. Cultures come with implicit expectations that make communication easier; multiculturalism means these expectations can no longer be relied on. Communication becomes more opaque, more open to misunderstanding, with the loss of a library of known scripts and implications.

Compare mutual intelligibility: an American can easily understand the speech of another American, can understand with difficulty the speech of a New Zealander, can pick up a few words out of every sentence in Dutch, and can’t comprehend a single word of Pingelapese. But social scripts, implications, etc. vary much more than languages do: linguistic chaos would not arise if you threw a Southern heiress, a plumber’s son from the Bronx, a kid from rural Arkansas, and a boy from Exeter in the same room, but social chaos would.

(I notice that I don’t have the vocabulary to better express this. Are there existing terms for this sort of thing?)