On Immigration, Swedish Press Circles the Wagons

Sweden’s establishment is sticking to its story: there are no issues with immigration. The country’s refugee policy is going swimmingly. When President Trump referred to Sweden’s problems with refugees in a speech, that country’s politicians and reporters closed ranks, pretending, absurdly, not to know what he was talking about.

So to learn what is going on in Sweden, you have to read between the lines. This story from The Local (“Sweden’s news in English”) is a good example. The headline tells us, “Stockholm venue suspends club nights due to repeated sexual assaults.”

A popular nightlife spot in Stockholm has put several of its club nights on hold following an increase in sexual assault, violence and thefts, the venue announced.

“We had an enormous amount of messages, particularly from female guests, who complained of sexual harassment and bad attitudes,” Ingmari Pagenkemper, Managing and Artistic Director at the Södra Teatern club on Södermalm, told The Local.

Security staff had regularly been ejecting people identified as gropers or troublemakers, she said – sometimes as many as 15 on a single night – but the combination of darkness, loud music, and a large venue occasionally made it difficult to identify those responsible.

Still, the people who run the club seem to have a pretty good idea of who is committing these crimes, even if they don’t want to inform us:

Only some of Södra Teatern’s club nights had been affected; the venue declined to specify which ones, and Pagenkemper said she didn’t know why certain events appeared to attract offenders. …

“For some reason, some nights with a certain kind of music attracted large groups of men who can’t behave themselves – I really don’t know why,” said Pagenkemper. “But it is unacceptable to have guests or staff feeling unsafe.”

What kind of music, one wonders. And who comprises these “large groups” of men?

“We are working on finding a solution that allows us to protect our guests while continuing to be an open, democratic, warm venue,” she explained.

“Democratic”? What does that mean? Why wouldn’t it be “democratic” to bounce men who grope women?

“We don’t want to reject people based on how they look or assumptions about what they might do.”

So, how do they look? What is she talking about? Why would someone make “assumptions about what they might do”? Who are “they”?

“We’re proud to offer such a diverse range of events and we welcome everyone – except those who can’t behave.”

There is that word–diverse! But what is Ms. Pagenkemper talking about? Is there some relationship between diversity and sexual assault?

Sexual assault in Sweden, particularly at concerts and festivals, has been thrust into the spotlight recently.

Swedish festivals saw high profile reports of sexual crimes last year, including at the popular Bråvalla festival in Norrköping, the Putte i Parken festival in Karlstad, and Stockholm youth music festival We Are Sthlm.

Women attending concerts and festivals have reported being assaulted by people who appear to be refugees or recent immigrants. But don’t worry. The Local won’t mention that inconvenient fact. The article closes on a typically defensive note:

Differences in the way sexual crimes are reported in different countries have led some right-wing factions in the UK and US to label Sweden as ‘the rape capital of the world’.

So crime statistics are explicitly politicized: only “right wing factions” point out that Sweden’s reported incidence of rape is unusually high. Official Swedish crime statistics put the rape rate at .00068 in 2016, compared with the U.S. rate of .00028 in 2015. (Both rates are computed as a percentage of the entire population, male and female, adult and child.) The U.S., like Sweden, broadened its definition of rape in 2013.

Some might say that Sweden has a sex crime problem. Or, more specifically, an immigration problem. But don’t tell Sweden’s politicians and reporters. They don’t want to hear about it.

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