My visit to a suburb outside of Stockholm with an Australian tv-team has gone viral over the last days.
Update March 18:
Here is the trailer for the show that involved me and the visiting filmteam.
Inicially, the news that the team was attacked by local inhabitants was the main story, but then a second story emerged: that I was the evil guide that led them to their fate with one run-over foot, one broken lip and one loose tooth, quite a shock but caught on film which will be broadcast later.
Me being connected to the alternative news site Avpixlat made the Swedish mainstream media aware of something they did not want to happen, an international news team from Channel Nine in Sydney with cameras directed to one of the most densely immigrant populated areas in Sweden, the multicultural centre Rinkeby. But I was there as an individual commentator, not as a representative of Avpixlat.
This second story got the upper hand in Swedish media who could not care less about some Aussies being hit by young Somalis, but also in the Australian Sydney Morning Herald, who were keen to point out that I was not a part of the team (which I never stated):
”Channel Nine has denied partnering with a notorious Swedish anti-immigration activist during an ill-fated trip outside Stockholm in which a 60 Minutes crew was allegedly attacked by ‘masked men'”
The Australian journalist Peter Vincent, a National Music Editor, did not stop at that to demonize me as ”a notorius anti-immigration activist”, no no. He also produced a video made up of slander and accusations, where I am also ”a notorius right-wing activist”.
For a recent assessment of our debate on immigration, see Daily Mail
Where did music editor Peter Vincent get this nonsense from? Well, as I wrote above, while the rest of the world thought the story of the assualted team was the main news, in Sweden the main news was me guiding them there. So Peter Vincent was led by some colleagues of mine here in Sweden.
Here is an early twitter conversation between Peter Vincent and James Savage of the local news site TheLocal.se:
While James was twittering to the end of the world, my enemy Annika Hamrud was at it too, as she had been before when I arranged a gay rights march through that same suburb Rinkeby where the assualt was made:
If you read Swedish here is an assessment of her twittering. A quote from Peter Vincent is also interesting:
”Channel Nine confirmed its 60 Minutes team ran into trouble in Stockholm but only provided basic details. It did however say that news service Avpixlat’ report was ‘accurate’. Avpixlat is however well known in Sweden as a website that takes a strong anti-immigration stance in its coverage; several Swedish journalists contacted Fairfax directly to make this clear.”
And to go with that are Peter Vincent’s communication with the liberal tabloid Expressen and, incidentally, the state run Swedish television network SVT:
”Fairfax (of Sydney Morning Herald) has been contacted by several members of the Swedish press concerned over Sjunnesson’s involvement in a story about asylum seekers and immigration. One reporter for tabloid newspaper Expressen wrote that taking Sjunnesson’s guidance ‘would be like a Swedish crew coming to Australia and using Pauline Hanson as a fixer to cover immigration related issues.’
‘Avpixlat is not being taking seriously by established media in Sweden, as it is regarded as too extreme,’ he wrote.
Another reporter for public service broadcast network SVT said Avpixlat ‘is a far right-wing extremist site which only produces racist articles about refugees with the goal to stop immigration to Sweden completely’. She added that 60 Minutes ‘will not likely get a neutral and objective side of the story with [Sjunnesson], because his journalism is far from that.'” SMH
So Swedish government reporters spread the word across the globe whom to trust and not to trust here. Interesting.
This story confirms what the Canadian broadcaster Ezra Levant found during his visit last week (yes, we met but not one was hurt so the Swedish PC media did not get informed):
What Ezra Levant and Jeppe Juhl from Denmark pick at are the problems with immigration and islam, but also the media silence and akwardness around any criticism of the situation. The national media do not want any discussion about these topics, hence the rise of the alternative media such as Avpixlat where I work but also Fria Tider, NyheterIdag, Exponerat, Petterssons, Tobbes Mediablogg, Gatestone, Granskning Sverige, RLM to mention the most widely read.
This video of a fire department and its multicultural aspects is also relevant in this matter.
An introduction to Mr. Sjunnesson
This longwinded (and probably boring and egocentric, as this bio in Swedish is too) text below is a refutation of the misinterpretations of my person that appeared above by Swedish and Australian journalists, defemations that could be brought to court but I leave it at that. I just want to get these accusations out of my system and move on. Listen to this interview in English if you want the content but not the text.
None of what is presented below is a guarantee for me not being a nasty racist or whatever. I may be a gay advocate, Buddhist, ex-Marxist, literary, educationalist son-of-a-bitch. But it seems quite unlikely after you have gone through my bio.
I am not a right-wing activist. The movement I support is a part of a nationalist center-right position but not right-wing as such. The party Sweden Democrats which I support belong to the EU group with UKIP which makes it a decent party, see my review. In a Western political comparison, my and the SD position would be called sometimes left with regard to welfare issues and right regarding defense, immigration etc. But in Sweden this party is seen by the establishment as a threat, thus all the namecalling.
Personally I am more of a freethinker, a libertarian (a Rand Paul supporter) but mostly a contrarian. Formerly on the libertarian left, now in opposition as the left has taken to power. Liberty above all: Hayek and Hitchens, Scruton and Steyn. Mahabharata and Montaigne.. But most of all, the fellow antagonist and apostate of the middle class academic cultural left, Richard Rorty.
To want a lesser immigration does not make one a racist which is the common view from maintream media and politicians (for an exception, see my review of Collier’s Exodus). In Sweden where a strict politically correct culture reigns, this oppositional view leads to troubles, lost jobs and family ties, marginalisation and repressions from the establishment.
Brit grumpy ole man Pat Condell has something to say about my country in this regard:
You seen now why a critical attitude towards immigration is viewed as racist? If not, read these texts:
I wish that we could have a decent debate around immigration, islam and political correctness but as for now, name-calling is what anyone like me get in response.
Peter Vincent of Australian Sydney Morning Herald calls me a ”Holocaust denier” – about the worst you can call someone. I have never written anything about denying the Holocaust myself, but covered a book launch in Copenhagen before Christmas, which is where Peter Vincent might have misunderstood my Swedish, se my report.
The event was to present a book by Flemming Rose, cultural editor of Jyllands-Posten, and responsible for the publication of the Danish Mohammed cartoons in 2005. His book Hymn til Friheden (Hail to Freedom) mentioned the ban on denying the Holocaust by the EU, Germany and some other European states.
Flemming Rose’s argument against such a ban is that it is a slippery slope that can lead other, less democratic countries to ban what they do not want to hear. He mentioned Russia’s ban on writing about the Soviet role in WWII, Estonia’s similar ban, Turkey’s ban on Armenian genocide, France’s ban on the Turkish ban, Urkraine, Georgia and so on. All these bans may rely on the democratic European Union’s decision to ban anyone who want to deny the Holocaust, which is a temptation that autocrats such as Putin and Erdogan have taken to implement.
That is all what I have written on the Holocaust. About Jews and Israel, I have written a lot more:
I am a member of two pro-Jewish and Israeli associations in Stockholm so this defemation of me as an anti-semite does not apply.
Another issue mentioned above is my struggle for gay rights. I have been doing that more or less since late 1970s when I participated in the Castro Street Fair in San Franscisco, and wrote later about gay rights. Last year I organised a Pride Parade through the now infamous suburb Rinkeby which got viral:
Richard Dawkins’ tweeted
I can add that I was called an un-patriotic traitor by right-wing media for this initiative to support LGBT rights in an immigrant neighbourhood.
Before I was considered on the right I was on the left. As an activist, member of Vänstepartiet and theoretician, I wrote quite a lot. Here are a few samples:
Also, my Buddhist links can be mentioned. I call myself a non-practicing secular Buddhist. My writings have been few but along with meditation retreats and extensive reading, I do have some insights:
Seminar (cancelled due to pressures from leftists)
Educationalist, folk education teacher, school principal and teacher trainer – many roles within schools and higher education. See these links:
I have written six books. Two novels and in non-ficition. Three books are in English:
In the last book, I tell about myself in the afterword, which may be of interest to readers who have got this far. With this, I hope Peter Vincent in Sydney and his illwilled Swedish colleagues are less inclined to continue with their defamation, so I bid thee Adieu:
Afterword by an extreme Swede
I am extreme in Sweden, but normal abroad. Then how did I become extreme? At first I was like any normal Swede, which is extreme on a global scale but that is seldom acknowledged in Sweden. My development has gone in the opposite direction, towards the values and views of most people in the world, but this stand is considered extreme in Sweden.
How the story of modern Sweden came about has been my interest since youth. I wrote my graduation essay (specialarbete) at secondary school Lundellska in Uppsala in 1978 on the rise and fall of social democracy in Sweden. Two years before on 19 September 1976, I had been celebrating the fall of 44 years of social democratic party rule. The celebration took place at the Moderate party election night, but I was soon the leave center-right politics for leftist politics. The long reign of social democracy is unavoidable in any writings on Swedish 20th century politics and will be covered here along with other and deeper national roots to the successful welfare state.
For the next 25 years I was a left wing activist, elected and sometime writer. After finishing school in 1978, I worked at the left leaning Musikforum in Uppsala, joined the communist party VPK and started a study circle on Marx Das Kapital. Marxism was not the only influence as I was involved in anarchist and libertarian socialist groups. My early libertarian influences would keep me steady though, going from libertarian socialism to libertarianism by 2000.
Keeping to the ideals of the new left and counter culture, I wrote in small journals and magazines, but also in the regular leftwing press, as free-lance journalist and news reporter. I started a local monthly alternative magazine. When the left party needed a member of the board of culture in, I became an elected member of Uppsala municipality. My libertarian leanings led me to anarcho-syndicalism, autonomist Marxism, support for sex workers’ rights and harm reduction drug policies. The last two areas were not well liked by the regular left establishment. But I could not sustain a living and had to support a growing family and needed to work.
I had a BA in philosophy which was useless on the job market, but gave me the idea of continuing with graduate studies for a PhD. My supervisors were not interested in my fascination for subversive French thinkers like Foucault and Deleuze and I did what I could to be a pain in the ass for them and Uppsala University. Attempts to find compromises between their stand for analytical philosophy and logic and my post-structuralist and post-Marxist wilder ideas did not yield any results.
Academia and journalism did not pay off so I became an adult education teacher and graduated with a teachers’ diploma as folkhögskollärare. Folkhögskola is a residential community college for adults in need of a secondary education or wanting to expand their knowledge or skills in some particular field. Myself I had been to one for media studies and quite liked the idea of self-directed learning. Folkhögskolor and study circles are parts of Scandinavian civil society as an egalitarian and formerly rural alternative to academic and urban educational institutions. I worked for such schools for adults in Brunnsvik, Biskops-Arnö, Wik and Rinkeby. Later I quit the folk education career and shifted to teacher education and school leadership, but continued to follow my intellectual interests at home and abroad.
Europe was considered conservative and rigid from the more modern Swedish point of view after World War II. But I was eager to get to know more about something other than bland and insular socialist Sweden. The left leaning yet open minded publishers Bo Cavefors and Brutus Östling were helpful to bridge the gaps to continental Europe for me and other dissenting leftists. The American influence of Sweden is strong. I had spent 1975-1976 in high school in the Ozark Mountains, Arkansas, and another six months hitchhiking from the East coast to the West in 1979. Anything but Sweden. In 1982 I moved to Denmark, hung out with squatters and tried to support myself on free-lance writing but had to move back. Later I moved again but now with family to Switzerland for a year of child care, probably being the only house husband there. Then I moved to USA again in 1993 as graduate student at New School for Social Research in New York.
The stories of extreme Swedish policies and the many embarrassing scandals of domineering socialist party that will give readers a picture of Sweden as extreme in the following chapters are picked from media. But I have similar experiences from various work places and everyday life that give me enough confidence to say that Sweden is certainly a strange country. From the age of 13, I have worked along with construction workers in my father’s business and later as home help and orderly at old folks’ home and hospitals. Taking odd jobs as a young middle class man is common and I was no exception. The excruciatingly inhuman treatment of elderly that Polish born Swedish writer Maciej Zaremba talked about in the first chapter were common at elderly care homes where I used to work. Zaremba was shocked as he had seen better care in poor communist Poland but I had not.
My work as reporter at local newspapers and free-lance gave me access to ordinary people in small towns. Their country views were less extreme but often ridiculed by the priggish left leaning establishment in urban areas. But my most important experiences that drive the work behind this book are my years working with immigrant youth and adults. Nowhere are the Swedish extremes more visible than concerning immigration, with feminism and family life at shared second place.
As deputy principal of a primary school with 99 % children from immigrant families, I got many stories that would fill another book but here is a selection. The school did barely function with only 30 % of students getting grades in all subjects and another 50 % enough grades to continue to secondary school. Yet it was hailed as a leading model for multiculturalism from National Agency of Schools, the principal was awarded and visiting groups of teachers and staff from more white areas came regularly to watch all the brown students. A human zoo with fights and loud laughs, exotic beautiful creatures and lots of teenage energy and rage. Fun but wild. I was responsible for organizing teachers in 30 languages as the Swedish policy on secondary language learning demands good knowledge and thus teaching of the first language. Newcomers had to learn their own language upon arrival, sometimes also new non-Latin scripts which were mostly useless outside their former nations. When immigrant families protested and asked for more Swedish teaching instead of classes in their own languages, there was no possibility. Teaching of the family language is strongly enforced policy and granted by law, even if parents or students do not like it. I quite enjoyed speaking Hindi, Spanish, French and English with the hardworking immigrated and settled teachers of all these languages. The Somalis in particular.
As I received the new students I saw bright young people that behaved well, listened to the teachers and studied hard. After six months they had changed into normal Swedish students, albeit with the immigrant cultural twist at this particular school. Normal Swedish student behaviour means misbehaving, not paying attention to studies nor respecting adults. Not all did and girls were better students than boys. But the socialization process into Swedish extremes was apparent and should lead to more than shrugs and smiles as the former shy students started to walk in and out of class or shout loudly in the canteen. Swedish teachers are extremely accepting of bad behaviour and viewed the new students’ development as normal. I did not. At canteen, food was thrown at me and other teachers with little response. I got hit but could not see by whom and no one cared much either. Next episode was more troubling.
A 15 year old student of Somali origin that was known to be violent had accidentally broken a window in the girls’ bathroom. As he was seen, there was no denial. He was pushed into my office by his mentor, a special education teacher, as was the routine not to be alone with misbehaving students. I told him that the window would cost him $100 in repairs but he had the option to work a few days in the school during summer if there was no money at home. His family was on welfare, a single mother with 8 children. He looked straight into my face and spat. End of story and a police report of the window and the spitting. My superiors did not like to report the incident to the police, but I did anyway and had to appear in court. The young man grinned when he was sentenced to have weekly talks with the social services. He had had many such talks with little effect.
There would be more visits to courts, police stations and social services. One day a gang of 20-30 young thugs from rivaling immigrant dominated suburb Rinkeby attacked the school with chains, fists and metal bars. Windows were smashed, people hit and panic erupted before the police came. Some student in the school may have invited them to stir trouble, but the school wanted to keep quiet. So did all involved students at the school as no one dared to speak of what they had seen. There was an informal local order in Tensta demanding absolute loyalty that was higher than school management and laws.
The school had a system of ethnic groups that revealed a pecking order according to various influxes and generations. On top were the Turks, Kurds, Iranians and some Middle Eastern countries. Their parents had come in late 1970s to 1990s and ruled Tensta-Rinkeby suburbs for a generation, replacing the hard working South Europeans and well educated Latin Americans who had come since 1960s – 1970 for work and asylum. This group on the top had their own representatives employed at a café and leisure center in the middle of the school who spoke Arabic, Kurdish, Turkish and Persian. When a conflict arose between a student speaking any of these languages and management, the instruction was to use this staff as mediators. They did not have any formal training apart from primary school often at their own former countries, at best. The students who got caught or were suspected of theft, harassment or disturbance were supported by these café employees and conflicts were to be solved with no Swedish involved, although the students could be born in Sweden and with good speaking ability before the conflict. Sometimes a Qu’ran was used where the student put his hand to ensure telling the truth.
After such meetings stolen goods could appear, expensive jackets, phones, keys and bags but there was no mentioning from where. The staff would hand over what was given to them by young intermediaries who learned how to deal with conflicts and issues within their ethnic group and outside any laws. Since there was no registration of which students had actually stolen anything, neither family nor police or social services were involved. Only the café staff may know but kept quiet as the ties to the youth were more important than keeping to the rules, laws and informing family. Whether theft was done by same or new students was never known as no records were kept and no follow up possible. Loyalty to local informal ethnic networks was crucial to make it in this destitute suburb.
If students were not from any of these Middle Eastern groups, they had to go by the regular Swedish rules which involved talking Swedish and have other adults informed. Somalis in particular were a large minority that did not get any help from the café staff, rather the opposite. Swedish students were rare. Other ethnic groups were also subject to regular school procedures. In this way, segregation was imprinted every day at school; one kind of treatment for Middle Eastern students, another for other students and distantly, a third kind normal regular treatment in Swedish primary schools. 2 km away were schools with predominantly Swedish students that obeyed normal procedures and many immigrant parents put their children there as my school was the last resort with a very bad reputation. Teenagers from this school had a few years before gang raped the Swedish girl in nearby Rissne which was told earlier .
I worked also with unemployed young immigrants from same destitute area north of Stockholm, trying to get them interested in theatre and become social entrepreneurs but with little success. The Latin American theatre association I cooperated with was mainly a setup for channeling government funds for private purposes. Often despair and violence were used as an argument for getting more money, since without this theatre project according to this blackmail logic, the desperate young men and women would turn into criminals and cause trouble. Same reasoning was used at a secondary school where youth could study rap music for three years in a special arts program. I was deputy principal there and saw same kind but faulty logic. Without the rap music program they would turn into criminals, troublemakers or be unemployed. But after studying rap music they could not enter higher learning nor get a vocation and most probably not support themselves by rapping. Same logic was used for other studies such as skate board, basketball and floor ball. With these leisure oriented secondary school programs, students would not get anywhere. My argument would be that with these programs neither geared towards higher education, nor to vocations or a possible employment (demand for paid fulltime rappers and skaters is rare), students were fooled. Floor ball and skate are great activities after school, not during. I have stories of drug arrests, plastic bags with urine thrown from roof tops and much else. None of my experiences as school manager and for teachers in similar areas are exceptional.
My middle class upbringing that had led to leftist activism and rebellion was comfortable with three sisters, mother at home and hardworking father. My father came from meager background. His land labouring father was single with six children in southern Sweden. He was bright but was not allowed by his father to go further than 7th grade. My father got mad, went to sea and joined the military which gave him a short engineering diploma which he used for further private studies in construction and road coating. He started his own construction company and became a self-made man. My mother came from more business family origins and was a fiery woman who went to New York and San Francisco for two years as a maid. She had a Mediterranean temperament and was quite courageous, as when she went alone to Iraq in 1973 for two weeks, a single pale red headed lady. My family had been host family to foreign students in Uppsala, among them an Iraqi nuclear scientist working for the rising Saddam Hussein regime. He had invited my mother after his years with us in Sweden. She took him by his word, went visiting his family and was probably the only white red haired single female tourist in Bagdad. No visits at any nuclear plants though.
I have tried to leave Sweden at least six times but always come back. India has been the last destination as I have family there. In New Delhi, I was associate director of the School Choice campaign at Center for Civil Society, a liberal think tank trying to implement school vouchers and deregulate the Indian school system. With six years in USA, Denmark, Switzerland and India, I have gotten used to feeling normal in the rest of the world. Why I have such an ambivalent feeling for my country is because I feel extreme in Sweden, but normal outside. What is normal outside is considered extreme in Sweden. The country of extremes does not view itself as extreme but given all parameters as has been revealed, it is the most extreme country in the world in the sense of being extremely secular, rational, individualistic and paternalistic with radical egalitarian social policies supported by government and propagated by a left leaning media. Independent thought and expression in art, journalism, research and politics are discouraged and sometimes fought with violence by extra-parliamentary groups and activists who share same opinions as the left leaning media and political establishment.
Not only by standards from World Values Survey, but by all human measures and from all the extreme stories and scandals, is Sweden extreme. Only by acknowledging this and letting a million or more people migrate to Sweden will the nation become normal. Swedes are incapable to solve their problems as there is no self-awareness of being at fault. The patient is sick but does not notice. Psychiatrist David Eberhard gave the nation the medical diagnosis of panic syndrome. If Sweden was a patient, it would suffer from episodic paroxysmal anxiety due to its citizens’ incapability to cope with everyday frustrations, anxieties and small challenges. Other countries have citizens who live much harder lives with no such symptoms. I call these countries normal and would like Sweden to become one too.