April 30, 2004


I don't know exactly why reading this at Medienkritik triggered something in my mind, but it did. Back when I was in my Swedish class, our teacher was trying to briefly explain the Swedish political parties to us. She drew a sort of spectrum line on the board and put the various parties along the line from left to right. Someone in our class asked where our American Republican and Democrats would fall on the Swedish spectrum; our teacher put the Democrats on the far right edge of the spectrum and said that the Republicans would be located in the next room. We all laughed.

But it's something to keep in mind. There's no such thing as my sort of thinking in Europe. Well, there are some Americans Born Elsewhere, but for the most part, everyone is to the left of me. My Swedish friend just this year met the very first Swedish person in her life who supports the death penalty. The very first one she's ever met. She's 25. In contrast, we were making a sample outline in my ENGL class the other day, using the generic topic of the death penalty as a sample, and when I asked if they wanted to make the sample as for or against, they shouted For! in unison. No question in their minds. On questions of the government's role in health care and social programs, no one can touch how far right I go. There's just no such thing over here, at least not that I understand (correct me if I'm wrong.)

On a related tangent, Tim wrote the other day about patriotism and flag-pride in other countries. While living in France, we bought the same Swedish friend a Swedish flag patch to sew onto her bookbag. She wore it while she was in France, but she said that it was a little weird to sport it in Sweden. I can't say if she's representative of other Europeans, but I can't think of any other country -- besides flag-drenched Canada -- where the flag means so much.

Our flag means so much that people everywhere burn it. That says something.


Awesome. A blog in Sweden! With links to other blogs in Sweden. Fantastic -- now I have a way to prevent my Swedish from being completely eaten up by my pathetic German. I'm having tons of fun going through his posts -- did you know that Hans Blix participated in a WMD joke on a Swedish talk show that sounds quite similar to the scenario that Bush got ripped a new one for? Dude, he's so blogrolled.

By the way, he says that there are right-leaning folks in Sweden, but they are even deeper in the closet than I am.

Posted by Sarah at April 30, 2004 10:31 AM

Thanks for the compliment!

Interestingly, just yesterday I was told (by a German who had spent most of the last decade in LA) that I should move to Texas, as I would find many people with the same views as me there... Sounds like fun-plus I would finally be able to take Kim du Toit up on his offer of shooting lessons! :-)

Posted by: Dominic at April 30, 2004 11:00 AM

Luckily, you're wrong. There are a lot of sensible, individualist, right-wing thinkers in Socialist Sweden. It's just that freedom of expression is a joke - anyone brave (or stupid) enough to voice dissent is immediately ignored and looked upon with contempt. You either get in line or get shut out.

The flag thing is correct, though. If you display the flag everyone thinks you're a Nazi. Sick, but true. In Sweden, being openly proud of your country is not something you do.

Your Swedish teacher didn't get it. It's not that political parties here are that much more "to the left" of Reps and Dems, the problem is that they are all the same. They plot on a very small segment of the spectrum. Just an example: members of Parliament (the Riksdag) were asked who should be in the White House next term - 5 out of the 7 parties were 100% anti-Bush.

Posted by: Anders at April 30, 2004 02:02 PM

Flags: On Sunday mornings I am able to look down the busiest (re: businesses) street in our city because nobody is out that early. I feel a sense of pride each Sunday morning because I can see the flags all flapping in the breeze. I've lived in this city for 26 years and the view has never changed. Those flags have been flapping for all those years.

I guess I was kind of stunned when I read the article about other countries not displaying their flag. And then I thought about the 4th of July in the US. Our summer vacation is planned during the July 4th week so we can see what other cities do for the 4th. From small towns to large cities to National Parks I am never disappointed by the displays that are put on for the 4th.

The only other "country" I've been to is Canada, and really does that count as another country? I live in a Detroit Suburb, so Canada is just like another state to us because of the large amount of interaction we have with them. Canada's version of our 4th is July 1st, Canada Day. In Detroit we have a huge International Celebration with Ontario to celebrate both those days. I guess in looking at Canada and the pride they show for Canada day I assumed that all countries take that much pride in their countries.

Maybe that is what this is all about. The US takes great pride in our country and patriotism. Other countries see this as arrogance because they don't understand pride and patriotism for their country.

Posted by: Machelle at April 30, 2004 03:40 PM

But did you translate the German article yourself?!

Posted by: Mike at April 30, 2004 03:49 PM

I'm an American woman married to an ex-pat Swede. He's been in the US since about age 11, but speaks, reads, and writes in almost perfect Swedish still. Sweden is very much a part of his life. When we go to our cottages on "the island" in Sweden, we have never been made to feel badly about being American - or not fully Swedish. We even display an American flag quite prominently on our cottage. (And I must say it looks nice with the ever present 'barn red' that Swedes almost uniformly paint their cottages.) I don't know if it's because we are almost always there at Midsummer, but there are Swedish flags all over the place in people's homes and on Midsummer decorations. In fact, many Swedes love Tommy Hilfiger flag stuff and Polo sweaters, often in red, white, and blue, extremely preppy, and very American looking. The only time I have ever felt shocked by anti-American attitude in Sweden was when my mother-in-law called her friends in Sweden after 9-11 and some responded with "They (the USA) deserved it." Of course presuming that she doesn't now identify with both peoples, as she does. We were all offended and surprised, but...I know that not one of the people I know in Sweden would ever look me in the face and say those words because they adore me and they know that that attitude is only uttered in a mindless and unreal context. They are smart enough to never wish such violence on anyone and love this country deeply when it comes down to it- despite all of the noise you here. That's just one American girl's opinion...

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