The Truth About Sweden

"I often use Sweden as a deterring example."

The words are not those of Donald Trump, but Anders Fogh Rasmussen. In an interview with Swedish public television in January, the former NATO secretary general and Danish prime minister described Sweden's immigration policy as a failure and a warning to other countries. But it was President Trump's unclear and slightly confused reference to Sweden during his February 18 rally in Florida that has turned attention to the Scandinavian country of 10 million and the details of its migrant experience. Sweden has accepted more refugees per capita in recent years than any other country in Europe. "Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible," Trump said. Since then, Swedes have seen facts about their country, and many exaggerations and misconceptions, used as arguments in an American domestic debate.

But there are, in fact, good reasons for Americans to care about Sweden's problems. First, because Sweden's failure to integrate its immigrants, in line with Rasmussen's observation, carries lessons for other countries; second, because Swedish news reporting and public discourse on immigration and integration are restricted by taboos. Swedish journalists and public figures who have been outspoken about the problems—and transgressed what the Swedes call the "opinion corridor"—have risked being labeled xenophobes or racists.

This peculiarity of Swedish public discourse has often allowed politicians and public authorities to deny the problems caused by the country's migration and integration policies, without being seriously challenged. The Swedish foreign ministry, for instance, launched a PR campaign in response to the debate following Donald Trump's remarks about the country. Read more at The Weekly Standard

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