The North’s Ugly Face

More than half of Oslo’s criminals are foreigners” (Aftenposten, 07/21/2010)

This seemingly informative piece of news hides more xenophobia and prejudice than can be guessed.

I truly admire Nordic artists and think many aspects of Scandinavian culture are to be admired, but there is one thing that I could never accept: their racism.

Historically, Nordic nations have almost always been quite apart from other places. Cultural interchange was small and very concentrated in specific periods of time. Apparently, it was not until the late 80’s that immigration really began.

As most Europeans, Scandinavians feel threatened by other cultures. It is like their country will disappear if different people come. Thus it is quite a temptation to blame foreigners (who are easily identifiable given Nordic ethnic homogeneity) for most problems faced in these countries. As if culture was something chrystalized and impermeable.

Chronic xenophobia is the ugliest side of the Nordic countries and, although they try to fight it through different measures, it is still to be felt.

Just like I did, years ago.

Not all as pretty as it seems

Photo by lovely Swedish photographer Anna Ådén. (Nice flickr too)

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