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Swedes' perceived rudeness 'isn't racially motivated'

The Local · 29 Aug 2011, 13:53

Published: 29 Aug 2011 13:53 GMT+02:00

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On August 15th, The Local published an opinion article called: ‘We never had a single conversation with a Swede’.

Two weeks later the article has received more than 300 comments and has been shared on Facebook almost 600 times. So now that the dust has settled it is time for a more nuanced look at why this contribution sparked so many emotional reactions.

The contributor is Suhail Din, a UK native of Pakistani or Indian descent (given his reference to Punjabi). During his highly-anticipated holiday in Sweden, he and his family were shocked to find out that they did not manage to interact with the Swedish population.

Or to be more precise: that the population seemed not to interact with them.

The experience of the Din family is a classic example of problems in intercultural communication. In his contribution, Mr. Din makes assumptions that are based on cultural misunderstandings that consequently provoke strong emotional reactions amongst some of The Local's readers.

So let’s analyse what happened.

In the first half of his contribution Mr. Din goes to great lengths to compliment the Sweden's nature, population, and service-minded attitude. But just like in his real life experience, the article turns, at the sixth paragraph, when he starts to describe the uneasy feeling he and his family got after spending some time in the city.

He describes the stares of the people, the fact that people sitting at their table kept speaking in Swedish and the general disinterest of people to engage with them. So far it seems like not much more then relatively common big-city behaviour (compare it to the ‘arrogant’ Parisiens, New Yorkers, Amsterdammers etc.).

So why did his article spark so many reactions?

Although Mr. Din does not explicitly mention it, in several places he implies that there could be racial motives behind the behavior of Stockholm’s inhabitants:

“We could not understand why, as we dress as everyone else except that we are brown...”

“We were the only non-whites in the National Museum’s Atrium Restaurant...”

“In Newcastle a visitor is sure to receive a warm welcome,…, black white or brown, Chinese or South Asian...”

First of all the unpleasant feeling this must have given the Din family needs to be taken seriously. However, the feelings seems to have been fed by a lack of knowledge of and failure to understand the Swedish communication culture.

Since there was no other logical explanation for the (in their eyes) ‘rude’ behavior on the part of the Swedes, the only reasonable explanation left for the Din's is the conclusion that the way they were treated was because of the colour of their skin.

And that is where the spark ignites!

Besides the Swedish communication culture, which I’ll address below, Mr. Din should have been aware of the fact that implying racial motives and then expanding that to a whole society or population is very sensitive.

Especially in Sweden with it’s long standing tradition of human rights protection, emphasis on equality, as well as Swedes' tendency to display politically correct behavior. The recent rise of the extreme right on the political scene has made this topic even more sensitive as views become more polarized and the debate more heated.

Mr. Din also walks a fine line of sensitivity by referring to the Utøya tragedy and placing his feelings of anxiety in that context. Worldwide people were devastated by that event but outside Norway probably nowhere more then in Sweden.

The images were so similar, the system is so similar, and the people are so connected that for many Swedes it felt like an attack on their own society. Since that tragedy took place during the same weekend that the Din family was in Stockholm his feelings of ‘paranoia’ (as he describes it) can be understood.

Nobody knew how to react to those events. But to write that into the article, implying extreme right wing motives behind common big-city behaviour does not demonstrate a lot of understanding for the Swedish society.

Finally the Swedish communication culture.

It is a well-known fact that many foreigners find it difficult to engage with Swedes. From my personal experience as a Dutch native living in Stockholm, I can tell Mr. Din that it is not easy and that he was right picking up those signals. However, the motives behind this behaviour are often different and sometimes even nice and honorable.

An example: this summer I was grilling on the barbeque outside my apartment for four nights in a row. To my surprise all the neighbours looked, sometimes smiled, and then quickly walked on.

It was not until the last evening that one neighbour approached me and asked if he could put a korv (sausage) on the barbecue because his wife was not home and he did not feel like cooking. After talking to him I realised that what I mistook for unwillingness to engage (and even rude behavior) was actually my neighbours' way of respecting my privacy.

Respecting each others privacy is highly valued in Sweden. You do not stick your nose where it does not belong and do not interfere with the business of others (at least not openly). Obviously these strict boundaries make it more difficult for foreigners to ‘get in’. It is also very often considered rude by people coming from more communitarian societies such as those found in Asian or Latin American countries.

Story continues below…

Another example: when I go out for drinks, I am used to buying a round of drinks for the whole group. Someone else will take the next. But in Sweden one buys a drink for oneself and possibly the person you are talking with.

After a year I still have to remind myself that I am not rude in doing this, nor are others, but that it is just a different social convention. It is actually rude to my Swedish friends if I buy a round for the whole group because It puts them in the difficult position of either having to break the code or be rude to me.

It is also a common misconception that all Swedes communicate well in English. Although most Swedes know English well, that does not mean they are comfortable communicating in it. Try talking to your insurance company in English!

With regard to the Swedish language, it must be said that compared to the language of Shakespeare and Yeats, it is not very refined or courteous. Partially as a result of Sweden's emphasis on egalitarianism (as such, a noble principle) a lot of the polite forms have virtually disappeared. For instance, there is no polite way to start a letter or email. This is not a matter of disrespect but a different way of communicating.

My sincere belief is that what Mr. Din saw as possible racially motivated behavior was in fact a mix of capital-city-arrogance and cultural behavior.

Of course that is no excuse for being rude but with the assumptions Mr. Din made and his implicit racial references, it is no wonder the article sparked the reactions it did.

However I am sure that if his daughter proceeds with her plans to come to Stockholm she will find that although it does take a while to get to know the real Swedes they are just as nice, arrogant, loveable – and yes rude – as the rest of us.

Ruben Brunsveld is the Director of the Stockholm Institute for Public Speaking (StIPS), which offers training in Intercultural Communication, Public Speaking & Negotiation Techniques

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Your comments about this article

15:04 August 29, 2011 by Northshore
Well put sir! Somewhere in the responses to the original article is my query if these UK people had attempted even rusty tourist Swedish in the country of Sweden, or just expected that wherever they were, they would be greeted in their own language as well as on their own terms. Did they insist to pay with British pounds as well? It's more insulting when attempted in former colonies!
15:36 August 29, 2011 by Rick Methven
"It is a well-known fact that many foreigners find it difficult to engage with Swedes. From my personal experience as a Dutch native living in Stockholm, I can tell Mr. Din that it is not easy"

Being British and having lived in Holland for 6 years, I can tell Mr Brunsveld, that it is no easier in his country. Despite the ability to speak near fluent Dutch, the interaction with native Dutch people outside of the work place was very limited. In all that time, I had only one dinner invitation from a Dutch family, although I had regular dinner parties where Dutch guest where present. My self and a colleague who moved from Holland to Sweden to work, found that we where welcomed more by the Swedes than we had been by the Dutch.
16:02 August 29, 2011 by MoniqueAmber
Really well said!
16:19 August 29, 2011 by rise
Very nice follow up of the earlier article!
16:22 August 29, 2011 by sandeep
I wish this would have been the case but I must admit that though sometimes the issue is exactly what has been pictured in above article, many-a-times it is not and it is covertly racial since being a racist is "not cool" anymore. Also, I fail to understand that whenever Swedish communication is criticized for lack of open-ness to foreigners, they run to hide behing the privacy argument. Thats pretty lame to me. Openness need not necessarily mean invasion of privacy. It mostly means "willingness" to interact, which lacks severely in majority of population here. The glaring proof is the development of stockholm in ghettos where certain end of metro lines are ascribed to people belong to certain communities.

Even though Swedish education system has put great efforts (more than any other country as i have observed) to remove racial discrimination, it do exist. But most importantly, it exist "covertly". Modern swedish society find it uncomfortable to show its unwillingness to interact, but at the same time doing so is so-uncool. This conflicts finds an equilibrium in a covert behavior where despite being seemingly open, social interaction circle is quite closed. I guess this is what Mr. Din experienced.

The first step to cure this is to admit it. Then next step is to understand it. The understanding part will have to employ effort of both sides in the argument. Understanding of swedish way of life is a must for foreigners too. But i again fail to understand which swedish way of life prohibits interaction. I believe it has more to do with personality of subjects involved. After few drinks, when the guy relaxes a bit, its the same swede who was seemingly so shy to talk that he would be holding hands with you singing a rolling down the bar.

Criticism of swedish interaction should not be taken as ascribing swedish system to be inferior. The way of life in sweden is a function of climate, politics and history. But now sweden is part of a global village whose circumference might seem to challenge the neck of old customs and way of life and hence need to upgrade towards more interactive end. Its a slow process and it has already started. The conflicts like the ones reported by Mr. Din can be treated as indications of onset transformations.
16:36 August 29, 2011 by Nevermindwho
The racial motivations behind the manners of the Swedish general population (even if unawares) should not be discounted. My experience and those of many non-Caucasian Americans and Brits is that there IS a problem with Swedes (consciously or unconsciously) shunning us. Swedes generally have a problem with such notions as the existence of third-generationer Indians or Chinese in the UK. Such minorities are subject to stereotyping and very inappropriate behavior.*

The fact is that visitors of different ethnicities get treated differently.

THIS IS THE NORM: If an African-American is asked where they are from and they answer "USA," Swedes will keep asking "but where are you really from?" and will not rest until they hear "Africa." However, when a white American answers that they are "from the USA," they never get interrogated in the same manner, because Swedes subscribe (albeit unawares) to the idea of the Manifest Destiny of Anglo Saxons.

And it doesn't end there:

- If an African American finally includes "Africa" as part of their answer to placate these obtuse questions, they will get likely be asked, "do you know which part of Africa?" Swedes may habitually criticize Americans for their poor knowledge of geography, but Swedes are totally inept and apparently know nothing about the history of slavery and how offensive these questions might be.

- if an Asian (a total stranger they've just met) insists they are from England, they get asked, "so are you adopted then?"

*For example, I've seen Asians greeted with "Heeyah! Bruce Lee!" and have squinty eyes made at them by full grown adults who weren't inebriated - a good portion of Swedes actually believe it's alright to behave this way

17:36 August 29, 2011 by jacquelinee
I agree, many many Swedes are equally rude to pretty much everyone, so it isn't racial at all. Just general bad manners for a huge part of the swedish population (not all tho)
18:16 August 29, 2011 by lolly lap
Swedes are really racist and really very rude to Africans and Asians. Swedish Government and Swedish people talk too much about human rights and multiculturalism but in fact, they are not at all honest from their heart about this, they just wanna show the world that they are very noble and very kind.

Mr Din case is not the first case here, any immigrant from Asia and Africa will tell you the same story. if you go to market, looking for job, travelling in Sweden, go to bank, wanna buy some thing, searching an accommodation, studying in university etc you will face this racism and hate at every step.

Here in sweden, people dont say any thing on your face but from their heart, they really hate Asian and African immigrants.
18:21 August 29, 2011 by Frobobbles
I still believe it is all in those donny osmond haircuts. They scared people off.
19:00 August 29, 2011 by Tysknaden
Those horrible Swedes! All those immigrants have been Kings, once. After arrival in Sweden, they have been forced to live like slaves...

What's wrong with this country? Why isn't everything free?

Why not a daily hug for every migrant? What about the royal family? - All of them white! This is racismn! And this bulls...t with those long and dark wintertimes - it better ends right now!
19:43 August 29, 2011 by jamesblish
If my neighbor was having a barbecue I would never approach him like that. I'd feel as though I was entering his private sphere and that he, potentially, might be irritated.
19:56 August 29, 2011 by skatty
By the conclusion of "Stockholm Institute for Public Speaking" (where according to its own site, talking becomes speaking), the spoken true is that there is no racism in Sweden, and just a mix of capital-city-arrogance!

I don't buy it (I have lived here for long time); try to sell it to a brown or black tourist, and check if they are going to make a second trip to Sweden after their first one (after all money speaks)!
21:48 August 29, 2011 by jamesblish
skatty: Where in the article does it say that racism doesn't exist in Sweden?
22:39 August 29, 2011 by Mbach

I am a big, blonde, Nordic-looking person, and found that people were no less reticent with me when I was in Norway years back. It was only when they noticed that I could follow the language that they mistook me for someone of probable Nordic parentage and opened up a bit.

The moral of this being that it has nothing to do with race - it has to do with culture and their own discomfort with foreigners of all sorts, not just the 'colored' ones.

The difficulty of expressing oneself in another language can be a huge hurdle for people and one that makes them very uncomfortable. I speak several languages, but not fluently and when I'm not up to trying, I lapse into silence and even avoidance of conversation and anyone who may want to talk to me.

That's life. It's not all about race, though I'm sure some people will always jump to that conclusion.
22:55 August 29, 2011 by dizzymoe33
It was nice hearing/reading a different perspective about this article that was written. I too believe the family from the UK was just expecting too much and possibly being rude themselves by being so assertive in their behavior.
23:00 August 29, 2011 by skatty

Start with the title, and continue from the first line…!
23:06 August 29, 2011 by lovedealer76

please don't be rediculous!"But i again fail to understand which swedish way of life prohibits interaction.I believe it has more to do with personality of subjects involved"

Did you not read the previous article of this family in question? and it was well stated/pointed the poor communicative/interective norms that was pretty poor from the swedes.

And believe me or not,lets not dwell on the fact that is just a larger city behaviour cause i live in a very small swedish should i say county call soderhamn,just 45mins by train to gavle and believe me,communicative/interactive skills of the swedes is childish
23:13 August 29, 2011 by JaneL
Well said. Couldn't agree with this article more.
23:21 August 29, 2011 by sreemati
I completely agree with Mr Brunsveld. A well written article in response to the original article.

I am Indian, I have lived in UK for nearly 5 years and now moving to Sweden. I have met and known people from UK and Sweden.

The main issue is, Indian culture is more society based and everyone is expected to be part of everyone's business. In UK people are social based on which part of the country / area your are living in, for instance in London people are too busy to have a chat, whereas in Edinburgh you will be greeted by every soul in the street wishing you to have a great day. Whereas as pointed on in the above article Swedish culture is based on strong belief not to privy on other people's business.

Offering someone help in India is expected of you, for instance an olderlady or women would expect younger kids to get up and offer seat as they are elder to us.

In UK some people appreciate that we have manners, some become wary about some stranger offering help as if we have ulterior motive about offering a seat in bus whereas others (especially older men) find it offensive even if it looks like his frail legs are going to give up. It is hard to judge but as a matter of fact, I offer and let people decide if you wish to take the seat or not.

Whereas in Sweden, I know it is totally unacceptable.

We are all creature of our culture and traditions but the problem is expecting other people to understand and to abide by it even when we are in other people's country. This is the problem Mr Din had, if Mr Din had been living in Newcastle few centuries before now, then he would have had the same problem in UK as in Sweden because Sweden is not that exposed to multi-culturism as UK is.

I think we should respect other people traditions and culture as we do ours instead of making judgments about them. In today's global world, all you need to do is search for the local traditions online before your venture into their world so that you can learn to respect it whilst travelling to different places instead of feeling uncomfortable about it because you are unaware about it.

Someone wisely said, live in Rome as Roman do, I think we should extend to travel in Rome as Roman do and then we can avoid all these mis-understandings.

Finally, yes Swedish learn / know English but not all of them are not fluent and hence, they are not comfortable speaking in English as their first language. It is the same in Spain, Italy, France or any other countries you travel too. So why just complain about Swedes :)

They are the funniest, most welcoming and intelligent lots I have had the opportunity to meet. And if you do not understand intelligent sarcasm, please blame in on yourself then them, that's the best things about them. And yes they are not being racist, they can not help if you are from Asian or Africa or a blonde bimbo ;) We all like to Stereo type each other.
23:44 August 29, 2011 by RitaPita
PLEASE learn the difference between "thEn" and "thAn"!!

Although this is a great article, I keep cringing at your mistakes!

ThEn: When you describe an event that follows another in time.

EXAMPLE: The man accidentally fed chocolate to his dog, then tried to burry him in the back yard.

ThAn: Can be easily spotted by placing "rather" in front; "rather than". A comparison between two things/actions, generally contradictory.

EXAMPLE: The man decided to lie to his children about the dog's disappearance (rather) than to tell them the truth.
00:00 August 30, 2011 by sreemati
@Rita Pita, I am not sure whom you are referring to in your comments but if it is part of mine, thanks. Will remember next time :)

And I have been waiting for someone to add a comment to finish mine as it exceeded 3000 words, so double thanks ;)

And as for complaining about Swedes being racist, yes there are racist people everywhere in the world, in India, in UK or in Sweden but we should be careful not to type cast the whole population because of 1 / 2 experiences. In my personal experiences, I have faced more racism/ prejudice from Indians for being an independent, educated and strong headed Indian woman than from Brits, Scots or Swedes.

Can I complain that Indians are racist? Apparently me calling myself brown is racism.... so I am racist too: D. So probably not ;) Hopefully all my then's and than's are in right place, all though my commas are all over the place!!!
01:48 August 30, 2011 by jostein
"The images were so similar, the system is so similar, and the people are so connected that for many Swedes it felt like an attack on their own society."

Quite frankly, this is bs. There is almost no similarities between norway and sweden. We have a totally different history and we have totally different societies today. The ONLY real connection is that we as peoples are related.

So, when multiculturalists use the events in norway to gain political advantages in the debate in sweden they lean on an ethnonationalistic base. Because it is only because swedes and norwedgians are bloodrelatives that any of their comparisons can get traction. But then, minor details such as facts, analysis, truth, never bothered the multiculti crowd, their only interest is power and destruction.
02:38 August 30, 2011 by efm
Perspectives from an American way of thinking:

I think there are sev. issues here and let's not confuse them:

1. The tourist paid to come to Sweden and it is expected of him to demand good service, polite courteous greetings, prompt help if needed and if he is unhappy, he has all the right to call attention to it, and the Swedes should seriously look at it , if they want to improve Tourism.

2. The attitude from people in the street is "hideous" and although he can meet an anomaly, if it happens persistently, it speaks of something inherently wrong with the Swedish way of life, and it's so sad, that they fail to even acknowledge a fellow by as simple as a "Hi". We can speculate as to the reason, but the Swedes failed in basic elementary way of human contact.

3. The ridiculous excuse that it is the Swedish way or culture, does not fly

in this age of internationalism. Some people say Swedes are better when they are abroad? How come? It is nativism, & parochialism, When a Swede reacts to it saying: Love it or Leave it, it speaks that he or she does not understand, or hide behind the local ugly mores rather than to face what is so basic in human interaction.

OK, that's just from a midwest American perspective!
02:55 August 30, 2011 by Not Dumb
"The moral of this being that it has nothing to do with race - it has to do with culture and their own discomfort with foreigners of all sorts, not just the 'colored' ones."

Xenophobia is a form of "discomfort with foreigners of all sorts", and is also called 'främlingsfientlighet', meaning feeling that strangers are a sort of enemy. I won't mention that the Sverige Demokrats are often identified as a 'främlingsfientlig' party, nor cite the growing acceptance of parts of their beliefs across an increasingly broad spectrum here. However, to my mind the greatest tragedy is the denial of the ongoing societal currents in Sweden, and what they've meant, too many 'apologists' eager to help maintain the cherished illusion that enmity towards 'outsiders' is not a growing problem.

I hope that my memory is better than most, and not that a crucial fact was overlooked in the above article, but the good Mr. Din wrote that he was here in 2003 and loved it, thus was eager to come back. Given this, does Mr. Brunsveld really wish us to believe that Din's behaviour changed so much in the intervening years that his experience was so unpleasant, or is it just possible that for the same reasons as the Sverige Demokrats are in the Riksdag as of 2010, just maybe Sweden has changed, and not for the better.

I am a white 'utlänning' (foreigner), and have indeed encountered what I see as xenophobia here increasingly in recent years. I have no doubt that for those who look even less like native Swedes, the experience is worse. Of course, as someone earlier noted, one must admit a problem before one can begin to address it, and it does seem denial remains the order of the day.
03:16 August 30, 2011 by Greysuede
Swedes' perceived rudeness 'isn't racially motivated'

huh! if it is, why are you saying this Mr.

let Swedes speak their minds to us.
09:23 August 30, 2011 by Engelkott
"He describes the stares of the people, the fact that people sitting at their table kept speaking in Swedish and the general disinterest of people to engage with them."

Oooh, how rude of them to speak their native language in their own country.

* Apparently the word blood with a 'y' on the end is a profanity. Does this website have a context examiner?
09:35 August 30, 2011 by Céitinn
Why do people use the word racist instead of stereotype or discriminate? Laziness, that's why.

People just think everything is racist and when bandied around it loses the seriousness of the meaning. Go and look up what it means, oh I will help you out.

"Racist - a person who believes in racism, the doctrine that a certain human race is superior to any or all others."

So, does 'pulling squint eyes' or saying 'hello Bruce Lee' to an Asian make them racist? Oh course not. They may be making a stereotype, they may be making a fool of themselves but that does not mean they are a racist.

My best friend here in Sweden is Cuban, I have dated black women, have black friends so if I make a joke about dark skin I am a racist. That would mean I consider myself superior to them and/or are some kind of hater of dark skinned people.

Nice to know!
10:34 August 30, 2011 by cogito
"The ridiculous excuse that it is the Swedish way or culture, does not fly" @#23 efm: +1

Much nonsense in the this article. To take but one example: He excuses rudeness with the old "Respecting each others privacy." hypocrisy.

I know of no other people who regularly contact tax authorities in order to stick their noses into the finances of the Svensons next door. Or who report the neighbors' marital or non-marital arrangements to the authorities distributing benefits.

These busybodies are hardly "Respecting each others privacy."
11:35 August 30, 2011 by Streja
jostein, I beg to differ. It did feel like an attack on Sweden as well. Many Swedes have relatives in Norway and lots of friends. Everyone I know was heartbroken and I was worried about my family there.

It has nothing to do with some kind of multikulti agenda. It was all about expressing grief and showing our dear neighbours and siblings support.
12:27 August 30, 2011 by Jes
Swedish aloofness and the reluctance to talk to strangers is partially racial and cultural.

Racial -because most Swedes admitt that they are reluctant to talk to people from other cultures ( read races ) because they fear that they ( swedes ) might say something that could offend people who are not "swedish"

Cultural - because in Sweden doors in all homes open outwards ; while work desks in all Offices face the wall . ..... symbolic social psycological evidence that in Sweden , human interactions is not an automatic phenomenon like it is in other cultures
12:38 August 30, 2011 by Kibitz
Well., , I'm black,or afro-american, or african american. At the end of the day people are going to refer to you as to what ever they wish to. here, I commonly refer to my creed or color as " invisible " , hence that swedes almost always appear to to be looking through me, not at me. Since moving I have lived here in Sweden for over 7 years now, and can tell you from experience that by and large. Racism is not only tolerated within the culture here, but it is also a socially excepted behaivor to ignore it. The quick response to most when confronted about it or over whelming rude manners and behaivor is that it exist solely in small communities,not Stockholm.

I experience it all from the time I leave my home each day. And lets just clarify for most swedes that will quickly rebutal that my experiences are no different than any of theirs.

My wife often fends off the many questions as to my nationality and heritage.Where the most common part of this equasion for them is "when did I move here from Africa? And where did I learn english so good? Does the rest of my family live in Africa?

When I use public transportaon (SJ), for commuting to and from my job, swedish people will almost immediately change seats when they are seated next to me. , sometimes they will even choose to stand. Several times while riding a bus, I have offered my seat to a pregnant mother who odd as may be,became irriated at my offer and chose to stand until a swedish person later offered the exact same seat.

When I apply for jobs by submitting my CV, I receive questions that almost never have anything to do with my skills and education. They ask me if I was born and raised in Sweden., If my mother tongue is Swedish, even though the job is to be conducted 100% in english. When I go to interviews, jobs are mysteriously filled that same morning prior to me coming in. They specifically routinely ask me questions about what I do in my free time, looking for things that are commonly associated with a swedish people. I have been asked during my interview to describe my family, namely my swedish wife. This bit of word association seems to put many at ease.

I see the same faces year after year within the community, shopping, school,events, ect, and most will approach my wife and I, engage her in lengthly conversations, all the while never acknowledging my presence with even slightest of eye contacts.And yes, I can and can speak swedish.

On several occasions while out with my wife and friends, we have been confronted by locals that felt comfortable enough while hanging out with a group of friends, to call me a nigger, and then sing it in a song, all the while other swedes passing by would stop and laugh instead of being appaulld at their behavior.Later that evening patrons at the club approched me and said it was just kids being silly,not racial at all? .....ReallY?
13:51 August 30, 2011 by astrogenic
Whoever said Swedish people's reactions to the Indian family is part cultural, part racist is correct, I feel. Everyone has inertly racist tendencies, trying to suggest that "their" race is better than others. This boosting has an effect of raising confidence in one's mind especially if the person has not achieved highly in society. Black people, on the other hand, would then feel their race is better than others, because they are "THE" victims of racism from almost every imaginable race around the globe, including the Indians. I mean it is well known that Indians/Pakistanis are HUGELY racist towards Black people themselves, so that I have actually no idea why the Indian family in question finds it so strange that they themselves have faced racist attitudes from mainly white Swedish population. The daughters of Indian families will NEVER marry a black man with their parents' or their siblings'100% absolute blessing!!!

BUT, I feel it is necessary that we recognise the possibility that things could be different in FUTURE and that to label whole Swedish culture as racist would be unhelpful. What we must do is to find place to begin, to emphasis those parts of Swedish culture that can begin to be exploited for positive racial relations. And that place, I feel, is their egalitarian spirit and to suggest to Swedish people that their adorable quality of egalitarianism would be best served if this spirit would be applied not only to fellow Swedes, but to the peoples of other races.
14:47 August 30, 2011 by Frank Arbach
'Swedes' perceived rudeness 'isn't racially motivated'

No indeed - I agree with other posters here: the Swedes are just as rude to everyone
15:21 August 30, 2011 by lovedealer76
@ astrogenic

I totally agree with you on the fact that,indian/pakistanies are as races aswell,is an abomination for their children to marry a black person and it's abit strange when you get this complain from them.

I've lived in the UK for 5years and during these duration i get to realised how racist they are too but if your a rich black/white person then they will definately give their blessing to their children to marry that person,how odd is that?
15:32 August 30, 2011 by soultraveler3
Their rudeness isn't just because of race, although that doesn't help. Most Swedes don't feel comfortable around foreigners in general.

When they're drunk it may be fun to chat with an utlänningar for a bit but don't expect them to become friends with you or hire you. Even if you come here in a relationship with a Swede it's hard. After the novelty of a foreigner that's moved to Sweden wears off most people stop calling.

You can even try the Swedish thing of going to companies to look for work, that's what everyone says works best btw. People say they'll hire you and that they'll get back to you when they're ready for you to start working but they never do. When you go and ask them why you find out that they've hired a Swede even though you have 4 times the experience and a better education.

They like the world to believe that they're open, friendly and like to have people from other countries in Sweden but it's just not true.
17:13 August 30, 2011 by rise
One can hate people from all races and therefore clearly isn't a racist. :P
18:11 August 30, 2011 by jostein
11:35 August 30, 2011 by Streja

You argue that the blood-relation between the norwedgians and the swedes is relevant and makes the situation in norway relvant to the situation in sweden. That makes you a nazi-like racist on par with the national democrates, according to swedish terminology. Which was my point?

And if you say the multiculturalists havent squeezed the norwedgian madman for all the political juice they possibly could in the most tasteless and cynical manner, then you are blind and deaf. Or simply do not follow swedish debate. The bodies of the victims were not even cold yet before the multiculturalists started cashing in? Like for example the gazillion articles on newsmill or in all the other media.
18:31 August 30, 2011 by m4ria
The new improved hypocrisy by the swedish band The Radio Dept.
18:38 August 30, 2011 by jonathanjames61
Well said,Swedes are very nice people if you know them one on one,the only problem is they are socially shy and socially handicapped,Racist not rely, I call Swedes indoor champions if you can play with them,but generally they are very kind people,more honest than southern European, The only problems is that they are always afraid to make mistakes,about them being cold,well that must be the weather,you can Imagine how sunny Sundsvall was today and the next few months is very cold and dark ,that alone run me kuku,not only the Swedes.Hahahahhahahahahah
19:18 August 30, 2011 by Nevermindwho

You muddle the issues. A sense of humor or jokes shared between friends has absolutely nothing to do with the unwritten social contract that allows for Swedes to openly denigrate or offend perfect strangers of other ethnicities. Since we are referring to ignorance and stereotyping that is race-based, it is not only the precursor to racism, but already a fairly developed form of racism, even if unawares. Race-based ignorance and stereotyping that affords a license to such behaviors readily crosses over to other aspects of life such as job opportunities. Just check out @Kibitz' post. You can always try to sanitize and explain it away and call it xenophobia or nepotism, etc, but since this is all race-based, it is more or less racism, rooted in racism and borne of racism - even if Swedes are blind to it.
19:38 August 30, 2011 by efm
This topic has gotten a lot of traction bec. of a few surprising reactions from Swedes, immigrants, foreigners both whites and non whites.

1. It is unbelievable how a Swede can be "blind" and or defensive to the original poster. If it was in another English speaking country, the reaction would be.OK?

what can we do to correct the customer's comment, so it does not happen in the future! Here, it's like love it or go home! How crude!

2.This topic reignite what is happening to immigrants in Sweden, and the prejudice, hatred and rudeness they experience everyday. I still haven't read a Swede actually acknowledge that this exist, thus a first step to correct it.

3. What astonished me is the fact, that even white immigrants more or less experience that same rudeness and exclusion as others.

My conclusion: Sweden and it's people have a cultural problem and if they are not willing to take a step to correct it, why would the rest deal with them.

I'll visit another country, and to be honest, why will I even consider buying a

Volvo? if I knew it came from acceptably rude folks who marginalized other

people! I think I'll stay in America.
19:47 August 30, 2011 by Streja
jostein, to care more for your relatives or friends than someone you don't know in Pakistan is normal. It does not mean that you can't feel empathy towards people from Pakistan if horrible things happen to them.

Some of us actually have RELATIVES and friends in Norway. One of mine works a few minutes walk from where the bomb went off. It's not that strange to be upset considering the fact that we're neighbouring countries and lots of Swedes live there. You obvisouly don't feel a connection to Norway. Are you from Stockholm?

I feel that this is more something to do with you and your alienation to other people, be they Swedes or Norwegians. You're trying to find yourself or something in an ideology. You're trying to belong somewhere and feel that Sweden today is not for you. You live in your own bubble.

Come out. It's much nicer outside.
00:07 August 31, 2011 by lovebobu
bottom line: humans are naturally collective and those who are difference, there is always a racism.

but Swedes can not honestly say that they are races coz it's a social unacceptable same as they denied that they were pro-Nazi during the WW2




so i guess this article is another way of showing the world that it's a cultural differences not racism.
00:48 August 31, 2011 by Just_Kidding
@Kibitz: The reason that Swedes ask these questions from African Americans (e.x. when did you come here, which country in Africa.. .do you have relatives still there...) is that there is a big number of refugees from Sumalia and some other countries in Africa and many of them have relatives (e.x. wife or children) still left in Africa. On the other hand, In Swedish culture, as much as I know, people are forced to behave humble and they don't like to see others look good and really enjoy to see others desperate and in bad shape. Their soul would enjoy a lot more if they see you as a refugee that feeds of their taxes who lies and pretends to be an American, rather than seeing you as the citizen of the world's most powerful country. You should add to this the fact that a number of people from the third world countries introduce themselves Americans or Canadians and after few more questions their true identity is revealed... (they lay to pass through the "country of origin" filter that some people have when selecting their friends). When I first came to Sweden, on a coffee table the idiot of the office passed me a Mohammad cartoon that he drew on a piece of paper, and seeing that I don't care, stopped the conversation assuming that I was a coward that takes an offence and doesn't have the balls to put him in his place, rather than seeing me as the atheist that I am.

Iranian Atheist
01:37 August 31, 2011 by PonceDeLeon
Mr Din, I come from a long line of Dins. You might say I was Punjabi before Punjabi was cool. Let me also state some of my closest friends in Sweden are in fact Swedish.

You might try to be a little more understanding, as this article points out, Swedes are not racist, they just don't know any better. "Mal Educado," as we say in the olde country. Clearly you thought you were visiting a country with an enlightened population. After all we have all heard of the peceived great fairness in Sweden.

What a shame that the people did not live up to the hype. Try to remember that this is in fact a small country with a small and homogenous society. Keep your expectations low and you will never be disappointed. It is quite possible that they did not "see" you..
06:35 August 31, 2011 by cattie
While this article was well-thought out, and hit on some valid points, I cannot help but apply the journalistic maxim, "Consider the source"

This gentleman runs a business, a business whose bread and butter clients are Swedish businesses. He is wrote an effective PR article (on a hot topic) rationalizing and justifying Swedish manners and perceived racial stereotyping.

Who is his client? Himself? Is he attempting to develop more business by showing sympathy to his misunderstood potential Swedish clients? Or, is it some Swedish tourism organization, trying to do damage control by hiring a foreigner to defend the Swedish way? Who would benefit from trying to smooth over the multiculti debate?

I do agree with some of his points. In fact, weeks ago I posted on the Din article my observations about the Swedish ways of respecting self-suffciency and non-interference. However there is a strong rip-tide of denial of racism in Sweden among "open-minded" Swedes. Denial, or perhaps hypocrisy, depending on the individual.

I contend that less denial and some serious diversity training and called for in many sectors of public life in Sweden. Also, it would not hurt if there were some serious teeth in applying the laws of anti-discrimination in jobs and housing.

This little debate on the Local won't wake up the Swedish people to their collective denial. However, like any campaign of awareness, every individual reached is part reaching a critical mass of public opinion change.
07:29 August 31, 2011 by jostein
19:47 August 30, 2011 by Streja

Which ideology would that be?
08:40 August 31, 2011 by Maddeshusband
I think the original article was a hoax.

It must have been.

No one can be that stupid.
10:11 August 31, 2011 by Streja
The ideology that you once mentioned. I can't remember the name. But it revolves around national identity. You also once said that you sort of thought ND was ok but that their leader wasn't very good. I think you had your own term.

The ideology is not really important. You seek a belonging somewhere but haven't found it. To do that you need to distance yourself from others, especially foreigners, but inreality you are isolated from everyone.
10:53 August 31, 2011 by zooeden
Well written article, good examples, Mr. Din is being paranoid.
11:21 August 31, 2011 by rise
@ zooeden

"...Mr. Din is being paranoid."

Exactly. And for what reason would anyone even want to begin a conversation with him? Who does he think he is - some famous star?
11:47 August 31, 2011 by sreemati

In our part of the world, we are more curious about human nature and have perfectly normal friendly conversations even with Strangers.

It is epitome of Indian culture (irrespective of race, creed or caste) to welcome our guest with open hearts as taught by our ancient scriptures 'Atti Devo Bavo' i.e. Guest is equivalent to God. Hence, the expectations of anyone from Indian culture that people will generally try to have a conversation which is considered polite and welcoming (just like breaking ice) but it was wrong of Mr Din and his family to expect the same from any other country.

I am not taking sides with Mr. Din's false impression of Swedish society but clarifying that you do not have to be a celebrity to hold a normal conversation with strangers. And fortunately it is not only an Indian thing, in UK, we love to talk about our miserable weather, football and where to find the best place to eat fish & chips. Perfectly normal even in European countries to talk to stranger :) Like I say, you will never be sitting alone in a Scottish pub for more than 10 minutes!!! Unless its only you there which is highly unlikely to happen even at 10am in the morning. How I will miss a beer for breakfast sob sob :'(

Hope that helps.
12:12 August 31, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
Attention everybody:

A friend of mine just called to inform me that his posting privileges were suspended ´by The Local, because he wrote that Swedes live under a totalitarian government. And then we are discussing about censorship, freedom of speech, etc. This is one of the best examples of The Local's hypocrisy, whether they like it or not.
14:48 August 31, 2011 by Jes
Attention J.L. Belmar :

your friend lied if he/she reported to you that the only reason his/ her comment was rejected was because he/she wrote that Swedes live under a totalitarian government.

You kind of flatter The Local if you insinuate that they can go as far as " censoring" frippery comments .
15:20 August 31, 2011 by cogito
@J.L. Belmar,

There is a frequent poster who has often implied influence with a Moderator and that he can get posters censored or banned. He is also known to resent the type of post your friend says caused his banishment

It would be helpful to know exactly what your friend wrote.

Sweden is not quite as totalitarian as it used to be.

Let's see if this post stands.
18:47 August 31, 2011 by jostein
10:11 August 31, 2011 by Streja

Hm, you mean liberalism? Or lojalty to me and mine? Dont you think the person with a weak ego and that needs some ideology or other as a crutch for said weak ego would trumpet the name of whatever ideology loud for all to hear? Dont you think ideological people imagine their ideology have answers for any problem? In my experience, thats what people that become assimilated by their ideology do.

On another tack, im just curious, in your opinion, do you think a person can be terribly condescending without being terribly arrogant? Or does one follow from the other?
19:46 August 31, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
@jes and @cogito

I know how The Local reacts, so I do believe my friend. I have seen posters that really made "potatismos" out of the Swedes that were not even touched and I have seen others deleted for frippery comments. I believe that everything is seen by different "moderators" at The Local, almost in the same way that many times we read very poorly written articles in spite of the defence of the language made by Editor Mr. James Savage when he wrote us that The Local had only English speaking natives in its staff.

I have seen at least 9 complaints of posters asking why their comment was deleted and I have seen the comeback of those posters in 6 occasions.

My warning was just that: a warning. Now I ask. Why don't we stick to the subject of the news instead of trying to show how clever, wise, shrewd; sharp and witty we are? Just wondering.
22:40 August 31, 2011 by jostein
I mean, words. What are they? A light vihichle of control and power, no? Being a primary school teacher this analogy must feel particularly relevant to you? I mean, whhat chance does a lonely child have to stand up to the propaganda handed to You by the hand of the state? To me, to make a professsion out of preying on the halpless and the innocient on behalf of the strong and the arrogant and the powerfrull, well, it seems less than honourable. To me. But my perspective is limited. Maybe you find such atrocoities noble?
10:31 September 1, 2011 by rise
@ sreemati

"In our part of the world, we are more curious about human nature and have perfectly normal friendly conversations even with Strangers."

In fact that sounds like Sweden as well. If you're in the right part of Sweden that is! I think no country nor its people are behaving as black or white as the previous article described. It is hardly as easy as to just say "Swedes are this" or "French are that".

Very simply put: in Stockholm nobody is talking to anybody, may it be a Swede or no Swede. In my rather small home town everyone is talking to everyone - Swede, foreigner or stranger doesn't matter that much.

Now what did Mr Din really expect? That people seeing him would shout "look, a stranger, Let us all go and talk to him, we just have to! And let's give him a warm hug too!!" I hope he some day realizes that the universe isn't circling around him alone.

P.S. Is Mr Din short for Mr Ding Dong..?
11:10 September 1, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
Let's go back to the title of this news: "Swedes' perceived rudeness 'isn't racially motivated'"

In my 24 years of experience in Sweden, I can assure that Swedes' perceived rudeness is racially motivated plus the fact thet they lack proper education.

Oops! Hope I do not violate any of the 1,000 The Local regulations.
11:26 September 1, 2011 by Jes
Good advice .Mr. J.L.Belmar !

We should stick to the subject of the news instead of greiving over the one that got away .

Your friend should just change the word " totalitian" to "paranoid" ; I am sure his/her comment will come in.

Ta !
11:31 September 1, 2011 by foreverblue
As a white American living in Sweden, I can't understand why people are so aggressive while standing in line. It's as though they believe if they aren't stepping on your heels, someone till take their spot. There's no way this has anything to do with racism or the long winters (see: Canada), its just plain passive aggression. It must be a cultural tradition of not teaching children manners. And it's like a disease; even if you have respect for other people and their space, given enough time dealing with aggressive Swedes you too will feel the need to act like them, or get ran over constantly. I see this both in Stockholm and small cities in the north.
12:12 September 1, 2011 by Jes
It is not "aggression " but a " me-first " mentality that is , unfortunately ,part of the culture in Sweden. Even when there is a long queue and a new dest / counter is opened , the ones who notice it first will rush in like it was a race No one seems to be aware that it is a sign of good manners to let the ones infront change lanes first if they wish .
12:17 September 1, 2011 by Kibitz
At the end of the day,I feel that the reason for xenophobia here in Sweden exist simply because many Swedes find themselves unable to except others as equals. It's to break century,upon century old habits.
13:14 September 1, 2011 by Anglosaxon123
All the Swedish people I have ever met appear totally depressed and unhappy. It's as though they have got raw lemon juice on their tongues.

Please Sweden, stop being so miserable and sour-faced. A smile costs NOTHING :)
15:00 September 1, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
To foreverblue, jes, anglosaxon and others. Welcome to Sweden. Welcome to reality where manners do not count and where words like "thank you", "excuse me" and others do not exist in the dictionary. Where, as Jes stated, the "me first, me second and me third" attitude is the common denominator; where if they do not treat you with disdain, they are not happy; where looking at you like if you were an alien, is their way of showing superiority; where pushing you, is a sign of greatness; where taking your parking place marked for handicappers, is a common denominator and where eating properly, belongs to third developed countries; where not shouting, is a sign of weakness and where being an arrogant is the most wonderful trait a human being can have.

24 years in Sweden makes me a sort of an expert. Don't you agree?
15:11 September 1, 2011 by nuke
So Swedes are not abnormally rude or racist?

Well, I have a friend who married a man from Nigeria. He works for a building contractor and has for the past two years been faced with comments from his co-workers, such as "Is there a Nigger around looking for something to do?" Or, when he wants to speak to two others who are talking, "Can't you see that there are two Whites talking here?"

Don't tell me that Swedes are as rude as everyone else. If this were true, then how come I am not the only one to have been shouted at as a result of offering my seat on a bus (and NOT in Stockholm, but in smaller towns)?
18:28 September 1, 2011 by Rachel Helling
I have been living in Sweden for over 27 years, in my experience, Swedes are quite "reserved" compared to a lot of countries. Reason? i don´t know, just know for a fact that as a foreigner, YOU have to take the first step, if you do manage that, then the colour of your skin doesn´t really matter, you´d be amazed by their friendliness, they could even be the very best, reliable friends you could have, (I am speaking based on my experience)

Every persons experience is individual, how we (swede or no swede) interact ALSO depends on how we are as a person. We SHOULDN`T judge people based on one´s experience, as we expect the Swedes or any other countries to do the same.

During those years that I have lived in Sweden, I must say that I have only had 2 negative experiences (that I can remember) with the Swedes. There are racists in every part of this lovely world of ours, including Sweden and even Asia. In Asia, people smile and talk (sometimes way too much) but that´s because of the fact that most of Asian countries live on tourism and we were made to believe that "white men have loads of money".

Most of my friends (real friends) are Swedes and I have always been treated with respect. I therefore feel it´s unfair for anyone to accuse the whole country as racists based on this familys experience. Have I also got the right to accuse the whole population of UK, Australia, Holland etc. as prejudists just because of the fact that some english, australians, dutch people etc presumed that I was a mail order bride from Asia during my visit there?
19:40 September 1, 2011 by JAMessersmith

I live in Los Angeles, born and raised, and no one, NO ONE, ever says hi to strangers when walking down the street. That may happen in small Midwestern or Southern towns, where everyone knows each other, but not in big cities like Los Angeles. Oftentimes, if a stranger is greeted with a casual "hi", they'll look at you like you're some kind of weirdo.
05:13 September 2, 2011 by trevzns
Swedish propaganda.
05:35 September 2, 2011 by arbeitsbiene3

@ Nevermindwho

@ lolly lap

For many Africans and African descendants, there are no illusions or concepts regarding who or where Africans originated.

Africa and Africans have been here long before the concept of the Caucasians. The term Caucasian is a concept developed by a German named, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach. The race Caucasian - Caucasoid is not a race or culture.

The peoples of the Caucasoid race concept are classified from:

The Horn of Africa, North Africa, Europe, and Western Asia…Turkey, Iran, Jordan Iraq, Armenia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and South Asia…India.

Most native Scandinavians are of Germanic heritage and European culture and not to mention German language and heritage.

The U.S.A. is and always has been a multicultural Nation from day one of Native American Indians, Africans, Mexicans, Asians and Europeans.
10:35 September 2, 2011 by Nevermindwho
@arbeitsbiene3: You are preaching to the choir!
12:25 September 2, 2011 by Monitor Lizard
Non-issue anyway.

Don't care a whit if that other guy didn't like his family's experience in Sweden. If he didn't like it then NEVER COME BACK, and don't let the door hit you on the backside on the way out. Sweden doesn't need him or his family anyway.

In fact he should NEVER come back, and SHOULD be shunned even if he did, for complaining about Sweden in such a public way. Screw him and the horse he rode in on.

No need to feel any guilt whatsoever Sweden if that guy didn't like his experience in Sweden. He's a whiner crybaby who isn't worth a second thought.
13:44 September 2, 2011 by Streja
jostein, I said that the ideology does not matter. You go around this forum posting things that are nationalistic and you say that you don't like multiculturalism. Do you think that is something unique? Do you think that is any different to ND or Le Pen or whatever nationalist party you pick?

What I meant when I said that the ideology does not matter is that you could have picked any. You are clearly not happy about Sweden as you say it is dead. I can assure you that it is not as I live in and am involved in Swedish society. You are alone and that makes me sad because you seem to be a very nice person.
16:34 September 2, 2011 by Kibitz
Monitor Lizard,

I would say that your last comment says much more about more about you than Mr. Din. In fact,for such an " Non-issue any"

one might say that your hostile response completely epitomizes the issue in the on going dialogue.
16:54 September 2, 2011 by tadchem
An excellent analysis, Mr. Brunsfeld. As a Texan I have often encountered the same apparent 'rudeness' arising from cultural barriers, and I have never even been outside the US. My friendly "Howdy" greeting to strangers marks me as an outsider everywhere east of the Mississippi River and west of the Rocky Mountains.

Being the outsider is uncomfortable at first - it just takes some time to get used to it. Don't blame everyone else, though. That will only mark *you* as selfish and arrogant.
00:24 September 3, 2011 by David Kemp
Having had many holidays in Sweden, where my British son lives and works, we love it. We just accept that people are not as openly sociable as they are at home, where we talk to everyone, pop into one another's houses and socialise constantly, but we live in the far North of England in a riot-free idyll. Stockholm, like most capital cities is far different. Nobody talks to strangers in London, or even to their neighbours. This does not explain why Swedes are rude though. Shyness or reserve is one thing; but there is no excuse for bad manners. We were always taught 'that it costs nothing to be polite'. Is there no such tradition in Sweden?
00:49 September 3, 2011 by Room for Rent
Iam a south asian and living here in stockholm , I find mostly immigrants are rassist , (That doesnt mean swedes are not) men depends on mostly certain working class swedes are rassist, older generation and also few younger generation who is college drop outs mostly, and same time swedish politics also contributes something for rassism. (that means poor invandring politics)

Generaly Iam happy here because if you are genuine you always can succeed, honestly. you get help from swedes. This is my exp.
13:18 September 3, 2011 by lahlily
@ efm who wrote: "Swedes failed in basic elementary way of human contact"

I agree. I do not think what happened to Mr. Din and his family was racially motivated. Of course, there are racists in Sweden - as everywhere - but in general I find the Swedes to be quite rude to everyone in a public setting... I do not buy the "Swedish respect of privacy" bit... come on, I have never been pushed, bumped into, had so many doors slammed in my face, completely ignored, etc in my life than when in Sweden.

I am from the US. I lived in Sweden from 98-2009. I spent one of those years in Scotland. I am married to a Swede. Now I live in France, on the border of Switzerland, where by the way, I am always politely greeted, wished well, my children are commented on for being adorable, children passing me always say "bonjour", doors are held open for me and people out in a public setting are in general quite polite. And I should add, because I can hear the mumbling about the rude French that even in Paris, in general, they are very polite.

When I had guests come for a visit in Sweden, they always asked or commented on the Swedish display of rude behavior. In the beginning I made excuses for such behavior, "They are private, they are shy, etc." and over time I have come to take it at face value. In general, in public, Swedes are quite rude. They have not been taught as children polite societal etiquette and IT SHOWS.

And I am tired of hearing the "big capital city" excuse. Yes, Stockholm is a capital BUT come on, a capital with a population of less than 2million people. Do you know how many cities in the world boast a population of more than 2 million people. Yes, you will probably be ignored in Los Angeles, CA for the most part, (however, even in the big city of NYC, I was treated with general politeness) but come on, quit making excuses for something so basic as being kind to the people around us.

The other excuse I have heard for Swedish rudeness: it is a cold country. Oh yes, if someone is cold then they do not have to be polite. Or rather, the Swedes spend so much time indoors due to the weather that they do not know how to behave once out of doors around other people. This just does not make any sense to me. I do not buy it.

Yes of course, once "we-get-to-a-know-a-Swede, then-they-are-so-polite" but I think how someone behaves to those around them that they do not know, speaks more on the character of a person.
17:48 September 3, 2011 by StuartM
I haven't really noticed any open racism in Sweden and have found most Swedes quite friendly and welcoming since I moved here several weeks ago. Most people talk to me first in Swedish but then when they notice I'm not a native speaker they seem happy to switch to English. From what I've seen I wouldn't say the Swedes are any ruder than people in Scotland where I come from even if they're generally a bit quieter and more reserved (which kind of suits me as I'm the same). To make friends it's of course probably good to have some kind of common interest like politics for example.

The bigger problem in Sweden is a hidden racism which makes it harder for foreigners to get a job and contributes to them feeling isolated from Swedish society. But then I've spoken to Swedes who have been looking for work for several years without any success so it's not just foreigners who suffer in that respect. When I finish my studies I assume I will have to go home after a few months as I don't see any likelihood of the jobs situation improving drastically over the next 2 years which is how long my course lasts.
23:01 September 3, 2011 by Tavo
Could it be that Mr. Din has an ego problem that has surfaced when he didn't get the attention he thinks he's entitled to?... and in ENGLISH, mind you.

I feel that there is no need to explain or justify the behavior of Stockholm's citizens for, besides being polite, they have no obligation to socialize with people they don't know, much less if there is a language gap.

Why should they apologize for not wanting to have anything with Mr. Din and his family? Can you imagine a Swede complaining that he was ignored by a Brit of Pakistani origin in London? That they didn't speak to him... in Swedish??

Do you think the 'egalitarians' would back him with the same enthusiasm as they criticize Stockholm citizens?

as the saying goes: When in Rome, do as Romans do...
11:23 September 4, 2011 by Kibitz
While some of you are busy taking the offensive stance. It bares in mind the interpetation of being " civil ". While many swedes would argue that politeness,friendly and civil are all the same, there are those( my self included)that disagree wholeheartedly. It is quite clear from the comments of those that resent Mr. Dins letter. It is also undeniable clear that from this group, that they feel under no cetain terms do they have an obligation to treat their fellow man, whether from Sweden, Rome, India or any other place for that matter with even the simplest of common denency.Here in sweden the approach to most situations that may create conflict is usually the civil route. Which in many cases is to agree to disagree without resolve.,and that is what we have here.

In truth this social imbalance has created a society of " incivility".personal attacks, rudeness, disrespectful comments, and aggressive behavior. And as long as people have no respect for their fellow man, you cannot have a peaceful coexistence. This topic has received a great deal of attention throughout many internet communities, maybe this is a good a place to actually make a little progress.
11:50 September 5, 2011 by RitaPita
@sreemati: Nope, I was referring to the article itself - to the author of this text.
13:13 September 5, 2011 by Not Dumb
"We legal and law-abiding immigrants just wanna be treated like human beings, we don't need to be greeted, kissed, or hugged everywhere let alone be called kings in derision. But unpleasant-obstrusive inquiries, remarks and racist behaviours such as ones you described and we've experienced personally demonstrate there is much yet to see about "respecting privacy" tradition, about human rights (universal human rights say human has right to move on earth to live as long as not destroying the structure that uphold the human rights themselves), "equality" ( I don't see any equality in all the gestures, derisions and obstrusive racial questions that serve only to emphasize on differences, in order to remind you always that you are of other "species", not your "habitat" here, followed by keywords like "preservation", racial "purity", and so on). "

As a white 'utlänning' (foreigner) that's lived here about 15 years, I can say the above remarks are sadly accurate in describing the 'not quite human' status that those of foreign origins have in Sweden. What is not said is that while this is deeply offensive on the personal level (and part of the problem is that ONE IS EXPECTED TO POLITELY ACCEPT THE WORST OF DISCRIMINATION AND ABUSE), on the levels where one encounters such things in the business or official communities it can have truly devastating impact, a big part of that being the legal recourse which exists on paper, but NOT IN FACT.

I would like to believe that Sweden has not always been this way, that the country I had come to love when I fist arrived has indeed changed. Given the recent rise of the Swedish Democrats, there is even some hope that I'm correct in this...but whether the reality is that I was naive when I arrived, or the last years have seen 'an ugly madness' develop here, remains to be seen.
15:28 September 6, 2011 by Stopbeingsuchawuss
Wow you people (comments) are judgmental of us Swedes. Its true we dont like to interact with people we randomly meet on the buss, its true we respect eachothers privacy.

We are not however incapable of socializing, we're pretty good at it in fact. Just dont come and rub yourself on our faces uninvited. Once you get to know a swede, we're just as crazy as you americans on spring break. Its just we are reservetive to whom we want as friends, you could say.

Now stop reading these propaganda articles, grab a drink, grow some balls and then you might actually get somewhere with your limited socializing skills. Yes, your image of us being socially handicapped is an illusion, our culture learns us how to read people better, ever thought it might just be your awkward expectations or your social codes that makes you feel vulnerable?

I am actually laughing at most of the comments. PS. L2 not judge people (or countries for that matter) based on your opinion.
17:43 September 6, 2011 by gherhardt
Ruben Brunsveld is only half correct. We all carry ourselves with an awareness of the differences in the color of our skin and hair. Many of us are also aware of a great difference in behaviours and cultural differences. Let's not call it racism, but lets agree that we operate in such a world.

It is only my opinion, but I believe that many of the experiences that the U.K. Sikh family went through were because of Swedes' innate reaction to treat others with suspicion and mistrust, as much as a desire to respect other's privacy.

I've been married to a beautiful brown-skinned woman for 20 years, and even I get caught in such thoughts and attitudes about those who look different to myself.

Prejudice has not been purged from our minds; perhaps it never will be.
19:34 September 6, 2011 by Kibitz

Dude,.... ... ..Really? I can hardly keep my composure while I read your post. It's almost like you forgot that many of us do actually live here amongst all of you already.

What you wrote sounded like a marketing promo for Migrationsverket. I mean it sounds like you are the one that is reading and believing all the propoganda. Have you been outside your front door lately?

Also, I would go as far as to say that,if the citizens of sweden need to throw back a few and get wasted,in order to feel comfortable engough around us immigrants, maybe the social problems here are worst than we initially thought, because that's just sad.

Just to be clear, being bladantly rude, having bad manners,and being unsociable in most societies is normally unexceptable behavior.

I am an American,I speak to all those that are approachable in sweden, I smile, and show courtesy...... which is very few,and I dont need a drink. LOL!

I think a man should walk a mile in another mans shoes before casting doubt and assumptions. You read and write english really well, but you unfortunately do not understand where most of us are coming from.
21:52 September 6, 2011 by Stopbeingsuchawuss

Propaganda. Stop it.

We smile too, just not for no reason. We are polite, we swedes just generally respect people around us without having to show a smiley face or say hey.

It's that simple.
03:30 September 7, 2011 by Not Dumb
Stopbeingsuchawuss (I won't ask if your user name itself suggests a certain rude arrogance, but I'm 'Not Dumb')

Excuse me 'Stopbeingsuchawuss', but 'JL Belmar' earlier observed: To foreverblue, jes, anglosaxon and others. Welcome to Sweden. Welcome to reality where manners do not count and where words like "thank you", "excuse me" and others do not exist in the dictionary. Where, as Jes stated, the "me first, me second and me third" attitude is the common denominator; where if they do not treat you with disdain, they are not happy; where looking at you like if you were an alien, is their way of showing superiority; where pushing you, is a sign of greatness; where taking your parking place marked for handicappers, is a common denominator and where eating properly, belongs to third developed countries; where not shouting, is a sign of weakness and where being an arrogant is the most wonderful trait a human being can have.

As 'Kibitz' added, we do live here, some of us for quite a few years, with Belmar claiming 24 years, myself about 15. The reason I quoted 'J L' was that there seems an unspoken and perhaps even unrealized belief among many born here that they are indeed superior to anyone that is not, and thus cannot be wrong. Belmar spoke of 'arrogance', and indeed some might call what I just described precisely that. But let me go further.

Locked firmly within the belief system of many here that exercise the most prejudice, I've long perceived a fortress of denial that they harbor any such unseemly sentiments, a mountain of casually dismissed and 'inconsequential utlänning criticism' ignored with the ever ready and self-serving belief that 'they (utlännings) just don't understand'. But some do understand, 'Cattie' noting such in a comment above.

"However there is a strong rip-tide of denial of racism in Sweden among 'open-minded' Swedes. Denial, or perhaps hypocrisy, depending on the individual.", is what Cattie said, 'denial' of the 'extremely incorrect' being too often a matter of reflex and routine, at least as I see it. I won't add that Din and his wife noted they had a great time in 2003 here, nor that perhaps the same changes which put the Swedish Democrats in the Riksdag served to make Din's present trip the disaster it was. But, I personally have witnessed exercises of discrimination here that defy my belief, truly recalling the 1930s for me, and I do think it's past the time when the truth needs be said.

I will also add that there are indeed some Swedes I've met that are all what one might hope for, but it seems the 'currents of our time' have too often eroded their numbers and their energy, with those of a more troubling bent filling the voids that were left.
21:09 September 7, 2011 by AmericanSwede16
SWEDES are very cold people in general. Their weather makes them very grumpy and antisocial. When a Swede goes to another country, they go crazy. They are talkative, flirt, drink, ask questions, and mingle in with the crowd. Then they go back home and act totally different and avoid all confrontations at any cost. Even old friends will avoid each other.
00:26 September 8, 2011 by JustGuy

Just want to say a few words about this.

I am a 22 years old male student from Russia and study at the Lunds Universitet. I have already studied in Sweden for one year and will be here for one year more. I am white and actually look like Swede: people tend to start talking Swedish to me all the time but only after I say that I do not speak Swedish they switch to English. So there is nothing wrong about me. There is nothing wrong with the Swedish people as well, I am pretty sure.

But even I start to feel the same things: strong isolation, total exclusion from the Swedish society and complete solitude. We have some Swedish people in our classes. But I had conversation with Swedish people just 2 times and not longer that 3-5 minutes. Imagine that. I live and study in Sweden for one year and did talk to Swedes only for a few times. (I obviously do not count short conversations with the cashiers in ICA or else, just "hej" and then "tack").

And I am not saying that this is wrong and awful. I am saying that it is they way it is. Of course I do not feel that I will ever be included to the Swedish society or even will ever date with a Swedish girl (damn, they are beauteful and I would love to date a Swedish girl), but still it is no one's fault.

These kind of situations happen because of different cultures, different misinterpretations, different background and other factors. And we should never try to blame other people. First of all we should think why is that happening and only then we can draw some careful conclusions.
12:45 September 8, 2011 by glamelixir
Just asking, and maybe someone had said this before but... what academic status is making Ruben Brunsveld's analysis relevant?

I was just wondering if he has a PhD. in ethnology, antropology or sociology, etc. Or if he was a plain reader that took some extra time to write a longer comment.

Even find some of his points interesting, and share his view, while diagreeing in others, the thing is that I find it far from serious to publish such an article in a news portal based on "personal experiences". The quality of the articles they are feeding us with is below mediocre, and at the same time we, as readers, take them so seriously as to comment on them and start debates around them.

I honestly wish the Local was earning its advertising money based on a better platform. Get in touch with SU, their philosophy department, for example, has a big reputation and many of their academics have published renouned articles, why not trying to get an expert to give an opinon. Or even better, why not getting a couple of experts in different fields to give an opinion.

I guess striking for excellence is not your priority...
14:41 September 8, 2011 by Not Dumb

I personally feel that it is both courageous and necessary that 'The Local' has pursued these questions at all. Frankly, I imagine there are quite a few here that would rather not have such topics discussed, would rather keep such difficult truths hidden.
15:09 September 8, 2011 by cogito

kudos to The Local opening up a discussion on what was before covered up or ignored.

And yes, some would prefer to ban discussion of this all-important subject. They are have been busily smearing posters here as trolls on their Discussion board.
15:21 September 8, 2011 by Stopbeingsuchawuss
Not Dumb First of all you make this a lot more complicated than it has to be.

Most of what you described, my friend (see i can be nice!) is just our cultures colliding, truth be told we aren't much different other than on the surface. We may not have as good manners as you would like, doesn't mean we aren't friendly. It's just the social codes which aren't hard to learn; Honestly most say Tack or Thank you quite often. I just don't get this article, it's almost as he judge the social norm/culture based on his standards, its a bit insulting imo.

As for the staring thing, I don't think its on purpose. I know I can stare, but I often never realize it. Again its just something Swedes do. Dont take it personal. :)

I have lived in Australia for a few years, during that time I learned what is respectful and appropriate, I wasn't expecting anything from them, I was the visitor there.

All in all, we aren't cold, or naturally evil. We just have different social standards. Truth be told if you smile at a swede on the street, chances are it's appreciated.
19:05 September 8, 2011 by Not Dumb

While I appreciate the conciliatory tone, I regret to say that I and numerous other 'utlännings' here have perceived the prejudice often shown being denied through what I referred earlier to as "a fortress of denial that they (those native born here who knowingly, or unknowingly) harbor any such unseemly sentiments, a mountain of casually dismissed and 'inconsequential utlänning criticism' ignored with the ever ready and self-serving belief that 'they (utlännings) just don't understand'." But, in my opinion, the actions of too many here might be comapred to the way those in America's deep south once treated educated blacks from the north - they were deemed 'inferior' and supposed to 'know their place'.

Of course, this was just described by those engaging in such inappropriate conduct as just 'part of the culture', a 'way of life' that 'outsiders sometimes simply don't understand'. But, some saw it differently, and today the period and its practices are looked upon with shame by many of those who once held 'mistaken beliefs'.

Sadly, the last years -- as I see them -- have brought economic pain to many here, and 'scapegoating' is an old and effective way to avoid a pressing problem, such as the diminished social programs Sweden now has because of funding drains via massive tax cuts and corporate welfare. But neoliberal policy failures such as these cannot yet be discussed, so instead the issue of supposed funding drains via immigrants is, perhaps the present prejudices utlännings encounter being because of this...just ask Anders Breivik.

I believe that Swedes aren't 'naturally evil', you are quite right, but the perspectives and belief systems which the last years have brought to many are not exactly beingn, the heat of debate here making the point. As to what the future holds, that depends indeed upon the vast majority of Swedes, those native born, and whether they are able to grasp the changes that have occurred here and are occurring, what is really behind present problems. Of course, one can only point out what the facts are, and then it is up to others to decide what to do with them.
14:12 September 9, 2011 by Smartone
First of all, I would totally disagree with the argument of a Dutch man as he stated that Swedes do not engage in others business. The privacy of others is given priority. Do you also consider it a privacy?

When someone get an accident?

When someone is bleeding and ask a local to help him/her to get the train conductor? (Read the book Swedish Mentality) How an American woman was treated and she expressed her response about the society!

As far as English language is considered they don't have problem speaking English but they do avoid it, how is it possible for a person who is so much into English movies, songs and TV programmes not to speak or understand the language?Secondly, look at the examples when they live out of the Scandinavian net they do speak English to everyone and try to integrate in the society. ''Last but not least, necessity is the mother of all inventions''

P.S: Think big, behave well, treat everyone with politeness and courtesy regardless of gender and race, break the shell of cold excuses!
15:35 September 9, 2011 by jaysthlm
Im sorry but to be honest I was sick of the original post by this family visiting, I am also from the UK and have been living in Stockholm for 3 years. What annoyed me of their article was they were accusing Swedes and Sweden of being racist without any facts other than 'a feeling'. They felt stared at, I mean cmon I feel that now and then, in many countries. You cannot begin accusing people of being racist without proof, this is my issue with their original article. In my opinion it should never been printed on the local, if you are going to accuse a people of something so strong as racism without facts. If someone had said something racist towards them, then fine. But because people did not say hello to them they blame it on the fact they were the only non whites there... I am white and Swedes do not talk to me, but then neither do people in London, or in Paris, or in New York... Its due to the big city culture. They need to wake up and realise they have a serious chip on their shoulder and stop blaming their inner demons for how the world may or may not react when they are around.
16:54 September 9, 2011 by rfmann
So, uh, let me see if I get this right --- this is the white guy, who wasn't there, assuring the brown guy, who was, that the snubbing the latter received by other white folks wasn't racially motivated. It's just how the Swedes are. Different way of communicating and all.

As another white-bread foreigner, I'd certainly agree that not all Swedish xenophobia is 'racially motivated', that there is a certain equal-opportunity spirit when it comes to being snooty toward folks perceived to be different and non-Swedish. But it's seriously delusional to suggest that *looking* different, racially and perhaps culturally (dress etc.) in addition to being from a different place and speaking a different language doesn't exacerbate xenophobic tendencies.
17:06 September 9, 2011 by lolly lap
The problem in Swedish society is, they simply dont like and will never accept the integration of Asian and African immigrants. If you are from Asian or African decent and wanna visit Sweden for one day or live here all your life, you will face same intensity of hatred and ignorance from swedes till your last day here.

in all kind of Swedish authorities like tax office, housing (like boplats), security agencies (who provides bouncers to pub and night clubs), police, migration board etc they really mistreat and behave very bad with you if you are from Asian or African decent.

Even in hospitals you will be treated miserably bad.
09:47 September 10, 2011 by Kilbey
Sweden sucks. It's not racially motivated. I don't think they like anyone. It's just the way it is. Being a d-bag is their way of life.
14:09 September 10, 2011 by rise
Poor Mr Din who weren't welcomed here with the red carpet rolled out on the ground - with golden leaves dancing in the air around him and his family. :'-( I'm really ashamed of myself as a Swede, as I'm sure most of my fellow Swedes are.

Therefore I suggest that tonight between 19:37-19:38PM we all should have a silent minute in the memory of his dreadfully, horribly stay in Sweden. It is the least we can do to make up for him, so that we can make him please, please come here again. May all Swedes remember and never let the same thing happen again, ever. Amen.
14:10 September 10, 2011 by sobhan
Few things:

(1) You see things as you are. Punjabi families in India are the most corrupt & political. And they may relate and make more friends in UK, OZ or USA as similar people like those sleazy blacks or South Americans who understand each other at subconscious level. But in Europe (I do not consider UK as Europe) they can not make it. The reason is simple. You need to have some sort of cultural richness and discipline to understand Scandinavia and it's people. And thank GOD for that!

(2) Swedes talk less and say more. Why should anyone would like to jibber, jabber with someone they do not have any common understanding or attraction!!


04:17 September 11, 2011 by Not Dumb

Comment number 79 observed: "We legal and law-abiding immigrants just wanna be treated like human beings, we don't need to be greeted, kissed, or hugged everywhere let alone be called kings in derision"

I guess when you derisively speak of "red carpets" and "golden leaves" you're trying to illustrate the kinds of inappropriate attitudes and conduct that 'albarawal' wrote of, and you do so quite well. But please forgive me if I do not offer any gratitude.


'Racist bigot' is an interesting term, though I'll readily admit it's been used far too often over the last years. But there are certainly those that glory in their ethnicity and disdain that of others, having sadly never found those parts of themselves that allow so many of us to see our lives in far broader terms, that don't require us to step upon others to 'raise ourselves or our spirits'.

My friends, the 'dark side' is always with us, but perhaps it's just one more sign of our times that it's today too often indulged instead of shunned. There will always be right vs wrong, good vs evil, and the greatest human tradgedy we experience is perhaps during those moments in history when for many these concepts become confused. But one truth should always be evident: like almost everything in nature, we humans tend to thrive and grow in 'the'light', with those seeking 'the darkness' tending to wither slowly within it.
10:43 September 11, 2011 by rise
@Not Dumb

I think immigrants are wrong in thinking they're getting any special treatment in some way, may it be good or bad treatment. For as long as a Swede don't know you (immigrant or no) you aren't anything at all. It may be that you're being seen upon like a statist in a movie, if you're being seen at all. Acknowledgment and respect has to be earned by showing your worthiness of it.

I don't know if I could represent a typical Swede (that's for other do decide) but I do know I can be a rather cold person. HOWEVER, if you are getting close to a Swede then you're having a loyal friend for life! Personally I'd rather die before some of my closest friends are (and I know what I'm saying since I've lost two of my closest ones in a car accident).

It is the culture here. And it differs a lot from say for example the one in Greece where you're being greeted upon and cheered everywhere and by total strangers as well. They're projecting a very warm and welcoming feeling, the Greeks are. But how do you pick out the true friends from a bunch of people when everyone is just smiling and waving at you? Instead of picking out the ones with false smiles and knives behind their backs...
19:18 September 11, 2011 by w_t_f
swedes are primitive when it comes to communication .... even they do not want to interact with themselves.
19:53 September 11, 2011 by Not Dumb

I appreciate you're trying to understand what I was expressing, my reasons for it. But you seem to believe that I and many others expect more than we do, and what I and otthers believe we have a right to; namely, to simply be treated with the common decency and respect that EVERYONE should be ENTITLED to, UNLESS THEY PROVE OTHERWISE.

When you say "respect has to be earned by showing your worthiness of it", are you trying to legitimate 'rude and subhuman' treatment of those foreigners you might meet until their 'worthiness' is perceived? And once viewing someone with disrespect and disdain, are you really expecting everyone to believe you'll be in a position to 'overcome such prejudice', realize whatever gifts that individual you 'abused' might have?

Forgive me, but I wrote in comment 90 that: "Locked firmly within the belief system of many here that exercise the most prejudice, I've long perceived a fortress of denial that they harbor any such unseemly sentiments, a mountain of casually dismissed and 'inconsequential utlänning criticism' ignored with the ever ready and self-serving belief that 'they (utlännings) just don't understand'." But, I know it's not easy for many Swedes to appreciate the prejudice those of foreign origins encounter, just as it wasn't easy for many whires in America's deep south to appreciate that their attitudes towards

blacks was inappropriate.

Perhaps the greatest problem is indeed one you point out, though not in the way you refer to it; namely, "the culture here". Over the last years -- as reflected by the Sverige Demokrats election to the Riksdag -- I see främlingsfientlig ideas and practices as having become increasingly accepted by Swedes, usually without the individuals in question realizing the PREJUDICES they're embracing, and how these affect their thoughts and behaviours accordingly.

I also agree that there are indeed certain differences in 'style' between cultures, but there's also a difference between being indifferent and being hostile, between being unconcerned and being arrogant, and between being simply distant as opposed to främlingsfientlig. I can assure you that everyone of foreign origins that I've met here does not expect warmth from strangers, but is to expect simple respect, courtesy, and essentially to be treated like a fellow human being too much to ask?

This winter, SvD ran a headline that read "Vi bor sämre än djur här", and I do think that people have a right to be treated as such, and certainly not 'sämre än djur', don't you?
21:14 September 11, 2011 by vijinho
I have to say that I totally disagree with the racial argument this guy presents and I think I'm very qualified to say so as I am from an identical background to him, UK-born, (Indian/Hindu-) Punjabi-ethnicity and having lived in Sweden since the start of this year and traveled extensively I have found that Swedish people have been and are incredibly nice, warm, welcoming and friendly towards me. I have lived 5 years in Spain and 1 year in Ireland and compared to even those friendly places I find the Swedish are equally as warm if not even moreso. When I travelled to Sweden in the past year everyone was nice and friendly. I'm inclined to believe that maybe he has a boring tone-of-voice or personality or is just a bit weird and hasn't mastered the art of conversation with strangers.
08:42 September 12, 2011 by rise
@Not Dumb

You are twisting my words, and therefore the discussion did end I think. And the twisting of words are telling more about yourself I'm also thinking.


I'm glad to hear you've enjoyed your time! Strange how some persons seems to really enjoy, while other people are absolutely not. And that is also something that's telling much about the persons in question, rather than about Swedes, I strongly believe.

And yes maybe this Mr Din simply had an offended and a sour look upon his face? No one wants to go near such a person!
10:42 September 12, 2011 by AnnicaE
Time to put the "facts" about Sweden, winter and depression/suicide to bed.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression, winter blues, summer depression, summer blues, or seasonal depression, is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer, spring or autumn year after year. Some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up. The condition in the summer is often referred to as reverse seasonal affective disorder, and can also include heightened anxiety.

SAD was first systematically reported and named in the early 1980s by Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D., and his associates at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Rosenthal was initially motivated by his desire to discover the cause of his own experience of depression during the dark days of the northern US winter. Rosenthal wondered why he became sluggish during the winter after moving from sunny South Africa to New York. He theorized that the lesser amount of light in winter was the cause, and his 1993 book, Winter Blues has become the standard introduction to the subject.

Research on SAD in the United States began in 1970 when Herb Kern, a research engineer, had also noticed that he felt depressed during the winter months. Kern suspected that scarcer light in winter was the cause and discussed the idea with scientists at the NIMH who were working on bodily rhythms.

Around 20% of Irish people are affected by SAD, according to a survey conducted in 2007. The survey also shows women are more likely to be affected by SAD than men. An estimated 10% of the population in the Netherlands suffer from SAD. In fact the whole northern hemisphere is affected, with a few exceptions; Iceland for instance has a very low rate of SAD, which is thought to have to do with a higher intake of fish and vitamin D.

In many species, activity is diminished during the winter months in response to the reduction in available food and the difficulties of surviving in cold weather. Hibernation is an extreme example, but even species that do not hibernate often exhibit changes in behavior during the winter. It has been argued that SAD is an evolved adaptation in humans that is a variant or remnant of a hibernation response in some remote ancestor. Presumably, food was scarce during most of human prehistory, and a tendency toward low mood during the winter months would have been adaptive by reducing the need for calorie intake. The preponderance of women with SAD suggests that the response may also somehow regulate reproduction.
18:26 September 12, 2011 by dc73654
I'm an American of Swedish descent. I read both the original article by Mr. Din and the reply by Mr. Brunsveld. I have an example that may add to explaining the experience of Mr. Din. Many cities in the US still have strong influence from the countries that settled those cities. Seattle (my home town) was settled by Scandinavians and Asians. So here in Seattle we are accused of the of the same behavior Mr. Din complained about. Recently Microsoft brought a large number of new employees from India to Seattle. So now we have the same situation Mr. Din described. Indians meeting Scandinavians. I find Indians to be rude in general and they find us to be rude in general. So who is right? Both of us are right and both are wrong. We have different rules in our cultures that tell us what is rude and polite. The important thing is that we wait to judge a persons behavior until we understand why they are acting that way. Did Mr. Din lean about the country he was going to visit? Does he realize people don't want to speak a language they are not fluent in? Probably not. He needs to learn about Sweden's culture and not judge them by his standards. He might have learned alot and had a better experience in Sweden if he had. One last note. Before I visited France I read a couple of articles online about the French culture, and how they view visitors; especially Americans. I made sure I followed French social customs to help blend in. I found the French to be some of the friendliest people I've met and had a fabulous time.
18:54 September 12, 2011 by Not Dumb

While I understand what you mean, and there is -- as you cite -- an undoubted role for 'cultural differences', I think you missed a key point of Mr. Din's article. The article begins by saying he and his wife had visited Sweden in 2003, finding it a heavenly place then; thus, his return this summer with the couple's children.

Din both knew about Sweden and had even had a wonderful prior visit...it is the differnces between his first and the latter visit that he questions.

Since 2003, I believe societal currents here have led many to slowly change, their attitudes towards those of foreign origins changing with this. In example, today the far right Swedish Democrats (a party with neo-nazi roots) are in the Parliament, 2010 being when they entered.

Perhaps certain perceptions have indeed changed in the years since Din's 2003 visit, and in what some might arguably term a xenophobic way. That's a little different from the 'cultural friction' that's a common byproduct of immigration, with xenophobia (be it acknowledged or denied) representing a 'hostile and hardened' perspective as opposed to the opportunities for 'bridging cultural differences' which simple 'cultural friction' offers. But, of course far right philosophy is hardened in such 'intolerant' ways, and while those belonging to the groups here which flaunt such values are few, many of the commenters above do recount experiences which suggest that a certain level of intolerance has sadly taken root, and is arguably flourishing.

However, perhaps most troubling of all, it seems somewhere between difficult and impossible for many to come to grips with the reality of these new circumstances, denial instead appearing the order of the day.
19:06 September 13, 2011 by jacksonjerry
"So far it seems like not much more then relatively common big-city behaviour "

haha this is so funny.. Stockholm is a big city??

Which Dutch village does this guy Ruben come from??
23:45 September 13, 2011 by paperkite
As I was reading this, my father, an American living in North Carolina, called to tell me about a local newscast he was watching. A car was on fire and a motorcyclist was under it. Video footage showed strangers, men in suits, women in heals, nearby construction crew, everyone, run over to the burning car to lift it from the ground and pull the motorcyclist out from under it. As soon as the man was pulled free every single person quickly went on their way as if nothing had happened. My father laughed, "They saved a man's life but they didn't want to get *involved*. Ha!" The motorcyclist never even met the people who rescued him. Honestly, is the culture difference really so big?
04:38 September 15, 2011 by Not Dumb
There is nothing wrong with any individual wanting to maintain 'their distance, their privacy', and that's certainly any person's right. But when one has a "fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign", that's xenophobic.

If one often treats foreigners and immigrants as essentially 'subhuman', as if they were somehow 'a lesser species', that's unacceptable.

The worst part of the xenophobia I personally have witnessed in Sweden, is that many of those that discriminate the most have no idea thay are doing so -- it's become just a way of life for them. Of course, in the US Deep South, many people once held certain strong feelings about 'Northern liberals and blacks', not only being deeply hostile to them, but occasionally even murdering them. Today, many look back with shame upon that sad period, as any decent person who had once led a life of racism and xenophobia should...for such things do shame one, even if it takes a while to understand that, not to mention the grievous wrongs one has done.
14:13 September 17, 2011 by sobhan
@Not Dumb

Why so many words!! But of course u are not Swedish even if you probably speak Svenska and wear clothes around your neck! ha ha ha.

If you do not like Sweden; why don't get eff out of it??

I did not come to Sweden to meet Hybrids and dodgy 2nd generation double faced people. And I will not act politically correct about it. SIMPLE!

I came here to work hard and build life and YES I probably will not speak Svenska or wear clothes around my neck. But at the same time i will not sit on social welfare and try to add value to the society that gives me chance to build my life in a humble way. MOST OF ALL I WILL NOT COMPLAIN!
01:40 September 18, 2011 by Not Dumb

Given what you said about "I did not come to Sweden to meet Hybrids and dodgy 2nd generation double faced people. And I will not act politically correct about it. SIMPLE!", I guess you came here to join the far right, or at least you sound that way. I personally do not get one öre in funds from the state, am accomplished at what I do, and yet -- as many others have experienced here -- am treated too often as a 'subhuman', and simply because I'm an immigrant lumped together in the minds of many with people like you.

I can only hope you go back to whatever rock you crawled out from under quickly, as my tolerance of the intolerant has reached the point of what you're reading, namely, very little. Abuse, either verbal or physical, is something no one should be subjected to, and if you think otherwise, join the far right, assuming you haven't already.

End of converstion -- punkt slut.
11:01 September 20, 2011 by sobhan
@Not Dumb


I like open, honest conversations. I understand where you are coming from and I also agree it's not easy. But try to go beyond your own life. I am trying the same too. You do not have to prove you are closer to Sweden because you have a parent who is Swedish or you have a dog that is Half Swede and Half Moroccan!!

You can not change the world with bitterness & doubts. You know which ppl join groups. Look at the animal kingdom; you will understand what type of animals create groups. Have you seen Lions or Tigers flock together in general

Same is true for humans. Why do you think all the GREAT ppl had such miserable lives! Why do you think all the average ppl have easy lives! Doesn't it tell you someting?

It doesn't matter where you are coming from or what you have or have not.

Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch you words,they become Action. Watch your Action,they become Habits. Watch your Habits, they become your Character. Watch your Character, they become your Destiny.

Find your PEACE within my friend and forget all the garbage talks, gossips and doubts and weaknesses & other reflections that are only temporary in the vasness of life and space!
12:58 September 20, 2011 by sjuttiosjusköterskorpåsjukhuset
Sweden didn't just "change overnight" during the 2000s. I moved to Sweden back in the 1970s as a young American with a mixed race background. I entered into a relationship with a Swede back then. It was quite a culture shock for me despite the fact that I grew up in Germany as an "army brat" during the 1960s. Initially while in Stockholm at T-Centralen, I was pushed down a long flight of stairs on a descending escalator from behind. A very "beautiful" young Swedish woman was terribly upset that I was blocking her path, me not knowing that the custom was to stand to the right if one chose not to walk down the escalator. As she pushed her way through, she shouted "Get out of my way, blackhead." I fell a good distance and cut myself on my hands and knees and bruised everywhere. Everyone just went about their business like as if they didn't see a thing. Only a Spanish immigrant lady helped me collect the many items that fell from my shopping bag. While living in Sweden, I experienced many more incidents, they were unprovoked and undeserved, and they reflected a people who may be "beautiful" on the outside, but for what, they're so ugly on the inside. I made many friendships there with Swedes; however, it took many long years to establish a true friendship with them, and invest in their trust. So, I can relate to what many out here have conveyed.
05:03 September 21, 2011 by sjuttiosjusköterskorpåsjukhuset
@dc73654, #113: Seattle is a snobbish, self-absorbed, and rather aloof city even to other Euro-Americans from other parts of the country. My brother-in-law, of German-American background and from the Midwest, prefers eastern Wash. and has a lot of unkind things to say about Seattlelites. In SOME ways Seattle is like a Swedish metropolitan area--not necessarily Stockholm--but thank G-d FOR it's large East Asian pop. and those from multicultural Hawaii: the similarities end there. My sister still lives in Seattle and personally I find Seattlelites to be shallow people who come off as being too sarcastic, highly opinionated and never admit to being wrong, manipulative, materialistic, and often, not always, RUDE. Even my sister has changed so much by living there for decades: She never apologizes when she's wrong or rude like she used to, and shares the same overall arrogance more befitting of others from Seattle than of those who share her roots. Overall, Seattlelites reflect a people who may be highly educated in Computer and Technological Sciences, but they sorely miss out on being educated in the Humanities. Oh, and by the way, I am not of (East) Indian or Pakistani background, and though I am part Euro-American, I am also of two other racial backgrounds which aren't. Happy Starbucks!
23:50 October 11, 2011 by salalah
One must see this with the rememberance that the Swedes for many years were a homogenous society, which most countries were not . During a visit to Poland I noticed foreign people being treated as outsiders so the reason for this is xenophobia. Poland is a very homogenous society with almost no immigration. During my 4 days there, I only saw 3 black persons total, out of maybe a 100 thousand. Swedes used to not travel as muchbefore , so they thought they were the best in the world at everything. Even now, when Swedes move abroad, they tend to mostly socialize with their own.
21:46 January 14, 2012 by janeway
16:36 August 29, 2011 by Nevermindwho

I don't know where you get the notion that a majority of Swedes would interrogate someone intensely to find out their roots. When asked of my origin I usually only have to answer as to what region and maybe city I come from. That's it. And I treat people, regardless of skin color, the same. For instance: "Oh you're from USA. What state/city?" "From England? What city?" I don't really care if people are born there, are adopted or moved there. If they state they come from X country, it's good for me. Just being polite.

'For example, I've seen Asians greeted with "Heeyah! Bruce Lee!" and have squinty eyes made at them by full grown adults who weren't inebriated - a good portion of Swedes actually believe it's alright to behave this way'.

A good portion of Swedes? I beg to differ!

18:16 August 29, 2011 by lolly lap

'Here in sweden, people dont say any thing on your face but from their heart, they really hate Asian and African immigrants.'

How did you conclude to this sweeping animosity and prejudice towards Swedes?
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