About a month back I wrote about my experiences in Sweden. As if to illustrate my point about the Swedes’ attempt to flee from their historic identity and current cultural realities, horrific events occurred on 10 August. An Eritrean refugee who had just been denied asylum in Sweden went into an Ikea, grabbed two knives from the shelf, and proceeded to butcher two shoppers, a woman and her son. Some reports indicate that one of the victims had been beheaded.
Swedish officialdom immediately shrouded the events and the perpetrator in a veil of secrecy. Tellingly, the name of the assailant has not been released. There is only one reason to have done this: to prevent revelation that the assailant was not just an immigrant, but a Muslim one. But, of course, this attempt was futile because any sentient being can infer immediately the reality from the very fact that the Swedish authorities attempted to suppress the reality. Meaning that the authorities did not succeed in their object, and in the bargain proved themselves to be craven and afraid to recognize that their immigrant community harbors a terrorist threat. As if everyday Swedes are blind to this reality. Further meaning that the authorities insult the intelligence of the citizenry, increasing the alienation of large segments of the population from the elite.
Swedish officials compounded the insult by ostentatiously rushing police to protect refugee centers, insinuating that native Swedes were prone to indiscriminate violence against immigrants.
This behavior is precisely why, to the shock of the Swedish establishment, that a far right nativist party now leads the polls in the country. The suppression by the elite of frank discussion of matters such as the integration of immigrants into society, the failure to deal with potential terrorist threats emanating from the immigrant population, and the creation of protected classes inevitably pushes people towards the fringes, and strengthens those whom the elite despises most. This problem is particularly acute in Europe, where mechanisms of conformity and social control are more pronounced than in the US. But the US is not immune. Indeed, the appalling success of Donald Trump here is the result of the same dynamic.
As if another illustration were needed, consider the events on the Amsterdam-Paris train yesterday. A Moroccan with terrorist connections who was known to authorities in three European countries, and who had been to Syria, boarded the train in Brussels, armed with an AK-47, an automatic pistol, and boxcutters. As he emerged from the bathroom intent on mayhem, three Americans, including two enlisted servicemen on vacation, rushed him, forced him to the floor, and disarmed him. When he was down, a 62 year old Brit jumped on to keep him down.
But for the actions of three brave Americans, there would be dozens of dead Euros.
The train crew, if you have to know, took cover, barricading themselves in a safe room on the train. One French actor did suffer injuries while breaking the glass on the alarm.
Consider the reaction of French officialdom:
The motives behind the attack were not immediately known, although a spokesman for the interior minister said: ‘It is too early to speak of a terrorist link’
As the Swedes show, it is always too early. No doubt the French will attempt to put this issue behind them quickly, so they can get back to truly pressing matters. Such as the existential threat from Uber.
And the strains are about to get worse, as a metastasizing refugee crisis in southern Europe is about to spill over into rich Europe, most notably Germany, which is already experiencing a backlash.
Suppressing discussion of uncomfortable and thorny issues can buy social peace. For a while. But shutting off all outlets for civil discussion of controversial matters just causes the buildup of latent pressures that eventually cannot be contained, leading to a potentially calamitous disruption of social harmony. Allowing a little strife now can avoid a lot of strife in the future. But the Euros (and increasingly the US) have chosen the opposite course.
As long as the Euros keep denying they have an Islamist terrorism problem, they will have an Islamist terrorism problem. And their denial is creating another problem: a rise of the reactionary right.