And they believe that they’ve done it all right, and for all of the good reasons.
No sooner had the youths of the housing projects begun to loot and burn the People’s Home, as the Swedes like to call their country, than the battle broke out to find meaning in such unexpected behavior and, of course, to apportion blame. How had so many years of enlightenment ended in such an orgy of insensate rage?
Trouble in Paradise
The six days of riots in Sweden last May, led by immigrant youth, were greeted in the rest of Europe with a certain quiet satisfaction. No one likes to have a moral exemplar held up constantly before him, and the riots suggested that the exemplar was not so exemplary after all.
Not without a certain moral grandiosity, and probably from a sense of guilt at its own good fortune, Sweden—or at least its political elite and its large social-democratic middle class—decided to start accepting refugees from countries such as Iraq and Somalia, beginning in the 1990s. A gulf soon opened between the pays légal and the pays réel. Officially, all was welcoming, generous, and equal; in reality, urban ghettos were springing up, with all their attendant problems.
Perhaps Sweden has been generous toward its newcomers; by most European standards, the unemployment rate among the children of immigrants is low, though it is twice that of the general population and reaches 40 percent in some places. But generosity does not necessarily produce gratitude. Why do you hate me, goes the old Hindu proverb, when I’ve never tried to help you?