Ode To A Herring Sandwich

Those outside of Sweden are often spared the joy of hearing the views of the members of the Sweden Democrats, but now that one of them has been elected deputy speaker of the Swedish Riksdag it is in both the wider public interest and in keeping with this blog’s intent to share thoughts on political communication to reproduce some of their more remarkable public utterances. 

So to mark the ascension of Björn Söder to the position of deputy speaker, I have translated a blog post from the original Swedish that apparently has since been deleted. 

Söder, a senior member of the Sweden Democrat party started by neo-Nazis among others in 1988, is a man of strong views – among them that homosexuality is an aberration and that Islam is the single greatest threat to Western civilisation.

His politics could accurately be described as the kind of cultural conservatism beloved of the likes of Anders Behring Breivik and UKIP. 

In this post, Söder proclaims his love for Swedish culture through the medium of a herring sandwich at the Malmö festival, before deploring the “dark clouds” of multiculturalism. 

Björn Söder – likes herring. Dislikes gays.

The sun shone and spread its pleasant rays over my shoulders. Though it was half past seven on a Wednesday night it felt like the heat had finally arrived.

It was, after all, one of the first warm evenings, even though it was in the month of August.

The train was already in the station. Everywhere there were people walking and running who were on their way to Malmö to take part in the festival. Along with my girlfriend and some friends, I got on the train.

Outside the Scania countryside passed by.


Farms and houses looked like palaces and temples of the Swedish summer heat. The trees and fields appeared one after the other and stood in contrast to the clear blue sky.

Feeling a part of that environment felt wonderful.  My thoughts began to turn to my ancestors, who along with others had worked hard to create such a heavenly realm like this.

I could feel a little pride swell in me. A pride in being Swedish. To have been born Swedish. Of having ancestors who built Sweden.

My thoughts were interrupted. The train slowed down at Malmö Central Station. We got out of the train and walked towards the city center.

There was life everywhere. People went back and forth across the streets and the cars had trouble getting around. We were met by people from some company that was about to the dragon boat competition.

They sang and whistled and the people in front of them moved out of the way to avoid being trampled upon. We followed in their wake – this way we avoided the throng of others, and were on our way to watch the competition.

It was now eight o’clock and my stomach began to rumble for food. During festivals usually it’s not a problem finding something to eat, and it wasn’t a problem this time either – if you want to eat something exotic and foreign, of course.

Everywhere there were foreign food. Latin food, tacos, busesca, falafel, Indian delicacies, Thai dishes, Nigerian specialties, kebab and more.

But where was the Swedish food? Is the traditional Swedish cooking so bad and boring that no one wants it? I searched frantically.

I had decided that if I could not find anything Swedish to eat then my stomach would have to put up with being hungry.

Suddenly. I saw a small light in the otherwise dark surroundings. “Herring Sandwiches” was written on the sign. I walked up with urgent steps. Past all the food stalls that smelled of garlic.

I felt a joy. The joy of that there was still Swedish food to be had. I threw down a twenty-crown note for my sandwich.

I received it and felt the wonderful smell of herring. Well worth the price, I let the sandwich disappear down my gullet, and a few moments later felt the satisfaction in my stomach.

Surely there is one and two other bright spots here at the festival, I thought, and proceeded to saunter.

After looking around for about another hour, we decided to head for home. You could feel the air getting slightly cooler and damper now that the sun had gone down.

We went over to Gustav Adolf Square. Outside McDonald’s, dark clouds gathered. By all accounts, it was probably a meeting place, or rather, a haunt for all the world’s different peoples – except the Swedes, of course.

Where the Swedes were gone I do not know. Then we crossed the square and went into a pedestrian area, and it was clear to me that the Swedes had fled the field.

Everywhere there were big black clouds in the otherwise clear night. The sound of the South American and Indian music mixed with languages from around the world, and the feeling that you were in a land far, far away grew.

Nowhere was there a bright cloud to be seen. The dark clouds hung everywhere.

My stomach was turning upside down and the tears started running down my cheeks. The pride in being Swedish that I had felt earlier in the evening had now given way to a hate inside.

Not a hatred of the people who were there, but a hatred of the decision-makers who caused it as my eyes now beheld. These decision-makers had not shown my ancestors any respect.

They had not taken any account of what the Swedish people – including me – thought. They had done what they wanted. They wanted to create a multicultural society.

With the tears on my cheeks, I hurried past through the darkness along with the others.

The evening had now changed from a warm, bright summer evening to a cold and dark night.

We got on the train to go home. The train was full of people. Many others had apparently also planned to go home.

I understand them.

A minute’s silence not enough for some

Norwegian emergency services interrupt their work to honour the dead, 1200, July 25 2011.

At 1200 today Scandinavia stood still.

A minute’s silence was observed, to honour those that fell in Oslo and Utoeya, victims of the bombs and bullets of Anders Behring Breivik.

But some have been silent an awful lot longer than that.

While Siv Jensen, leader of Fremsrkittspartiet (the Progress Party, Norway’s right-wing anti-immigration party) was quick to distance herself and her party from their former party colleague’s actions, others barely put their head above the parapet.

Take Jimmie Åkesson for instance.

One might expect the leader of the far-right Sweden Democrats – the Swedish answer to Fremskrittspartiet – to try to distance himself and his party from Breivik’s actions.

Their reaction so far has been one press release, one tweet to publicise said press release, and after that – nothing.

Total silence.

Nowhere on the party’s website does Jimmie or the party encourage the membership or supporters to take part in the minute’s silence.

Indeed, the only mention of the tragedy on the Twitter feeds I’ve seen is in reaction to those who try to shine a light on them.

Uniformly, their response is to accuse those who disagree with them of being “tasteless” – a very interesting choice of words from the people who made this election ad for TV (article continues below):


One would think that, as leader of a far-right party that undeniably shares many of Breivik’s views, Åkesson might take the opportunity to express his condolences and try to put some daylight between his party and the hateful, illogical philosophy of Islamophobia that drove the gunman to such deeds.

Instead, nothing.

The vacuum of Åkesson’s silence allows plenty of room for speculation as to why he and his party have chosen to remain silent.

The reason is not hard to work out – Breivik’s actions have presumably not affected him or the party’s policies in the slightest.

His far-right convictions and his Islamophobia – the irrational fear of Muslims – remain untouched by what has happened in Norway.

If the reactions of some of his supporters to a blog post on the Moderate party website are anything to go by, this is in fact a validation of what they believe. Muslims are, as always, to blame.

It’s not so long ago that Åkesson was writing in Aftonbladet about how Islam was the greatest threat to Swedish and European civilisation.

He trotted out the same tired lies about how Sweden was the rape capital of the world, and that Muslims were over-represented in crime statistics.

That the Swedish police make or keep no record of a criminal’s religion or ethnicity was ignored. He was making it up.

His words about “Sweden’s multicultural elite” are echoed in the madman’s manifesto, released by Breivik moments before he changed Norway forever.

Those frightened by Åkesson’s words ran to the ballot box and put an X beside his name.

The rest of us opened our windows and looked outside; not seeing hordes of Mohammedan rapists pillaging their way through our communities, we voted for someone else.

If Jimmie and the rest are serious about being democrats, they and anyone who has or would consider voting for them have a responsiblity to take an honest look back over their public pronouncements and their policies.

The time has come for everyone in politics to abandon the extremist rhetoric, to stop the hunt for the paper tigers and instead focus on what brings us together, rather than what sets us apart.

For just as Anders Behring Breivik is not representative of Norway, of her people, of Christianity or of conservative politics, nor can it be said that any one individual is representative of Islam, or any other religion, or anything else for that matter.

But as their elected leader, Jimmie does represent the Sweden Democrats, and at the moment his silence his saying more than he thinks.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”- Edmund Burke.