They are quite different personalities, Donald Trump and the leader of the Swedish nationalist party Jimmie Åkesson. Åkesson is cautious and calculating, like you would expect from a pretty young conservative. Though I thoroughly dislike what he and his pals have done to my country, I have to admit that the guys in the top of the party are thorough and rarely reckless, and they usually manage to hide the part of the agenda that makes ”normal” voters uncomfortable by e.g. claiming to want to clear out all racists from their party.
Beyond these differences, there are many striking similarities between the nationalist movements, that tell us a lot about human psychology and how what inexplicably happened once is about to happen again.
The supporters are to a large extent the same in both countries. They’re men. They’re white. They’re in later stages of life. They’re ”poorly educated”. Yes. This is a fact.
They are sometimes outsiders, but mostly just regular workers. In some cases, they run a small business. They are rarely successful above average. They live in the countryside or at least outside big cities.
There are also, in Sweden, some immigrants who hate Muslims for some reason or another, and who tend to overlook the anti-immigration policies of the SD party as something these nice people don’t really mean, and if they do then so be it – getting the Muslims out has priority.
The disregard for facts and the sect-like behaviour, where they worship their leader and will do anything to achieve his goals is another similarity. Or, in DJT’s words: ”I have the most loyal people” and ”I could shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
It is only rational that the motto of the Trump fans is ”Make America great again”, since longing for a glorious past where life was much simpler, women didn’t pursue careers, foreign languages were never heard and black people would stay outside white communities and, in the case of Sweden, outside the borders, comes natural to these mostly senior people.
They feel their country is being taken away from them. They consider their country to be their property to begin with, and will argue that anyone that disagrees with them be an intruder.
Another parallel is the way all nationalists, Trump and Åkesson included, seem to think that others perceive their country. Though there is a difference in how they want their respective country to be viewed, there’s a clear similarity between their projected image of the view of others.
In the case of SD, supporters often highlight that Sweden is viewed as being weak and almost ridiculous in our efforts to care for refugees. This idea is spread through various far right websites and Facebook pages, such as Britain First, but it has little to do with the actual perception of the majority population of other countries.
Similarly, while Donald Trump seems to wish that America would be feared rather than respected for its compassion, and hence tries to establish an image of President Obama being too weak to be scary, the reality is that few if any American presidents have been as respected in other Western countries. He won the Nobel Peace Prize, because we were so happy to finally see someone striving for peace, even though it didn’t work out exactly how we wanted it in the years to come.
Telling their supporters that they alone can reestablish the image of their country is not only part of the narrative of Trump and Åkesson, but it also seems to be something they actually believe, because they are that out of touch with reality.
I have to admit: The claim that mainstream media, or ”gammelmedia” as Sweden Democrats like to call it, are against both Trump and Åkesson is in fact true. That is not a conspiracy theory in itself. It’s a consequence of media being populated by people who see through their agendas. Obviously, while Trump’s and Åkesson’s supporters are poorly educated, journalists and reporters are not. Education is like a vaccine against stupidity. This being said, I am not in any way suggesting that all uneducated people are supporters of SD or Trump, or ”stupid” for that matter. You don’t have to have a college or university degree to think rationally. But without one, you are more vulnerable to the slogan and simplified solutions policies they drive.
When it comes to not trusting the press, there is an issue that goes beyond media being biased against Trump and Åkesson, and that is that their supporters tend to not trust the facts that are being presented. Instead, they share Internet memes and obscure articles that can say anything. Journalists have ethics. They are bound to tie their conclusions, however colored by their opinion, to facts.
Donald Trump uses his Twitter account to share not only white supremacists but also other unconventional thinkers, and Sverigedemokraterna’s supporters and politicians very often use ”hate sites” like Avpixlat to spread what must in every aspect be characterized as misinformation.
Incidentally, the Twitter account of Mats Dagerlind, publisher of Avpixlat, shows a profile picture where he wears a hat saying ”Make America and Sweden great again”.
”Build a wall!”
For geographical reasons, Sweden being surrounded by water except for borders towards Norway and Finland, where immigrants rarely enter, there is no suggestion to build an actual wall around our country. Still, the SD party repeatedly calls for closed borders, Swexit (from the EU) and a general limitation of all categories of immigrants. While most Swedes are in favour of immigration per se, but may want to see regulations around asylum seekers because they generate a cost, Sweden Democrats are convinced that immigration is inherently bad, and must be kept to a bare minimum, with the exception of immediate neighbours such as Norwegians and Danes.
Not all Sweden Democrats are racists, but more or less all racists are SD supporters.
There is an important difference between Sweden and the U.S. in the sense that, being located in a corner of the world, we had very few immigrants until some 20 to 30 years ago.
This means that being a Swede equals being white to those that long back to the days where you just knew that every neighbour shared your genetics. This also means that Swedish racism is easier to hide. You can talk about being against differences in ”culture” when you actually mean skin color. Some twenty years ago, the Sweden Democrats were in fact Nazis, heiling and marching. It was only some fifteen years ago, when the current leaders were actually members, that they removed the proposal to ban all adoptions from non-European countries whose purpose was to keep the ”Swedish race” white.
So while Americans never deny that African-Americans be entitled to their citizenships, Sweden Democrats keep emphasizing that even second generation immigrants may lack the Swedish mentality and culture and that they have to adapt completely, ”be assimilated” as they call it, or else they must leave the country. Multiculturalism is the worst thing ever.
Of course, immigrants have always come to Sweden and affected and shaped our civilization – otherwise we would still be barbarians, which was once pointed out by our then Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt*. That particular statement has been thoroughly spread as proof that the leaders of our country don’t recognize just how remarkably superior we are as a people, while what he meant to say was that every culture needs influences to grow and excel and Swedes are no exception.
Still, even though the mechanisms are different, the underlying message is the same in both countries.
Black = bad.
White = good.
Foreigners = dangerous.
Especially one type of foreigners.
”Muslims want to kill us all!”
The hate of Muslims has replaced the hate of Jews among nationalists around the world. They are described as being against whatever the country in question values the most.
Of course, religious fundamentalists regardless of religion are usually conservatives, and they have more in common with each other than with the rest of the society they live in. They just don’t see it. Ironically, the same people therefore blame Muslims for holding views they themselves hold, on e.g. women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, corporal punishment at home, etc..
Somehow, supporters of far right movements manage to both hate feminists and homosexuals while still hating Muslims for presumably being against said people.
I have spent hundreds of hours debating the antagonism against Muslims from SD supporters, but it is hard to get past their simplified view of the world.
Most of the really dangerous terrorists are today Muslims, sure, and that then means to these people that most if not all Muslims are dangerous. The fact that this is not logical in any way is impossible to explain.
Muslims have been in Sweden for some 30-40 years. Many came with the fall of the Iranian Shah in 1979. They were wealthy and often educated. Many run businesses today, or work in high tech companies. These people, together with Iraqi and Lebanese that came later, are an integrated and important part of the Swedish workforce. Most of them are secular Muslims.
They are now as scared as German Jews were during the phase that led to the Crystal Night.
”One simple solution for each problem, please!”
Trump and his Trumpeteers:
”Lock her up!”
”Mexicans are rapists!”
”Close the borders!”
Åkesson and SD supporters:
”Muslims are the biggest threat to our society!”
”Refugees are rapists!”
”Close the borders!”
”The only way is up!”
Both started out as underdogs, then gained surprisingly much ground in a short period of time. While doing so, the supporters and actually many others thought they would just continue to grow forever. Like beyond 100 percent. It’s like they just looked at the curves and extended the lines. They didn’t get that there is a limit to the amount of voters that will appreciate the message of Mr. Trump and Mr. Åkesson, and when you’ve reached all of them, you will need to change your strategy to expand. The SD party understands this, and now want little to do with their old racist voters in continuous attempts to appeal to non-nationalist voters, but Trump doesn’t.
The SD voters think Trump will win, even though there is little evidence of that. They also think the reason their own party is trailing in the polls is that there is a conspiracy against their leaders. Voter fraud is as high on the agenda for far right supporters everywhere, because they are scared and feel cheated in life in general and are hence more prone to believe that The Establishment is out to ruin their life. Donald or Jimmie is their champion and they need to fight the system for them.
Depicting and addressing the opponent in schoolyard bullying terms
Donald Trump calls his counter-part ”Crooked Hillary”, presumably because his supporters love it, which in turn is yet another proof of their complete lack of sophistication.
Åkesson does not behave that way, because he is politically smarter than Trump. He knows that in order to appeal to the voters that are thinking of joining his party, he must express himself with some kind of dignity.
Still, the SD supporters are pretty much the same kind as Trump supporters. They use degrading nick names for politicians they don’t agree with, they send hate messages to us who don’t share their views. The childish, bullying tone that most people leave behind at the age of 13 is yet another example that shows the core of what this article is about:
These people are narrow-minded because they are quite simple-minded to begin with.
We’ve been here before
Please re-read this article, but replace ”Muslims” with ”Jews”.
Then think about whether you’ve seen these trends before.
*All bildning står på ofri grund till slutet, blott barbariet var en gång fosterländskt.
— Esaias Tegnér (1782-1846)
… once famously paraphrased by then Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and used as proof that he hated Sweden.