by Gary Fouse
As I wrote in a previous article about Sweden, I began studying Swedish while living in the Washington DC area in the 1990s. Why Swedish? It all started when I was a young US Army soldier stationed in Germany in the late 1960s. In 1968, a buddy and I took a vacation in Copenhagen and Stockholm. Already having learned German, I was so impressed by the two countries that I decided one day I would learn a Scandinavian language. It wasn’t until the 1990s that I had the opportunity because there was a Swedish school in Northern Virginia that operated culture and language classes on Saturdays. While learning the language, I had the chance to go to Stockholm as part of a DEA drug training course for Scandinavian drug officers. Though not proficient, I tried to carry on conversations with the Swedish cops during social hours.
Unfortunately, my chances to use Swedish stopped when we moved to Southern California in 1998. My interest was dormant for several years until I was able to take private conversation lessons a year or so back.
Now that I am fully retired, I have decided to get serious about Swedish. I have become a devotee of Swedish crime series on TV. The most famous is the Wallender creation of Sweden’s famed (and recently deceased) crime writer Henning Mankell. Kurt Wallender is the fiction detective in Ystad, a small town in southern Sweden. There are several varieties, two series in Swedish and one in English with British actors. The Swedish series, which began about 20 years ago has featured Rolf Lassgård and Krister Henricksson. playing the role of Wallender. The stories, which are quite entertaining, would make you think Ystad is the crime center of Europe or at least Sweden. (That distinction probably belongs to nearby Malmö.)
Having exhausted the Wallender episodes, I moved on to a series called Maria Wern, which involves a female police officer in Visby, a charming town on the island of Gotland off Sweden’s eastern coast. Again, very entertaining. The series ran on Swedish TV from 2008 to 2016. I also finished watching a series called Talisman, with a rather improbable plot.
At this point, having finished Maria Wern and Talisman, I am watching a series called The Fjällbacka Murders This centers around a female crime writer married to a cop. One way or another, she manages to work the cases with her husband and help the police solve the crime.
They all have English sub-titles, which I still require to improve my comprehension. Finally, I have gotten involved with a Skype-based online program (Italki) where you can exchange conversation with people around the world who are learning English in exchange for conversation in their native tongue, in my case Swedish.
Be patient. I am getting to my point. It has nothing to do with language.
We hear a lot about Swedish crime these days. Rapes, riots, assaults, and even terror attacks. In one form or another, it is a daily occurrence in Sweden now. But who is committing these crimes? The answer is simple. It is the immigrants, mostly Muslims living in dangerous no-go zones in and around Malmö and Stockholm. Sweden is the rape capital of Europe-and it isn’t because of Swedish men.
But in Swedish TV land, you don’t see this. Political correctness rules. Conceding that the Wallender series may be outdated, but among all the murders and blood portrayed in these entertaining shows, the villains are almost always Swedes. But now that Sweden has become a multi-cultural country, one would ask how immigrants are represented in these series given the problems the country is suffering. I must admit that the above shows are centered in small provincial areas far from Stockholm. A few immigrants are shown occasionally, but only as victims or objects of unfair accusations.
Ah, but there are a few foreign-born immigrants who are villains. Guess where they are from.
Russia, former Yugoslavia, the Baltic countries, Moldova, Romania or Belarus.
You see, Sweden learned from Hollywood (or was it the other way around?) that the above groups can easily be portrayed as bad guys. White Eastern Europeans are all the rage these days when film producers concede that there are some immigrant bad hombres. We have seen more than our share in the US. Plane hijackers? Yugoslavians. People plotting to set off a bomb somewhere? Russians.
I am by no means done with exploring Swedish crime shows. If there is something out there centered in today’s Stockholm and dealing with no-gone zones like Husby or the Rosengård section of Malmö, I will update and give due credit.
For some unfathomable reason, I would like to become fluent in Swedish. Will I ever go back there? It’s doubtful. Frankly, while I am charmed by Sweden’s natural beauty as in Stockholm and Visby, I am disgusted with the country. They have created a la-la land, fulfilling their wish to end their homogeneity. Like other Western European countries, they have blown immigration. They could have done it right, but instead they allowed in too many people who have no intention of assimilating. And like other Western European countries, they are prepared not only to deny the problem but make life miserable for those who speak out in opposition.
So enjoy your new country, Sweden-while it lasts. I can envision the day when Swedish becomes an endangered language. If I live to be old enough, I will endure the taunts of my friends who will ask (as they already do), “Why did you ever decide to learn Swedish?”
Did I mention I am also doing all this with Dutch too? That can be the topic of another article.