When the father of the family, George Floyd, was strangled to death by a police officer in Minnesota, it led to major protests in Sweden. The question is not why so many protested – of course people wanted to express their disgust for such a crime – but why there is such apathy in the face of violence here at home.
There are no demonstrations on Sergels torg after the murder of 70-year-old Gert-Inge Bertinsson from Markaryd, left to die in the woods, tied up and severely beaten.
There were also no demonstrations when the Court of Appeal acquitted the perpetrators, two Ukrainian men, because it was considered impossible to determine which of the two was guilty of the deadly violence.
No demonstrations pass through Stockholm for 19-year-old Tommie Lindh, brutally stabbed to death while his girlfriend was raped.
And no Swedish crowds demand justice after the murder of Simone Barreto Silva, the Brazilian mother of three who was murdered in the terrorist attack on a church in Nice in October. Black Lives Matter does not protest for Barreto Silva either, even though she is black.
While one murder has become a symbol, the others are regarded as individuals, statistical measuring points of a kind that every sensible person has to come to terms with.
A rape case with two designated so-called “Stureplan profiles” could a few years ago lead to a month-long debate about sexism around the nightclub district on Östermalm.
News this week about the verdict for a brutal assault rape and attempted murder of a child on the way from school does not. The yardstick is different.
In this way, we are in a perfect storm – just as crime is becoming more serious, society has lost some of its mental resilience.
Europe is forced to deal with religiously motivated beheadings. Bombs explode in Swedish residential areas, and children are selected as victims and humiliated by robbers. (The fact that crime is becoming more serious in Sweden is confirmed by a new study by Fredrik Kärrholm, Peter Neyroud and John Smaaland in the Cambridge Journal of Evidence-Based Policing, March 2020).
At the same time, our perception of reality is increasingly characterized by an idea that was born at a university in the 1960s, and which in recent years has come to dominate the debate in the Western world: the notion that Western society is characterized by unparalleled evil in any other part of the world. It is a worldview which, as the economist Thomas Sowell has emphasized, is in itself the result of the West engaging in a type of introspection and self-criticism that is foreign to authoritarian societies.
How this evil is considered to manifest itself has varied over time – the focus has been on class justice, racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia – but the ugliness itself has been constant. Consequently, it arouses great anger when events occur that seemingly confirm such a worldview.
But its much more quieter when a Swedish nineteen-year-old is murdered at a party, before life has even begun.