Swedish unwillingness or inability?

Swedish Chancellor of Justice Mr Göran Lambertz appears to be a victim of his own unwillingness or, at best, inability to do his job properly.

The Chancellor responded both defensively and offensively to a press release (http://www.upprop.net/pressrelease.php?lang=eng) highlighting his decision to drop preliminary investigations into a Stockholm mosque’s calls to kill Jews. He defended his decision on the grounds that such calls, while repugnant, should be seen against the background of the conflict in the Middle East, commenting further that even calls of an offensive nature are “protected by the Constitution, and (that) freedom goes very deep”. He is not on record as having stated that the Muhammed cartoons, while repugnant, should be seen against the background of Islamist violence against unprotected civilians in the name of Muhammed, nor that the right to publish them in Sweden is protected by the Constitution, whose freedom goes very deep.

It is interesting, moreover, to note the following:

1. The Chancellor is highly irate because he feels the press release suggested “it would be politically correct in Sweden to refuse prosecuting hate speech against Jews”. Unfortunately, the Chancellor interprets the English language the way he interprets Swedish law – rather flexibly: nowhere in the press release was there any suggestion that that it is politically correct in Sweden to do any such thing, but rather that the Chancellor has taken it upon himself to interpret the law in this way, perhaps out of inadequate preparation of the case (see point 3 below), concern in an election year (see point 2), or fear of Muslim sentiment, among other possible considerations. If the latter, then that is highly regrettable because the Chancellor is not in office to cower out of fear, but to uphold the law. He failed in spectacular fashion.

2. The Chancellor is also highly irate over what he sees as the suggestion in the press release that his decision might have had “something to do with the upcoming elections in Sweden”. The record needs to be put straight: this IS an election year in Sweden, he surely cannot be contesting that. And the Chancellor DID soft-pedal on an issue of considerable concern to Muslims in Sweden, and he did so on highly questionable grounds (see point 3 below). There is no reason to avoid pointing out all the facts in the scenario, however peripheral he may regard them from his scarcely objective viewpoint. After all, the Chancellor himself chose to point out facts that are widely regarded as remarkably peripheral in defence of his decision to drop the preliminary investigation into racial hatred at the Stockholm mosque – he after all chose to point to a conflict taking place several thousand kilometres away on a totally different continent, in which conflict Sweden plays no part whatsoever. It is hard to imagine why the Chancellor would grant himself the right to cite peripheral events in defence of his inaction, yet get upset over his citizens’ right to cite peripheral events when highlighting that inaction.

3. Despite his charmingly worded protestations (in English) to the contrary, the Chancellor is being somewhat economical with the full facts of the case. At a debate (in Swedish) at the Stockholm Jewish Centre in early April, some interesting revelations were made:
i. There exists no substantial documentation to which he can refer and on which his “findings” were based.
ii. The flagrantly anti-Semitic texts from the Stockholm mosque were never fully translated in writing for his examination; instead he received a verbal translation through the services of an interpreter, and this verbal translation was more in the nature of a summary of the contents. Yet the Chancellor writes: “There is furthermore no reason for me to review my decision as long as such re-examination would concern the same material.” The question is: what material would this be? The Chancellor, after all, admits he has none.
iii. The Chancellor also freely admits that the political situation in the Middle East is highly inflamed – it is in fact the very excuse he offers for sanctioning the viciously anti-Semitic statements in the first place. Yet despite the inflamed nature of the conflict – which has nothing to do with Swedish Jews – he does not see fit to put in place the elementary safeguard of employing several translators and subsequently comparing their renderings of the contents. This begs the question of just how naive a public upholder of the law is permitted to be in such a situation, when he freely admits that the very subject of the Middle East causes such high feeling among all concerned.
iv. Despite the Chancellor’s protestations to the contrary in his English letter, he was put in the highly awkward position of having to publicly backtrack in Swedish on every single count during the debate in Stockholm. None of which is evident in his English letter. It would appear he has taken a leaf out of Yasser Arafat’s book – Arafat going down in history as the man who made an art of out saying one thing in English and quite another in Arabic.

There is a consideration of moral relevance here. Not that anyone in their right minds in the open, democratic country of Sweden would think of suggesting anything as deplorable as the following – it being merely a rhetorical extension of the Chancellor’s own argument – but would the Chancellor’s decision now open the door for calls in Sweden to kill Arabs and/or Muslims everywhere? After all, the number of Jews blown apart in suicide bombings in Israel over the past five years is well documented. These suicide bombings all carried out, of course, by Arabs and Muslims. We also know how many victims of suicide bombings there have been in London, Madrid, New York, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, Russia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, to mention just some of the venues of this Arab and Muslim pastime. All atrocities committed by Arabs and Muslims in countries remote from Sweden.

Against this background of wanton daily mass-murder in places quite remote from Sweden, would Swedes now be permitted to call on their fellow-citizens to kill Arabs and Muslims in the calm backwaters of Sweden? After all, as the Chancellor wrote: “it is quite safe to say that the (Swedish) Law does not make it a crime to sing battle songs or utter war-cries related to the conflict in the Middle East.” Would one be right in assuming it is quite all right for non-Muslim Swedes to pursue such a reprehensible line because, to quote the Chancellor once again, their right to say such things “is protected by the Constitution, and the freedom goes very deep.” God protect Sweden from a society in which its citizens would be allowed to utter such disgraceful, anti-democratic sentiments. However, that right apparently sits quite easily with the Swedish Chancellor of Justice.

There remains, of course, the ultimate problem with the Chancellor’s handling of this case: because it was actually the Swedish Chancellor of Justice who offered the argument that the repugnant calls for killing Jews should be set against the conflict in the Middle East. The Swedish Muslims guilty of this racial incitement made no such connection whatsoever, pointing solely to the Muslim religious aspects of the case. It is remarkable that the Chancellor is so keen to offer his radical Islamist citizens an escape hatch from what he himself calls their “utterly provoking and quite unacceptable” comments aimed at his own moderate Jewish citizens.

It is morally repugnant that the Chancellor has recei
ved hate-mail, as he claims, just because he did a bad job. Incompetence should not be responded to with hatred or threats, but with guidance and reason. If the Chancellor did indeed receive threats just for doing an inadequate job, I for one would stand should to shoulder alongside him and defend his right to live in safety and security – because this is precisely what all right-thinking democrats in Sweden are defending, it is precisely why there has been such widespread criticism of the Chancellor’s decision to close the investigation into calls that undermine the safety and security of Sweden’s Jews.

The Chancellor did what he did out of any one or more of a number of reasons. And it is reason that will bring him to ultimately do what he should have done in the first place – a thorough job.

But for him to suggest that the press release has “cheated” its readers is nothing short of a desperate attempt to defend the indefensible – his abject failure to live up to the high demands of his office.