Cutting through rhetoric on the Sweden refugee affair

Ami Horowitz on Stu Varney show

Filmmaker Ami Horowitz talked with Stu Varney on Fox Business about ‘no-go zones’ in Sweden. (Snip: Ami Horowitz/YouTube)

President Donald Trump brought up the topic of refugees in Sweden in a speech he made to supporters on Saturday in Melbourne (FL).

Trump cited Sweden as a country having problems because of refugee admissions—“You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden…they took in large numbers…they’re having problems like they never thought possible.”

Our president talks off the cuff and that will sometimes lead to a misstep, as it has for past presidents.

It’s not just the president, though, who warrants a closer look. 

PayPal contributions link adTrump had seen an interview Tucker Carlson did on his Fox News channel show with documentarian Ami Horowitz. Horowitz made the case Sweden is covering up crimes by refugees.

The government of Sweden has derided Trump, but media reports upend Sweden’s claims as well as claims by Trump’s critics.

For instance, longtime Clinton ally Robert Reich posted a tweet linking to a story in The Washington Post. Published within days of Trump’s remarks, the article detailed a riot in “a predominantly immigrant neighborhood” in Stockholm, Sweden. Reich blamed Trump for the riot.

What actually caused it, had Reich read the article in left of center The Washington Post, was a drug bust. Despite Reich’s falsehood, such riots had happened before:

“The neighborhood, Rinkeby, was the scene of riots in 2010 and 2013, too. And in most ways, what happened Monday night was reminiscent of those earlier bouts of anger. Swedish police apparently made an arrest on drug charges at about 8 p.m. near the Rinkeby station. For reasons not yet disclosed by the police, word of the arrest prompted youths to gather.

Over four hours, the crowd burned about half a dozen cars, vandalized several shopfronts and threw rocks at police.”

Claims by Horowitz about a coverup by the Swedish government should be considered. Governments often downplay controversies in order to keep the peace. Consider reports dating to the period Sweden eagerly welcomed large numbers of refugees.

In September, 2015, US network PBS ran a story about Sweden’s welcome versus Denmark’s discouragement of refugees. The story shared the experiences of a refugee and its main thrust was to inspire advocacy for displaced migrants. Denmark had already begun to restrict welfare for refugees because of the strain on that small country’s resources. Denmark, after all, is, by its own admission, a social welfare state.

By November 10, 2015, The Guardian ran a story about Sweden’s refugee issue titled Sweden calls on army to help manage refugee crisis. The government was criticized by media for shortcomings in dealing with the refugees, but Sweden had taken in more than most other countries and was, according to the article, like other European countries, taken “by surprise.” A telling part of the article indicates one refugee planned to return to Iraq until things in Sweden improved. How a “refugee” can return to the country he fled for personal safety reasons is not fully explained in the article.

By November 24, 2015, Sweden had reversed its refugee policy. One Left party leader told The Guardian, “Most refugees do not have identity documents, so now they cannot even get to the border and seek asylum.” Until that statement emerged, the consensus among not  just European governments but the administration of President Barack Obama in the US was that the refugees go through extensive vetting.

The United States takes in large numbers of refugees. The Migration Policy Institute, left of center in ideology, said:

“The United States is the world’s top resettlement country for refugees.”

Other than the level of freedoms our Constitution and Bill of Rights are supposed to protect, the US taxpayer is generous to those who come here. The MPI said:

“Once granted U.S. protection, both refugees and asylees are entitled to a social security card and employment authorization. Depending on the individual’s or household’s needs and the length of time that has passed since their arrival or asylum status was granted, they may qualify to receive assistance including cash, medical, housing, educational, and vocational services to promote economic self-sufficiency and integration into society.”

Thus, Trump erred in his choice of words regarding the report on Carlson’s show because nothing had happened the night before, but the government of Sweden erred in overall truth telling. Crimes are documented related to refugees, such as the gang rape of a boy by five Afghan teens in Sweden in December, 2016. The guilty parties were not deported. The victim was younger than 15 according to media.

As for Mr. Reich, it’d be a good idea for him to read an article if he plans to use it to support a serious accusation against the president.

Horowitz often appears on various networks to share his firsthand accounts. In September, 2016, he talked with Fox Business’ Stu Varney about “no-go zones in Sweden.”

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Feb. 22, 2017)

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About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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