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Calling a Swede a Swede

Imagine an alternate universe where terrorists are Scandinavian — Swedes, to be specific.

by
Leon de Winter

Bio

November 20, 2010 - 12:00 am
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So in order to find this one radical, tall, blonde, blue-eyed harbinger of evil, we check every human being on the planet who dares to board an airplane. That is why getting onto an airplane has turned into a spectacle of humiliation, confusion, and indecency. We don’t allow ourselves to profile the Swedes in order to find the bad Swedes.

Why can’t we profile the Swedes? Because we stick to the idea that, basically, it is just a coincidence that all terrorists are Swedes. It’s nonsense, but we feel it is a correct idea. We pretend: They could be from Chile. Or Delaware. The moment we say that all terrorists are Odinist, we are putting blame on Odin, the Nordic supreme god. We say: If all terrorists are Odinist, there may be something wrong with Odin himself. We shouldn’t do that.

By not singling out blonde, blue-eyed, young male Swedes called Johansson we can preserve the idea that it’s not Odin who is driving Swedish terrorists into a genocidal rage, but rather American imperialism or Jewish Zionism or the lack of a Swedish issue of Hustler magazine. An Evangelical Lutheran granny from Wyoming could be a terrorist too, we say, when she is being crotch-searched or put in a high-radiation cubicle. Never has a bomb been found in the crotch of a Wyoming Lutheran granny, but that’s not what the crotch-searching is about.

It is a ritual. It means: We don’t want to talk about Odin. We don’t want to talk about violent young male Swedish Odinists. We don’t want to talk about the fact that all terrorists are Swedes. We’d better pretend  that all people are terrorists.

So when a TSA employee is touching your private parts or when you are standing in a high-radiation cubicle, think of Odin and all those non-terrorist Swedes who don’t want us to remind them of the brutal fact that “Odin is great” are the last words the Swedish terrorists mutter before they explode.

All this is happening because the Swedes want us to shut up about the ugly truth of Swedish terrorism — that is why we are being crotch-searched when we board a plane.

Feels good, doesn’t it?

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Leon de Winter is a novelist and columnist for Elsevier Magazine in the Netherlands. His last novel, The Right of Return is a thriller set in Tel Aviv in 2024. He presently lives in Los Angeles.
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