by Bruce Bawer
They're tigresses when confronting Trump, but meek in the face of real misogyny.
So here's twenty-first-century Western feminism in a nutshell. Earlier this month, after the White House released a photograph of Donald Trump signing a presidential order in the presence of several male appointees, Isabella Lovin, the Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, put out a picture of herself signing a climate-change law in the company of other top female officials. Plainly, the photo was meant as a defiant statement of proud womanhood in the face of the world's leading threat to female equality and dignity – the new man in the Oval Office. Indeed, the current Swedish government, in which the cabinet consists of twelve men and twelve women, has proclaimed itself to be “the world's first feminist government.” Buzzfeed's article about this triumphant moment carried the headline: “Did The Swedish Government Just Epically Troll Donald Trump With This All-Woman Photo?”
But what a difference a couple of weeks can make. The other day a four-man, eleven-woman Swedish delegation traveled to Tehran to ink a trade deal with the mullahs. Throughout the visit, the women, led by Trade Minister Ann Linde, wore hijabs, plus long, shapeless coats obviously selected for maximum “modesty.” One photograph, which shows the female members of the Swedish delegation striding past Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, is wonderfully illuminating: in their postures, in their facial expressions, these women's defiance in response to big, bad, evil Trump is nowhere in evidence. They're all wearing dark pants. The woman whose face we can see the best is the very picture of meekness and obeisance. The look on her face might well be that of a humble, pious, provincial nun about to be introduced to the Pope. Her right hand is on her chest, a signal that Rouhani need not worry that she might try to shake his hand. Another picture shows Linde herself clearly bowing to an Iranian official. The “world's first feminist government,” which “epically troll[ed]” Trump, thus effectively communicated to Iran – and the entire Muslim world – a message of submission that could hardly have been improved upon. UN Watch quite rightly dubbed it a “walk of shame.”
In Sweden, of course, every properly brought up man or woman knows that it's virtuous to thumb your nose at the U.S. president and equally virtuous to bow and scrape to terrorism-supporting imams. But a picture says a thousand words, and the images of those female officials sporting hijabs in Iran proved to be too much even for a lot of otherwise hardy Swedish stomachs. The leader of the Liberal Party worried aloud that the pictures would empower “conservative forces in our suburbs” (in other words, religious Muslims). Linde offered the “excuse” that the hijabs worn by her delegation were actually designed in Sweden. Get it? While signing a trade deal, they were modeling Swedish products intended for use by docile females! As Norway's document.no website commented: “We see the contours of a new Swedish export success: Feminist government facilitates the export of hijabs to Iran.” (By the way, it turns out that when a female Norway official, Ingvil Smines Tybring-Gjedde, was scheduled to visit Iran in December and was told she'd have to wear a hijab, she refused – and canceled the trip.)
To an American reader, the insistently proclaimed feminism may seem – to put it mildly – philosophically inconsistent with the deference toward Iranian male leaders. But not to the Swedish mind. Let me explain. As Swedish writer Chris Forsna wrote in a recent article, Swedes have been inculcated for decades with the idea that they “are more moral, feminist, and humanitarian than all other nationalities” and that they can make the rest of the world good by encouraging it to follow their example. In short, it's a twisted version of a missionary mentality. The result: a country where retired Swedes – who worked hard and paid preposterous tax rates to fund the welfare state, assured they'd be taken care of in their old age – are now being forced to live in re-purposed shipping containers while newly arrived Muslim families are handed the keys to sprawling houses. That's just one example. Similar drastic cutbacks are occurring in health care, education, policing, and other sectors in order to cover handouts to the newcomers.
Crazy, no? But once you grasp the Swedish mind, the upside-down priorities make total sense. Geriatric Swedes, in the minds of Stockholm officials, must sacrifice to help change the world. As for Swedish Jews who've been forced into exile by Muslim anti-Semitism – hey, they don't need help: they're well-educated, well-off, and civilized, and will therefore do just fine in Israel or the U.S. or Canada. The people who really need help are the poor, illiterate, and (yes) brutal and barbaric hordes from the Islamic world. How to transform them into angels if you don't house, feed, and clothe them royally first?
Besides, what reward is there for a government functionary who simply gives pensioners their due or provides Jews with the protection they deserve? That's just a matter of doing one's job. Big deal! By contrast, if you distribute lavish handouts to foreigners who haven't done a thing to earn them, you're not just doing your job: you're demonstrating your virtue and providing those foreigners with a splendid moral lesson.
Of course, after all these years, it's clear to everyone that the lesson Muslim freeloaders are learning isn't that Swedes are virtuous but that they're world-class saps. It should also be obvious to Swedes that all too many of the people they're helping have nothing but the deepest contempt for their country, and that, unless all this nonsense is stopped (and put into reverse) very dramatically and very fast, they'll bring about its downfall.
But it's hard for a true believer to give up on a religion. And I'm not talking about Islam. I'm talking about that lethal faith known as Swedish do-gooderism.
Bruce Bawer is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center and the author of “While Europe Slept” and “Surrender.” His book "The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind" is just out from Broadside / Harper Collins.
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