In these days Sweden is of course most famous – or infamous – for the Assange affair. Our mainstream media – of which Dagens Nyheter (the New York Times of Sweden) is No. 1 – doesn’t really know on which foot to stand. Here we have freedom of expression at stake, but also a legislation on sexual behavior which is sacred for our feminists and last but not least the important relations with the United States. Consequently there is little of this and little of that on the matter, but above all a lot of silence.
There is an interesting thought experiment to make as a litmus test on the editorial staff at Dagens Nyheter (DN). We might just suppose that Assange had revealed, not US but Russian secrets of equivalent importance, and that prominent politicians and media people in Russia had screamed for him to be immediately executed. Furthermore that Russian authorities had carefully prepared a special court for Assange in a reliable district near Moscow and expected Sweden or some other country to deliver him on a silver plate.
In such a case there are no doubts whatsoever about which reactions to expect from DN. It would sound approximately like this: “Putin and his associates show there utter contempt for human rights when they seek to severely punish a man who just practices his elementary rights of free expression. This is what you can expect from these stone age-thinking post communists (of course in nicer wordings) and we must do our utmost to protect Assange from all evil. An extradition is out of question!” Regarding the case of possible rape we certainly could have expected the decision made by the first female prosecutor to stand, namely to drop the case (in the improbable event that the police officers had even bothered to forward the questions from the two girls in the first place).
That’s politics, same style here as everywhere. It’s just cute to watch people with unquestionably functioning brains act like trained dogs when it comes to these issues. It should be said that Swedish politics has been drifting slowly from the old social democrat ideals in a rightward direction since at least 20 years. And the newspapers have drifted along. But still our most conservative politicians wouldn’t feel uncomfortable among many of the liberals in the US. So there is always a perspective to take into account.
I believe there will be reasons to comment on this affair in the light of future events.