Whiney nays and Cheap Mondays always bring me down
By Greg Strange
Quick, when someone mentions the country of Sweden, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Anything at all? For most people, it's meatballs, or maybe the fact that it has one of the goofiest sounding languages in the world, and that‘s about it. Which isn't surprising since it's a pretty quiet place where very little of any particular consequence ever happens.
There was a time decades ago when it had a racy reputation for being a place where everyone was blonde, good-looking and sexually liberated, the place to go if sensuality and hedonistic pleasure-seeking were things upon which you wanted to base a lifestyle. Reference was made to that old reputation in the 1999 movie Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me when a woman told Powers, "You've had more sex on the job than a Swedish stewardess."
But that's all pretty passé in this day and age given that sexual freedom -- or, to put it another way, promiscuity -- is rampant throughout the Western world. Still, no one should be surprised to learn that Sweden is the most secular of all European countries, the number of regular church-goers having dwindled to a very small percentage of the population.
But it's not small enough for Bjorn Atldax, the designer of a provocative logo for a trendy new punk-rock style of jeans known as Cheap Mondays. The logo depicts a skull with a cross turned upside down on its forehead, all for the purpose of making young people question Christianity, as if it wasn't already an irrelevancy to most young Swedes anyway.
"It is an active statement against Christianity," Atldax told the Associated Press. "I'm not a Satanist myself, but I have a great dislike for organized religion." Atldax believes that Christianity is a ‘force of evil" that has sparked wars throughout history and therefore needs to be discouraged.
Of course, if Atldax were to acquire a more substantive knowledge of recent world history than that which can be gleaned from peacenik bumper stickers, he might realize that Christianity has long since outgrown its proselytizing, territory-conquering days. To call Christianity a "force of evil" now is simply nonsense. Looking at the most destructive forces of evil of the past century -- Nazism, fascism, communism -- and the tens of millions who were slaughtered in their name, one can't help but notice a pronounced dearth of Christian-influenced warmongering.
Despite its indifference, and sometimes outright hostility, towards Christianity, Sweden is one of the most often cited countries as a great place to go by Americans who are dissatisfied with their own country in some way or who swear they'll bail out of the U.S. if ____ (insert Republican name here) is elected president. In fact, if I had a nickel for every time I'd heard some left-leaning American sing the praises of that snowbound Shangri-la, I'd be . . . Well, I wouldn't be rich, but I would have filled up a fair-sized change jar by now, enough to go out and get a nice meal of my favorite ethnic food, which wouldn't include anything Swedish since the food, as well as the country itself, is the epitome of blandness.
Admittedly, though, as social welfare states go, it's done pretty well, perhaps better than most other European welfare states. As pointed out in the CIA World Factbook: "Aided by peace and neutrality for the whole 20th century, Sweden has achieved an enviable standard of living under a mixed system of high-tech capitalism and extensive welfare benefits."
That's all fine and dandy, but what most America-bashing Sweden admirers, as well as hipster logo designers, fail to realize is that whatever characteristics they find so appealing about the place are all possible because of the greatness of one particular, predominantly Christian country: the United States. That's because without its military might, Sweden would be just another province within a larger Nazi, or perhaps a Soviet, empire. How uncool would that be?
It's one of those nattering little details of history that your garden variety, social utopian doesn't like to expend too many brain cells thinking about. For ideological reasons it's just so much more palatable to believe that Sweden's neutrality, pacifism, welfare statism and general social liberalism are the causes of its relative success. Then one can believe that if all Western countries would simply emulate Sweden, the West would basically be trouble free rather than having to deal with the nastiness of things like global warming and apocalyptic Islamic terrorism.
And speaking of apocalyptic Islamic terrorism, interestingly, Osama bin Laden mentioned Sweden in his personalized videotaped communiqué to the American people just before the 2004 election. In disputing President Bush's claim that part of the reason for the 9/11 attacks was because al-Qaeda hates freedom, bin Laden said, "Let him tell us why we did not strike Sweden, for example." In other words, bin Laden was saying, Sweden is free, but al-Qaeda didn't attack it; therefore, it's not about freedom.
There‘s actually some truth to that. What it's more about is the fact that the U.S. supports Israel and in plenty of other ways dares to stick its nose into Middle Eastern affairs. Sweden, on the other hand, is an innocuous, pacifistic, inconsequential little country that minds its own business and doesn't give Islamofascists an excuse to attack it -- or at least it hasn't yet.
But despite what bin Laden said about not striking Sweden, jihad is all about killing infidels and Sweden's chock full of ‘em. And like other European countries, Sweden has had its share of Muslim immigration. Malmo, the third largest city in Sweden, has acquired a population that is 40 percent foreign, many of whom are Muslims. As in other European countries, many Swedish Muslims have difficulty assimilating, despite the country's liberalism and social utopianism. Many Muslims in Malmo no doubt have one foot in a radical Mosque and the other on a banana peel.
So, while logo designer Bjorn Atldax is trying through his work to eradicate the possibility that an occasional Swedish teenager might take an interest in Christianity, a demographic time bomb is ticking away in Sweden. Secular ethnic Swedes don't reproduce themselves enough to grow their population while Muslim immigrants do. The math is simple. Sweden is in far more danger of going Islamic than it is of having some sort of Christian revival. So where are the anti-Islam logos?
Orjan Andersson, the creator of Cheap Mondays, doesn‘t take Altdax's message very seriously: "I don't believe in neither the devil nor God. I'm not interested in religion, I'm more interested in that the logo looks good."
Fine, Orjan, whatever floats your boat. But one of the fundamental characteristics of human beings is that they need something to believe in. It doesn't necessarily have to be religion, but it needs to be something more than "that the logo looks good" if life is to have much meaning or purpose. And while your logo designer is busy misguidedly trying to wipe out the last vestiges of Christian influence, the Muslims in your midst have a very solid sense of purpose, and that purpose is for the world to be Islamic.
Greg Strange's web site can be found at http://www.greg-strange.com. (c) 2006 Greg Strange.
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