- A Journalist's Crusade
I was as enthralled as other readers by the Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy, a saga of crime, intrigue, unusual characters, corruption, and exploitation of women. It was inspired by his own experience as the editor-in-chief of a journal, Expo, that investigated and explored right-wing extremism. Living in Scandinavia, I have seen both the fascinating films and the television serials based on the books. It is an irony that Stieg Larsson's early death at the age of fifty in 2004 and legal arguments barred his common-law wife from getting the royalties from the international bestsellers. Since I enjoyed the trilogy in which justice is eventually done, I gladly accepted to review this book. The press release promises that it "is the real Stieg Larsson."
In the book, we meet with a journalist and editor-in-chief who is alert to every move of Neo-Nazis in Sweden, a man who is fierce in his defense of homosexuals and who, in his two discussions of a gang-rape of a Swedish girl by Muslim boys, stresses that worse crimes are committed by Swedish men on Swedish women. He predicts that something like the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing will take place in Sweden: "All the ingredients are already in place: hatred, fanaticism, a sect mentality and a romanticization of violence." He uses the 1999 explosion of three nail bombs in London and the police arrest of the "lone" terrorist to make the point that no terrorist is an island, entire to itself, and that there is always some murky ideological and social support.
In 2002, Larsson sees the rise and victories of the populist "Danish People's Party" as proof of the increased success of racist views in politics. He investigates the return of anti-Semitism in the Swedish political context in depth. He incisively charts different stages in defectors' discreet departure from right-wing parties. In a subsequent article, he attacks astrology. He is merciless in his description of the Neo-Nazi "Sweden Party." Before the murderer of the Swedish foreign minister Anna Lind had been identified, Larsson emphasised that the assassin "has acted in a climate in which politicians and public figures are increasingly legimate targets for crude hate campaigns." He castigates a leading Swedish newspaper for providing a "Sweden Party" member with a platform from which he could hurl undocumented accusations against the Euro and the European Union.
Larsson focuses on journalism as the world's most dangerous profession, provides chilling international statistics on the murders of journalists, and argues that a Neo-Nazi smear campaigns against Swedish journalists is indicative of an increasingly hostile political climate in Sweden. Although Larsson refers to right-wing movements in other countries such as the U.S. and the UK, his main concern is with right-wing organizations in Sweden. I have no doubt that he is surefooted when he covers Sweden, but when he lists the proposals of restrictions on immigration in Denmark, he does not take into account the complex Danish social and political context: a) The prime minister ruled cynically by a parliamentary majority of one, b) brazenly objected to any discussion, c) arrogantly brushed off any criticism, at the same time d) that more and more Danes realized that the lax immigration laws of the past had landed us with new citizens who, without having contributed one mite, considered the welfare state a serve-yourself table.
There are a few other places where I feel that Larsson has disregarded the importance of the social and cultural contexts. But having said this, I find that the book conveys an accurate picture of Larsson as an honest, idealistic, and conscientious left-leaning journalist in tenacious pursuit of freedom of speech and equality between the sexes. This is a courageous stand and it calls for respect.
Click for larger view
View full resolution
The book in hand, however, only conveys this to readers of Expo, the political journal that Larsson...