“All the routines of daily life are affected. You choose between being spat on in public places or staying at home. You are completely exposed. It suddenly becomes quiet all around you. Friends you have known for many years cut themselves off, acquaintances walk on the other side of the street, colleagues turn their heads away and it is suddenly hard to find somebody to have lunch with. When you are exposed to a smear campaign, you will never be the same again. If you have not had that experience, you cannot imagine how it is.”
“You end up in a situation that is like war. You cannot even go out and buy milk. You have to remind yourself to get food with a mobile phone app … You travel at night, switching cars.”
– Victims of media persecution
In the first part of this exploration of media persecution in Scandinavia, I looked at the experience of Swedish samizdat writer Julia Caesar, who has publicly described having her veil of anonymity ripped away by activist journalists. Here, I consider some other Scandinavian victims, again drawing heavily on two podcasts by Julia Caesar.
Lars Danielsson was not a political dissident, but a very senior bureaucrat in the Swedish government, who had the signal bad luck to be briefly away from his desk when he was needed to coordinate the evacuation from Thailand after the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. Over 500 Swedes were killed, and tens of thousands of others had to be repatriated in this disaster. It remains unclear why he was initially unresponsive, but Danielsson was deemed to have let Sweden down. There were rumours of Ugandan discussions with a colleague, which may have distracted him. These provided a point of attack for the media. A tabloid ran a picture of him with the word “Liar.” The target was set up, and the world’s nicest people pitched in.
Danielsson was repeatedly beaten and abused. He was spat on in the street. His car was vandalised. He would come home to a weeping family. At his Öland summerhouse, a car was parked outside for days. Its occupant, a journalist, asked every time he saw him, When are you thinking of telling the truth?
Julia Caesar calls this worst media smear campaign in Sweden’s modern history. In 2006, Danielsson quit, and a year later published an account of his experiences, I skuggan av makten (In the shadow of power).
“I felt like a hunted animal. Everybody knows who I am, so I cannot go out, I cannot go out shopping. It’s just not possible.” Because of the persistent rumours, this went on 12 years, fading and then being fanned back into life at tabloid whim. Danielsson described the ordeal as a kind of “unending decapitation.”
He did eventually manage to achieve rehabilitation as a top Brussels official, after being shunted off to diplomatic duty in the Far East for a spell.
“The media smear campaign becomes a kind of brand,” Julia Caesar remarks. “Many people believe what the media say. They play on people’s lowest instincts. The person who bears the stigma is dehumanised. He becomes a kind of caricature. It takes years to overcome a media smear campaign, if you ever do.”
* * *
Peder Nøstvold Jensen probably never will. Many readers of this website will know the writings of this Norwegian commentator, whose pen-name is Fjordman.
I am myself a big fan of Fjordman. His essays are always very well-informed and well-argued, and always in flawless English. In the quality rankings in the alternative media, he is in the top ten, comparable with, say, Douglas Murray. He is exceptionally good on Islam in particular, because he has extensive experience of living in Muslim countries (Cairo, West Bank) and knows some Arabic, assets virtually no other European commentator can bring to the table. He had already built up a significant following on the alternative media as an anonymous blogger from Ålesund, a town in western Norway, when, on 22 July 2011, his world was overturned.
This was the date of the mass murder on Utøya Island carried by Anders Behring Breivik. Breivik had read, admired and quoted Fjordman in his “manifesto.” Fjordman’s real identity was outed and he soon found himself living the life of a fugitive.
Now I should say here I have not researched this deeply—the Going Postal pay rate not quite that good—and it is possible that Fjordman has written about his experience in English. I couldn’t find much, and here am going to mainly use an email interview which he gave in 2015 to Ronny Berg of Norwegian paper Verdens Gang (which means Way of the World). In it, Fjordman describes being hounded out of his homeland for the crime of being quoted.
“My privacy was in chaos after the attacks on 22 July. I had a steady job in Oslo, but under the sudden and extreme media pressure it was not practically possible for me to continue … I worked at that time with young people with Asperger’s Syndrome. I quit the job with the understanding of the employer. Because of the actions of a man I never met, I was branded as the driving force behind an international terror network of sadistic murderers which turned out not to exist. The atmosphere was characterized by mass hysteria. It was so overheated. The hate-figure image the media had made of me was so effective that it was too risky for me to stay in my little apartment in Oslo. Since I received no help from either the police or the Norwegian authorities, I finally chose leave the country for my own safety. I was genuinely homeless for a long period, sleeping on couches, guest-beds and summer houses until I eventually fixed up an abode of my own again.”
After July 2011, Fjordman had to live at secret addresses in several countries. “Most people I know in Islam-critical circles now have secret addresses. That’s because of the Islamic threat, which unfortunately is becoming worse.” Fjordman is not exaggerating about his personal safety. The Danish critic of Islam, Lars Hedegaard (with whom Fjordman has a professional relationship), was almost killed by his own home in 2013 by a would-be gunman; on another occasion, a Danish Mohammed cartoonist was attacked by an axe-wielding Somali. In the Verdens Gang interview, Fjordman declined to say where he was living.
After the Utøya attack, Fjordman said, “The first year was a tough time. I was on sick leave for a few weeks on doctor’s orders and withdrew from all contact with the media for several months after having come forward under my own name in Verdens Gang. This was necessary to get me through this period unscathed. I needed to take time out to save my physical and mental health. The pressure on me was really extreme.”
The world’s second-nicest people were doing their bit. In addition to being hounded out of his homeland, Jensen found himself lampooned on the Norwegian TV show Trygdekontoret as a severely disabled Nazi, “Heine Fjordland,” who writes by mouth-stick while scrounging benefits. Evidently, it was OK for the tax-eating state broadcaster to humiliate quadriplegics — collateral damage, I guess — as long as the main target was an evil fascist.
Breivik cited Fjordman 111 times in his “manifesto,” calling him “the most talented right-wing essayist in Europe.” But he also distanced himself from Fjordman, due to the latter’s alleged sympathy for Israel. Fjordman in turn regarded Breivik as a paranoid schizophrenic. Fjordman has stated that what has been done to him makes about as much sense as blaming the Beatles for Charles Manson (who linked the song Helter Skelter to his murders). It’s a fair point. Fjordman also contrasts the media attitude to another Norwegian citizen who was implicated in mass-murder — one of the gang that carried out the gruesome Kenya Westgate massacre held a Norwegian passport. During the massacre, the terrorists broke off to pray and quizzed people about the Koran to find out if they were Muslims. Evidently, it was OK to quote this text.
After this disaster, Fjordman came to feel that he had to respond to the allegations against him. “The discussion about my alleged evil is so extensive that to pretend it never happened, would constitute a form of falsification of history. One can argue that I have not only a right, but maybe also a duty, to give my side of the matter … If I say nothing, then it creates a space for others to promote myths and inaccuracies.” To this end, he began a book titled Witness to Madness.
In his interviews, Fjordman gives the impression of being anything but a limelight-seeking rabble-rouser. “I am by nature a deeply private person. I live mostly a quiet peaceful private life. I thrive better in the company of small groups of friends and relatives than at large gatherings. When I relax, I like to watch a movie. One of the things I like best is travelling.”
You suspect that he modestly understates just how frightening and horrible this whole thing has been. Fjordman continues to write articles about mass immigration, Islam and related topics, though his public profile does seem lower now than it was in the 2000s. He can be found on Gates of Vienna.
Julia Caesar’s podcasts (in Swedish)
Fjordman on Gates of Vienna
For Joe Slater’s free downloadable pdf travel books on Sweden, North Europe and East Asia, please visit this website: https://www.itabibito.com/
© Joe Slater 2019
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file