I Think It’s Too Late For The White Nationalists….

I’ve been posting this week from Stockholm, Sweden, where I’ve been attending a fascinating conference on Social Citizenship, Migration and Conflict. The issues involved are important, and once I’ve absorbed the papers being presented, I’ll undoubtedly blog about  what I’m learning and what the research tells us, but this post is based on my own perceptions and very unscientific anecdotes.

First, a caveat: the last time I visited Stockholm was some 20 years ago, and it was a very “touristy” visit. This time, I’m out of the city center, in a neighborhood next to the University of Stockholm, which is hosting the conference, so much more likely to see “real life” Swedes going about their business.

The most immediate impression: the people I see on the streets, in the (incredibly clean, convenient and efficient) subway, and on campus are absolutely indistinguishable from crowds in any sizable American city. They include the (mostly young) people on scooters just like the ones we have in Indianapolis, and  the numerous people who are wearing jeans and/or headphones, or are fixated on their smartphones.

There are ATMs everywhere, terrible traffic, lots of advertising….

And there appears to be enormous diversity. Walking back to my hotel from the subway station I passed several Asians, a man I would call African-American at home (I guess he’s African-Swedish), two inter-racial couples, and several typically Nordic-looking folks speaking a variety of languages, including British and American English.

It was the same on the planes I flew getting here; passengers and crew alike represented a wide variety of nationalities. On KLM–Royal Dutch Airlines–the pilot introduced the flight attendants, who were male and female, black and white and (like Ms. Rodriguez) Latino.

The hysterical right-wingers mounting a last-ditch effort to defeat globalization and cosmopolitanism are too late. Middle-class folks, at least those from first-world countries, have become used to casually crossing borders, adopting each others’ cuisines and fashions, and working together on everything from construction projects to scholarly research. The two block stretch from my hotel to the subway station hosts a French cafe, a sushi restaurant, a gelato shop, and an establishment touting German beer.

There are still plenty of places on this planet that Americans would experience as  exotic, but increasingly–at least in the west–large cities and their polyglot populations look pretty much like the places we call home. In a way, that’s regrettable–on my taxi drive from the airport, we passed McDonalds, Starbucks, a Ford showroom and numerous other establishments that mirror those dotting the American landscape. Although we also passed buildings that are architecturally recognizable as Swedish, there are a lot more that look pretty much like the buildings back home. Admittedly, this sort of homogenization deprives us of encounters with formerly unique–or at least different– cultures, and that is a loss.

Offsetting that loss is the immense increase in interaction and the resulting recognition that we are all members of one human family.

The process of globalization and integration is inexorable. It is no longer in its infancy–it’s probably at least at the toddler stage. It clearly has a long way to go, but my sense is that it is just too far along to be reversed. Too many people have seen enough of the world to be inoculated against tribalism– the notion (fear?) that there is something alien and dangerous about humans from other places, who speak other languages, or have different skin colors.

Too many people recognize the truth: White Nationalism barely elected Donald Trump and narrowly authorized Brexit, but those “victories” were among the last gasps of a dying world order.

It won’t be missed.


  1. White Nationalism may well be defeated in the end, but getting there will leave a trail of economic and political destruction in its wake. We can all see the mess that White Nationalism is making of government here in the United States, but IMO the Brixit mess in Great Britain is coming out of that same pot of fear about the changes happening in their once all white and ever so proper, everyone knew their place society.
    While the Trump supporters here want a return to what they believe was a better time for white America ( the 1950s), the British want to return to a time when the sun never set on the empire, and one simply inherited their place in society instead of having to earn it in competition with all of Europe. “Close those borders” is the cry being heard world wide at the expense of any and all advancement for mankind.

  2. Absolutely, I’m just white girl from rural Northern Indiana, who didn’t have a friend from another ethnic group until I was in my 20s. Today, I have a daughter in-law from Japan, a daughter-in-law from Mexico and an African-American daughter-in-law from Miami. Diversity is now the norm. The rise of Trumpism is just the last gasp of those who wish to return to a time that never existed in reality.

  3. And yet, even in Sweden, White Nationalism is rearing its ugly head. There is a political party based on it, which makes noise every so often.

  4. We Just returned from 20 days in Melbourne Australia, Marny and I found exactly the same thing, the city is filled with people from all over the Far East, we stayed near the Univ. of Melbourne and you could taste and smell the international flavor of the community. At the museums we saw several large classes of young students on their field trips representing all races and intensely listening to the presenting guides. It was a wonderful feeling to be in such a place.

  5. Sandy,

    Yes, there is a lot of “last-gasping” going on among the backward thinkers, white supremacists and the other fragments of ancient humanity. Sadly, though, sometimes the last gasps are the most dangerous times. Like a dying animal, these wretches want to take as many of their tormenters with them as they die.

  6. My 3 children are deep world travelers and I think would agree with you. Meredith is just back from an enlightening trip to South Africa; Bill is now in Europe with his wife on her business trip to Denmark, England, Sweden, France, places previously visited but always much more welcome than Iraq and Afghanistan, where, he concluded, most Afghans just wanted to be us. (In general, I think Trumpism is here represented by the uneducated Have Nots, and uneducated Haves who’ve made it, and will happily step on the fingers of those on the ladder beneath them. The 3rd category is that of Corrupted Self Interest. There’s no altruism in GOP politics these days.) When Molly honeymooned in Croatia some years ago, she was puzzled to see so many Confederate battle flags displayed. Asking a local what that was about, she was told, “It’s against the law to display the Nazi flag.”

  7. The only effective, real, and lasting antidote to the plague of racism is when barriers are broken down and everyone is brought face-to-face with the humanity they share with everyone else. Unfortunately, racial barriers, like social, regional and political barriers, serve the elite masters of any society by keeping people apart and hating one another instead of rising up to fight against exploitation and injustice. Trump uses these barriers ruthlessly to keep Americans at each another’s throats and that’s why the oligarchs behind the throne continue to support him. This will not stop until we, the people, recognize how we are being manipulated and rise up to put an end to it.

  8. I’ll bet there was one difference. There are fewer obese people in other countries, although some countries seem to be trying to catch up. One of the worst things we did was introduce McDonald’s to the world, even if they do provide clean restrooms throughout the world.

  9. Fred taught Donald that we are all for sale and he can afford to buy us. Unfortunately that seemed to be true of the people that Donald chose to hang around with through life. That is until he fell into politics and ran into liberals who tell him no, take your money and shove it where the sun don’t shine.

    The people that Donald bought before liberals confronted him convinced him that those he could buy created the future and the rest of us were stage props. We the people didn’t matter. They the aristocrats could move us square to square on the chessboard of life and the future would be determined by their moves and our passivity.

    Those darned liberals again broke the spell that Fred put Donald into by saying that the future will be what comes no matter what you wish for, no matter what you think that you can buy. The trick more powerful than money even is adaptation to reality like the stars and galaxies and everything else in the universe does.

    So here we are. Donald’s money even multiplied by his acolyte’s money didn’t change the universe one iota. We the people are still headed for the future best adapted to the reality of our existence. He and the aristocracy are powerless in the real world but hanging on to the illusion that the entertainment world that they exist in is the real universe.

    We will decide whether to invest in the future of Mar-A-Lago or the future of our children.

    We are not for sale.

  10. Sheila writes, “The process of globalization and integration is inexorable.”

    The problem we just learned with globalism is it doesn’t go well with capitalism. The experiment with China and India just proved it all leads to Fascism — first the USA, then China, and now India.

    As Einstein told us, and logic will support it, it will take socialism and planning. Competition and markets will always lead to a few winners and many losers. Brexit is a step backward and so is USA’s, MAGA.

    Globalization is already upon us but without the best supporting economic structure, it will bring out the worse of us versus the best of what diversity has to offer.

  11. I have been both to Stockholm and Melbourne (though not lately) and found the beginnings of what is more obvious today. I was served in Melbourne by a waiter from Poland and noted several pedestrians of color in Stockholm, and why not? Those are humans who live on this planet and have been separated by chance, politics, distance, colonialism, war, propaganda etc., it’s time for humans (like businesses) to get together.

    Trump’s world has no chance; never did. Young Americans are for the most part liberal minded, anti-racist, and sick and tired (as I am) of capitalism as now practiced in this country. Trump and his ilk are last gasps, as have been many mini-civilizations in history. Current studies in demography illustrate the point. Republicans are employing all sorts of voter suppression tactics in order to slow or stop the political, social and economic tsunami coming into view (coinciding with an Information Revolution that is supplanting the old Industrial Revolution), but such tactics will fail as the old die and the young take over the powers and responsibilities of governing. Perhaps with such enormous changes we will finally achieve reality in the slogans with which we have clothed ourselves but were prevented from doing so by money, power and greed. Perhaps, and perhaps (having been burned once) future generations will keep a sharp eye out for future greed hogs and power mongers and nip their ambitions in the bud. Perhaps, but only with eternal vigilance as their guide, a guide we in this generation have handled poorly. I expect the next generation to prove Sheila’s observation correct, and GOOD! About time.

  12. as i pass the main street here in nodak, tribalism exists,my bernie for president gets me tailgated,as my wife also,dirty looks by the customers at a independant harley shop,(where i worked a few summers)local hardware store,where ive been doing buisness since 1988. when i approach people,walking in the hood,my all black dickies t shirt,no mottos,orgs,and especially trademarks, trys and make me incognito.(damn ,my t shirt didnt spell out my view on life for all to,,decide) (up here your precieved by everybody,when they havent a clue) my standout are my jailhouse like tats,a arm dedicated to thse who were someone to me,juan valdez,the coffee guy,and his burro,from my guerilla under ground growing of pot,and my ,( what you call bikereque) swatstika and wing,with a mc wheel.to always remind me where i once was,and where ill never partake again..i walk the street,and get my share of glares,the local waterhole,the guy next to me will always rant about someother race,and or reason….. my diversity in the world is like the big city,around many,and around the future for everyone. not here in nodak, where land locked minds and state,will never get over its own past,and keep the status quo forever. the farmers here are getting the shaft,recent article in huff,farms in wis,are defaulting again. the ethanol industry (we have a bunch up here) took a hit,and the corn looks good this year,too bad its genetically designed for corn starch,and not cattle feed..and the farmers and ranchers here will still kiss trumps ass..when they foreclosesures come again,because banks will not,invest in start up farms and ranches. the median age of farm owners 64, do,the math.
    the banks will someday sell off this land,only to those who have the money,like trumps buddies…didnt ya see this coming??

  13. Trump is a shining example of how dangerous it is to raise a child bereft of values – especially those that led us out of the jungle and into civilization. Then caring for one another became a thing that mattered and a core ingredient of a human characteristic called ” decency.” Lacking such fundamental traits marks one as a freak of the gene pool – someone possibly with a maxi head and a mini heart. Despite their oddness, such people sometimes achieve levels of power that present existential dangers to us, themselves, and the planet.

    I don’t pretend to understand the people across the street who are apparently Trump supporters. Yet they exhibit the “decency” gene mentioned above, and show empathy at the drop of a hat. An elderly gentleman once said, “It takes all kinds – and we got ’em.” Let’s learn how to ignore the unfathomable in people’s character and re-learn how to enjoy them for their differences. Isn’t that what makes others worth talking to?

  14. We used to describe America as a “melting pot”, where all immigrants were melted down into a homogeneous “American” alloy. I heard a great description of what we have become (one that I like) – America is a Gumbo – lots of ingredients, blended together, not losing their individual identity, but creating something much better for being combined.

    I too see the “globalization”, having recently been at my niece’s wedding to an Indian (another niece married a Brit), and discussed a friend’s upcoming trip to Japan where her son and Japanese daughter-in-law will have a traditional Shinto ceremony to make her parents happy.

    As for Sweden, my cousin met a young Swedish woman on a kibbutz, followed her to Sweden, and married her. Sadly, they divorced after many years. My cousin stayed in Sweden (he has two grown children) and remarried – to an Italian woman.

    Jack Smith – I don’t know about ND, but things do change – I spent 17 years in Oak Park, IL, a town described by Hemingway as having “broad lawns and narrow minds”. It was a sundowner town, where “Negros” worked during the day, but had to leave at night. When I was there during ’90s and ’00s, it was a bastion of liberalism. I wonder what old Ernest would think of it now. There may be hope yet for ND.

  15. Les Farber – I recently read somewhere that the use of the term referred to a “melting pot of Europeans. The European were at odds with one another, but when they immigrated to the US, they formed of “melting pot of White Europeans.”

  16. I’ve been working on genealogy on my Mother’s side. Most of her ancestors were from Scotland, Ireland and Britain. She did a DNA test recently and she’s 97% British but she has 2% Native American blood, 2% Jewish blood, and a drop of Nigerian to boot. She’s a mutt. One of our connections found more information on the Find a Grave website and was able to trace back 24 generations! Pre-1000 year in Scotland.

    My German teacher loves Sweden and wants to move there. Swedish will be her 5th language which she’s teaching herself.

    My point? We Americans are mutts and we need to make the white nationalists to go back in the closet and just shut up.

  17. There are a lot of Americans who support the anti-immigration movement that this administration promotes. My daughter is an immigration lawyer and my son-in-law Mexican-American. I’ve heard first hand what’s going on and get guff from people I know. I don’t think we should be too confident about a Democrat winning the 2020 presidential election. trump is still effectively casting dispersions in US & soliciting aid from foreign oligarchs, while continuing to hold his base in a Stockholm Syndrome!

  18. Having been married to a Spaniard, I have to speak to your categorizing Ms Rodriguez as Latino. Latino refers to people of Latin American heritage. As an employee of Royal Dutch, it is just as likely Ms Rodriguez is a native of Spain, i.e., a Spaniard.

  19. I no longer feel safe in the USA and am reclaiming my (original) Danish citizenship since dual citizenship is finally legal.
    I have seen and heard no 8 year old should hear (my age on arrival) and the rudeness/hatred encountered as “the other”.
    How many times we were told to go back to Russian since we must be “dirty commies”.
    My classmates had no understanding of the world until high school…many years of anguish for all of us.

    And since that “??” was elected…I am frightened for all of us.
    Our representative democracy is being destroyed.

    Just a point of note: my currently deployed Navy son is first generation from me, goes back to the time of John Smith through his father.
    My deceased husband was second generation (English) from his father, multiple generations back from his mother: Swedish, Prussian and more

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