Dita Parker

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The man who knew too much

Unless you've been living in a tree for the past decade, you've probably heard of Stieg Larsson and his Millennium trilogy. Here in Scandinavia, there is no escape. His literary and monetary legacy is an ongoing saga the local press churns out with fervor and the reading public gobbles up with morbid fascination. But did you know that before Larsson died, before he sold a gazillion books without tasting either fortune or fame, he was an investigative reporter, and a dedicated one at that?

Extremism, racism, human rights violations, the exploitation of and violence against women, honor killings. He spent his adult life researching and writing about the same topics you may have read about in his books. Think the crimes between those covers are gruesome, revolting even? Nothing compared to the things he came face-to-face in real life. Or rather, those fictional crimes are equally proportional to what people who are revolting between the ears are capable of.

So the man wrote what he knew, what troubled him, what he'd investigated and uncovered. The right-wing forces loved to hate him for it. All he wanted was to expose those leagues, to bring them to public consciousness and under scrutiny. Analytically he'd studied the birth and growth mechanism of fascism and seen signs it was happening in his own country.

He chose to take them seriously. These weren't second generation unemployed punks blaming society in general and minorities in particular for their problems. These were your next-door neighbors running for office and being elected on the basis of the fears, prejudices and empty rage of people who wanted someone to do something about the world turning too fast for them to follow.

Too much coffee and cigarettes, too much junk food and an utter absorption in his work claimed Larsson's life, not the Aryans. So he wasn't a saint, but he couldn't he bullied or bought, and he refused to back down. And how right he was, from the start, all along. Sweden, Finland, Denmark... In these very safe, open and democratic Scandinavian societies something very dangerous, myopic and fascist is brewing, something that goes against everything these nations have stood for and defended and been proud of for so long, and proud for good reason.

You know what in my mind is even scarier than these forces? It's your fellow man telling you they have no interest in politics. It doesn't concern them, move them, or influence them one bit. It's all the same to them. Like in that The Who song, the new boss is bound to be the same as the old boss. Oh yeah. Oh no. No no no. May I suggest next time you're tempted not to vote, speak up or make a stand, you take some time to do as Larsson did and listen very carefully to what is being said and who is doing the talking. The new boss might be nothing like the old boss, and the problem with political jokes is that they have a tendency of getting elected.

You can't rationalize racism. There is no justification for bigotry. Hate is hate and hate crimes are hate crimes. Words haven't lost their meaning and they certainly haven't lost their power. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise.

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