In Sweden, they allow ordinary citizens to have control of the country’s official twitter account for a week at a time. I simply cannot imagine how that could be a good idea. According to this report in Yahoo News, it isn’t.
Sonja Abrahamsson, describing herself as a “low educated” single mother of two from Goteborg, in Sweden’s west, provocatively asked what makes a Jew a Jew, and used crude language.
“What’s the fuzz with Jews” she asked in one tweet on the @sweden account, suggesting it’s hard to tell them apart from other people and then went on to joke about Jewish circumcision.
In another, she said not even the Nazis could tell the difference: “In Nazi German(y) they even had to sew stars on their sleeves. If they didn’t, they could never (k)now who was a Jew and who was not a Jew.”
She also asked whether the Nazis sought to find the difference in the Jewish religion, or whether it was a “blood-thing” for them.
The reactions were immediate. One tweeter wrote “in one day @sweden went from global Twitter superstar to PR embarrassment.”
Another suggested the Swedish chef from the Muppet show might as well assume control over the account, while others defended Abrahamsson’s courage to raise her voice in such a frank way, politely answering her questions and sending her links to read more. One tweeter, who said she was Jewish, said she hadn’t been offended at all.
Later, Abrahamsson apologised if she had offended anyone, saying that was not her purpose. “I just don’t get why some people hate Jews so much,” she added.
Maria Ziv, marketing director at Visit Sweden – a Public Relations agency that set up the project – said the Twitter account would not be shut down just because some people had been provoked.
If Abrahamsson’s comments had been racist “we would have taken them down,” she added.
The project allows different citizens from various walks of life to curate the account each week. Tweeters have so far included both a female priest and a lesbian truck-driver.
The tweets are not pre-read or censored, but personal political opinions are to be followed with the hash-tag myownopinion.
In her defense, I suppose Ms. Abrahamsson’s statements did not seem particularly hateful, especially when you consider the very real anti-Jewish hatred in some portions of the population in Sweden. I suppose if she were a Muslim and had advocated burning down synagogues, no one would have said anything.
Still, Sweden is lucky in that it is a country with a small, homogeneous, mostly sensible population. Imagine what kind of nut cases would turn up if we tried something like that here in the US.
- Sweden tweeter stirs critics with comments on Jews (todayonline.com)
- Tweeter stirs critics with Jew comments (stuff.co.nz)
- Sweden tweeter stirs critics with Jew comments (stuff.co.nz)
- Sweden tweeter stirs critics with comments on Jews (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Sweden tweeter stirs critics with comments on Jews (seattlepi.com)
- Fury at crass remarks about Jews posted on Sweden’s official Twitter page (dailymail.co.uk)
- Swedish Twitter experiment goes awry with Jewish comments (thejc.com)