A Cautionary Tale
By Hal Lindsey
At a campaign-style rally in Florida last week, President Trump used Sweden as an example of what happens when immigration policies become too lax. He said, “We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”
The media focused on the words, “last night,” but nothing out of the ordinary happened in Sweden the night before Mr. Trump’s remarks. Some Swedes felt offended by the remark, and struck back. Former Swedish Prime Minister, Carl Bildt, tweeted, “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking?”
Speaking on the Fox News program, The Five, Bob Beckel seemed on the verge of losing control, yelling, “This president flat-out lied!” But President Trump never said there had been a terrorist incident in Sweden the night before. It’s easy to see how people got that impression, but they inferred it. He did not say it.
Later, the President tweeted an explanation. “My statement as to what’s happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews.com concerning immigrants & Sweden.”
Beyond the smoke and dust of the bruhaha over exactly what he meant, there is an extremely important point. Sweden’s immigration policy over the last 40 years stands as a cautionary tale for all nations. Sweden has long been a peaceful and prosperous nation. They used extremely controversial means to achieve their success, but they have had a lot of it. A 2005 commentary in the liberal London newspaper, The Guardian, called Sweden, “The most successful society the world has ever known.”
That statement has never really been true of Sweden, but it shows the regard in which it was held not so long ago, particularly among liberals. Today things have changed. And the problem, as President Trump was trying to point out, largely traces back to irresponsible immigration policies.
In 1975, the Swedish Parliament decided to bring in massive numbers of Muslims from the Middle East. Since then, violent crime has risen 300%!
The number of rapes reported to police increased 1,472% — from 421 in 1975 to 6,620 in 2014. Sweden now has the highest per capita incidence of rape of any major nation on earth. A survey by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, an official government agency, shows that less than 25% of rapes in Sweden are even reported to police. Lest you think these are domestic issues, their study also found that, “In 58% of cases, the perpetrator was entirely unknown by the victim.”
In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, prominent Swedish politicians, Jimmie Akesson and Mattias Karlsson, wrote, “Mr. Trump did not exaggerate Sweden’s current problems. If anything, he understated them.”
Just a couple of days after the President’s remarks, riots broke out in an immigrant neighborhood of Stockholm. They set vehicles on fire, threw objects at police, damaged buildings, and looted businesses. The same area saw riots in 2010 and 2013.
As a Christian minister, part of my job is to point out the vast differences between the Gospel and other systems of thought, including Islam. But the United States government does not have my job. It can’t take sides among religious faiths. Yet, it must keep U.S. citizens as safe as it can while adhering to the Constitution, the law, and our nation’s core principles.
Here’s the bottom line. The United States government doesn’t need to address the relative merits or demerits of Islam. But it does need to carefully vet anyone who wants to enter this country from a nation known to be a hotbed of terrorism.
The White House has said that President Trump will probably issue a new version of his executive order on immigration sometime next week. The original order is tied up in the courts. It singled out seven nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. It was not a travel ban from these countries, but a 90-day pause. We can expect the new order to cover the same countries.
These nations are all predominantly Muslim. But the order was not a Muslim ban. The Obama Administration had already named these seven as “countries of concern.” President Obama was not singling them out because they are predominantly Muslim, but because they are hotbeds of terrorism, and because of the difficulty in vetting people from these countries.
The Trump Administration took it a step further. It said it needs a 90-day pause in which to figure out how to safely allow immigration from these trouble spots. On a recent Hal Lindsey Report, I explained the reasons behind the choice of nations. “Each of them is known to have large numbers of terrorists and terrorist-sympathizers at every level of their societies. Six of the seven are either in the midst of, or in the immediate aftermath of, civil war. The seventh is the world’s most prolific state-sponsor of terrorism — Iran.”
The new Administration needs time to find ways to appropriately vet people from nations in the middle of such chaos. And, to use the President’s words, it should be “extreme vetting.” We know that ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terrorists regularly move among nations as immigrants. So, we must use every precaution. We don’t want them to bring here the kind of chaos they say they’re trying to leave behind.