Once upon a time – about seven months ago – in a land far, far away (Sweden), where there aren’t many Jews, the government decided for PR purposes to give a different citizen control over its Twitter account every week, the only real requirement being that the Twitterer tweet in English.
The idea was that the tweets would naturally broadcast the essence of Sweden as it conceives of itself: open, creative, progressive, eclectic.
This past week, the experiment attracted even more attention that it had when the first @Sweden listed masturbation among his favorite activities, because Jews came up.
@Sweden/Sonja, a 27-year-old mother of two living in the country with a dirty sense of humor and no filter, included in her stream of consciousness her musings on Jews. Later, she said the tweets were prompted by a sense of curiosity as to why these people called Jews are so hated.
But they started out with references to penises and yellow stars that could easily set alarm actual Jews whose history of oppression and violence is so long, and also of course uncomfortably close in time.
For example: "What's the fuzz with the jews. You can't even see if a person is a jew, unless you see their penises, and even if you do, you can't be sure!?"
And "Where I come from there is no jews. I guess its a religion. But why were the nazis talking about races? Was it a blood-thing (for them)?"
I’ll admit it: when I first read these tweets, I bristled. I had thoughts like, “Why are they letting her do this?” and “Are they going to keep these things up?”
Of course, being the open and eclectic Swedes they are, God bless them, they are going to leave the stuff up. I heart the Swedes, especially because right now I’m also working on an article about maternity leave.
Thinking about my reaction now, I know that I was just afraid. I’m an adult, a mom with two children, and I’m still afraid of Nazis, and I probably always will be. That’s sad, but it’s understandable, given what they did.
But we must move beyond that fear when we can, and the potty-mouthed Sonja is an easy call. If we stop and think about it, there’s something valuable in her tweets, which is a glimpse into the mind of someone who’s probably very typical. She doesn’t take us as seriously as we do ourselves; lots of people don’t. It’s kind of a relief, when you think about it.