Thursday, March 13, 2008

Those Aggressive Swedes

The New York Times reports that an exhibit entitled "War Booty" at the Royal Armory in Stockholm (including these two beautiful Polish helmets) has roiled nationalist passions in Scandinavia. The NTY expresses astonishment at this development in "peaceable" Sweden. One should reflect that the histories of Swedes who went viking and terrorized Europe in the First Millenium or of the armies of Gustavus Adolphus who stormed through Germany in the 17th Century show the concept of "peaceable Sweden" is a recent one.

But according to the article, on some levels the aggression hasn't stopped:

"On Valentine’s Day, a Danish newspaper went so far as to run a front-page headline accusing Ikea, the furniture giant founded by a Swede, which Danes have long loved to hate, of 'bullying Denmark' by giving comfy sofas and shiny tables Swedish and Norwegian place names while assigning Danish names to doormats and rugs.

'I don’t think this can be a coincidence,' a Danish professor is quoted as saying.... He called it 'cultural imperialism.'”

Though they've taken their swords and longships away, perhaps deep down in the souls of some Swedes there's still a barbarian ready to go viking - if only at Ikea.

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