Paal Sørensen 2011, Wikimedia Commons

A decade has passed since Anders Breivik killed 77 in Norway, and we have learned nothing.

Actually, scratch that. Not only have we learned nothing, we are actively attempting to unlearn and forget what little we did know before the man whose hatred of multiculturalism, feminism, Islam and leftist politics led him to murder innocent teenagers on an island in the name of racial and cultural purity.

Europe and the United States fashion themselves as the joint centers of the moral and intellectual universe, so one might imagine that the unambiguous lessons of July 22, 2011 — the connections between…

Борис У. Big Brother Orwell “1984” in Donetsk, Ukraine (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0)

Donald Trump being banned from a cross-section of social media and digital platforms has generated outrage from right-wingers in the United States and Europe, with claims that these decisions are tantamount to censorship, a violation of Trump’s free-speech rights and blatant political targeting on the part of companies described as ”leftist.” In addition, the actions of Twitter, Facebook, Google and others have led the same group of conservatives to lament the unfettered power of these multi-billion dollar companies and the “Orwellian” tactics they are accused of employing.

There’s a lot to unpack here. To me, however, we really need to…

Photo: Rae Whitlock (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0)

It is an enduring belief that the vast majority of US media are ”liberal” or ”leftist.” This is a powerful myth, used by the political right to convince citizens that a secular, urban elite pushes a leftist agenda on the nation via television, newspapers and Internet. This notion wasn’t invented by Trump. But Trump has, more than any other President, leveraged that pre-existing distrust and taken it to new depths. As we watch Trump openly fight democracy post-election, it is worth considering how this myth is perpetuated, even internationally.

As an American and an academic who studies the media, I…

“I will say that looks like a really good young guy. It’s a really disturbing situation to me (…) it could be something we didn’t see on tape.”

When Donald Trump made this comment about the murder of US jogger Ahmaud Arbery by a group of white men who stalked and shot him, he tapped into a long, ugly history of responding to the use of deadly force against black citizens by questioning the victims, and not the accused. By suggesting that something — anything — could have happened to make the killing of an unarmed black man defensible.


Sergels Torg, Stockholm. Holger Ellgaard (2009). Creative Commons

“A vast social experiment…”

“Committing suicide…”

“Self-inflicted nightmare…”


We have heard a lot about Sweden and its now-infamous “hands off” COVID19 strategy, and there is widespread international disbelief at a policy many consider to be tantamount to Sweden playing Russian roulette with the welfare of its citizens. The above quotes, taken from newspaper articles and directed at Sweden, would be perfect examples of this outrage.

Except for one thing: the quotes were not about Sweden’s COVID19 policy. They were written several years ago about Sweden’s intake of Syrian refugees fleeing a bloody civil war.

That the published reactions to…

Picture by Mewiki under Creative Commons 3.0

A US official in the UK has indicated that he is “working with local authorities” and “examining the intelligence” that led to a drone strike late last week that took the lives of 30 customers at a restaurant in central London. It appears that the intended target of the strike was a gathering of IS leaders, and that the group attacked — at an Italian restaurant celebrating the 70th birthday of one of the confirmed dead — was mistaken for the IS cell. In addition to the dead were over 40 wounded, many with life-threatening injuries. …

Photo: Christian Christensen

How far can you stretch nostalgia before warm, harmless exaggeration transforms into weaponized dishonesty?

This question is at the heart of a great deal of discussion on immigration in Europe, where the presence of new residents is often pitched by those opposed to immigration as ultimately undermining (and even eradicating) local history, cultures and traditions. Precisely what those local histories, cultures and traditions looked like before the arrival of immigrants, however, is far from agreed upon, and are very often altered and romanticized in the service of an anti-immigration agenda.

Nothing better illustrates this dynamic than an opinion piece published…

Feminism is for everyone. Photo by user knightbefore_99, via Flickr Creative Commons.

When the U.K.’s Daily Mail ran a story about the rape of a woman in the southern Swedish town of Ljungby in April 2018, it spoke volumes about how the newspaper sees victims of assault, not to mention being one of the more grotesque examples of journalistic schadenfreude one could ever come across.

A journalistic schadenfreude that is, unfortunately, all too common.

The story was this: In December 2017, a woman in Ljungby met two 18-year-old men and followed them back to their residence. While there, she was forcibly held down and raped. In April 2018, both men were convicted…

When faced with the reality of a Trump presidency, the temptation is strong to embrace (without hesitation) a speech like the one given by Meryl Streep at the recent Golden Globe awards. Streep’s winning the Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement allowed her the opportunity to give a short, but impassioned speech on the inherent myopia of Trumpist nationalism and bigotry. As she said:

And what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places (…) Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, and if we kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but…

(Just 20. There can be many, many more.)

1. Avoid use of headlines and writing of tweets that misrepresent and/or oversimplify the content of linked-to articles. Headlines matter as they frame the stories for users.

2. Call racism “racism”.

3. Call sexism “sexism”.

4. Call terrorism “terrorism”, and be consistent in the use of the term regardless of the ethnicity, religion, national origin and ideological motivation(s) of the perpetrator(s).

5. Reduce the spread of graphic photos that serve the interests of the terrorists and clicks more than journalism and the public interest. …

Christian Christensen

Professor of Journalism, Stockholm University. American.

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