No Place to Hide
October 22, 2008
This piece about Scandinavia in Salon isn’t very good — Louis Bayard trots out all the golden oldies about high taxes and suicide rates — I’m surprised he didn’t throw in any warnings about lutefisk. But I do admit the headline — “If McCain wins, should we all move to Scandinavia?” — has crossed my mind more than a few times. The Scandinavian countries sound to me like a beautiful pocket of rationality in the world, even if Bayard thinks the absence of Jesus whoopers reflects “a rather profound incuriosity” about the nature of the divine.
But if McCain should win the election, then keel over and present us with the even greater horror that would be President Palin, Scandinavia will offer no refuge. Norway has oil, lots of it, as well as natural gas reserves. What’s worse, the country treats its oil as a natural resource for the benefit of the entire nation, rather than a profit-generator for politically connected energy firms (i.e., the “free market”). The winger mind cannot contemplate such things for long without melting down.
First, video of some minor Norwegian government official muttering about Israel will turn up and Fox News will run it round-the-clock while Sean Hannity belows that Norway is a threat to Middle East stability. Bill Kristol will write columns about the threat of Nordic expansionism in a strategically vital area of the world, and Kenneth Pollack will publish a book called The Northern Nemesis: The Case for Nuking Norway urging preemptive war. Instead of singing “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran,” talk radio gasbags will start chanting “Blow blow blow, blow up Oslo,” and George Packer will write a New Yorker piece about the downtrodden citizens of Trondheim complaining about their taxes and urging the U.S. to come bomb them.
So — fleeing to Scandinavia really isn’t an option. We have to clean up our messes right here.