Bruce Bawer, the American writer based in Oslo, has a new entry on his blog on immigration issues in Norway.
This is one of those problems that most Norwegians, and especially mainstream politicians, avert their eyes from. It's just too painful to speculate out loud about the questions it raises: is the Norwegian social welfare and penal system, the open society, etc. being exploited by people who don't respect it, don't want to contribute to it, but want all its benefits? And who happen to have dark skin and speak with an accent?
I avert my eyes, too. I hate xenophobic tendencies, and some of the verbiage among Norwegians is scary to listen to, i.e. talk of outsiders who don't want to fit in, keep to themselves, etc.
Which is why I kinda agree when some of the immigrants find the invitation to make a pledge of loyalty offensive - why should they have to prove their sincerity, after all?
On the other hand, it's hard to ignore Bawer's point. Why should Norwegian society accept or even tolerate the behavior of individuals who at the same time undermine and take advantage of everything that makes Norway proud of itself? Isn't there something absolutely infuriating about people invoking the privileges that go with tolerance while demonstrating none of it themselves?
And most importantly: why is this debate so confused and characterized by fear?
My advice would be that NRK, as if they had the courage, should start a series on this topic, dedicating each installment to one issue that illustrates the tension between Norwegian and immigrant culture, how people on both sides are coping, and what it all means. A book by Nonie Darwish, Now They Call me Infidel, is a good illustration of some of the voices that are being heard.