Questioning Media’s Interpretation of Margot Wallström’s Words

Not that I like to write about politics, and not that I feel any need what so ever to protect our Swedish minister of foreign affairs, Margot Wallström, and I definitely do not agree with all she says and does, but I also do value an objective and critical view on media, and therefore I feel like saying this.

The last couple of days I have been reading furious articles all over Israeli media in regards to a comment Margot made in an interview on SVT (Swedish Television), where she supposedly made a connection between what happened in Paris and the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Something which, if so, is very disturbing. If that is what she meant to do or not, only she knows. However, media’s claim is based on a 30 second clip out of a longer interview, meaning completely taken out of context, like a lot of things in media usually is. I watched the entire interview, just because I think that’s the only fair thing to do. What she does say, from my understanding, is that extremism is spread more easily in places where education is low and people live under poor circumstances, and that to fight extremism we should deal with the underlying problems which encourages it. Then she mentions the Palestinian violence as an example, after which she moves on to talk about other things, among which she is also quoting an Israeli author on how the wars are not between religions, but between the extremism and us regular people.

Whether it was a wise thing to bring up Palestinians specifically, in a discussion about ISIS, I am not sure I agree with, and she could definitely have chosen her words more carefully, since what she said leaves room to a lot of interpretation. Additionally, I think one needs to be very careful about saying things which may sound like excuses for terrorism, because regardless of the circumstances, and even if the circumstances are part of an explanation for it, there is no excuse for terrorism, in my opinion.

But I also think it is very typical of media to grab on to the one sentence she said that could lead to upsetting interpretations, encourage those upsetting interpretations, and then let it lose on people so that we can all get upset and angry, instead of trying to stay objective and form our own opinions. After questioning and looking at things objectively, and making a reasonable interpretation, I think people can have whatever opinions they feel like. But grabbing opinions thrown at us by media without thinking twice is not something which I support.

Furthermore, I think that in times like these, the last thing we need is to fuel hatred and distances between people, something which media often plays a big part in. What we should do is to work together, to communicate and learn from each other; to unite, regardless of background or religion, against that which threatens us. If we cannot have an open mind towards those different from us, and question what we are being told, then we are part of the problem.

For anyone who knows Swedish, the full interview can be seen here – 03:35:00 in to the program. Judge for yourself.