When I moved to Norway twenty years ago, a term I encountered often was “American conditions” (amerikanske tilstander). It was always used disparagingly. It referred to such things as urban sprawl, strip malls, inner-city gangs, school shootings and private health care. After Barack Obama became president, I heard the term far less frequently — in Norway, after all, you cannot get too rough on a country with a black president, especially a president to whom you have given the Nobel Peace Prize.

Today, even though Trump-bashing — in Norway as in the U.S. — is the media’s favorite sport, the term does not seem to have come back into widespread use, which perhaps has something to do with the fact that the U.S., among other things, now has the world’s strongest economy and staggeringly enviable employment figures. Meanwhile, there is another term that has become increasingly common in Norway: “Swedish conditions” (svenske tilstander). It really took off about two years ago, when Sylvi Listhaug, Norway’s then Minister of Immigration and Integration, used it after visiting some of Sweden’s worst Muslim enclaves — a reaction that outraged politicians and journalists on both sides of the border.



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