‘Racist candy scandal a tactic to use political correctness as a tool to silence people'

Reuters / Ina Fassbender
The outcry over “racist” Haribo sweets exacerbated by the media is a tactic to cripple Western people and shut them down accusing them of being most racist - which is not true, Henrik Palmgren, host of Red Ice Radio, told RT.

German sweets manufacturer Haribo stopped selling its ‘Skipper Mix’ in Sweden and Denmark after a social media outcry by customers who consider the licorice sweets racist. Shaped of black ethnic masks, the sweets resembled primitive African art. The company said the candies – which had been on sale for years - were supposed to represent items that a seaman brings home after travelling the world and were not meant to be something negative.

RT:What is your opinion concerning this situation with Haribo candy?

Henrik Palmgren: I think it is a reflection of a larger culture war that is really taking place in the West, and specifically in Scandinavia, I think we are further ahead than any other countries in this capacity. The German manufacturer here, Haribo, has unfortunately apologized and withdrawn the candy and they are going to reshape the brand in a certain way which is unfortunate. I think they should stand their ground on this, because if we think about this, it’s not a racist candy, it’s actually a celebration of Western culture, of getting out and about into other cultures and visiting other cultures and bringing some of them back to us. I mean there are plenty of people who have African art on their walls back home. It’s a Western value of adopting other cultures in preference of your own in reality, and that’s far from racist. So this is one of those indications where people are reading way too much into it.

But I think that the media have decided to pick up on it to take this cultural war a little bit further and to give it to those people who are for example not part of academia, for example, or keeping up with a lot of things that go on in the press, in the media. So it’s a way of taking this cultural warfare of political correctness to them and saying: “Look at this, you can no longer now use any shapes that you want, you can’t use any colors that you want or even combination of letters,” because in the extension this can go however far it needs to go unless we stop it and say something. This is because this is a reflection, where anybody along the way can be offended by anything and that’s the insanity of the situation. And if we don’t say “no” to this and actually recognize that this is more an attack on Western culture in the cultural warfare of political correctness to self-censor people so they no longer can speak in a certain way, then we are going to be losing this battle and eventually the extension to that is a complete shutdown of free speech which is detrimental to the West.

RT:Swedish people have already faced these racist attacks on manufacturers, haven’t they?

HP: Well, right, they actually already have. If we go back to 2011, for example, there was an attack on another manufacturer called Fazer that manufactured something called ‘China puff’ or Chinese pops, I think the translation would be. And this was racist of course, so that had to take that off the shelf and rebrand it too. We’ve had a company in Sweden… called GB Glace, an ice-cream manufacturing company, and they were attacked for having a chocolate covered vanilla ice cream that was called Nogger, because that was reminiscent of another word I guess.

And they were even attacking another ice-cream called ‘88’ which of course then was a reference to the 8th letter of alphabet which is “H”, so they saw that that was code for "Heil Hitler" and I’m serious here. This is ridiculous when people go out of the way to find racism where there is none, where in reality it’s a celebration of Western culture and our values in terms of how we adopt other cultures and look at them in the a light that we do. We could for example extend this and say “Well, we find vanilla ice cream to be offensive to Caucasians or Western men”, or white chocolate Toblerone. There is no end in sight. We can even say that American candy ‘Rolo’ is an attack on Norwegian Vikings who ended up settling in Normandia and say that this caramel chews are offensive to Norwegians. But we don’t of course, because this debate is ridiculous.

I think the media is exacerbating this, when they basically say as they do in Sweden, specifically in the Scandinavian countries, but all over the West right now, but they say that Westerners are the most racist, so people go out of their way to find this racism. You know they lift every rug; they move every bed and try to find something which is not there. I think we see this kind of attacks and warfare, because…we don’t stand our ground here. And the manufacturers - who have actually spoken about this ‘Skipper Mix’, that’s how it was called, the Haribo one - they’ve said, you know, this is not meant to be offensive to anybody, it’s recognition of seafarers when they go out and meet different cultures. So instead of them backing down they should have just said “No, there is nothing offensive with it,” because the negative connotation here is in the eye of the beholder, not of the manufacturer. So they should have said “You know we are going to keep selling it.” But unfortunately these corporations and lot of these other people and media and academicians, they keep bending to this pressure and if we do that soon enough our free speech will be gone.

RT:At first glance it’s just simple political correctness here. Do you think there could be a larger implication behind this?

HP: That could very well be, but this is a very hot topic now in the West where we had things like the Paris shooting, we’ve had several riots in Sweden: in Stockholm, in Malmo and things like that. This is something that has been exacerbated by the media that are trying to point out how racist we are. And this is further creating this wedge issue between different cultures, which of course multiculturalism in itself that has been brought in to the Western world and Europe against most people’s wishes. They have never had a chance to vote on any of these issues. And now you know they go so far as to basically say “We are not entirely right about certain issues or expressing certain opinions.” In this case of the candy, it might seem like a very mundane issue, and to a certain extent it is, it is kind of silly, but it is a reflection of a larger tactic that is going on to cripple people due to this political correctness that they are using as a tool to shut people down basically.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.