Michael Booth on the beach. Photo: Curtis Brown Literary Agency
A British journalist writing in the Guardian newspaper has torn into the Norwegians, accusing them of being "fearful of outsiders", harbouring a "disturbing Islamophobic subculture", and polluting the world with their oil exports.
Michael Booth, whose wife is Danish, has lived in Denmark for a decade, working as a correspondent for Monocle Magazine, giving him time to reflect on the reality behind Britain's recent infatuation with Nordic countries.
Out of all the Nordic countries, he argues
, Norwegians are the most closed.
"Ask the Danes, and they will tell you that the Norwegians are the most insular and xenophobic of all the Scandinavians," he writes. "And it is true that since they came into a bit of money in the 1970s the Norwegians have become increasingly Scrooge-like, hoarding their gold, fearful of outsiders."
He quotes the Norwegian journalist Simon Sætre, who argues that oil money has corrupted his people, "isolating us and making the country asocial".
"According to him, his countrymen have been corrupted by their oil money, are working less, retiring earlier, and calling in sick more frequently," he writes.
The country has yet to come to come to terms with the ethics of being a major oil exporter in an age of global warming, he adds, saying they act like "the dealer who never touches his own supply", going green domestically, while pumping out oil for the rest of us.
Booth's book, The Almost Nearly Perfect People, is published on February 6th.