Racist Detectorists

In countries with a big metal detector hobby, the stereotypical participant is an anorak-wearing, rural, poorly educated, underemployed male. I don't know how true this cliché image is. But apart from the anorak, it's certainly an accurate description of the core voter demographic behind the rise of racist right-wing populist parties. These people have trouble finding jobs, and they have trouble seeing through the racist propaganda that tells them they would have jobs and girlfriends if it weren't for the bloody furriners.

I'm known as a detectorist-friendly archaeologist. I've made many friends in the little Swedish hobby over the past twelve years. These people are overwhelmingly urban professionals, often with university degrees and pretty solid incomes. I'm talking a banker, a school teacher, a newspaper editor, a businessman, a scientist, a software company CEO. I've never known them to make racist remarks, live or online. Sweden's laws regarding amateur metal detector use are hopelessly restrictive, so when not collaborating with researchers like myself, most of our few detectorists spend their free time collecting last year's coins and finger rings on beaches.

But now I've gotten involved in Danish and Norwegian detectorist groups on Facebook. Those countries have more liberal laws and bigger hobbies. Many of their detectorists have added me as Fb buddies. And suddenly I've got several rural Danes and Norwegians in my Fb feed who will post nine pictures of interesting new archaeological finds, then a piece of racist propaganda, followed by nine more finds, etc. I'm just appalled. It's so far from my Swedish experience.

Let me be clear and fair here. Most of my Danish & Norwegian detectorist contacts on Fb never post racist stuff. But the only people who do post that shit in my feed are Danish & Norwegian detectorists. I wonder if the main detectorist associations of Denmark and Norway have taken a public stand against racism, for instance by welcoming immigrants as members.

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In the US metal-detecting is often advertised as an excellent hobby for retired people. It gets you out of the house, you get some gentle exercise, it's not too expensive, and hey, you might find something cool.

I don't know what the laws are like re: archaeological finds, but my impression is that most of the archaeology in the US doesn't involve metal finds.

Anyway, I'd like to think it's just older people who post racist things on FB, but the people who post that kind of stuff to my FB are usually young-ish, though they do tend towards rural.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 11 Nov 2015 #permalink

Here's a thought:
Up until now your social circle was constrained to academia and other government-funded activities.
The marxist Left have successfully imposed on much of the population, especially academia and government, severe restrictions on their ability to exercise free speech.
Detectorists, on the other hand, may well be on average far less tyrannised by political correctness, maybe because they are more likely to work for small business, or be among those sad, under-educated unemployed people you look down upon.
Therefore, your recent exposure to a segment of the population that is more able to exercise free speech has also exposed you to thoughts and ideas that are very much suppressed within your natural social circles.
Dissatisfaction with immigration from the middle-east is widespread and growing.
Here is what one of your policemen recently had to say:
"“If we’re in pursuit of a vehicle, it can evade us by driving to certain neighborhoods where a lone patrol car simply cannot follow, because we’ll get pelted by rocks and even face riots. These are No-Go Zones. We simply can’t go there.”"
Humans are tribal, and social fractures created by non-assimilating migrants clinging to failed cultures will result in enhanced tribalism - call it "racism" if you like.
The root cause is not the "racist" individual ideas of those reacting in this way, the root cause is governance, and in this case a clear-cut case of governance failure.

By Craig Thomas (not verified) on 11 Nov 2015 #permalink

Oh, and I have a metal-detector (yes, I'm an under-educated nerd with no girlfriend) which has provided me with many hours of frustration.
shell casings, spent bullets, fragments wire, and plenty of "hot" rocks - semi-metamorphosed sandstone with concentrations of iron in them. Nothing good yet. I'm concentrating on a 12km2 area which had a large chinese gold-digging camp on it about 140 years ago.

By Craig Thomas (not verified) on 11 Nov 2015 #permalink

I don't think people with your opinions are likely to think more independently than the academic Left does. Maybe that's actually what you mean by "tribal".

I live in Fisksätra, a council housing development that went up at the same times as those few Swedish areas where kids are throwing stones at the fire truck. There's 85 nationalities here, including many many folks from the Middle East. Yet we don't have that kind of segregation problems. Why this is so must be a question for social scientists, but I believe two important factors are that Fisksätra is a comparatively small-scale development, and located immediately next to one of Stockholm's most affluent suburbs.

As for hot rocks: have you come across cold rocks that will *silence* the quiet whining of an active detector? Those are strange.

You must be Swedish! I'm from Denmark. There are vast differences in what is considered acceptable social norms between those two countries, and I suppose the average Norwegian is as far from the Swedish "political correctness"/"moral majority" as is the average Danish. Seen from here, to speak directly; you Swedes are way over the top, and practically seems to live in a censored country, like China. To a Dane, it seems hat even recognizing objective facts like "person a has a different hair colour/skin colour than person b", or "person a speaks another language than person b", or "person a was born in another part of the world than person b", or "person a has a different life-style than person b" ...even such very neutral statements appear to us Danes as something Swedes frown upon and consider racist.

By Peter Jensen (not verified) on 14 Nov 2015 #permalink

I'm not talking about statements like "Those people have dark skin". I get stuff like "Send those dirty Muslims back home".

Judging from my family in Norway, the racist postings increase with exponential distance from major cities. My biggest offender is a second cousin who lives in Finnmark and has probably never talked to a Muslim in his life.

Here we worry about the practice of taqiya. Read the koran and then comment on assimilation and immigrants.

Miles, some googling leads me to believe that you're a Mid-western gun dealer. And you're warning us about taqiyyah, the religious rule that allows Muslims to denounce or conceal their faith if their lives are threatened otherwise. Do you know how paranoid this makes you look?

Dear Martin, How may i send a slightly longer, albeit autobiographical explanatory metal detecting follow up?
Thanks, Miles