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A unmasked city


All cities wear a mask; it is common to obscure the class distinctions and ethnic differences of urban geography with consensus-creating, discriminating statements in the media.

For example, Oslo's persistent east / west edge schism is trivialized – and often sublimated – in the political and cultural public. Well-known is the repulsive argument that follows automatically in the wake of any criticism directed at Groruddalen's anti-human slum environment. Immediately satisfied groruddøler get the word in the newspapers and the TV route, the critics are branded as condescending besserwissere with contempt for ordinary people's lifestyle and preferences. They themselves – the taste judges – live on exclusive Frogner or Grünerløkka and make quick safari trips into the apartment block jungle to get their snobby prejudices confirmed.

The debate should be about post-war cynical urban planning and the rational zone thinking that isolated the low-wage groups in barren "sleeping towns" outside the city center – but it does not seem to interest the establishment. Could the reason be that the blame for this failed urban construction lies with the two dominant power factors in our modern society, the capitalist forces and the parliamentary duo Conservative-Labor Party? The system's spokesmen obviously have a bad conscience, because everyone can see how differently treated "east" and "west" are in Norwegian cities, therefore the problems are pushed under the rug with the Jantel law as a polemical tool. You should not think that you know anything about Groruddalen, Fyllingsdalen and other urban communities in this country.

So it was in the United States, a nation we like to compare ourselves with, until Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and uncovered it. . .

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