Wednesday, February 09, 2011

reason doesn't live here anymore


there will be an election in denmark sometime this year. and that's increasingly obvious from the heightened political rhetoric.  it's also obvious in the media coverage. our newspaper is, on a daily basis, turning up the heat on the sitting government coalition - investigating their policies - especially as they apply to immigrants. and the stories they've uncovered don't paint a pretty picture. they paint a picture of a government that increasingly kowtows to the conservative and foreigner-fearing dansk folkeparti.

a new law went into effect in january. it affects how foreigners in denmark are approved for both work permits and permanent residence.  it sets high standards for education (more points if you come from an arbitrary list of the world's top 20 universities) and work experience, as well as danish language skills (how you're supposed to learn passable danish outside of denmark, i'm not sure and they don't say anything about that).

when the law first passed, there was a calculator online and i put in my data and was relieved to see that i would qualify. however, i put in my husband's data and i'm afraid that he, as a native-born dane, didn't meet the point requirements. i have to wonder how many of the legislators enacting this system would qualify.

recently, information has covered several foreigners in denmark who were turned down for permanent residence:

~ one young man of afghan parentage, who is about to depart on his second mission to afghanistan as an interpreter with the danish military, was turned down because he didn't display "active citizenship." apparently serving denmark on what will now be a second dangerous mission in afghanistan isn't enough citizenship for the immigration office.

~ a young american who has been in denmark since 2003, completed a danish master's degree with top grades and is married to a dane and works in the social ministry was turned down because she didn't work enough while she completed her full-time education.

~ a young mexican woman, who has been in denmark in a full-time job for six years is denied permanent residence because her recent return to a full-time university education cancels out her six years of work experience and she has to start the qualification time over.

it makes me quite happy that i "got in" and gained permanent residence before all of this absurdity began. tho' i am increasingly worried about what kind of place i'm now a permanent resident of.  and it's not just on the immigration front - yesterday, it came out that the new media agreement that funds the state-owned danish radio - which has a fleet of channels on both television and radio - mandates that they are now to "give special weight to the christian cultural heritage." excuse me? but WTF? denmark is one of the most secular places i've ever seen. the people attend church only for the big events...birth, marriage, death and the odd christmas service. that the national television station has to have a christian bent is absurd beyond belief and cannot be what the people in this democracy actually want. it's nothing more than a thinly veiled stab at other religions, especially islam.  and it's worrying, to say the least.

but all over europe these conservative, we-must-keep-ourselves-to-ourselves parties are on the rise - whether it's geert wilders in the netherlands or the sweden democrats (i recently saw the head of that party flayed wide open on BBC's hardtalk). there are dictates about showing outward signs of religion - e.g. head scarves, tho' the sweden democrat leader fumbled around when it asked if that included not publicly wearing a necklace with a cross. because it turns out that it didn't. i won't go into the whole head scarf question here, as i've ranted on long enough, but if you're interested, poet has written a very excellent post on the implications of the whole debate around headscarves.

i'm not saying that i'm ready to move back to the US on the next boat, as it's even worse there (i recently found out my own aunt is a regular viewer of fox "news!"), but i think the trend is a very worrying one indeed.  where in the world will reason reside?

15 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I will be put on the next train since I haven't my permanent residence card yet!!!!

poet said...

As usually, your post doesn't disappoint as great writing, though the facts you uncover are of course disappointing to say the least. Those case stories you tell are examples of atrocious injustice! I too have the impression that this slant towards conservatism in defense of whatever counts as traditional "Christian" culture is a trend in Europe, and I'm seriously afraid we are once again following the USA's example here. I am rather happy not to be living in the US any more, and as I returned I was very enthusiastic about the reasonable, secular and progressive pan-European culture I identified with, but I'm not so sure about Europe either any more... The core values at the intersection of European culture and Christianity that I've always identified with even as an agnostic are compassion, understanding and inclusiveness - but I'm afraid that's not what these people mean when they want to give more weight to "Christian cultural heritage"!

Thanks for the honorable mention :)

Cheers,
poet

True story said...

I was just having this discussion (about immigration policy in Germany) with my flatmate, it's getting worse here, too - they recently changed, for instance, the period of time after which you're eligible for a citizenship, which is now years in the country.

The Danish regulations you have listed are of course ridiculous. And I'm sure Denmark even more so that Germany needs people because the birthrate is so incredibly low and yet all they do is almost close the immigration borders.

I also know that Denmark along with Holland and Belgium will not even give a Russian and most definitely also representatives of other nationalities a tourist Shengen visa unless you already have some previous visas, you know? Wtf?! So if you have never been outside your country and want to be a typical tourist in Denmark, you won't get a visa. So basically you're going to have to apply for,I say, an Italian visa and then enter Denmark anyway as it's part of the EU. Complete bullshit.

Sandra said...

The Danes had best be vigilant. If the citizenry shrugs it off as so much nonsense you run the risk of going down the rabbit hole the way we in the US have. This stuff has a way of worming its way into the national consciousness and then you are stuck with it.

Lisa-Marie said...

It's hapening here in the UK too. I am very much a liberal, and we now have Conservative government. Budgets for all of our frontline services (education, the nhs, welfare) are being cut, so the poorest become more poor. And now, our prime minister is saying that 'multiculturalism does not work' and we need a 'stronger cultural identity'.

It makes me want to cry. I can't believe that these people think and imaginary line on a map makes people think the can dictate where people live.

Bill said...

Excuse me madam, I need to see your papers. Thank you. The next check-point is 10 kilometers down this street, near the shopping area.

We've had some trouble at the shopping area so I suggest you make no sudden moves.

Have a nice day.

stephanie said...

Reason will reside in our minds and nowhere else. The world is falling apart at the seams and the people coming into power are people I wouldn't trust with a sharp knife, much less my future. And I sure don't want them influencing the way I think or telling me what's important. Sigh. I need to buy an island.

Martina Peebles said...

MMMmmmm, US down a rabbit hole? I'm afraid I don't understand what that means. I live in the US, in a large, Northeast, diverse metropolitan area. And when I compare live-ability, laws and trends I will stay here, thank you very much. It is human nature to be protectionist. IMO these regulations for residency and restrictions of Visa's are a post-terrorist reaction. While many socialist democracies have strayed from their initial bearings in recent years, I think the change represents a type of protectionism. Society and cultures react and evolve to reflect that. Do you need to agree? Certainly not, but you do need to understand and work within the system to state your opinions and objections. Those who watch Fox news and follow their Christian values are just as justified to their opinions as you are to yours.

julochka said...

hi martina - thank you for stopping by...i'm afraid i don't really know the rabbit hole of which you speak, as i never mentioned one...and we are in total agreement that freedom of speech is essential. i just think we on the left have been quiet enough, long enough.

Sandra said...

julochka, I believe she was referring to my comment. I referenced the US going down the rabbit hole.

One Woman's Thoughts said...

Whatever happened to ONE human family?

Writer Lady said...

It seems to be a world-wide disease. I hope the Danes come to their senses. Somebody needs to.

Jude Doyland said...

It has been an upsetting week immigration wise. There was a study of attitudes towards immigrants on the BBC with 60% of British saying they had too many immigrants when the total population of immigrants there is 11%. And then Denmark. Since I have lived and live in both countries as an immigrant I take this personally. The immigrant bashing is allowed to continue in both cases because it makes the popular vote happy. It caters to the idea that certain people belong to certain places and that we can be xenophobic about any difference. And then the argument about what constitutes "danish" or "british" comes down to the most trivial of things, like food preferences. Very scary.

Sammi said...

Did you see the article Jude posted to facebook about our reaction to foreigners coming into our countries? I thought that was very interesting.....

I think it is true that we want our countries to be ours. I think it has a lot to with, in England particularly, the positive discrimination that happened whilst labour was in power. When I moved back to the UK because I had never paid tax in the UK I wasn't entitled to anything as an English person despite being technically homeless and not having a job. Yet if I had come back as a Spanish citizen I would have been entitled to more money...

Kind of crazy.... and I think those types of things make people think if they're paying their hard earned money in tax it should go to things we need... I guess. So what with everything else going crazy- like political correctness going mad- rather than thinking illegal immigrants shouldn't get help and should just be deported, its extended to all foreigners. So that even if they are doing good, they shouldn't be allowed to stay in our country.. Am I making sense?

It just seems that everything has to be taken to the extreme.

M said...

Yikes - don't move back to the US - we're trying to get out!.. as evidence: "Thousands of state union workers and their supporters blanketed the Capitol on Tuesday for a daylong demonstration to protest Gov. Scott Walker's plans to wipe away most of their bargaining rights and reduce fringe benefits."
http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/116284234.html

yikes!