Saturday, April 13, 2013

overt racism becoming endemic in denmark

even our little black bunny was the last one to find a home.
in recent weeks, there's been some media swirl about a horrendously racist, pompous, superior and fascist-leaning blog post written by a danish politician, marie krarup (of the danish people's party (dansk folkeparti)), after a trip to new zealand. the blog was published on berlingske's website and is an absolutely stunning exercise in xenophobic, arrogant offensiveness. there is a full text (in danish and english) here. krarup stands by her racist remarks and refuses to apologize. but how do you apologize for stupidity?

being shockingly racist is nothing new for krarup - look here to see what she said about a visit to niagra falls. since it's in danish, and i do realize that's a minor language, i'll tell you what she said, "Niagara Falls in Canada has been allowed to remain White. In this multi-culti country a white person is always seen next to a black, one brown and one yellow. And they're all smiling so happily! As if to say to us: multi-culti is really good! But the waterfall is just white." this was posted on her facebook page and the comments all glowingly agree with her that multiculturalism is bad. jesper (the peasant) frederiksen actually comments,  "multi-culti functions only if there aren't too multi of the antisocial culti." i am rendered speechless by such a public display of racism in an elected official.

when i first came to denmark fifteen years ago, it was frowned upon to say things like this in public. a politician's career would have been over for such behavior. now, it's commonplace and even encouraged. granted the danish people's party is the most extreme right wing example, but they're the ones who have made it ok to bash foreigners and lump them all together into one big, bad group that's out to destroy the danish way of life.

all of this underlines the power of storytelling. for a good decade, in denmark the story has been told and repeated that foreigners, especially from the middle east, come to denmark to cause trouble and live off the supposed fat of the danish welfare state. there has a been an entire bureaucracy built up around a push for integration that looks a whole lot more like assimilation. and fear of The Other has become the order of the day.

i've spent some time in recent weeks interviewing foreigners who have moved to denmark for various reasons and i can safely conclude that this rhetoric and tone are not without damaging psychological consequences on the immigrants themselves. in the push to be stuffed into boxes at danish language schools, many of these people end up in a fog of depression and loneliness. they are bewildered that their danish neighbors don't speak to them and aren't interested in them. they feel isolated by a lack of language and bewildered by a culture that feels like it's rejecting them (and may actually BE rejecting them). many more of them than is healthy made the distressing statement that they began to feel they didn't know who they were anymore.

perhaps this is a common phenomenon for all who are in exile (chosen or not). it's hard to retain who you are in the face of an alien culture and way of thinking. especially when a psychological switch lays the entire burden to suck it up and integrate at your feet as the alien.

it's important to return to enlightenment values which value all individuals as equal and equally having something to offer if we are just open to what that might be. we've got to stop the negative, racist rhetoric in this country. we need to get a whole lot more outraged about it and show the elitist, fascist marie krarups of this country that it's not acceptable. i'm increasingly convinced that as individuals we can and must make a difference, starting right here in our own neighborhoods. my project gives me a chance to do something and i definitely intend to use that chance.


Lisa at lil fish studios said...

Goodness. This is a woman in the political spotlight? Her response to the Maori traditions seems like one I would expect from a giggly child, not an adult. Why isn't she embarrassed? I'm embarrassed for her.

Veronica Roth said...

Good lord I’m shocked and feeling completely incensed about the article. Chloe just wrote a final I helped her research for her 3rd year women’s studies course; the topic was the double jeopardy of immigrant women trying to enter the Canadian labour market. The suggested length was 4000 words and I think she had trouble stopping after 5000. There was a lot of info about immigrant women in the Nehterlands...two whole books. Possible this ignorant, arrogant Krarup should be made to work in some of the outreach centers and come to understand what these women are going thru. Gods save us from this kind of stupidity.

Catherine said...

Racism is very hard to understand in this day and age. Sometimes we think we have come so far but then we find we haven't. I guess we need to focus more on all the good things happening in the world.

And let me tell you, those bunnies are good things. Oh my stars they are adorable! Every single one of them! I hear that black cats in animal shelters are the hardest to place. Superstition I guess?!!

I hope you are having a beautiful April.
xo Catherine

kirsten grundtvig utzon said...

This little fairy-tale country has not been multicultural for more than +40 years. In the 1960's we "imported" a lot of people from Pakistan and Turkey because there were more (low-income jobs) when women started working and were getting educated (as a part of women's liberation). Now we need jobs and the Danish People's partys core voters (+ media-hysteria made) perception is that unemployment, poverty, violence etc.. is because immigrants and refugees are "stealing" our jobs, girls ect.
I am not defending racism, but just want to give my take on why hate-crimes and racism has sadly become "OK" in Denmark…!

Philosopher said...

In Denmark what you have is basically two groups.

1) Us (White Native Danes)

2) Them (All other groups in an inverse pyramid with Africans at the very bottom)

For example in spite of the overwhelming wealth, welfare and resources, homeless people of foreign extraction are left out in the cold winter snow to basically die, any institution that helps a single one even for a single night or with a bowl of soup will lose public funding, this is the law..what happened to common human decency? This is how heartless and cold danish society has become.

Articles from the leading English Daily in Denmark