Saturday, February 18, 2006

"An open and tolerant Society"

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen is an open and tolerant man. He is the prime minister of an "open and tolerant country". This is what he has been telling TV audiences in Middle East countries when he has appeared on TV here. It is not Orwellian newspeak. Sometimes spindoctors help make the slogans, but Mr. Rasmussen is also a man capable of spin himself.

The openness and freedom loving personal disposition was given full blow in the 2001 election campaign for the Danish parliament that brought Mr. Rasmussen to power. Rasmussen and his fellow liberals from Venstre, the liberal1 party in Denmark, were so open and freedom loving that they had to express their openness and love of freedom of speech in big campaign ads telling the Danish voters what the main problems in Denmark were at that time.

The ad shown above was printed and distributed in a million copies. Schools, factories, offices, shops - everywhere you had to witness the young Palestinians and their "fingers". It shows Palestinian immigrants leaving the court after being sentenced several years of prison for "mass rape". They are aggressive and wave people away. They give the fuck up finger (not to be seen on this ad), but most voters know the scene. They have seen the young palestinians give the fuck up finger, when they leave the court. But luckily we're are up for change (Tid til forandring, "Time for Change", Venstre's campaign slogan). This, of course, was not a question of whipping up sentiments against immigrants, but of showing reality as it is. Even though you could say that they perhaps ought to have found a more appropriate means for that.

Anyway, the message that nobody could misunderstand if they wanted to keep a peaceful society, is the following : You just have to vote for Venstre, instead of the Social Democrats (= too soft on immigration). In the lower left corner you can see a smiling Mr. Rasmussen and his personal signature. In the lower right corner the voter is encouraged to vote for Venstre.

And that is what people did. Mr. Rasmussen won a landslide victory for Venstre. He could move into the PM's office in Christiansborg Castle and start working for the change (forandring). And so what ....... nothing happened. - Except in one area, the policy of immigration. In other areas it has been a government suffering from mental and political paralysis.

The Danes love their welfare society, and they didn't want it changed. But they did not want to share their welfare with others! That is perhaps understandable, even though you have quite a lot of it. Anyway, Mr. Rasmussen got the message.

The sweeping free market reforms of the Danish economy he had envisaged and given lofty word to in speeches around the country came to nothing. He moved centre and became a supporter of the paternalistic welfare state that he had thundered against in his famous book from 1992 "From Welfare state to minimalistic state".

But in one area there were sweeping changes. - Sometimes rather "un-liberal" - or outright anti-liberal policies. The movement of persons had to be restricted, especially those who came from certain countries.

The highly educated experts and academics were welcome. They were even given tax benefits. But please: Not too many low-educated peasants from Turkish villages! You know, we have nothing against them at the human level. After all another one of the Liberals' spindoctor slogans is: "Put man first", but you must understand that illiterate peasant types do not go too well with the advanced info-society, digital economy and globalised modern corporations working in the free market-place!

Thus Mr. Rasmussen through his campaign ad in 2001, cooperation with the far right, spindoctor slogans, and later immigration policies is responsible for having created a "cultural climate" in Denmark, where there is some reservation, to say the least, towards new-comers, some islamophobia perhaps.

Louise Frevert, a member of Parliament from the right wing Danish People's party, which supplies the necessary mandates for the Danish government's parliamentary majority, has called muslims a "cancerous growth". Mogens Camre, a member of the European Parliament for the Danish People's, has talked of the risk of islam taking over the entire country through Jihad.

Here is a sample of Louise Frevert's writing. It is from a debate with the social liberal politician Margrete Vestager:

I can very well understand that you’re tempted to get more votes by supporting the muslims in Denmark, but the bill will have to be paid some day, and it can be expensive for the country. I do not think of the 6 bn. $ tax payers’ money, which it costs to have these people living in this country – per year – it is far more dangerous that the social liberals contribute to securing that these foreigners – not integratable citizens – will establish a power apparatus in our country, which our legislation, and hence our authorities, are not at all geared to handle. The Muslim Brotherhood has largely a free playing field in Naïve Goofy’s homeland, and of course they exploit this in an optimal way…... none of the parliamentary parties used the elections campaign to discuss the march forward of muslims…

These could be the words of a nutty individual, but the point here is that they represent a substantial part of the public debate in Denmark. These politicians are Mr. Rasmussen's coalition partners.

The muslims are not seen as contributors to Danish society ("6 bn. $". She forgets that a lot of them have jobs and pay taxes) . This kind of debate makes the PM's words about a tolerant society look silly. A lot of public debate in Denmark has been xenophobic and islamophobic. The cartoons are part of this wave.

The leader of the Danish People's party, Pia Kjaersgaard, has talked about "The enemy within" and "seeds of bad weeds" (Frø af ugræs) being blown into the country when refugees from certain places in the world have applied for asylum in Denmark. Denmark now has the toughest immigration laws in all of Europe.

The bridge from Copenhagen to Sweden is called the "love bridge" because couples of mixed nationalities have had to move to Sweden, even though they still work in Copenhagen, and one of the couple is a Danish citizen (there you have your "open society").

1: In Danish politics "liberal" means liberalistic, in favour of a free market economy and limited state intervention.


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