Saturday, January 06, 2007

Jyllandsposten in attack on Freedom of Speech of Danish Textbook Writers


The Jyllandsposten became world famous about a year ago. In a bold defence of freedom of expression the Jyllandsposten printed the Mohammed cartoons.

It is somewhat odd that the Jyllandsposten does not uphold these noble principles in the campaign against textbooks that right wing politicians from the Danish right wing People's party are waging at the moment. On January 5th the paper lets the minister of education express his condemnation of a number of Danish textbook writers without letting these writers defend themselves.

The centre-right Danish government depends on the right wing Danish People's Party (DPP) for its majority in the Danish parliament, and the minister of education Bertel Haarder is being pressured by the right-wing party to take a hard stand against the textbooks.

One textbook on politics for secondary education students writes about the Danish People's Party that it is based on Danish voters' fear of immigrants, and that the party is nationalistic and xenophobic. This seems to many people to be the very truth about the party, but the DPP does not like this characterization, so in the Jyllandsposten it demands the book withdrawn from schools and taken off the curicula. The whole matter is quite hilarious, as the DPP has characterised its voters/members in the same way in a film commercial. The message in the commercial is that if you're in favour of cosy Danish idyll from before Denmark lost its innocense and became open to globalisation, and you love the typical Danish allotment garden houses, then it only costs 150 kroners a year to register as a member. What hypocrisy!! And what hypocrisy of the Jyllandsposten and Bertel Haarder, minister of education, to participate in such a low campaign.

Another textbook writes about American politics and describes the policies of the present Bush administration as "an odd combination of influences from the religious right". This is deemed "wrong" by Bertel Haarder, and this book is likewise by the DPP required taken off the market for school books. The Danish People's party has also started a campaing titled "Report on your teacher", in which Danish school children are encouraged to visit the campaign's website and write reports about "indoctrination" and other abuses in the class room.

It is odd that these totalitarian tendencies are finding their way into the Danish government as Bertel Haarder has previously prided himself with being a liberal. He has been brought up in the Danish folk high school tradition well-known for its emphasis on experimentation and freedom of the mind. Now he seems to be ready to do anything to cling to power.

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