Monday, February 13, 2006

How Do The Danes Feel?

A reader of Brussels Journal has translated a column from last Friday's Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that first printed the Mohammed cartoons. Here it is:

We are being pissed upon

I think it was the long departed H.C. Hansen, one of the great Danish statesmen of the last century, who – as the communists were demonstrating in front of Christiansborg [the Danish Parliament] – cast his gaze across the palace square and remarked: “I will not be pissed upon.”

Then he did what was necessary.

I feel that currently my beloved country is being pissed upon rather too much. Denmark has not been neglecting its duties on the international stage. We have supported poor people with acts and advice, we have worked for peace, we have sent soldiers, policemen and experts to all the far flung corners of the world. We have democracy, a rule of law and a welfare state. Not all is perfect, but we harbor no malice towards our fellow men.

And yet Denmark is being pissed upon. The spokesman of the US State Department is pissing on Denmark, the British Secretary of Foreign Affairs is pissing on Denmark, the President of Afghanistan is pissing on Denmark, the Government of Iraq is pissing on Denmark, other Muslim regimes are pissing on Denmark. In Gaza, where Danes for years have provided humanitarian aid, crazed Imams encourage people to cut off the hands and heads of the cartoonists who made the drawings of Mohammed for the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

Excuse my choice of words, but all this pissing is pissing me off.

What is going on? I am not referring so much to the threats against Danish citizens and Danish commerce. Nor to the burnt down Embassies. I am thinking of a word that keeps popping up whenever the Mohammed cartoons are mentioned.

That word is BUT. A sneaky word. It is used to deny or qualify what one has just said.

How many times lately have we not heard people of power, the Opinion Makers and others say that of course we have freedom of speech, BUT.

They have said it, all of them, from Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, to our own Bendt Bendtsen [a Danish Politician]. Once we had to be sensitive to the easily hurt feelings of the Nazis, then came the Communists, now it is the Islamists. The reason I say ‘Islamists’ is that I do not for a moment believe all the world’s Muslims are pissing on us. I think we are dealing with thugs, fools and misled people. Those are the ones we have to deal with, and then the chickenshit politicians.

The cartoons are no longer something Jyllands-Posten can control. They have already been manipulated and misrepresented to the point that few know what is going on and fewer know how to stop it. This affair is artifically being kept buoyant in a sea of lies, suppressions of the truth, misconceptions, lunacy and hypocrisy, for which this newspaper bears no blame. The only thing Jyllands-Posten did was provide a pin-prick which has made a boil of nastiness erupt. This would have happened sooner or later. That it happened more than four months after the publication of the cartoons, raises a question of its own. Are we dealing with random events or with a staged clash of civilizations? One might hope for the former yet be prepared to expect the latter.

That is why I say: Freedom of Speech is Freedom of Speech is Freedom of Speech. There is no but.

Initially I was doubtful of the timeliness of publishing the cartoons. Later events have convinced me that it was both just and useful to do so. That they are consistent with Danish law and Danish custom seem to me less important than this: that we now know that remote, primitive countries deem themselves justified in telling us what to do. Unfortunately we must also note that governments close to us are agreeing with them in the name of expedience.

It was right and just for this newspaper to launch an offensive for Freedom of Speech, and useful, as we have now acquired new knowledge. Welcome to a brave new world where even our Prime Minister – in spite of his laudable firmness – must gaze out upon a scorched political landscape. True, his friend in Washington, George Bush, has uttered the customary condemnation of the torching of our embassies, but his State Department alludes to us as being the guilty ones in this case. The suggestion that Danish troops might contribute to democratization is buried under the charred remains of our diplomatic representations in Beirut and Damascus.

Perhaps it is time we started mopping up this mess. Perhaps Editor-in-Chief Carsten Juste ought to remove his apology which has gone stale sitting so long on the front page of our internet edition and which does not seem to interest the madmen. Perhaps our government ought to announce to Mona Omar Attia, the strange Ambassador of Egypt, that she is persona non grata.

Perhaps the ambassadors that have been called home to fictitious consultations in the Middle East should be told that they may spare themselves the cost of the return ticket.

In so far as possible The Lying Imams probably ought to be expelled. And then we ought to make an effort to support those Muslims who in a difficult situation have proven themselves to be true Citizens.

We, for our part, have no wish to be a burden to the Arab governments. We will happily withdraw our soldiers, policemen and diplomats. If they think our money smells, we will retract our aid. Our trade must make do as well as it can. We promise to not bear a grudge and, in time, we will be glad to return, but we are through with the hypocrisy. We have better things to do than being pissed upon at our own expense.

Cut down our activities in the Middle East. The world holds plenty of other opportunities.