Rune Hjarno Rasmussen: Comments symptomatic of Danish trend

Krarup is not alone in her fascist biases.

Let's be clear on that; her text is derisive and describes Maori tradition as grotesque and uncivilised, there is no misunderstanding in translation. Photo / Supplied
Let's be clear on that; her text is derisive and describes Maori tradition as grotesque and uncivilised, there is no misunderstanding in translation. Photo / Supplied

After a recent official visit to New Zealand, Danish right extremist Marie Krarup derided and ridiculed Maori culture.

Let's be clear on that; her text is derisive and describes Maori tradition as grotesque and uncivilised, there is no misunderstanding in translation.

Krarup is simply expressing a kind of racist aggression that has become an all too familiar feature of Danish political life and Danish media.

And on the note of civilisation, I can only reach out to New Zealand with a plea for the civilising voice and perspective of a pluralist culture on Denmark, a country which Krarup and her political wing have pulled in the direction of a malignant caricature of exclusivist tribalism.

But what does Krarup mean when she talks about "civilisation", apart from the explicitly racist idea that Maori are somehow culturally inferior to what she describes as "European-looking" New Zealanders.

Ideologically she bases her idea on Bernard Lewis' "clash of civilisations" which again builds on Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West (1918), where the decadence of the western civilisation leads to the duty of Germany to take on the leading role, and bring the West into a new Caesarean epoch.

Krarup has made herself the latest proponent of this idea of an entity called western civilisation in some kind of eternal conflict with an eastern civilisation, an idea that no cultural expert can perceive as anything but an anachronistic absurdity.

But let us use the word "civilisation" in a slightly different way. Let "civilised" rather characterise attempts to enact pluralist, humanist decency in a society. In that case civilisation is a quality that in the past 10 to 15 years has been waning in Denmark.

We have seen Krarup's party move to ban non-Danish first languages in public school areasand limit access to a free press for ethnic minorities. Prominent spokesmen of Krarup's party have labelled Muslim men as incestuous child murderers. The list could go on and on.

You might think that this grotesque chauvinism is only limited to Krarup's right-wing extremist party. But that is unfortunately not the case. There are scores of examples of how those of the extreme right have shaped all of Danish political life in their image.

Again, one might imagine that Denmark surely must have a whole class of journalists who see it as their calling to oppose and criticise these openly fascist tendencies. Sadly that is not the case. Strange as it may sound, Danish journalists rarely criticise.

There is a sense in Denmark that anything goes, a sense that you are not accountable for what you say.

Recently, journalist Martin Krasnik attempted to introduce some kind of responsibility in Danish media. He interviewed a prominent right-wing extremist as if he was actually an adult person accountable for his own statements, and this minimal attempt at decent journalism was met with intense criticism, from right-wing politicians as well as from Krasnik's own editorial board.

This cultural atmosphere is probably an important part of the reason why a prominent Danish politician such as Krarup will respond to an official visit in another country with racist denigration of its cultural practices.

This of course neither removes the insult against you, nor my own shame of seeing an official representative of my people display this level of arrogance and chauvinism towards another people.

I wish I could say that Krarup was an exception in Denmark, but unfortunately she is more symptomatic than she is exceptional.

Rune Hjarno Rasmussen is a Danish PhD student of anthropology and history of religions at Uppsala University in Sweden.

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