Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Too soft on the Anti-Cartoonists?

Danish PM Rasmussen recently attacked people in the media, business and society for not having provided him with sufficient support during the "Cartoons Crisis". He charged them with being hypocrites, obsessed with profits, and even with being "unprincipled". Dismissing protests against him as "hatred" towards his government, he compared the situation at present to intolerance during the Nazi occupation.

By contrast, some Danish business leaders are outraged by Rasmussen's tirades and suggest that he has "lost touch with reality". Cabinet members, including Environment Minister Connie Hedegaard and Defense Minister Soren Gade, have publicly distanced themselves from Rasmussen. Friends within his party, as well as his government's conservative coalition partner have warned him against using "unecessarily strong rhetoric" and "stoking a domestic political crisis". The leader of Denmark's opposition Social Liberal party, Marianne Jelved, called Rassmussen "arrogant, dangerous and holier than thou."

So who is right: Rasmussen or his critics? And why is Rasmussen continuing down his colourful path?

Possibly because he really believes in democracy. But it can't have escaped his attention that support for the right-wing Danish People's Party has gone up from 13.3 per cent at the time of last year's general election, to 18.2% according to a recent poll. In the Danish context, that's a Himalayan upsurge of support for a party that is just about as virulently anti-immigrant and Islamophobic as it is possible to be among the normally remarkably mild-mannered Danes.

So I conclude that the Muslim furore over the cartoons has enormously strengthened the hand of the right wing which is anti-immigrant and Islamophobic.

I haven't seen the results for other countries, but we should not be surprised if the reaction is the same around the world.

The result is that it is much more difficult to be genuinely liberal today (as distinct from being merely an appeaser) than it was before Fatwas started being issued against supposed blasphemers such as Salman Rushdie and the Danish cartoonists.

So much for the crazy antics of certain Muslim politicians who are trying to bolster their own base by pretending to their followers that they can get the West to live by Shariah rules if they boycott European businesses, burn Western flags and declare "War on Denmark".

Talk about unintended consequences!

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Mark Stewart said...
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Mark Stewart said...

I must say you are well informed about what's going on in Denmark. I live in Denmark and everyone I talk to about this whole thing is tried of it and want to get on with other things, like your last post on micro-lending or global warming and HIV/AIDS. But I guess relationships between countries and peoples are equally important, if we want to get an answer to the other problems.