Meet Pia Kjærsgaard. Pia is a woman who is going places. Specifically, she is going to the salon to have her hair bleached an even starker blond – but after that, she’s going to pose for a photo shoot wrapped in the Danish flag, and then she is going to make a heroic stand against the foreign hordes who threaten to overrun her fairy tale vision of a Denmark where everyone is a Lutheran, monarchist, pork-eating blonde.
Pia is trying very hard to be the Danish Sarah Palin. Having risen to the top of her political party, Dansk Folkeparti – literally The Danish Peoples’ Party – she has gone on to claim copyright on the Danish flag and the Danish national anthem. She has gathered around her a loyal army of flag-waving minions; xenophobic old Lutheran priests who pine for the good old days when you could sterilize people who couldn’t memorize their psalms. And immaculately polished young patriots with a short, carefully rehearsed range of facial expressions that would remind you more of the baring of teeth than smiling. But Pia has done even better than that. Pia has enlisted the very spirit of the Danes, the mythological hero Holger Danske. Holger is temporarily unable to comment, as he is presently a statue. But one day, legend has it, when Denmark is threatened by foreign invasion, Holger will arise from his stony slumber to crush the foe. The fact that Holger failed to arise when Denmark was invaded by the Third Reich in 1940 does not bother Pia. You may draw whatever conclusions you want from that. Dansk Folkeparti has been highly influential in shaping the current draconian Danish legislation on immigration. The party is right-wing and hyper-nationalistic. It has been part of a coalition government in Denmark since 2001.
“We already have a religion in Denmark, in the thousand-year old Kingdom that Denmark is. Therefore it is essential that Islam does not spread in Denmark,” Pia asserts. She adds:
Just like her spiritual cousin Palin, Pia Kjærsgaard knows what’s what. Any criticism of her policies becomes either a Muslim plot or a nefarious conspiracy engineered by the unpatriotic liberal media elite. Indeed, she often casts herself as the selfless martyr. Outrageously offensive statements demonizing immigrants become unmissable opportunities for self-promotion. And of course, immigrants does not mean Swedes or Americans or a few wayward Scots. No, indeed. You know who we mean. They have darker skin than us. Their language doesn’t sound anything like ours. The women wear scarves over their hair, and they read from a strange book called the Koran. They don’t even celebrate Christmas! How are you supposed to deal with people who don’t even celebrate Christmas?! But fear not, Pia is on a mission to rescue Denmark from this scourge of barbarism.
“It has been said that 9/11 caused a struggle between civilizations. I can’t agree with that. A struggle of civilizations implies that we are talking about two civilizations and that is not the case. There is only one civilization. Ours,” said Pia in a parliamentary speech.
And to Pia, the dangers are obvious. “Our social welfare legislation is passé, because it fit the Danish family tradition and work ethic, not Muslims who think it’s honorable to sponge off others while the wife is at home producing offspring. Child support is abused, because immigrants can achieve a record-high income by procreating. Immigrants breed like rabbits.”
A loyal party member, Ib Krog Hansen, chimed in with a variation on Pia’s theme: “To say that all Muslims should be thrown out of Denmark? That’s harsh, because there are some actual human beings among them, too. But how are we supposed to sort them?” Oh I don’t know, Ib. Maybe we could start measuring their skulls or something?
Recently, Pia and her party members ran into difficulty yet again. After an article in the party magazine claimed that the reason Danish hospitals and waiting rooms no longer offer free cake and juice to patients was that huge Muslim immigrant families were selfishly eating it all, the party office received in the mail a small mountain of sponge cakes from sympathetic Danes who felt that poor Pia clearly needs more cake. They say sarcasm is the root of all evil, but sometimes it can be so utterly satisfying.
More serious criticism haunts Pia’s every step, as well. In an interview with a Danish newspaper, former Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen accused Dansk Folkeparti of inciting racism among the Danish electorate. Nyrup is now the European chairman of the Social Democrats.
“The party is democratically elected and legitimate, that’s not what I mean. But the attitudes they have towards people from other countries will never become socially acceptable in my view,” he said.
Nyrup made a similar statement in 1999, causing a political row. The actual word he used to describe Dansk Folkeparti was stuerene, which literally translates as ‘housebroken.’ As in, my pet is housebroken, so I can let him out when there are visitors in the house without fear of him embarrassingly crapping on the floor. More loosely, the term translates as ‘socially acceptable’.
Nyrup added that he did not feel worried about the storm of protest his statement would raise from the right wing. “Sometimes you have to stand up and take the beating you’ll get when you say: that’s enough, you have crossed the line and it’s time to stop.”
In a feat of mental acrobatics that would put Palin to shame, Pia Kjærsgaard offered the following analysis of Nyrup’s statement:
“Nyrup has shot himself in the foot in a big way. His statement helps Dansk Folkeparti and harms the Social Democrats. He is clearly mocking the many people who vote for Dansk Folkeparti. But that is so typical of the Social Democrats. It’s just that few of them dare to say it out loud.”
In a world where Palin’s and Pia’s strategy of saying something astoundingly offensive and seeking attention by belittling and demonizing others, and then whining like a martyred saint when you run into criticism, it is to be hoped that more sane people will do what Nyrup has done and call a spade a spade. Enough is enough. The statements coming from the likes of Pia, Palin, the Danish Peoples’ Party and the Tea Partiers must not be accepted as legitimate, acceptable social commentary but as the gratuitous hatemongery it is. Alternatively, let’s keep attempting to bury them under mountains of sponge cake.