It has been widely noted that one of the shrewdest and most distinctive politicians has stated openly to the Sunday Edition of Jyllands-Posten that he fears the consequences of his statements.
“As a politician these days you don’t want to be quoted for something that can make you a hate-object. I have been put in the number one position on the hate list, and I would not like to end up having to be placed under police protection, as it has happened to several of my colleagues in Parliament. We have all heard how it bothers Naser Khader. And of course I am not immune to this; feel free to call that self-censorship,” said the Minister of Education and Church to the Sunday paper.
That of course immediately got some people to show their wit by stating that it always is a good thing to think before talking, and that it is better that Bertel Haarder starts later rather than never.
However, one must assume that Bertel Haarder had given the issue plenty of thought before making the quoted statements, and, in addition, must consider those witty remarks to be the least of his problems.
The same day that Bertel Haarder presented his views in Jyllands-Posten, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, of the same party, stated in Berlingske Tidende that he wanted an official investigation of the tone of the political debate.
Which was of course, as so much else from him, rubbish — what would the purpose of such an investigation be, if not to silence all those people whose opinions you don’t like?
Thus Uffe Ellemann-Jensen in his political retirement has become a steady source of bizarre statements and views.
It is more interesting to dig into what the participants in the debate mean in reality when they use the expression “self-censorship”.
If you mean by this expression that you believe it is important to speak properly to each other and not try to win arguments with profanities, verbal punches below the belt, and other means of degrading each other, then most likely all would agree.
But that is not what the expression covers when Bertel Haarder talks about self-censorship — he talks about fear. Ice cold, physically present fear.
There are people who aren’t satisfied with the chance to write letters to the editor, participate in public meetings, or in other ways make their views known in a civilized manner when they encounter views that they oppose.
There are people who make threats or commit violence or murder, when they encounter statements that they oppose.
We experience that here at Jyllands-Posten, as did the 12 cartoonists who last September gave their view on how each of them sees the prophet Mohammed, and still have to live in fear every single day. Despite the fact that the previously mentioned Ellemann-Jensen on several occasions has tried to ridicule this threat, the fact is that the Police Intelligence Service still has to monitor and evaluate the safety of the cartoonists. Middle Eastern psychopaths regularly issues fatwas against them, and neither they nor the Police Intelligence Service can ignore the possibility that one or more local psychos will try to follow up on the threats.
The crime of the cartoonists is that they, in full compliance with Danish law, Danish Press Ethics, and Danish newspaper tradition, were doing their job.
The Social Liberal politician Naser Khader and several other politicians and ministers have to live with daily police protection because of loose maniacs who don’t want to limit themselves to words when they try to argue.
Even so, these confused beings — none mentioned, none forgotten — say that freedom of speech isn’t and never was threatened in this country.
Everybody who has the ability and the will to open their eyes and engage their brain will see the self-censorship clearly: A Music CD was cancelled, because the artist on the cover appears in a burka; a conference leaflet was withdrawn for fear of offending Muslims; Banedanmark (a railway company -- ed) removed a poster of a book about Islam; a theater cancelled a performance by an artist critical of Islam, Maribo Revyen (a comedy show --ed) cancelled a sketch which might have been considered offensive to Muslims, Kåre Bluitgen’s book, which was the thing that started it all, will not be on the shelves of school libraries, and a picture of a black butcher with two pigs was banned from a photo competition. And as if that weren’t enough, bishops in the Danish People’s Church (the state church --ed) want to edit the Augsburg Declaration of Faith, because it promotes Christianity at the expense of Islam. The rhetoric about “condemning the Mohammedans and their ilk” is rather tame compared to what you’ll see from the other camp.
The bigmouth imam Ahmed Abu-Laban declares that after the Mohammed controversy it is easier to be a Muslim in Denmark, because there is more respect for Islam. Now, we have all learned to take that man’s statements with a grain or two of salt, and perhaps even today his message might be that it has become more difficult to be a Muslim in Denmark; but if he is right, it is obvious that he mixes up the notions of fear and respect.
In connection with the news of his non-existent emigration to Gaza, he stated as evidence for his peaceful intentions that he “could have made a rebellion and created a hell here in Denmark, and could make Muslims hit hard.”
This “peace-loving” man thus states openly and frankly that he is in possession of the violent resources to create hell in this country.
Such a person one has to be very careful not to offend. Some will say that we should speak nicely to each other out of courtesy. Bertel Haarder talks with admirable clarity and calls the phenomenon by its right name: FEAR!
Zonka offers the following comments to go with the editorial:
A very blunt commentary on the general situation and particularly the multiculturalists (Uffe Elleman-Jensen in particular — who must either be in the pay of the Muslims or gone bonkers in his retirement). Don’t be too hard on Bertel, he is actually a man of integrity and a shrewd politician, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole story is actually meant to be a wakeup call for the Danish political elite and the people of Denmark… and a vehicle to get the debate started. I have no doubt that his fear is genuine, but I have never before seen him being intimidated by anyone, and he has been through a lot in his long political career.