Sunday, November 14, 2010

Who will speak up?

We've all heard this poem.....many times, in fact.
Most often, it is used in association with a study of the Holocaust; however, this morning, this poem keeps coming to my mind again and again related to the new regulations for immigrants to Denmark.

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Martin Niemöller 

Things are OUT OF CONTROL. Every day for the last two months it feels like the Dansk Folkeparti creates one more regulation to KEEP DENMARK "PURE".  At first it was focused on the refugees. Then it became focused on the Muslims. Then, the "non-Western" immigrants, the under 24 year olds, the under 28 year olds, and now, because they could not GET THEIR WAY with the other tactics, the new immigration laws are quite simply focused on EVERYONE WHO IS NOT DANISH as well as DANES who happened to fall in love with a foreigner who is not good enough. I think this is why Martin Neimöller's poem keeps coming to my mind today.  

Apartheid is an awful thing that we talk about that happened in a country far, far away. Surely something like this could never come to a an educated country, a good country, a country founded on the welfare society tenets of taking care of the weakest members of society....
But after reading the latest news story about what is happening in Denmark, I no longer see the ideology of apartheid as something that only happens far, far away.ændingeaftale-er-social-apartheid/
Here is the Google translated (not perfect, but pretty darned close)
"Immigration Agreement is social apartheid
Yesterday the government and the Danish People's Party reached a new agreement on immigration policy. This time the "animal" that they are hunting is not just the FOREIGNER, but now they are "hunting" Danes who love a foreigner .
Danish People's Party has made it a tradition that every year gets new tightening of immigration policy through in exchange for backing to their other government policies.
Love a scholar, not a nurse
But this year's immigration agreement is more than usually unpleasant. With the new scoring system Danes and their foreign spouses, even more so than today, are being graded by education and income.
If you're (as a Dane) so lucky to have fallen love with a scholar from Harvard, you are welcome - if you  meet all other requirements. You get: the special privileges if your loved one has received his education from one of the world's top 20 universities and thus can be categorized as a "specially qualified person." It should be noted that none of the Danish universities are in the top twenty. If however you have fallen for a nurse, a mechanic or a factory worker, you will not get the same opportunities. 
The bargain tightened requirements for the amount which you must put up front to get your spouse to Denmark. Before one could just put up just 55,000kr, but the amount is being increased to 100,000kr.
Social apartheid
The Danish rules for family reunification are already extremely tight. The so-called condition of ties means that if you (as a Dane) are under 28 years old, have lived for years in the U.S. (for example) and found the person you want to marry there, then the doors are closed for the 2 of you to move to Denmark - because the your ties to the United States are greater than your ties to Denmark.
The new agreement makes the Danish population's right to live with the one you love dependent on education and income. It is hard to see the new system as anything but a kind of social apartheid, where educated and affluent citizens have special rights.
We are at the place where something as basic as the right to live with your foreign spouse and children in your own country (DK) may be subject to income and education levels. The state has simply made a list of who it's okay to marry and who is not welcome.

Nothing to do with coercion
The agreement is, as usual, wrapped in some platitudes about fighting forced marriages. But it is utter nonsense. Forced marriages can also be concluded as familiar to people with education. If the government really wanted to help the men and women living in conditions they were forced into, they should (among other things!) do far more to strengthen countries' shelters. Additionally, the price for the alleged fight against forced marriages, thousands of Danes who have married out of love are unwelcome in their own country.
The whole argument about forced marriages, however, is gradually downplayed in favor of totally open, recognizing that they are actually  socially SORTING Danish foreign spouses.
Immigration Card
In reality, the agreement is probably more about the government's survival than anything else. The bourgeois public opinion polls for months have been miserable because of rising unemployment and the severe cutbacks in our municipalities. An increasingly desperate government is trying once again to play aliens card to divert attention from the closing of day care, declining working hours in public school, layoffs at hospitals and deterioration in elderly care.
In short this latest maneuver may have profoundly serious implications for the Danish citizens who allow themselves the audacity to fall in love with a person from another country."

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

The time is here. The time is now.
We, as foreigners AND DANES, must speak up. 


Anonymous said...

why did you coming to our country if you didn't like the Danish ways of political? it is not your job to changing our culture. stopping immigrant is important to us in Denmark. you don't have understand or accept. just accept.

- lars soerensen andersen

Annemette Kuhlmann said...

I agree with you Kelli!
It's terrifying what is happening with DF and in Denmark.....and nobody seems to understand or notice how bad it's become.
I just hate the fact that it seems nobody has the will or the rhetorical power to put them out in the cold and tell all the people (the happiest on earth??) voting for them that what they really should be afraid of is Pia and her gang.
We've grown up listening to The Wall, seeing The Wave, reading George Orwell and getting all the injustice from Apartheid, the persecution of jews or even "Roots" under our skin and now it seems it's done nothing.
We were supposed to learn from history!
.....and Lars, it's NOT "our" culture, -that kind of politics has nothing to do with "our" culture.....and do you think that because somebody was born in a different part of the world, that they have lesser right to speak up about what is right or wrong??
Oh, is that the tale of The Emperor's New Clothes???
Thank you for speaking up, Kelli!

Tina M Cella said...

Dear Lars Sørensen Andersen

Please stop speaking on behalf of all Danes. Quite a few of us DO NOT agree with DF and the government and we don't aprecciate people like you speeaking on our behalf. So please stop it!

C and H Romenesko said...


First, great poem. It illustrates the situation perfectly! But, really, what nonsense from the Folkeparti!

Second, I laughed hysterically at Lars' comment. Seriously? A little perspective....the world stretches beyond the confines of a country with half the population of Chicago and smaller (in square miles) than West Virginia!

Third, Kelli and Mads, you are always welcome in the US :-)


agger said...

Also read this, in case you didn't see it already:

Garkbit said...

I had a black South African colleague who visited here for six months back in the mid 1990s. After a few months here he confided to me that "this is the most racist country I've ever visited". And this was from someone who had grown up under apartheid. At the time I thought he was exaggerating but now I'm not so sure.

United Studies said...

Soooo.....what happened to Janteloven, which Danes cling to in order to justify their very generous social welfare programs? I thought no one was better than anyone else, so why only chose the top universities? Or choosing scholars over nurses? I thought no one was better than the other???

Beth D said...

The point of the poem is, if you did not speak up when such processes begin then there is no way of stopping it when it starts to hurt you.

You may think that the time has come but I think the poem you chose is very apt because it is already too late.

We had our chance when the Danish state were attacking refugees, disabled immigrants, benefit claimants, people whose paperwork was overdue and those who "cannot or will not integrate" and we did not speak out.

Now there is no one left to fight for "us".

It's over, the battle has been won and it was our indifference which let the bigots triumph.

Sorry to all the Danes who read this who didn't say something until it affected their friends, but you had more agency than us, so it is as much your fault as the DF voters that you vilify.

Nuno said...

Maybe this is too little too late. Foreigners have been demonised for many years here. But it started with refugees and muslims. It seems a bit hypocritical that the media and the like suddenly get up in arms about things now that it is up close and personal.

I would advise anyone wanting to start the good fight, to begin by looking at the groups that have been persecuted since the start. When things are better for them, the rest will fall into place. We do not want a situation in which we separate some foreigners from others.

We're in it together.

June said...

Well,people have been speaking up in various different ways for while and its great to have you join in!

In one of your older posts, you had applauded the same older version of this 100 point system (Bemærk: Planen er ikke perfekt men så en udlænding i Danmark der arbejder meget hårdt for at blive den bedste borger som jeg kan, er jeg meget glad for chancen at få min faste opholdstilladelse snartere hvis det er muligt.) is what you had said.But of course, its not about you or me or specific cases. Discrimination is discrimination and we must speak up irrespective of who it targets.

I am happy that you now realise that this was/is discriminatory.These policies are discriminatory not only towards foreigners but also towards danes married to foreigners, taking away from them the right to marry whom they choose and live with their families in their land of birth.Different laws for immigrants is *still* understandable, but why must there be a different set of family laws for citizens of the same country? One doesn't fall in love after ticking off a checklist of education, wealth and country of origin. We are perhaps making a mistake by making the DF the scapegoat. While they are the ones making most of these suggestions, the current regime routinely passes the suggestions they make.

Many voices that oppose Denmark's discriminatory immigration policies are provocative and sometimes offensive (but then we cant blame the victims) your sensitive voice is a welcome addition!

DFO said...

Hørt Kelli (WORD!)

Anonymous said...

What do you think? I am usually a black and white person when I think about this like this, so I completely believe that if your home country is safe enough for you to travel back and forth, it is safe enough for you to live there. In my opinion people like this are making the immigration laws for the rest of us much more difficult. We have so many rules to follow concerning our immigration... and I believe that the rules should apply to everyone.