A few weeks ago I wrote about a planned anti-promotion that the Danish integration minister had announced as a deterrent against refugees. Before I launch into the myriad of things that have happened since, here are some numbers for you to keep in mind as you read on:
Sweden has received 37,000 refugees this year. Germany currently receives about 70,000 per month. Denmark has received 3,000 since the beginning of the year.
The above numbers are from Michala Clante Bendixen, chairman of Refugees Welcome, a humanitarian organisation in Denmark. (Full disclosure: Michala is a friend and I’ve done some minor work for the organisation a couple of times.) Michala recently published an op-ed in The Guardian—a pre-emptive welcome to refugees before the minister’s ‘Keep Out’ campaign. Naturally, it sparked a media storm, which was good because Michala then got air time on practically every media in Denmark and was able to relay some facts that rarely get presented to the broader public.
But sadly there was also an avalanche of hate directed toward her. You would not believe the vitriol you can get for writing in an international newspaper what an awesome country Denmark is. The sentiment seems to be, ‘it’s the best country in the world, natch, but you’re not supposed to tell outsiders that; it’s just something we like to smugly talk about amongst ourselves.’
You can mask it like this though.
Because ‘we don’t have room for the entire world’ (never mind that the entire world doesn’t even know that Denmark exists, let alone wants to leave everything they know just to live there), and ‘who is going to pay for all this, the sick and the poor?!?’
I tried to point out that if the sick and the poor are the first to be thrown under the bus, Denmark probably has more serious problems than refugees, but I got nowhere.
A while after the op-ed, a group of citizens published a pro-refugee advert, also in The Guardian, stating that whatever the minister has going on certainly isn’t happening in their name. It’s a heart-warming text, you should click the link and check it out.
This was around the same time that there were clashes between refugees and police in Calais (and even fatalities as people tried to get to the UK) and David Cameron talked about a ‘migrant swarm‘, so everywhere you looked there was a lot of panic about refugees. It made me feel like—
Of course, the satirists were bound to have a field day with this. The other day I saw this video (mimicking a similar Australian one) called “Hjælp Inger” (Help Inger [Støjberg, the integration minister]) explaining to the world why it can’t come to #SmallDenmark. (tl;dw Fuck off)
Inger herself is currently in Jordan where she’s gone to see for herself what the refugee situation is like. From what I understand she’s also there to tell the people she meets not to be tricked into trying to go to Denmark. Behold, possibly the most clueless person in the world.
I’m not even kidding. She got her post as thanks for her loyalty to the current Prime Minister of Denmark during a time of internal turmoil in their party. Not for any skill, not for any intellectual prowess, but for being a loyal soldier. Also, it probably pleased the xenophobic extremists (Danish People’s Party) since she’s been known to make some incredibly ignorant and hateful public statements about minorities in Denmark.
I’m afraid to imagine what she’s capable of saying to Syrian refugees if any are unfortunate enough to be exposed to her.
Most of all, she is the epitome of the clueless privileged. I honestly doubt she is capable of processing the thought that that could have been her. That anyone on the planet can become a refugee, anyone can be caught up in war, anyone can starve. Of course it can’t happen to her; she’s from the correct kind of country!
While refugees are sleeping in the parks of Belgrade and little children are wearing bandages instead of actual shoes, while Hungary is building a fence on the border to Serbia, while people are dying in the Eurotunnel and the situation in Greece is so extreme that a thousand refugees have been locked up inside a stadium, Inger of Denmark—the best country in the world which has received 3,000 refugees this year—is in Jordan, taking tourist photos.
Screen grab 17/8/2015. Her caption reads: I am currently in the Middle East to get a first-hand impression of the flux of refugees from Syria and to look at the relief efforts in the region. I am accompanied by among others Rasmus Tantholdt from TV2, and as the experienced correspondent that he is, he quickly found what is supposedly the best shawarma joint in Jordan.