A Professor on Populism

Update (20161126): rewrite.

From today’s Uriasposten, bits and pieces from a commentary in Information (the Danish newspaper for pseudo-intellectuals). I’ve translated below (original Danish quote below fold):

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard talk about how Islam has taken on the role of Communism [as the enemy of the West]. Nor how much time have we used to discuss how some fanatics then later just some Muslims would take our democracy and our values from us. Endless debates in short loops about forcing people to eat pork and gender-restricted swimming, the possibility of Sharia Law there where Muslims live, and how reasonable it is to see women with scarves.

We focused on the foreign and we thought it was from there that the threats lay. [...] Today, it is clear that it was all just sleight of hand. [...] In the end it neither halal slaughter nor five women in a burka that were the threat, but rather demagoguery and populism that has grabbed politicians and the population. The willingness to loosen the bonds to democracy grows and with it, the door is opened for the strong man, who openly writes bad checks for a better world {sic, what a weird metaphor].

You’re talking about Trump, aren’t you? Trump is an American and not a Dane. And, that is true. But soon it will be the “super-populist” Trump who will have the finger on the button that sends missiles over my father’s garden. It will be him who will throttle the growing optimism on the climate’s behalf. And it will be him who unscrupulously fishes for votes while he makes light of freedom and equality. [...]

Today, it can be seen by anyone – if they will but see – that our society is threatened. But those who threaten it are neither the brown nor the foreign. It comes from ourselves. [...]

Good lord… let’s unpack this, shall we?

The first thing that occurred to me with the oh-so-concerned feelings about a loss of democracy is that the decision to bring in Muslims et al (as in the rest of Europe and the USA for that matter) was never decided by anyone other than an oligarchy of the so-called smart people: the academics (like the author), those in and around Christiansborg (the Danish Parliament building), and the (Danish) MSM (like the newspaper in which this diatribe was printed, Information). That is, the situation in which Denmark finds itself with regards to immigration came about in a decidedly undemocratic manner.

So, as people find out about the reality of immigrants from MENA countries and start to exhibit concerns, then complain, and ultimately vote against it in ever increasing numbers, it seems to me that complaining about a looming loss of democracy is more a fear of being outvoted. Of being opposed. Of seeing one’s political beliefs and decisions subjected to real scrutiny and possible reversal.

Then there’s the BS about democracy which doesn’t exist in Denmark and never has. At this point, it’s a parliamentary representative democracy. As I recall, the Danish form is one of the least “democratic” in that members of parliament don’t represent the region from which they were elected but the party. In addition, there is a low threshold to gain a presence in parliament, meaning that almost all governments are minority government coalitions. This ensures that the intent of anyone’s vote is significantly diluted – I’m thinking of all those Danish People’s Party voters who still haven’t seen much of any changes.

And let’s not forget that that voicing concerns about a degraded society is waved off as just so much nonsense – I am guessing the author doesn’t live in Gellerup. Notice too how the act of waving off these concerns is taken as a legitimate response and is thus part of the discussion. If the author is looking for the reason behind those “endless debates in short loops”, he need not look further than himself and his ilk.

And then, the worries about Trump… man, ain’t they grand?

So, with regards to that conclusion. As I quoted below:

Indeed, many Europeans feel their guilt makes them superior; the more they dislike themselves, the more they preen – inspiring a strange mix of self-loathing and moral superiority

Indeed; but more so, if my countrymen won’t see the error of their ways, their evil, I and those like me can and do.

Jeg har ikke tal på, hvor mange gange nogen har sagt, at islamismen har overtaget kommunismens rolle. Og hvor har vi dog brugt lang tid på at diskutere, hvordan nogle fanatikere og senere bare nogle muslimer ville tage demokratiet og vores værdier fra os. Endeløse debatter i korte loops om tvungne frikadeller og kønsopdelt svømning, muligheden for Sharia på Nørrebro og det rimelige i, at kvinder går med tørklæde.

Vi fokuserede på de fremmede, og vi troede, at det var der, truslen lå. … I dag står det klart, at det bare var et trylletrick. … Det var alligevel ikke halalslagtning og fem kvinder i burka, der var den store trussel, men derimod den demagogi og populisme, som har fået tag i politikere og befolkning. Villigheden til at løsne forbindelsen til demokratiet vokser. Og dermed åbnes døren for den stærke mand, der åbenlyst udsteder falske checks på en bedre verden.

Du taler om Trump, vil I sige til mig, og Trump er amerikaner og ikke dansker. Og det er sandt. Men snart er det superpopulisten Trump, der har fingeren på den knap, der sender missiler henover min fars have. Det er ham, der er ved at kvæle den spirende optimisme på klimaets vegne. Og det er ham, der skruppelløst fisker stemmer, mens han lader hånt om frihed og lighed.

… I dag kan alle se – hvis de vil – at vores samfund er truet. Men trusselsbærerne er ikke muslimerne eller de brune eller de fremmede. Den kommer fra os selv.

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