Congratulations on qualifying for the soccer World Cup, Denmark …
The best way to celebrate the success is to stay home.
I am proud when Denmark is doing well. When an American audience did their best to shout Rune in the US Open match against the tennis giant Novak Djokovic, I got chills. When Denmark is highlighted for its green initiatives, or when the national soccer team qualifies for the World Cup, I beam with pride.
The problem is that the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held in the state of Qatar, a dictatorship.
And before you say, “Now let’s just enjoy some draft beer and some ´ball and not mix politics into the picture,” then think about your integrity. It is too easy to abdicate responsibility and focus exclusively on one’s own need for entertainment and overlook the strategic interests one thereby supports.
Denmark is usually quite busy telling the rest of the world how amazing our Danish values are. But is there any substance to that if we do not stand up for them when they matter?
I understand, that the easiest thing would be to abdicate all responsibility and without the slightest distaste enjoy the Danish national sport in front of the screen at home or at the nearest sports bar.
There is a lot in the world I would like to close my eyes to. But now that we know what is going on in the host country, we can not just sweep the conditions off with the Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s words: “We must separate foreign policy and soccer. And tonight we celebrate soccer, and we will do the same at the World Cup.”
How can we close your eyes and enjoy the game as the Danish football team run around at a stadium that has claimed the lives of thousands of immigrant workers in the construction process? Can one support an event held in a country that does not hold democratic elections and treats girls and women as inferior, lesser beings?
Well, in a little while there will be a Winter Olympics in Beijing, so should we boycott that one, too? Yes, we have to!
Make no mistake. When we say that sporting events such as the World Cup and the Olympics should not be political, then the regimes where these events are held claim the exact opposite. We allow them to show all their bells and whistles to promote their ideology and worldview as we cawe and submit – how does that make our democratic worldview look?
Telling the world how how amazing our Danish values are comes with a responsibility. Those words mean nothing if we do not stand up for them when it truly matters – even if it means we can not follow our beloved sport.
If we can not stand up for who we are and what we represent for something as simple as a sporting event, then it sounds somewhat hollow when we self-righteously tell countries all over the world that they must stand up for democracy and human rights.
Austria bans the Islamic organization The Muslim Brotherhood – should Denmark do the same?
Many terrorist organizations have free rein within European democracies.
Austria has recently banned the Islamic organization The Muslim Brotherhood. In all Arab-speaking countries – except the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Yemen – the fundamentalist Islamist and political organization Hizb ut Tahrir is banned.
There are many groups known for Islamist ideology and terrorism. This blog does not distinguish between small ideological differences between the groups. The groups I am interested in here are those who agitate for the legitimacy of using undemocratic means, such as intimidation, violence and murder, when it comes to promoting their messages.
I hear again and again the argument that it is not possible to fight against a strong ideology without offering an alternative. The absolutely absolutely liberating alternative we have in Europe is also what makes us weak, namely our democracy.
Because in Europe we can speak, think and act freely – within the democratic and legal rules of the game, of course. This makes it possible for those who want another unfree society, where freedom of speech, equality between the sexes, etc., etc. are kidnapped, can have fairly free opportunities to advance their horrible ideology.
These organizations do not ask questions within the framework we are used to when discussing our disagreements with each other. Where there is fanatical fire in the eyes, the urge for fanaticism lies and lurks.
Should we follow Austria’s example and make it a criminal offense for these deeply undemocratic groups to operate? Germany has done something similar, however, their focus was to hamper economic activity.
How can we, by democratic means, meet undemocratic forces that would crush everything that does not conform to their sick ideology if they had the opportunity?
The truth is, we can not. At least not if we do not want to compromise on the freedoms that are the epitome of democracy itself. Inhibiting their right to speak out would, in a way, be the same as their goal when they want to shut up opponents of their ideology. But we can do something else.
We can take cases to court when we believe there is evidence that the groups are breaking the law. And we must do that. And then we need to be careful about what legislative changes we introduce or remove in relation to whether they can be used against our democracy and have the opposite effect of what they were intended.
But our strongest weapon is that there are more democratically minded people in Europe than the opposite. Perhaps one day it will become necessary for more European countries to follow the example of Austria. I hope not.
I am aware that this attitude could have catastrophic and disturbing consequences. If the European countries, and thus of course also Denmark, do not manage to sell the product, and show what a fantastic liberating life, democracy holds opportunities for, then the alternative is that undemocratic forces at some point win, and that it will be the democratic rules that make it possible.
Is Europe becoming like the United States when it comes to the power of lobbyists changing fundamental freedoms?
Well-orchestrated campaigns work to limit the rights of women and LGBTQ.
Yesterday there was a knock on my door. Outside stood a man who told us he had grown up in our house that his father had built when he was a boy. We invited him in and showed him around. It was a very touching and emotional tour – for him, but also for me.
I have met his father several times. He’s of the old school – Republicans, voted passionately for Trump, believes that women belong in the home, that it is their most important job to look after children. That was what we discussed when we bought the house.
Now the son was standing in our living room. Tears flowed as memories washed in over him. He told of his childhood, which had been good and safe. But he also told of a father who had never accepted him. The son was a high school teacher, something his engineering father certainly did not find appropriate. And the man in my living room had also never gotten his father’s acceptance when it came to the man he loved.
I’m so angry. Angry on behalf of this man, angry at my own, angry at the parents who can not figure out to love the child they are having, but can only accept their child if it fits in a box they can understand.
Here stood a man who was some of the most sensitive, reflective, and pleasant. And still his upbringing and the prejudices of society persecuted him.
I know it well, I myself grew up in a family that could not accept who I was and the choices I made. And I also know how it will probably always sit in one, even when one has found some kind of peace with family relationships.
Here in the United States, not all areas are equally easy to live in if you belong to a minority. For example, it’s easier to belong to the LGBTQ community in the larger cities of my state, Washington, our neighboring state of Oregon and, of course, California, than it is in some of the states further south.
There are places where it is decidedly dangerous to belong to the LGBTQ community. And there are places where it is decidedly dangerous to be a woman if you should want an abortion. There are many who want to kidnap the rights of women and minorities.
But why am I telling you now? Can Europe not be totally indifferent to what is going on here in the United States in terms of women’s and LGBTQ rights? Not quite. For perhaps Europe is heading in the same direction.
The EU is full of interest groups and lobbyists trying to advance their own agenda. It is, so far, fine, part of the democratic process. But now the report “Tip of the Iceberg “, which describes the period 2009-2018, shows that there are two areas that well-organized interest groups have joined together to promote – namely abortion resistance and resistance to LGBTQ rights.
I often get the feeling that in Denmark there is a belief that the fight for rights for women and sexual minorities is long over. It is quite nice that this is the case in most circles in Denmark. But it’s just that Denmark is, firstly, an infinitely small country and, secondly, part of the EU.
Abortion resistance, antifeminism, anti-immigration, anti- LGBTQ, antisecularization. The groups working for that kind of caveman mentality are getting stronger and stronger. As in the United States, they use reliable names that contain words such as “family,” “freedom,” “dignity,” and “human rights.” The view of society is, however, that LGBTQ rights and abortion resistance are their central focal point.
Here in the United States, the right to abortion is under pressure in several places and in several states, including In the state of Texas, it is almost impossible to have an abortion, because how many people know they are pregnant before you can hear heart sounds? Young women are terrified of getting pregnant, the men are, as usual, no one to take care of. Even if the pregnancy is due to incest or rape, there is no pardon. Time and time again, lawsuits are being filed to advance an agenda that makes it more difficult for women and minorities to make free choices. Maybe the EU is on the same course?
The level of our rights can be read in how women and sexual minorities are treated. The rights are not secured, they are constantly under pressure, and we must be strong when it comes to defending what we stand for.
Karen Melchior, Member of the European Parliament for the Radical Left, was interviewed on P1’s “Orientering” on 20 June on this topic. She points out that the situation calls for action, that we react before the rights are violated, as we see attempts at in Poland, among other places.
It’s really quite simple. As Melchior said in the program: “This is not something we can see through fingers with, or something that goes over by itself. If we believe that there should be equal rights, no matter who you love or who you are, that women should be allowed to rule over their own bodies, then that is something we will have to fight for. “
The narratives supported in these campaigns are directly drawn from the rhetoric we know here in the United States. They did not arise spontaneously in the religious department of the EU. It is naive to think that lobbying is an expression of cultural differences in Europe. On the contrary, it is a well-organized campaign. It requires a counter-campaign.
Never let it be the case that in 50 years there will be a man in my living room crying because he has had to fight a battle to be who he is and love who he does. And never let it be the case that women’s hard-fought rights are trampled underfoot with the pretext that fewer rights are rooted in a cultural-religious context and must therefore be respected in accordance with an ideological female vision of darkness.
Tougher prison sentences would make terrorist aspirants think twice
If people with terrorist dreams had the prospect of decades behind bars when they sat and planned death and destruction, it could be that the threat picture in Europe would look different.
Two days ago, a young man of 20 years was arrested at the airport here in my state, Washington. The man was on his way from Seattle to Amsterdam and from there wanted to move on to the Middle East to fight for ISIS.
Earlier , a mosque had tried to de-radicalize him, his mother had repeatedly approached the FBI, and he had been excluded from social media due to his updates.
The FBI has been keeping a close eye on the man’s internet activity and activities since November, after the mosque approached him the same month, saying the man had chatted with ISIS members and watched propaganda videos on the mosque’s computers.
Now the members of the mosque who reached out to the authorities have been proclaimed heroes.
The man is charged with providing material assistance to ISIS, and for that he could end up behind bars for up to 20 years.
The United States is known for its harsh punishments. One can discuss which offenses deserve harsh punishments and which do not. We have that discussion all the time here.
But when it comes to Islamist radicalization, there is consensus that such dark forces should have such harsh punishments that others are deterred before they start playing with the idea of cutting off the heads of people, pushing homosexuals out of buildings, blowing up innocent people. air and fight democracy.
As the homogeneity of Europe changes and a religion with fundamentally different values is now a part of every European country, so there is no longer a consensus on what is morally and ethically right and wrong, one might consider similarly harsh punish when it comes to this type of crime – also in Denmark?
Do we in the West understand how fragile democracy is and how much we need to do to protect? I have my doubts
Fight for democracy, it’s a minority form of government. The latest example of a dictatorship’s conduct comes from a country that is very close to Denmark.
Perhaps the hijacking of the plane in Belarus’ airspace with journalist and system critic Roman Protasevich (on his way from one EU country, Greece, to another, Lithuania) on board has helped to open the eyes of people who do not normally allow themselves to be greatly influenced by the rise of dictators.
Because that’s how authoritarian systems work – look at China, look at Turkey, at Russia, Belarus – the list is only getting longer at the moment. These countries do not respect international territory, they do not respect human rights and conventions, they assassinate, poison and computer hack into power and influence – even outside their own territories.
Why is it now at all interesting what is happening in Belarus? In general, it is shameful and alarming when undemocratic regimes are allowed to terrorize their peoples, but at a geopolitical level, the events in Belarus also have major political consequences in relation to Europe.
Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus’ dictator, could not have acted as he did without Putin’s blessing. And as you know, Putin himself does not shy away from any means when it comes to sending signals to his political opponents. He does not go out of his way to take bits of surrounding countries (Ukraine) or poison Russian citizens who are in western, democratic territory in e.g. England. If Putin keeps getting away with his behavior, how many surrounding and former Soviet countries are sitting and trembling? And how many forces within Europe’s democratic countries do not sit and take notes in relation to how easy it is to intimidate themselves to power and submission?
That’s part of the danger. The complete lack of respect for the form of government that exists in countries outside and within their power. And this is where it gets interesting. For how do democratically governed countries react, not only on a political but also on a personal level, when their borders are exceeded and the despots behave as they please?
Until now, we have seen condemnations from political leaders when political opponents have been poisoned and killed within the borders of their countries. The events in Belarus, where we have seen an unprecedented aggression and lack of respect for citizens on the way from one EU country to another, show that the reactions that such actions have so far met have not deterred either Putin or his nod doll Lukashenko.
Democracies are in retreat, and democratically governed societies are a minority in this world. What are we going to do to protect the form of society that is in favor of equal rights for women and men, for freedom of expression and for the right to disagree with those who have access to weapons?
It may sound fluffy, but nonetheless it is true: Democracy is only as strong as the individual citizen. All things considered, this is exactly what the democratic model is about: that each person has a voice that they can (relatively) freely express without fear of life and (family members).
All over the world, dictators and authoritarianism are on the rise. Most recently, Samoa’s newly democratically elected leader has been greeted by a locked parliamentary door. As if that in itself should be a legitimate way to deal with his election defeat in order to cling to the stool of power. This year alone, we have been following the anti-democratic events in Hong Kong, Myanmar and now also in Mali.
But not all dictators lock the parliament building or occupy the top leadership stool in a military coup. Some are working to fight democracy from within. We see it in Turkey, we see it in Europe, and we saw it in four horrible years with Trump. Fortunately, it did not succeed in overthrowing democracy here in the United States, but it was close.
Maybe it’s because in my own micro level I have fought for personal freedom when I finally wrestled myself free from Jehovah’s Witnesses and regained the right to my own voice that I become so utterly discouraged to see democracy under tremendous pressure . Maybe it’s because I, as a resident of the United States, saw how Trump deliberately and actively eroded democracy from within and with his corrupt attempts tried to cheat and intimidate himself into power. Even if one does not follow the events of the world closely, it became abundantly clear to the world how fragile democracy is, with the attack on the Congress building on January 6 this year, the very symbol of American democracy.
But if we only have attitudes to issues we have close to life or in our backyard, and do not react actively when we see signs that democratic values are being challenged – then we can be 100 per cent. sure that the life of relative security with the democratic, western values, generations before us has fought so hard for whether adding time is a thing of the past.
If we want a democracy, then we must have facts, not propagandistically spun lies, that serve the interest of a ruler. And if we want facts, then we must have someone to report on what they see and experience. And if we want someone to report what they see, then they need to be present where the events unfold. It does not want authoritarian regimes, therefore their journalists are in prison or in exile in Hong Kong, in Russia, in Saudi Arabia and in many other countries. And if leaders with authoritarian ambitions do not use such methods, then they incite hatred against journalists, as we see in Brazil, or, as in the case of Trump, they consistently mention the media, reporting in a way they does not like fake news – and it may be the beginning of something as dangerous to democracy as throwing its political opponents in jail.
Freedom of the press is freedom of speech, the two are closely linked. And freedom of speech is one of the fundamental pillars for democracy to work. If we buy into it or accept the state of things and shy away from it, then the reality we do not get reported does not exist, does it? And if we allow it, we have de facto agreed to live in undemocratic conditions with a manipulated reality.
That is why we must fight for the freedom and democratic rights of all of us – even if the abuses seem to us to be so far away that they have nothing to do with us.
Before we know it, undemocratic forces can weaken democracy from within, made possible by our own democratic processes – and Danish indifference. If we do not shout and react, we will be suffocated – whether it is physically or mentally, then the result is the same. Violent regimes and dark forces take over, sometimes without having to loosen a single shot.
It is up to us how much we want to let those who rumble out there with bullying methods, assassinations and kidnappings and a deliberate attempt to influence democracies get away with it. How far will we let their authoritarian regimes pull in on our monopolies and shake the norms we have fought for?