From the Washington Post news section:
By Emily Rauhala
April 6, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. EDT
KAERSHOVEDGAARD, Denmark — Zero asylum. Send them back to Syria. Claims should be sorted somewhere else. It may sound like the rhetoric of the far right, but in this wealthy, Scandinavian welfare state, it has become the political center.
Denmark, polite and progressive, is profoundly skeptical of asylum seekers. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, of the center-left Social Democrats, has touted a vision of “zero” people arriving to Denmark outside the United Nations resettlement system. A key priority for her government: working with European Union allies to set up claims-processing centers far away.
The Danish case offers a vivid example of how far-right ideas are flourishing, even where the far right has struggled to gain power.
Or maybe the Danish Social Democrats’ sensible immigration restriction policy isn’t far right anymore. It’s the new center and the old pro-onslaught of migrant shibboleths are now the new far left.
For some, Denmark demonstrates how rich democracies are eroding refugee and asylum protections, shifting blame and shirking responsibility—all without meaningfully addressing root causes.
The root causes for why the Third World is full of Third Worlders seem a big challenge for little Denmark to “meaningfully address.”
And Denmark may preview where the E.U. is headed, as the 27-nation bloc warily watches rising migration numbers and mulls a more restrictive course.
Denmark’s hard-line stance does not apply to everyone seeking refuge. The country last year welcomed tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees, easing their path to school and work. …
Denmark was not always like this.
Thirty years ago, the country was relatively open and welcoming, with strong protections for asylum seekers and refugees. But that started to change in the 1990s, as the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the far-right Danish People’s Party proved politically potent.
Anti-immigrant voices sold the idea that Denmark’s success was a result of its homogeneity—that protecting the welfare state required protecting “Danishness.”
Political figures on the right started saying that refugees should eventually be sent back to their home countries, recalled Haifaa Awad, a doctor who serves as chairwoman of the Danish aid organization Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke. “This was a right-wing agenda, but it was widely accepted by other parties that if you want to get into power, you have to play with their discourse.”
It’s almost as if the Danish right won the argument over immigration around 2000 and persuaded the other parties of the rightness of the policies.
Europe’s influx of refugees in 2015 and 2016 helped turn talking points into law. In 2015, the Danish Parliament introduced a new temporary protection status that could be withdrawn when conditions in home countries improve even slightly. In 2016, the government granted authorities the right to confiscate the jewelry and valuables of new arrivals, supposedly to fund their stay. “Anti-ghetto laws” sought to limit the number of “non-Western” people living in certain neighborhoods.
In contrast, while the Danes had modernized their ideology for the realities of the 21st century by 2000, it took the Swedes until after the 2015 refugee own goal, Merkel’s Boner, for the Swedes to admit that times had changed and the Dane had a point. This probably goes back to Denmark having an admirable WWII—resisting the conquering Nazis and getting all 7000 Danish Jews safely out of the country—while the Swedes had a sleazy WWII: declaring neutrality but giving the Nazis big discounts on natural resources prices, charging the Germans one-third as much for coal as the also neutral but more bellicose Swiss charged the Germans. Even as admirable a Swede as movie director Ingmar Bergman rooted for the Nazis to win the Big One and only changed his mind with the discovery of the concentration camps in 1945.
In contrast, the greatest Dane, Niels Bohr, and his family, including his son Aage, who later, like his father, became a Nobel Prize winner, sailed to Sweden and made their way to Los Alamos.
Unfortunately, the Swedes, despite their poor performance in 1939-45, weaseled their way over the Danes, Norwegians, and Finns to the top of the postwar moral hierarchy.
But lately, Sweden has been coming around to the view that the Danes got it right.
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