A problem of integration (and a modest proposal*)

By: Tim Anderson (timothyanderson2005@gmail.com)

With the threat of a possible election hanging over the country, and not-quite-but-essentially-election style posters appearing on billboards around the city, I decided it was time to come clean and acknowledge that here in Denmark, there is a problem of integration that must be politically dealt with.

In countless Danish political and non-political circles, it has been pointed out over and over again in recent years that there is a small problem of integration in Denmark. At this point that one could be forgiven for believing that what they were hearing was in fact an old vinyl record skipping skipping skipping.

But here’s the reality: there is a certain much-discussed minority group that has begun to establish themselves in this country, yet try as society does this minority group continues to have grievous problems adapting to the culture that surrounds them here – on the streets, in the schools, in the bars and cafes - and even behind closed doors in the privacy of home.

And this it is often said - and frankly I must agree - is a real problem. Because it causes, how shall we say it, a certain disease that is very uncomfortable. It’s very disturbing to have to co-exist with. It’s a bit like desperately yet futilely trying to get oil and vinegar to mix – try as you do, shake shake shake, inevitably after a short period of time it’s right back to the same situation – the oil incapable of integrating itself in any meaningful way with the vinegar. The two remain visibly apart. And that sucks.

So I’ll come out and say it openly: how exactly can we get this small minority, the Dansk Folkeparti and its supporters, to integrate into Danish society? How exactly does one to get this minority group that so stubbornly refuses to see the obvious, to understand that the way they insist on leading their lives and how they insist others should lead theirs, the things they believe in, and the viewpoints they espouse have little, if anything, to do with the values of Danish society?

In fact, I must admit that I sometimes fear that one day this minority may even insist upon covering their faces on the streets in order to shield themselves from the obvious reality that surrounds them, that they nonetheless so fundamentally disagree with. And if they ever did do that, it would surely make an already sticky situation even stickier.

So this is a call to action: I say we need to force these Dansk Folkeparti people to integrate into Danish society!

I suggest to begin with, we move them to the housing centers that already exist for this purpose - for integrating those refugees who are new to Denmark and have never previously been exposed to Danish culture.

Why not start with the center located, rather uselessly, about 15 kilometers outside of Roskilde quite in the countryside, just on the other side of a forest? Maybe being apart from Danish society in this manner will finally allow these stubborn individuals to see the error of their ways and at last adopt the values that will allow them to gracefully fit into this great country.

Of course, I acknowledge that it may not work. I mean, consider the flexibility and ingenuity these refugees have shown in getting themselves from these distant lands where they were born to the far shores of Denmark. It’s a degree of strength and character that the Dansk Folkeparti and its supporters have never demonstrated they possess. Still, it’s worth a shot, no?

If nobody will stand up and say it loudly and proudly, the perpetual problem of integrating these outsiders into Denmark will remain unsolved. Because if nobody will deal with it, a real risk exists that the consequences may slowly tear this wonderful Danish society apart. Which is precisely why we must now be ceaselessly vigilant in our efforts.

*A special thanks to very deceased Jonathon Swift for inspiring this part of the title. My proposal is, of course, far more modest than his more famous one.

4 Response to "A problem of integration (and a modest proposal*)"

  1. i recently gave a speech at gymnasium (more or less a high school) in copenhagen. coming from the united states i was very used to a diverse enviroment and was suprised to see so much diversity at the gymnasium. what i saw was a large number of folks from the middle east (45%) mixing in readily, some wearing religious/cultural garment, and others not at all. On the surface at least among the upcomig generation, there seemed to me a healthy sycreticism and integration. Coming from the United States I can definitely say two things: first, that the children of recent immigrants readily integrate into American culture--whether it be southern, midwestern, country, or hip hop. Second, large waves of immigration do affect and change (all be it to relatievly small degree) the culture. I rate the latter as a postive for the culture. I still live in the states but my fiance lives in norrebo (lots of non natives). I'll be interested to observe the dynamics as I spend more time in Copenhagen.

    Marcin says:

    This is a seriously good commentary -- should publish it somewhere in 'mainstream' media / M.

    Isabel says:

    Well said! It about time that the DFP realised that they are the ones not intergrating into a diverse global society.

    Fuzzy says:

    Wow, I'm glad I stumbled across this post!

    Like others have suggested, you should try and get this published. As it is, I'm definitely bookmarking this one. ;-)

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