Deluded nationalists unite! The Copenhagen Post wants you!

Each week, The Copenhagen Post passes across my desk at work. For those with a limited knowledge of Danish with an interest in Copenhagen, it's a often the starting point for picking up a bit of Danish news (though a better one is probably the handful of English article published at www.politiken.dk). As I can pretty much follow along with the normal Danish press, my need for the Copenhagen Post is limited - a good thing as it is hardly a comprehensive news source. But they do gamely (and oftentimes lamely) try.

The Copenhagen Post has been making effort to resemble a more traditional newspaper over the years, for example, by adding an editorial section, where newspaper takes a stand on one issue of the other. Which is what motivated me to sit down a write this little piece.

Now, trying to gracefully convey my feelings after reading the pile of smelly tripe they attempted to pass off for the reasoned opinion of the editor in the Feb. 20-26, 2009 edition will not be easy. But I shall attempt to. Fortunately, they did not pollute the cyberworld with this editorial - it can only be found in the print edition. What a shame. I shall therefore allow myself to quote at length from the article, so the nature of it's content can be understood well enough.

The subject was dual citizenship. That is, the ability for citizens to hold 2 passports. In Denmark, this is not permitted (there are a few exceptions, for example, children with parents of 2 nationalities). This in itself has always annoyed me, as it represents a very small-minded way of thinking.

However, reading this editorial left me seeing red by the end of the first paragraph. It only got worse from there.

"It is a fundamental principle of democracy that members of a community should have a say in making decisions about their community. But just as it is impossible to serve two masters, so too is it impossible to live in two countries - by belonging to both, one never fully becomes a member of either," intoned The Copenhagen Post to kick-off the editorial.

Oh, my. Are you fu*king kidding me?!? Um, what is this sh*t about not being able to serve two masters? Are we living in the times of slavery? And then to artificially equate this to serving two countries?

Elequent it may be, but nonetheless idiotic rubbish.

Personally, I don't think I could count how many entities I 'serve'. Is 'the country' really such an important one, amongst the many? And is it the 'ultimate' one (we'll return to this term shortly)?

Let's see.

I'm Canadian and my parents, sister and extended family live in Canada (and some in the U.S.A). They are pretty important to me. I live in Denmark and have for quite some time (which incidently is also a member of the European Union, which is a pretty important entity in itself). I like Denmark, in general. My girlfriend is Danish, as is her family. Would I chose country over her...hmmm, let me think about that for a while... And I have close friends all over the world, obviously some closer than others. They are also important. My employer is a Danish company, situated here in Denmark, but is actually owned jointly by a German company and a Norwegian company (oh no, two masters again!), but on a daily basis I'm working with people situated in 8 different countries (all working for this same company). Impossible to serve 2 masters?!? Impossible to serve 2 countries?!? What century was this editorial written in?

But let's allow ourselves to plow on further, even if we must hold our noses.

"Citizenship is bestowed upon us at birth, and giving it up is the ultimate sign of commitment to one's new country. But before one can make that commitment, one must be permitted to do so: to become a new citizen, one must not only be permitted to enter a country, one must be allowed to live there, and then one must demonstrate a knowledge of the country's history, language and culture by passing immigration tests," continues The Copenhagen Post.

The 'ultimate' commitment to one's new country? Well, I suppose for some it could be, but since when should making the 'ultimate' commitment, whatever it is, be the grounds for gaining something so practical as a passport? Is there not a much lower and more practical threshold that is somewhat more meaningful, or at least 'sufficient'. Does one really have to give up their first passport to make this commitment? Is there not simply, say, any number of actions that would do, such as living and working in a given country for some time (and thereby paying significant taxes), maybe raising a family there, with no additional conditions really necessary? And certainly no arbitrary judgment about which is the 'ultimate' among them.

Although The Copenhagen Post, and sadly the Danish government, supports this antiquated law, the 'ultimate' problem, if I dare suggest it, seems to be an insistence upon viewing the passport as something that is rather romantic in its nature.

Newsflash: it is not.

A passport is a practical and unfortunately necessary document. Something that enables people to move around from place to place. To cross borders. To live their lives as they see fit to. To be together with the ones they love. To make a living as they choose to, and to utilise the abilities they have chosen to develop in themselves. While there may be plenty of romance within these ideas, a passport is merely a facilitator and a cold bureaucratic reality - and those have always
had the unfortunate trait of never ever being in any way romantic in nature.

Being able to acquire an additional passport simply makes it easier for those living in a given country to become productive members of society there. Being a productive and deserving member of society can happen in many, many ways. It also so happens that it can be done without the demonstration of knowledge of a given countries language, history, and so-called culture. Or to put it another way, one can 'integrate' into society in countless ways. There is no single correct way to integrate - for example, by giving up one's former passport or passing some sort of 'immigration test'. Of course, especially with regards to language, everything should be done to encourage those who make a country their home to learn it's language.

As for reading history books?!? Give me a break! Will they tell you everything you need to know to be a good little citizen of your new country? Give you a balanced picture of society? Yeah, sure.

Which brings us to 'immigration tests'. Oh, geez. There are certainly some worthwhile practical questions potential citizens could be asked: about laws specific to Danish society, maybe some basics about government that are of practical importance. But it's pretty limited, quite frankly.

That may be tough for those who believe everything can be measured and then converted into some numerical value to understand, a group which apparently includes the editors of The Copenhagen Post. But here's the truth: sorry boys (there are no female editors of the newspaper listed), the real world ain't quite so.

Okay, let's push further into the editorial, into the Disneyland-like make-believe world of The Copenhagen Post editors. There is more still.

"Citizenship carries with it certain rights, but those rights are paid for by living up to the obligation of national service, national pride and national unity. Dual citizenship is divided citzenship, and will always prevent a 'citizen' from fully living up to those obligations."

Yes, at this point we have moved fully into fantasy land that I would never want to be a part of. In fact, it's somewhat scary. What kind of deluded nonsense is this about being 'paid for by living up to the obligation of...national pride'?

Is the implication that if someone does not demonstrate enough, ahem, 'live up to the obligation' of national pride, then they are unworthy of citizenship? What exactly is 'enough national pride'? Maybe singing the national anthem in a loud voice whenever it is demanded? Perhaps when stopped by the police? Or perhaps simply cheering wildly whenever the Danish national handball team scores a point would be enough? Whatever. What a complete joke.

This is the point when the writers have completely lost the plot. And where I have lost my respect for The Copenhagen Post's ability to write a meaningful editorial opinion.

So boys, do enjoy your freedom to express your opinion - but please, show the 'ultimate' respect for this freedom by not forgetting to engage in a bit of critical thinking while doing so. It serves us all so well.

3 Response to "Deluded nationalists unite! The Copenhagen Post wants you!"

  1. Great post...Keep it up!

    Well there go my dreams of well-educated, worldly children raised on a steady diet of Spandauers.

    t says:

    great post! thanks for pointing out this article especially the horrifying/bizarre bit about the

    "obligation of national service, national pride and national unity. Dual citizenship is divided citzenship, and will always prevent a 'citizen' from fully living up to those obligations."

    it's like, who are these people?

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