Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Spotty is awarded to . . .

Chris Rowley, an American living in Denmark, earns a Spotty for this "letter of the day" in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
As a expat living in Copenhagen, Denmark, over the last four years, I have been shocked by the overt racism in Danish society. The Mohammed cartoons are simply one example.

A large percentage of Danes do not even understand that prejudice toward Muslims is offensive or wrong. It is simply part of life here. But the ill-advised publishing of the Mohammed cartoons has placed racism, diversity and freedom of speech on top of the national dialogue.

We must remember that Europe is only now beginning to experience diversity like we have experienced in the United States. For example, in Denmark, Muslims from Turkey, attracted by jobs, flooded the country in the 1970s. Until the '70s, Denmark had been completely homogeneous, white and virtually 100 percent Christian for hundreds of years. The Danes never thought the workers would stay when the work dried up. They did. This created a major problem for Danish society. What was once thought of as a temporary problem, became permanent. Denmark's once-homogeneous society began struggling to find a balance between its Christian roots and the Islamic faith and culture of its new immigrants.

Much like our own country, Denmark is learning to understand diversity. Although by contrast, it has just begun its education. Much like our own history, their education could, and will likely, be painful. My hope is that Danish society takes this incident to heart and learns to be more open-minded, more tolerant and more welcoming to diversity within its borders.
Well said Chris.


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