The following is a Letter to the Editor sent to the Norwegian daily Dagbladet on 7th July 2003. It was not accepted as shown here, but a radically shortened and partly rewritten version was printed in Dagbladet on the 20th of July 2003. My unkind sarcasms, and the background for them, are more easily seen in this unabridged version. It is interesting to note that there has been no attempt to refute the premises that this article is based upon.
This article is being published in English because obviously Norway is not the only country where the media is actively trying to prevent immigration critics from voicing their concerns.
The problems associated with asylum, immigration and integration have lately become pressing. Notwithstanding the urgency, Dagbladet mobilizes with massive use of intimidation techniques in order to shut the mouth of those who want to discuss these difficult problems in the open. Long accepted principles for intellectual decency are arrogantly pushed aside in order to save the multi-cultural project from being overtaken by reality.
More or less on a daily basis lately, as an editorial and/or commentary, the message is hammered in: Holding the opinion that present policies have proved themselves to be both naïve and short sighted is a serious divergence. Dagbladet’s staff will have none of it: We have the truth. Don’t try to confuse us with facts!
Stigmatizing words like brown slime or xenophobia are flying through the air, and comparing immigration critics with Pol Pot and Hitler is no big deal. If anybody chooses to express concern about influence from cultures and religions differing radically from the very values that Dagbladet normally subscribes to, they still need to be shut up. The staff has obviously been given wide authority and may, if needed, allow themselves to be inconsistent. What counts is succeeding in putting a lid on the debate.
One who is really demonstrating great creativity on this arena, is Mr. Stian Bromark (3rd July 2003). He assures us that “... thus, badly formulated xenophobia is to be considered racism”. Well formulated xenophobia is apparently not to be considered racism yet, but presumably this deficiency will soon be corrected. All it takes is to have Norsk Språkråd (the Norwegian Language Council) see to it that we widen the definition of this most convenient concept; racism. That aught to do it, and would make it just so much easier for our power elite to stop common people from expressing fear or insecurity in relation to the unfamiliar phenomena that are now being forced upon them.
But what really elevates Mr. Bromark above the common horde of politically correct preachers and into the class of intellectual suicide bombers, is his deliberations on the future of democracies as Muslims gradually will become a majority. This question, having for years been carefully shunned by all who want to avoid xenophobia, is now being treated with an utter lack of fear by Mr. Bromark.
He can now inform the reader that the tactic of first forbidding racism by law, and then widening the definition of racism according to need, has been successfully employed in Denmark. The Danish MP, Pia Kjærsgaard, is by no means convinced that Muslims will defer from using political power once they get it. She has very clearly, and not particularly diplomatically, expressed her concern about this, and she is now framed and hauled to court.
Mr. Bromark makes no effort to hide his enthusiasm about this. Dansk Sprogværn (the Danish Language Council) has found that one merely needs to have a sufficiently dynamic approach to the definition of words. Did anybody mention Orwellian New-speech? Whether you believe that or not; this was the basis for a ruling in the Danish Supreme Court. Just think about it! How come nobody struck upon this genial combination of questionable law and political opportunism before? Even the Taliban should find something worth picking up here. It does not take too much fantasy to see the fantastic opportunities that this gives.
Given the above background information, I would like to suggest that Dagbladet organizes a working group to look into this. The mandate for the working group should be to produce reassuring and xenophobia-dampening articles describing various assumed future scenarios related to the situation where non-western Muslims will constitute a majority in our country.
The first thing this working group should do is find out how long it takes before Oslo, and then other cities and population centres, will have Muslim majorities. Equipped with the latest demographic facts, this should be easy. With some effort, Dagbladet should be able to get access to additional statistical material that our authorities tend to shield from public insight. And, or course, make sure you include an analysis of the proportion of Muslims who want to introduce Sharia law in Norway; when can we expect this to come into force; and what consequences will it bring to all of us?
The most important aspect of the coming series of articles should be related to democracy, legal protection, freedom of expression, religious freedom, women’s rights, and other freedoms and liberties that we all know Dagbladet wholeheartedly defends. No relevant fact should be concealed. Simultaneously you must avoid conflict with the widened definition of racism. It may not be all that easy - but good luck!
Dagbladet should be among the very last to employ intimidation techniques to suppress free debate on any question. This, of course, includes debate on the future demographic make up of Norway. If anyone in this country ought to feel an obligation to defend us against fundamentalist religion and cultures suppressing women, it should be Dagbladet. Today we are facing what is probably our most significant ethical dilemma since World War II, all thanks to a series of naïve politicians. This means that things will become uncomfortable and difficult no matter what we do. One thing is clear, thought; there will be no simple answers.
Therefore, it becomes completely misleading when Dagbladet’s commentator attempts to present this issue as a conflict between good and evil. I agree with Mr. Steinar Lem who, in his commentary on 5th July, calls this shameful journalism. Dagbladet’s more or less fanatical position on these issues is treason against the very intellectual tradition within which this newspaper finds itself. Further, it is treason against all those who have come to our country to seek protection and safety. A little self-scrutiny might be in place. Perhaps this world is a more complicated place than Dagbladet’s journalists have thus far been willing to admit?
Ole Jorgen Anfindsen, Ph.D., editor, HonestThinking.org