It won’t surprise many Americans to learn that the Los Angeles Times had to publish an apology this week after mixing up the Danish and the Dutch. “A March 9 op-ed about the erosion of free-speech protections referred to a controversy over 2005 cartoons that satirised the prophet Mohammed,” read the correction. “Those cartoons were Danish, not Dutch.”
Every American resident in Denmark has the same story. “So you live in Denmark?” they’re asked when they return home. “How’s your Dutch coming along?” Despite the heavy Danish migration to the States in the 19th and 20th centuries, the drummer from Metallica, and the pastries, it would appear that most Americans still think that Sylvester Stallone’s second wife comes from Amsterdam.
But it might shock a few to discover that this is the newspaper’s seventh such error in just six years. A commenter on the website thought the apology had an air of familiarity and did some research. It turned into a fruitful search:
Mistake number two: in a review of an opera ‘Anna Nicole’ in February 2011, soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek was described as Danish. Westbroek is Dutch.
Mistake number three: a September 2010 piece made a reference to a 1950s-era wooden monkey by Dutch designer Kay Bojesen. Bojesen was Danish.
Mistake number four: an article in November 2009 said that actor Viggo Mortensen is from Dutch parentage. No, he’s not.
Mistake number five: an article in September 2009 about a bicycle shop said they sell Danish bikes. No they don’t.
Mistake number six: an article in December 2006 misidentified the newspaper behind the Mohammed cartoons as Dutch. Wrong again.
Mistake number seven: an article in October 2006 about the premiere of a documentary about Karen Blixen described her as Dutch. No, although Meryl Streep is of Dutch descent.
“The pattern defies explanation,” Henry Fuhrmann, the newspaper’s assistant managing editor, conceded via the newspaper’s website.
“Errors of this sort are always a good reminder that we can be more diligent. We truly have nothing against the Danes or the Dutch.”