Esben Lunde Larsen (V), a member of parliament from Ringkøbing-Skjern Council in Jutland, has decided that he will from here on in only refer to a black person as a ‘neger’.
Larsen said that he would stop saying ‘sort’ (the Danish word for 'black') in protest against what he sees as political correctness gone too far. No more walking on egg shells for Larsen, he told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
“I am against that we Danes have political correctness forced upon us,” Larsen told Jyllands-Posten. “The case with Haribo [candy] in Sweden illustrates exaggerated political correctness and that is something I want to warn against here at home.”
'Neger' is the new black
German candy producers Haribo has removed face-shaped candies from its long-time liquorice candy ‘Skipper Mix’ in Sweden after customers complained that the candies resembled racist stereotypes. Similar complaints in Denmark prompted Haribo to do the same here.
While Larsen – a member of parliament since 2011 – said that he would no longer go out of his way to please the politically correct, he couldn’t produce a concrete example of when he would use the word ‘neger’, which roughly translates into ‘negro’.
Larsen refused to characterise Barack Obama as the first neger president in US history and went on to say he would simply call golfer Tiger Woods “an American”.
“My point is that sort and neger describe the same thing and we need to stop making it an issue whether we describe a person from Africa as being either sort or a neger because they mean the same thing,” Larsen said.
Derogatory and humiliating
But Niels-Erik Hansen, the head of the racism complaints centre Dokumentations- og rådgivningscentret om racediskrimination, strongly disagreed with Larsen and contended that the word neger was “very derogatory” and “humiliating”.
"It is a word that is only associated with slavery. It is a word that the whites called the people that they took from Africa and took to the Americas, so why use it for all black people in Africa today?” Hansen told Jyllands-Posten. “Why can’t people say ‘black’ [sort] or ‘African’?”
But Larsen rejected the notion that neger is derogatory.
“I don’t agree with that, because neger means black. If someone feels like that then that is up to them, but I don’t agree,” Larsen said.
Skipper Mix supported
Larsen's party Venstre has distanced itself from his comments, but party spokesperson Kristian Jensen said that the issue would not have any consequences for his colleague.
“The freedom of speech includes everyone and that’s up to him,” Jensen told TV2 News. “Most Danes are clever enough to distinguish between our policies and those of individual politicians.”
While Jensen said that Larsen had gone too far, he did agree that the debate was a necessary one in the wake of the “silly” Haribo issue.
A ‘support the Skipper Mix’ Facebook page has already amassed 4,500 supporters since it was started on January 17.