You’re Still Here: We can see clearly now … – The Post

You’re Still Here: We can see clearly now …

We can see the problems now, and that’s making our politicians very nervous (photo: iStock)
October 6th, 2015 7:01 pm| by Kelly Draper

My dog listens to talk radio while we are out, which means I listen to talk radio for a few minutes before I leave for work. A few minutes are enough for me.

Logic not welcome either
One lady called in to say she did not think that letting refugees in was a good idea, as they could never integrate because “they are Muslims, aren’t they”. In fairness to the radio presenters, they heard her out and then spent a few minutes
saying how stunned they were.

There are are a lot of unvarnished opinions out there of that ilk. They boil down to: people currently fleeing for their lives are different and should not be allowed to stay in a safer country.

No matter how many charts you show that document how many refugees Lebanon or Turkey have taken in, someone wants to tell you that it is not fair for northern Europe to have to deal with the problem. People who did not care about homelessness until last month are now demanding that this problem be solved before any others are addressed.

One dead child later
Most people in Denmark did not have particularly strong feelings about the current refugee crisis. The reports of drowning refugees and migrants off the coast of Greece  were just background noise. A distraction. Or at least that was true until the decision to publish a photo of a dead child.

The human cost of not being able to legally enter Europe to claim asylum is unimaginably high, and now we have seen it. We have video reports in southern Europe so we can see how violent the human cost of having to claim asylum in the first EU country you arrive in can be.

Now we see the problems with the asylum rules for ourselves, but the political apparatus is too slow to make it better.

Politicians at a precipice
The current Danish administration was elected on an anti-immigration and asylum platform. With that mandate, they bought adverts in Middle Eastern newspapers to advise against ‘choosing’ Denmark, as if people fleeing for their lives shop around for safety like it were a package holiday. Now the people have turned against their politicians for being heartless and crass.

Politicians who promised to be tough on refugees in their election campaigns are now collecting donations to give to them. It’s easy to take a hard line on groups you have dehumanised, but now voters are waking up to our shared humanity and everything is changing.

The anti-immigration parties Venstre and DF are having to walk a tightrope of populism. They cannot be too welcoming of refugees, in case their core voters are offended, but not too damning either, so that those with a newly raised consciousness are not turned off.

Danish people are stepping up to collect supplies and helping with places to live and lifts to Sweden. Public opinion has moved on and the Danish people appear to be more compassionate and thoughtful. The politicians need to catch them up.

You're Still Here


Kelly Draper is a British teacher who came to Denmark for work. She acts informally as a critical friend to Denmark. This has not gone down particularly well with Danes, who often tell her she should like it or leave it. Her blog is at adventuresandjapes.wordpress.com.

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