Straight up: Never a dull moment in summer politics

Zach Khadudu is a Kenyan by birth and a journalist by choice. He is a commentator and an activist with a passion for refugee and human rights. He may share a heritage with a certain US president, but his heart lies elsewhere – in the written and spoken word.

Photo by Jens Larsen

Photo by Keld Navntorf
Inger and Pia have spent this summer trying to outdo each other

Out goes the sun and rain, and in come the winter blues. But as the heat cools off, the political manoeuvres continue. On a positive note, Helle Thorning-Schmidt is emerging as a very strong contestant for the presidency of the European Commission!
Go girl! If the stars are on her side, her trajectory will be more like that of Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who went from Danish premiership to head of NATO. These achievements suggest the faith European nations have in the state of Denmark.

The Pia and Inger Show
On the national front, a theatre of the absurd was centre-stage. Abracadabra! The grand lady of Danish politics reappeared. Pia K had her foot in her mouth. In what appeared to be a demonstration of double standards, she unequivocally criticised Muslim women’s hijab … while defending the rights of Jews to adorn the kippah. All in a day’s work. And she was not alone on stage.
Venstre, through its spokesperson Inger Støjberg, put forward a proposal to curb  the immigration influx. In it the party suggests immigration should be pegged to the immigrant’s country of origin. It recommends strict rules for non-Western immigrants and relaxed rules for immigrants from Western countries. It argues that Western immigrants are more willing to integrate than those from non-Western countries. Really?

The integration meter
Is the British engineer who has never bothered to learn Danish (as English is the official language at his Copenhagen-based company) more integrated than the Syrian plejehjemme caretaker who had to learn Danish to get any gainful job?

Of course, this is an oversimplification. So is Venstre´s argument. It lacks any merited and persuasive evidence. No wonder legal experts have warned that if it is pursued, the proposal would most certainly contravene international conventions.

Room for doom and gloom
Expat columnists have been criticised from some quarters for being on faultfinding missions. They see nothing positive but doom and gloom. They have been accused of being social-bashers who gnaw and gnash their teeth grumbling about everything.

They complain about the bad weather, immigration laws, ill-treatment of asylum-seekers and everything else. For argument’s sake, if these columnists are a microcosm of the immigrant population, then immigrants are a very ungrateful lot.

That may seem so – especially to casual readers of commentaries. I see it differently. For any responsible writer, the first obligation is to society: to keep check on power, to stand up against vice, to object to oppression, to pinpoint draconian laws, to speak for the downtrodden.

It is not for the writer to warm politicians’ beds. This does not imply that columnists are blind to positive things going on. Positive things speak for themselves. Besides, the political class has enough propaganda machinery to sing its praises.

Who you’re gonna call?!
So when Venstre pushes for discriminatory legislation, or Pia and company bash sections of society for simply being different, you can be sure a columnist somewhere will look them in the eye and call their bluff. If not in the corridors of power, at least in an opinion column.
And that is good. The fact that we can freely express diverse opinions means this is a great country (that could be better.) Will the next column be positive? Your guess is as good as mine.