Straight Up: New Beginnings and Audacity to Hope
The political dust has settled. The campaign posters are no longer on the street corners. The annoying political advertisements aren’t on YouTube anymore. It is back to business as usual … almost.
Mobilised to vote
In retrospect, this election was a battle of the titans. It provided a glimmer of hope in the increased participation in the electoral process by new Danes with a non-native ethnic background.
In previous elections new Danes and Danes who are Muslims were accused of being bystanders in the democratic processes. They were accused of not voting and not engaging in the political sphere.
This time around these groups mobilised. Their community leaders made YouTube and Facebook videos. They held community meetings, arranged debates and wrote press pieces. They rallied their communities in every way.
It paid off. Scores of non-ethnic Danes turned up at voting centres – and vote they did. Unsurprisingly, the rightists blamed the gains of the left – particularly the stellar performance of Radikale – on the high turnout of these fringe groups.
It was a reminder that new Danes take the blame either way: condemned when they refrain and condemned when they participate. They can never do right.
Media missed the story
In the midst of populist winds across the Western Hemisphere, the win by the red bloc led by a media-savvy young politician, 41-year-old Mette Frederiksen, who looks set to become the youngest Danish prime minister ever, grabbed international media attention.
From Bloomberg and BBC to Aljazeera and South China Morning Post – this fact was the headline grabber, not the improved positive engagement by minority groups.
The ascension to power by the left is not necessarily a glimmer of hope – especially in the area of immigration when you consider their recent track record of siding with the hardliners. Eminent participation in the elections by groups that have for so long remained on the margins of political discourse is.
The arc that shattered
So far, refugee children languishing in deportation camps, young migrants deprived of chances for better integration and Muslim communities disparaged by emboldened extremists wait and watch for what policies the new government will enact.
Martin Luther King Jr spoke of the long arc of the moral universe that bends towards justice. These last four years have been a horrendous nightmare that shattered that arc. Families have been split apart. The hopes of children at Sjælsmark and other camps have evaporated. Many have already been deported back to very unstable countries, such as Somalia and Afghanistan.
Many others are still rotting in limbo at refugee centres across the country. The left has a chance to redeem the values for which this country used to take pride in and showcase to the world.
The new prime minister has a chance to rewrite history in their favour: to right the wrongs done to many vulnerable groups in this land, and to stand as a beacon of hope that dispels the dark despair brought about by growing isolationists, demagogues and ‘strong-men’.
It takes time, resources and tough will. It’s a noble chance for the new government to start re-bending that long arc of the moral universe towards justice for all – native and alien alike. Godspeed!
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.