Some hours ago I watched the video-cast of the main evening news on the Danish network TV2 from February 28 and Iím still rattled. (It is the 7 PM news from February 28 and the programme is available through this link)
No, it was not Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussenís repeated attack on writers, journalists, businessmen and other cowards that hadnít backed Jyllands-Posten 100% during the Muhammad crisis.
It was much worse than that.
Much, much worse.
The programme included an interview with SÝren Krarup who is an MP for the Danish Peopleís Party and among other things the partyís spokesman for immigration policy. Krarup was also firmly on Jyllands-Postenís side during the Muhammad thing. After all, he used to write for the paper back in the 1980s and 1990s.
The interview was not about Muhammad or immigration but about the Danish minority in Southern Slesvig and Mr. Krarup argued that if you were a true member of the minority then you should by definition work for a revision of the Danish-German border in order to bring Slesvig ďbackĒ to Denmark. (For the sake of clarity: Before 1864, Slesvig was never a part of the Kingdom of Denmark. It was a Duchy and the Duke was also the King of Denmark. It was only in 1920 that Northern Slesvig was integrated into the Kingdom of Denmark.)
There are a number of reasons why Mr. Krarupís fantasies would be extremely dangerous if someone tried to make them into official Danish policy.
- The Germans would not be happy. And in case you are not convinced: Look what happened in 1848 and 1864. In fact the war between Denmark and Prussia-Austria in 1864 was triggered by a very ill thought out move Ė and thatís putting it mildly Ė by the Danish government to annex Slesvig with a large German population into Denmark.
- The acquiescent Danish foreign policy between 1865 and 1949 which people like Mr. Krarup despise was born out of the fact that Denmark had a border issue with a much stronger neighbour. Until 1955 Germany actually did not officially recognise the border of 1920. There was always a risk that Germany would annex a piece of land with a German population, even if it were a minority.
I should note that representatives of the Danish Peopleís Party on earlier occasions have shown that their respect for the 1920 border is somewhat uncertain and that the associations of the Danish minority south of the border are less than happy about the kind of support lent by the DPP.
In the real world the risk of some kind of Danish intervention in Southern Slesvig is of cause less than zero but Mr. Krarupís statements show that he is unable to conceive of a situation where political and national loyalties are not identical. I think that you may also widen the description to political and religious loyalties: I suspect that Catholics who are loyal to Rome in religious matters cannot be true Danes in Mr. Krarupís view.
It is a kind of very extreme 19th century nationalist conservatism he is propagating and it is spectacularly unsuited to a world where people move between countries. But he is a high-profile representative of a party which has gained support from a section of the Danish electorate due to the Muhammad crisis.
- Wikipedia (English) has a page about the Slesvig-Holstein question.
- A declaration of interest: My maternal grandfather was born in 1902 and grew up in the village of Ullerup near SÝnderborg. That meant that he was a German citizen until 1920 even though the family was Danish. Two of his older brothers served in the German army during the First World War.