This Sunday brought two newspaper interviews with two veteran politicians from the Liberal Party and what is interesting to note, is that their statements go in opposite directions. Present Minister of Education and former Minister of Integration Bertel Haarder was interviewed in Jyllands-Posten while the former chairman of the Liberal Party Uffe Ellemann-Jensen was interviewed in Berlingske Tidende.
Both interviews were published as premium content on the papers’ websites and as I’m a bit mean moneywise right now, a short resume will have to do.
Liberal Tactic I: Blame Danish Self-Sufficiency
Ellemann-Jensen repeated his earlier criticism of the government’s handling of the cartoon crisis and according to Berlingske Tidende’s summary, Ellemann-Jensen stated that Denmark had slept its way through the present wave of globalisation.
Instead of facing the real challenges from the ongoing globalisation, politicians and the rest of the population have cultivated a self-sufficient, almost isolationalist image of Denmark. It is worth noticing that Ellemann-Jensen according to the summary sees a direct link from traditional Euro-scepticism to anti-Islamic and xenophbic attitudes.
Liberal Tactic II: Blame the Muslims and the Left Wing
Haarder’s approach to the issue is interesting because he plays what we may label the “victim card”. According to Jyllands-Posten’s summary, Haarder has chosen to moderate his earlier high profile in immigration and integration policy, not because he has changed his wievs on immigration and integration but because he was the target of a hate-campaign by the Islamic Congregation and the broadsheet “Politiken”.
In this way the government and Jyllands-Posten become the victims of the debate on immigration and integration and the cartoon conflict while the Muslims – and the centre-left – are described as the offenders. Jyllands-Posten’s headline to the interview was “Haarder admits self-censorship” which is in line with the paper’s journalistic angle on the debate since September.
Linking the left-leaning “Politiken” with the Islamic Congregation (whose leading figures seem to have close links with the Muslim Brotherhood) is also a nice propagandistic move.
In the interview with Berlingske Tidende, Ellemann-Jensen called for an investigation into how the tone of the Danish debate on immigration and integration. It turns out that a longitudinal study of how Danish media have covered the issue already exists.
The study – The Mass Media’s Construction of Gender, Race, Sexuality and Nationality. An Analysis of the Danish News Media’s Communication about Visible Minorities – was made by Rikke Andreassen as her doctoral thesis at the University of Toronto and available (in English) on her homepage.
The study clocks in at 300 pages so Andreassen’s own summary will have to do for now: 1) No, the “tone” in the public debate measured as the share of negative statements has not become more negative toward immigrants during the last 30 years, but 2) the issue carries more weight in public debate today compared with 30 years ago and 3) the actors (such as the Danish People’s Party) voicing negative views are accepted as mainstream today.