I’ve said this before, but there is sense of grim comeuppance to Europeans who used to ask “What’s wrong with America?” because of their great health care and welfare state. But all that was predicated on a homogeneous population, one achieved in Europe during and after World War II through widespread ethnic cleansing, including the mass migration of peoples into nationalist-based countries in the late 40s, thus getting the ethnic Germans out of Czechoslovakia and Poland, etc. The biggest problem with the United States in terms of why it doesn’t have European-style welfare benefits is that white people are racist toward black and brown people. Those racial politics trump class politics time and time again. Turns out that when white Europeans start facing similar racial dynamics, they begin to discriminate like white Americans. What Denmark is doing is not good.
Starting at the age of 1, “ghetto children” must be separated from their families for at least 25 hours a week, not including nap time, for mandatory instruction in “Danish values,” including the traditions of Christmas and Easter, and Danish language. Noncompliance could result in a stoppage of welfare payments. Other Danish citizens are free to choose whether to enroll children in preschool up to the age of six.
Denmark’s government is introducing a new set of laws to regulate life in 25 low-income and heavily Muslim enclaves, saying that if families there do not willingly merge into the country’s mainstream, they should be compelled.
For decades, integrating immigrants has posed a thorny challenge to the Danish model, intended to serve a small, homogeneous population. Leaders are focusing their ire on urban neighborhoods where immigrants, some of them placed there by the government, live in dense concentrations with high rates of unemployment and gang violence.
Politicians’ description of the ghettos has become increasingly sinister. In his annual New Year’s speech, Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen warned that ghettos could “reach out their tentacles onto the streets” by spreading violence, and that because of ghettos, “cracks have appeared on the map of Denmark.” Politicians who once used the word “integration” now call frankly for “assimilation.”
That tough approach is embodied in the “ghetto package.” Of 22 proposals presented by the government in early March, most have been agreed upon by a parliamentary majority, and more will be subject to a vote in the fall.
Some are punitive: One measure under consideration would allow courts to double the punishment for certain crimes if they are committed in one of the 25 neighborhoods classified as ghettos, based on residents’ income, employment status, education levels, number of criminal convictions and “non-Western background.” Another would impose a four-year prison sentence on immigrant parents who force their children to make extended visits to their country of origin — described here as “re-education trips” —in that way damaging their “schooling, language and well-being.” Another would allow local authorities to increase their monitoring and surveillance of “ghetto” families.
Some proposals have been rejected as too radical, like one from the far-right Danish People’s Party that would confine “ghetto children” to their homes after 8 p.m. (Challenged on how this would be enforced, Martin Henriksen, the chairman of Parliament’s integration committee, suggested in earnest that young people in these areas could be fitted with electronic ankle bracelets.)
The rise of fascism across the western world is directly connected to white people’s fears of brown people, whether in the U.S. or Hungary, Poland or Denmark.