Arrested Development

When I was a kid and first started reading newspapers, so this will have been in the nineties or so, they often referred to the “race” or background of the person in the story.

As crime stories are more interesting from a news perspective than stories of who is teaching physics at the local college or who just spent one evening every week for five years volunteering at the homeless hostel; most of the newspaper was about crime (and politics of course).

Funnily enough, they never referred to the background of the person in any story if they were a “default” human being. You know, just a dude, just one of us folks, a normal person. That is, if they were white British, what was the POINT of revealing that they were? Of course they were. That’s what people are.

The upshot was, that when ever I read a crime story, the only time the journalists became masters of description was if someone non-white or non-british did the deed. This inevitably gave me skewed ideas of what being non-white or non-british meant for a person. And what criminals looked like. But, you know, I was a kid and I had a think and de-programmed myself patiently but it took a lot of time and heartache to get there. Thanks a LOT, Today newspaper!

At some point, the newspapers had to cut that shit out. They now have to reveal the information obliquely, and quite a few newspapers thrive on feeding the stereotype monster they created. There are lots of dog-whistle ways of doing it. The newspapers also have a problem with who they consider to be white-trash, so they get subtly revealed in stories. There is an art to it, I’ll give you that. You can include photos, if the deal is that they are not white. The name of the suspect/convicted goes a long way. Little details about background.

Denmark. Denmark’s not so big on subtlety. If they know the nationality of a foreign crim, it goes in the headline. If they are not sure but they sort of “look foreign”, they will say the police know the person was of “foreign appearance”. I have seen “Bosnian-Turkish” appearance in a newspaper and I have never really got over that. If the person was white but OBVIOUSLY foreign, they will say their Danish had an accent. If they spoke English, it will be described as “gebrokken engelsk” (coming from Danes from my town, that is an act of extreme chutzpah)

NOTE: None of this shit helps the police identify the criminal. Bosnian-Turkish, you say, why! I saw a gentleman fitting that description only last week! I will call the police forthwith.

“Spoke Danish with a foreign accent”, that’s a minority, sure, but it really has not narrowed the field enough for police work.

They are saying it just for the sake of saying  it.

Cf, when it is a Danish-Dane-Dane from Denmark and they catch the dastardly deed do’er; he’s so-and-so from Kolding. If they are not sure who he is, he either did not speak Danish with a foreign accent (note to editors, it is simpler to write “He was a native speaker”) or was “30” or “tall”. You know, a default human being. A dude. They do not even write “white” or even “dirty blond hair”, for descriptive purposes. They leave it out because it’s obvious.

Roskilde local newspaper wrote the headline

“Negro stole car from 80 year old”

Only this week. HOLY CHRISTMAS.

NB: Some people translate “neger” as “nigger” and I think those people are probably correct but I don’t want to be derailed on the grounds that “neger” is softer than “nigger” because that is not the point. 

This country is stuck in a state of arrested development. People learned lessons in the rest of the developed world that have not been learned here. It is commonplace to dehumanise groups of people for not belonging to the tribe and it has major knock-on effects in terms of the lives people from those groups have. For example, the people who read Roskilde local newspaper (and my local newspaper), might not intend to become racist. Indeed they might be black or from other minority communities. They read about crime in their town and all they are getting to see is a spotlight on certain groups, highlighting “criminality”.

Even people who would like to think of themselves as enlightened or thoughtful, are being poisoned by their media. They are being trained like those unfortunate puppies in the salivation experiment to hear the bell tinkle of “foreign” with the kibble consequence of “criminal”.

And thusly, foreigners cannot get jobs. Or they can but not jobs they are actually qualified for.

This means that an entire generation of “foreign” (they’re not foreign but that’s a whole other post), Danish kids are not getting jobs or if they are it is for jobs that are neither dream-jobs nor boring “they pay the rent” jobs. They can only expect to get so far in life here.

What is happening is on two levels. Firstly, on the sort of people who choose employees who see a foreign name and place the cv in “the round file” and secondly on the foreigners themselves who learn to know their place.

I do not suppose I need to state what happens when you create an underclass.

Danish journalists are not stupid, they are not evil. They have been exposed to the same brainwashing as everyone else in this country. But I think a little bit of thoughtfulness goes a long way. I dearly wish they would grow up, snap out of it and de-programme themselves.  Then maybe we can progress from this frankly embarrassing “white-danes are the only real people” child-like assumption.

20 thoughts on “Arrested Development

  1. Yep, the brainwashing. Even children here know that brown / black people speak OOGA BOOGA. Never would they think that official language in Kenya is English.

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    1. Brainwashing! Exactly, that’s EXACTLY what it is.
      It really gets to me. The ideas that some people hold on to, unchallenged, about people they do not even know.
      I wish it were just a loud minority but I’m starting to think the tipping point has been reached and the majority have very dodgy prejudices. How could they not? These ideas are ubiquitous, how could they resist?

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  2. Negro???? Holy f**** I’ve heard this sort of thing come out of my ex-MIL’s mouth, but written in a newspaper? That’s too much.

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    1. Quite, you kind of let it go when it’s a racist old woman/man… because… they are from a different time and they don’t have long left. But newspapers… god, these people have been to journalism school, haven’t they? What’s their excuse?

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  3. There was a rape recently in a town across the water from where I live. In the newspaper they reported the suspect as being “ethnically Danish” and “tall, with blond hair and blue eyes” and at first I was all, dude, that’ll totally help narrowing it down #sarcasm. Then I thought, hey, right on for this newspaper article for making it explicit that it wasn’t some foreigner! Finally I thought, how sad is it that I want to heap praise on this little article for doing what ALL responsible journalists covering crime should do?

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      1. I recently got rid of my TV because I couldn’t handle the trauma of the shit you randomly (or is it systematically) get from Danish TV. Should have done it years ago.

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  4. I have resisted a tv for all the time I have been here but we finally got one in the new place. We still haven’t got hooked up to any channels, so it’s just an over-glorified screen right now. Long may that continue.

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    1. Just keep it unplugged. I got my antenna cable rolled up. That way I can bring it out for a whenever there’s something I can’t miss, but keep it from tempting me to turn it one every day. Hook up a video-game system instead. It can be a good social activity in the family if you got the right games.

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  5. Hey etellerandet. I recently came across your blog, and I ended up reading all of it instead of working. You write very well, and your observations are very entertaining and refreshing.

    On topic for this blog-post: The worst part about this story has to be the response the newspaper gave when confronted with the “neger” headline (see link). First of all, they first changed it to “black man” and then after that to “man”. Really shows how they completely missed to point about what was wrong with their headline. Secondly they acted like it wasn’t a big deal, and it was just because soceity was getting all hissy that they changed it. The editor actually said that somebody else changed because of the response, but that she didn’t have a problem at all with it. Basically, had the journalist or employee not changed it, and insisted that it was not wrong, they would have had complete backing from the editor. The rest of her quotes are quite ignorant as well, but you can see for yourselves. In Denmark you never apologize, even if everybody agrees you are worng. It’s always something like “Well, I don’t see the problem, but others did, so I had to apologize”. I don’t know if it’s pride or what that keeps people from admitting they made a mistake, but it’s all over everywhere in Denmark.

    The accepted use of “neger” in danish society is a disgrace. I even had a fucking professor using it in class at university.

    http://politiken.dk/kultur/tvogradio/ECE1608921/avis-kalder-biltyv-neger/

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    1. Thanks!

      Apparently, the word “neger” wasn’t used so much before but it’s become much more acceptable? (I’m just going on what the bf told me). It IS ignorance and it’s also a sort of aggression. “We believe in free speech, so we will demonstrate it by pissing people off unnecessarily.”

      The “I’m sorry if stupid twats take things seriously” is *everywhere*, Denmark love it, the UK loves it… It’s like everyone had media training by the same fuckhead PR company. It’s pride and also immaturity. They simply do not see why they can’t be as base and uncouth as their instincts are demanding.

      I spend a lot of time with teenagers and they’re all like that. I just don’t think modern society demands that they grow out of it.

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      1. I don’t know if it has gotten more or less acceptable, all I know is that it’s pretty common-place to use that word, and nobody seems to think it’s a big deal. Most of my friends use/have used it as their word for a black person in danish.

        By the way, I think you might enjoy this singer. He does a really amazing commentary on danish society and culture, and he’s got some really interesting characters in his songs. He does the much needed satire on Denmark, which I haven’t found many other places.
        http://www.myspace.com/mortenskouandersen

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      2. I’ve not been here long enough to know. I’m constantly having to tell kids off for using the word. One of the Danish teachers I work with calls home and gets parents involved if she hears it ILH.
        I will check him out, thanks!

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  6. I think Danish journalists are stupid. The only intelligent Danish journalists are the ones who leave Denmark.

    HA! See Danes, we can also make sweeping generalizations!!!

    I don’t blame the foreigners for committing crimes here, it’s what is expected of them, and to be fair, the Danish prisons are among the best in the world. Remember, folks, Denmark is one of the best places in the world to murder a woman. You can get out in a small amount of time, do it again and STILL get a TV in your room and hours and hours of free counselling.

    Hurrah for Denmark, simply the best country in the world.

    it is, however, a total myth about Danish women being the best looking in the entire world.

    Oink Oink!!

    Whaaa? Are you saying I can’t speak like this? What are you getting so upset about? This is how I have always spoken about people, if you don’t like it fuck off. xxxx

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    1. I’ve met a handful of Danish journalists, a couple socially and one in the course of an interview. They seemed alright to me. Maybe it’s a tiny minority letting down the group?

      Fuck knows. They’d behave if it meant they sold more papers.

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      1. ‘They’d behave if it meant they sold more papers’. Not going to happen then, they’ve got a limited audience, and they are all brainwashed.

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    1. I have no idea. I do find that in the random cross section of Danes I get into conversations with, the overwhelming majority let the country down. This could be something to do with the people I meet. I mean, the CPH-set say it’s because I talk to bonderøv Jysk people. The Jutland+islands set blame the smug CPH fools. The middle classes blame the “ignorant” uneducated. Those without high educations blame the way the education system over-esteems certain ways of thinking.
      The young blame the old. (Though, I have to say, the majority of old people here have not let the side down)
      Everyone blames “Europe” (as in “this is happening in the Netherlands so let’s not think about why it’s happening here”)

      They just sound like excuses to me.

      I have met a handful of Danes who aren’t like that and I have NO IDEA why they aren’t like the others or why I don’t meet more.

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