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The Annoying Difference

The Annoying Difference: The Emergence of Danish Neonationalism, Neoracism, and Populism in the Post-1989 World

Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: DGO - Digital original, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 324
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  • Book Info
    The Annoying Difference
    Book Description:

    The Muhammad cartoon crisis of 2005−2006 in Denmark caught the world by surprise as the growing hostilities toward Muslims had not been widely noticed. Through the methodologies of media anthropology, cultural studies, and communication studies, this book brings together more than thirteen years of research on three significant historical media events in order to show the drastic changes and emerging fissures in Danish society and to expose the politicization of Danish news journalism, which has consequences for the political representation and everyday lives of ethnic minorities in Denmark.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-101-9
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Acronyms
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. Preface
    (pp. x-xiv)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    The image of Denmark has traditionally been positive. Danes are even regarded as the happiest people in the world. But these images are based on gross oversimplifications, and in any case, the reality is changing.

    A member of Parliament for the Danish People’s Party, Søren Krarup, compares the contemporary contestation of Muslim presence in Denmark to resistance against the occupying German forces during World War II. In other words, Islam must be fought like Nazism, and he doesn’t hesitate to declare in Parliament that the Muslim veil is the equivalent of the Nazi swastika. To a Danish daily newspaper he...

  7. Part I. Methodological Framework and Historical Context

    • CHAPTER 1 The Emergence of Neonationalism and Neoracism in the Post-1989 World
      (pp. 21-52)

      When the first media event, the tabloid newspaper campaign in 1997, took place, there was already a fertile environment for the rise of neonationalism, neoracism, and populism. This chapter deals with the history and circumstances relevant to the formation of this fertile ground, without which radical right-wing populism couldn’t have caught on in the way it did. In terms of the cultural circuit presented in the previous pages, chapter 1 will deal with the historical context of the production of news items—moment 1—that prepare the circulation of nationalist appeals, anti-immigrant sentiments, and populist claims of elite betrayals. The...

  8. Part II. The Campaign(s) of 1997

    • [Part II. Introduction]
      (pp. 53-54)

      The keystone of the first media event is tabloidEkstra Bladet’s campaign “The Foreigners,” the largest explicit manifestation of the populism, neoracism, and neonationalism that developed in Denmark in the 1990s. The campaign, which ran in early 1997, served as a catalyzing factor in Danish politics and is intimately linked to the birth of the Danish People’s Party, which has since set the agenda of Danish neonationalism and the neoracism. Yet the newspaper and the political party were joined by the entire Danish news media, which either reacted to the campaign or brought to it more stories about outlandish practices,...

    • CHAPTER 2 A Newspaper Campaign Unlike Any Other
      (pp. 55-72)

      From 31 March to 8 June 1997,Ekstra Bladetran its campaign about the presence of immigrants and refugees in the country (Ekstra Bladet1997b). For nearly two and a half months the campaign was one of the hottest conversation topics in the Danish news media and among Danes. The campaign, called simply “The Foreigners” (de fremmede), was advertised aggressively with slogans such as “Mosque or Mosque not” (playing on the Danish pronunciation of Mosque andmåske[“maybe”]) and “Where is the limit of tolerance?” with texts in both Danish and Arabic.Ekstra Bladetplaced itself squarely on the side...

    • CHAPTER 3 The End of Tolerance?
      (pp. 73-90)

      A survey by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) has showed that Denmark is one of the most polarized countries in the European Union. The material for the survey was collected between 26 March and 29 April 1997, whenEkstra Bladet’s campaign was running. Denmark had some of the highest tolerantandracist answers (EUMC 2001). This data suggests that the notion of tolerance relates to racism either in opposition or in a more delicate relationship. The EUMC opted for the first and concluded, “Denmark is a quite polarized country” (EUMC 2001: 12).

      During classes in Copenhagen,...

    • CHAPTER 4 The Danish Cultural World of Unbridgeable Differences
      (pp. 91-106)

      A historical shift in the discourse of discrimination has been widely noted throughout Europe. Anthropologists and others have seen this as a transformation from ideologically based racism to an indirect, “morally less reprehensible” focus on “culture” and “cultural differences” (Stolcke 1995; van Dijk 1991: 26–27). John Solomos and John Wrench have argued that what is novel in contemporary forms of racism is the “intensification of ideological and political struggle around the expression of a racism that often claims not to be racism” (1993: 8). While the political, educational, academic, media, and corporate elites deny the overt, intentional, racist ideologies,...

  9. Part III. The Mona Sheikh Story of 2001

    • [Part III. Introduction]
      (pp. 107-112)

      Followingekstra bladet’s campaign in 1997 and the continuing nationalist overtones of the electoral debates, the media and politicians went into a kind of cultural arms race on the topic of “difference”—more specifically, on the incompatibility of cultural differences. There were stories about clothes (suggesting that wearing the veil is hazardous to one’s health), second-language learning, mother-tongue learning, public school sports, food, sex, rape, incest, kinship, religion, crime, climate change, and development aid given to prevent terrorism, themes that all dealt with pinpointing the difference between the native Danes and the culturally different others. These acts of recording differences...

    • CHAPTER 5 The Mona Sheikh Story, 2001
      (pp. 113-132)

      In retrospect, we can now say that the second major media event in the history of “the annoying difference” in Denmark began at 9:00 P.M. on 17 May 2001 with the prime time news of one Denmark’s two national public service stations, Denmark’s Radio’s daily news,TV-avisen(lit. “Television Newspaper”): “Young new Danes (nydanskere) are determined to get influence through political parties. At the same time they work for a Muslim movement whose purpose is to spread Islam to the whole world” (Denmark’s Radio 2001). With these words,TV-avisenintroduced that day’s main news story.

      After presenting the evening’s other...

    • CHAPTER 6 Mediated Muslims: Jyllands-Posten’s Coverage of Islam, 2001
      (pp. 133-148)

      In the emergence of the new Danish nationalism and new anti-Islamic discourses, the largest Danish newspaper,Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten, plays a significant role. Whereas tabloid paperEkstra Bladetsat in the front seat during the rise of the Danish People’s Party,Jyllands-Postentook over the seat in 2001. A survey of news articles about religion in Denmark’s five largest newspapers in the summer of 2001 found that almost all of them dealt with Islam. One newspaper could be singled out as having more articles, opinion pieces, and editorials than anyone else—Jyllands-Posten, Denmark’s largest nationally circulating newspaper, with approximately 800,000 daily...

    • CHAPTER 7 The Response from Muslim Readers and Viewers
      (pp. 149-166)

      This chapter turns to the consumers of the Mona Sheikh story. In the cultural studies circuit outline in the introduction, the focus is on moments 3 and 4, the appropriation and long-term effect of the media coverage. The defining characteristic of mass media is that the communication between sender and receiver is disrupted, unlike in face-to-face discourse (Peterson 2003: 20). There is an immediate effect with mass media coverage, which means it functions as a transmitter with the audience as receivers and not as participants. But as argued in the previous chapter, journalists and their publishing institutions are also authors...

  10. Part IV. The Muhammad Cartoon Crisis

    • [Part IV. Introduction]
      (pp. 167-176)

      The mona sheikh story reverberated in the Danish news media throughout the summer of 2001. The story ended abruptly with the terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, which absorbed all attention from the domestic scene. The results of the parliamentary election two months later, on 20 November 2001, echoed the dichotomization of native Danes vs. foreigners, particularly non-Westerners and Muslims, and brought a shift toward the radical right, with eighty percent of the voters agreeing on the necessity of a tough stance toward foreigners in Denmark (Davidsen-Nielsen 2001, Hervik 2002a; J. Nielsen 2002). The Social...

    • CHAPTER 8 The Original Spin: Freedom of Speech as Danish News Management
      (pp. 177-196)

      How do the media influence the writing of history? What will be remembered in the future about the Muhammad cartoon crisis? How will the history of the cartoon affair be written in ten years? When is history as collective memory actually written?

      These were some of the underlying questions that might well have been raised in Denmark in late March 2006. After the cartoon affair had burst upon the international news scene, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen went out into the media, scolding corporations, some large Danish newspapers, and public intellectuals for not standing up for freedom of speech. His...

    • CHAPTER 9 A Political Struggle in the Field of Journalism
      (pp. 197-230)

      Denmark is a small nation of 5.5 million people. The state has often promoted itself as a lively democracy grounded in a wealthy society with open-minded and tolerant citizens. Rapid changes in the past decade, however—including an accelerated flow of immigration—have challenged this portrayal of Denmark (Hussain, Yilmaz and O’Connor 1997; Nannestad 2001). This challenge reached a new climax with the cartoon crisis.

      In this chapter I wish to move away from politicians’ use of news management to show how the Danish news media used the idea of freedom of speech in its coverage of the cartoon crisis....

    • CHAPTER 10 The Narrative of “Incompatibility” and the Politics of Negative Dialogues in the Danish Cartoon Affair
      (pp. 231-241)

      The first frame, “Free speech is the issue, and it is a Danish issue,” is the frame that most often appears in the foreign media coverage of the cartoon crisis. Its simplified “black-and-white,” “good and bad,” “clash of values” rhetoric may be particularly suitable for the news media (Peterson 2007). Elsewhere, we have shown that the sponsors of the discourse were operating with the militant rhetoric of war—a battle of values that employed abstract divisions such as “Muslims” vs. “Danish civilization,” “Muslim” vs. “Western,” “our” society and “their” society; “we” as “free,” “democratic,” “tolerant,” and “developed,” and “they” as...

    • CHAPTER 11 “We Have to Explain Why We Exist”
      (pp. 242-268)

      The interviews used for the host-guest scenario analyzed in chapter 4 were carried out in 1998 and 1999. Although culturally constructed worlds or figured worlds do not change easily, everyday encounters and vicarious experiences clearly indicated changes were taken place after the turn of the millennium. Dinner parties, family gatherings, café discussions, train conversations, talks connected to public lectures, e-mail exchanges, and the daily news flow with its end-of-tolerance rhetoric, signalled an understanding of immigrants, refugees, and descendants in Denmark as being incompatible with Danish values; a raw, uncompromising intolerance was regarded as the only language extra-European immigrants would understand....

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 269-281)

    Following the radical events of 1989, Europe witnessed a drastic increase in racially motivated violence and polarized attitudes towards migrants and refugees. This took place in an environment of ontological insecurity when internal borders within the European Union were vanishing and the external border was fortified. In all of the European countries immigration is now severely restricted and “Fortress Europe” is a fact. Outside the union borders took form rapidly, not least because the Iron Curtain had been dismantled and gave room for new ethnic and national borders to emerge from obscurity within the former Soviet Union and its allied...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 282-286)
  13. References
    (pp. 287-304)
  14. Index
    (pp. 305-310)