There is only so much you can force people to give up before they start to fight you.
I have been trying to keep up with the proposals the Danish government has for “integration” and more and more it looks like forced conversion with an attitude of “you must leave your culture behind” and “you must become wholly Danish – and even then, you and your children will never be considered Danish”. A Danish politician has publicly stated that having one foreign parent makes one simply not Danish enough even if the child is born in Denmark, raised in Denmark, speaks fluent Danish, eats Danish foods, attends Danish school, celebrates Danish holidays. My children might very well be considered not Danish by such a government despite having Danish passports with their blonde hair and blue eyes. They will speak too much English and French. And have too much of a grip on Halloween. They will never be Danish enough for the Danes despite their father’s efforts. By all accounts, he is profoundly Danish.
A realisation that I have had is that there is no hybrid identity in Denmark. It is simply not present. In the USA, we have this hybrid identity. It’s haphazard, sometimes offensive, sometimes celebratory, sometimes used for racism, sometimes used for pride. But it’s there. African-Americans. Chinese-Americans. Asian-Americans. Haitian-Americans. It’s rough, crude, sometimes precise and rarely forgiving. I always thought it was a cruel joke for people who weren’t white, who weren’t “American” enough. But now I see a great inclusive role for it. There are a few hybrid Nordic titles – but there aren’t any Ameri-Danes running around. No, you are either American or you are Danish. Or you are Chinese. Or Malian. Or Moroccan. Heaven forbid you are Pakistani or Egyptian or Iranian. You certainly will have a difficult time breaking in to the Danish circles. I was lucky – I look the part and had an automatic “in”. But even with my chameleon-like personality, I do not make those lasting friends easily.
Attempting to live in Denmark reminds me of the opening sequence of Marie Antoinette (2006). Crossing the border to enter as the Dauphine of France, the princess of Austria not only gains a new name but must relinquish every microscopic spec of her Austrian life. She can have as many French dogs as she likes. When one comes to Denmark and wants to become a citizen, it is essentially the same. We must cast aside our former ways and accept whatever Danish-ified version of our cultures the Danes have thought of for us. But we can’t have that until after we put ourselves through years of reprogramming to become Danish. Except, of course, just as Marie Antoinette will never be French, we will never be Danes. But she is royalty so at least her children will be French. Our halfbreeds will be bastardised perversions that our homelands might reluctantly accept. Mine certainly will chase them down for the taxes until they die unless I fill out the proper paperwork and pay an exorbitant sum. Or just never report their births to the embassy… we shall see.
I have to ask Denmark: what makes you so fucking special that you get to erase so much about the people who come here? What we do is tantamount to psychological torture in order to adhere to your laws in order to remain on the right side of the law while your citizens reject us on a daily basis. Integrate? We cannot integrate if we are not welcome. Where is the Danish program for How To Welcome The Foreigners? Why is the onus strictly on us to learn your ways? Why not teach your citizens how to be flexible and open? You are the most travelled country in the world yet you are so close minded. It’s unfathomable that you are so mocking and rejecting of those who want to share the world with you. Might as well shut the borders at the rate you’re going, I would say.
Often shouted is that we come here by choice. Many do not – unless death or giving up family is a choice. Some are fleeing war and Denmark took them in, promising a place to thrive but under certain conditions that change every few months. Others come to stay with their families. I have seen the choices made, to be separated from family. I have done that before myself. It is worse when it is forced upon you by a faceless government. My own country has done this for many years. Denmark does it but no one dares speak of it publicly. “It’s better for the children, so they will integrate” – they say. I come from the racist biblical South, proud of it’s segregation and hatred of all that is not Jesus. The children are taken from their families so that they will know God, so that they will not be surrounded by the dark skinned folks who cannot fit in no matter how hard they try. It’s better for the children because at least they will be fed. This is how they learn resentment. This is how you grow a generation that hates. Even if they appreciate the physical goods you bestow upon them, the food, the clothing, they will hate you for taking their family, their cultures, their identities, away.
It astounds me that Denmark, known for it’s progressiveness, is waddling down this path. It may not be violent – yet – but it is just as cruel. Why dress it up in pretty words? Why not just say what it is? We scholars know that too much progress ultimately leads to darkness… it, too, needs moderation.