Thursday, 28 January 2016

Anti-national behaviour


Communication. Oh, that thing communication.


Riber Hansson, January 26, 2015.

Riber Hansson, January 26, 2015.
Such has been the explanation from everyone trying to minimize the damage done by passing a law restricting the access to the Denmark, when fleeing one's own country.

Explanation, or rather we are in every sense of the word speaking of a counter-attack. The intention of the law was understood all too well internationally. A backlash followed, which the government ought to have seen coming considering the nature of the law - and that obvious intention to be deduced from every word of L87 as it is labeled.

The thing is, the reaction to it was drawn. There was a cartoon by Steve Bell (and thank you for it, Steve Bell!) focusing on prime minister and the export goods not least and with cartoons about there were no more hiding from the realities.

Hence the counter-attack: Speak of anything but the matter at hand. First and foremost: Turn the attention away from the intention exposed. The Minister of Foreign Affairs immediately lashed out against any and every opponent of the law that it is against national interest to criticize it so openly. It is anti-national behaviour.


Riber Hansson, January 26, 2015.


These are words we know very well from the Danish history. We even have a date for them: March 2, 1933. Hitler had just taken office in Germany and Denmark being a small neighbour to the north would do anything to avoid his attention. The predecessor of the present Minister of Foreign Affairs, P. Munch was a strong advocate for avoiding conflict and he summoned the chief editors of the dailies to reprimand them into proper behaviour.

Munch defined the problem as twofold of character: the headlines and the drawings. Those are the ones being noticed, they are the ones, who give us the most problems, as he pinpointed. "Let us speak softly" as he continued to stress to the editors all through the 1930ies. Those who tried to work around the lines given - and a handful of papers tried every means of doing so, was shamed Munch in the line of: The problem is you. Your behavior is of anti-national interest.

Riber Hansson, January 26, 2015.
Munch had his reasons. He was negotiating internationally to make wars a thing of the past, which was sadly a hopeless case given the Fascist regimes popping up in many places in Europe. His attempt to create a unified and quiet home front remains a matter of debate in this country, seeing it is bordering on the language of despots. I am not saying he crossed it, but the line is a fine one.

Given that Denmark in January 2016 is not in any predicament of this nature, I cannot accept a government attempting to deny its own actions by silencing voices speaking up. At worst it is mimicking despotic regimes. At best it is mental laziness to seek to avoid the plurality of voices of a sound debate.

Riber Hansson drew the present series following a debate in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre to which not a single cartoonist was invited. I saw them for the first time the day before the law on refugees was passed. Such is the timing of the cartoonist that he senses the situation beforehand.

Oh, that thing communication.




Riber Hansson, January 26, 2015.




The cartoons shown are courtesy of Riber Hansson and must not be reproduced without his permission. I have written a book on the Munch/cartoonist dance of the 1930ies.



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