Opinion

Thieving Denmark

Story by Ty Smith, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of DW/M

Are refugees still welcome in Denmark? Many Danes say they are— but the government is a little more vague. Denmark has recently passed a new law mandating that if a refugee arrives with more than 10,000 kroner in cash (about $1,500), the government must seize the surplus to pay for their stay.

Those in support of the bill insist that it’s designed only to help pay for the costs of processing and housing refugees, and that it will only be used to keep the fleeing masses safe and healthy until the war in their homeland ends, and Syria is declared safe.

But if that’s the end goal— keeping Syrians safe and healthy— then the bill accomplishes nothing. Stripping people of their money helps on one. Those Syrians who have the wealth to settle down in Denmark proper, off the government tab, and integrate and contribute to the society should be able to. That’s a good thing for Syrians and Danes alike. Stealing their cash not only forces them down into poverty, it also increases the expense for the government and fosters resentment. The government should be able to pay for the refugees it promises to support- stealing what little the refugees has left will not fix the problem, if it’s really so expensive.

This innocent bill masks a more inhumane motivation. Since the beginning of the refugee crisis, xenophobic and explicitly anti-Muslim parties like the Danish People’s Party have manipulated the growing sense of unease among the populace by diverting the blame to the refugees, calling for them to be refused safe haven for the sake of security. They don’t care about the practicality of the bill, and they don’t care about actually paying for the refugees— the theft of possessions is merely an attempt to scare refugees away from the country.

It’s certainly not mere luck that this bill passed on the heels of the string of sexual assaults by refugees in Cologne. Nativists used these attacks to spin the issue of refugees towards their advantage. They sought to portray the Syrians as a ruthless and backward civilization, intent on destroying Denmark’s society and culture, and Europe as a whole. They framed it as a Muslim invasion of Christendom, and this bill as merely a way to fight back.

But if there’s anything worth saving in Denmark, it’s this— the social consciousness  and awareness that led to the will and desire to take care of the world’s weakest peoples. It’s the awareness of fear and the desire to avoid mistakes in the past. The nation cannot afford to give into paranoia and xenophobia. The lives of thousands are at stake if they do.

About the Writer…

Ty SmithTy Smith is from a small town located in the thumb of Michigan. He loves writing, reading, music, and video games. He also believes that cats are better than dogs.

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