Like many other countries, we've just had elections here in Happy Denmark ("discovered" to be the happiest nation on the planet in 2006), and it's been extremely interesting to watch the process unfold. Basically, it's not that different from the States -- posters everywhere, TV ads, banners hanging from streetlights. The only big difference -- and this may very well be that I can't understand what people are saying around me -- is that we haven't really heard people talking about it. Maybe our friends thought they'd be boring us, especially since we can't vote. Regardless, the ballots have been cast and counted, and of the seven (or is it nine?) official political parties, the incumbents, and the most conservative -- the Danish People's Party -- are back in the hizzouse. This party has two main issues: Immigration, and caring for the elderly. They've been quite successful at securing wonderful senior security (healthcare, pensions, housing), and at stirring up lots and lots of fear about immigrants taking over Denmark. Their motto is: "Vi står fast på de danske værdier," which translates to "We stand fast to those Danish values." It feels kind of icky to me to have this as one's main point of identity or communication, but so it goes.
And so it went when I saw this ad in the paper a couple of weeks ago:
I tried to do a straight dictionary translation, but it didn't make much sense, so I asked my friend, Rebekka, what it meant. (I didn't, however, tell her from whence it came.) She wrote back: "It means that if you don't like the rules, values and traditions in a given country, you are free to move. Where have you read it?" When I told her, she rolled her eyes and said, "Oh, yes. Now that makes sense." I also asked my friend, Jorunn, who gave a much stronger and more colorful translation, and she, too, was not surprised one bit to hear the context.
We've actually saved this ad, because Don and I can't really believe that Denmark, with an international reputation of being so open-minded, fair and caring of its people, is being led by a party that states very clearly and directly its disdain for those who might be culturally, religiously and ethnically different. "If you don't like it, get out. VOTE FOR US! YAY!" Of course, I'm quite sensitive to this whole immigration quagmire myself, considering my own long tangles with the system, but I'm still trying to get my head around this topic. Far be it from me to say this just doesn't exist in the States, because, boy howdy, DOES IT, but it's completely couched and implicit and not at all stated outright; imagine the repercussions of an American political candidate saying something like this to the press, let alone paying for it to be printed in huge block letters. I'm still trying to figure out which way is less worse...