Danish Media’s part in today’s racism

Media is often called the Fourth Pillar or Fourth Estate of Democracy as a democracy requires informed citizens and the media is a platform for receiving information and exchanging ideas. Media’s role is therefore to inform the public with unbiased and credible information without any censorship or tampering. Yes, media can also share opinions, however, in the age of social media, fake news and algorithms which can create news bubbles it is even more important that media remains unbiased, showcasing multiple opinions and not just being another reinforcement of the same opinions.

An accountable and credible media can lift a democracy by providing sturdy support for its development. An unaccountable and uncredible media can cause disarray in the society, such as that seen in recent years in the United States.

In recent years, especially in 2020, the Danish media set a spotlight on the Black Lives Matter movement, which makes sense as it is a movement with global momentum. However, BLM was not the start of people of African descent demanding their human rights and equal treatment. BLM started in USA in 2013 and found a home in Denmark in 2016. However, from the Civil Rights Movement in the 50’s and 60’s to the 2009 UN World Conference Against Racism, the 2011 UN Recommendations for Combatting Racism against people of African Descent, to 2013 where various local organizations fought to increase awareness of discrimination and inequality right here in Denmark, people of African descent in Denmark have been shouting and demanding equal treatment long before BLM Denmark. There are also multiple voices, and not just BLM Denmark, who all agree that racism exists in Danish society.

As an American citizen living in Denmark, I have seen Danish articles propagating a false narrative of what the BLM movement stands for, supporting negative opinions of the movement and negative opinions of the fight against racism. The arguments used are all eerily similar to opinions held by groups in USA accused of domestic terrorism. To quote Former Republican Sentor William Cohen:

We have been telling ourselves that if you are white, you are special and you get special privileges. If you are black, we treat you like we did in Ferguson or did in D.C. with BLM. So that is the lie we have been told all these years – that you have white privilege/ white power – and when you start to lose that because you have a multi-ethnic racial society building, then those people who have been holding on and been thinking they are special, see their special privileges being eroded. So that is what is going on here.

CNN Interview of Former Republican Senator William Cohen, January 17, 2021

Danish Newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, has continuously posted articles and opinion pieces criticizing the head of BLM Danmark and the BLM movement. They have publicized caricatures of this black woman activist, the latest a caricature with elements from the Jim Crow era “Sapphire” caricature – a depiction of the agressive black woman. Additionally, the drawing calls her racist and ridicules her for calling a local murder a hate crime – a murder which Denmark has received global attention for and where even the global audience has raised questions as to why the murder was not considered a hate crime. I will not continue to share this caricature on social media as I have no interest in supporting it.

The latest opinion piece which this drawing is attached to is called “The fight against identity politics requires, that the majority culture dares to keep hold of its own”, the article calling for ethnic-Danes to push back against minority groups fighting for equal human rights, and calling this demand for equal rights, racist.  Despite these ongoing criticisms of identity politics and BLM, I have yet to see Jyllands-Posten publish a full response piece from BLM Danmark and/or provide their readers with both sides of the story, despite BLM requesting to do so. I have yet to see them give similar support and exposure to any differing opinion on the fight against racism, inform the public of UN laws which require Denmark to combat racism or Denmark’s other obligations to combat racism. I would argue that this shows a blatant bias towards the issue, once again, eerily similar to specific news sources in the U.S. accused of supporting the creation and growth of domestic terrorism groups and a seditionist movement.

In 1971, Denmark ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and in 2011 the Committee which oversees the ICERD released recommendations #34 pertaining specifically to how members should combat discrimination against people of African descent. As a member of ICERD, Denmark should be incorporating these recommendations, however the actions of Jyllands-Posten indicates that Denmark the extent which Denmark is failing to do so. 

Take measures to raise awareness among media professionals of the nature and incidence of discrimination against people of African descent, including the media’s responsibility not to perpetuate prejudices.

Encourage the development and implementation of methods of self-monitoring by the media through codes of conduct for media organizations in order to eliminate the use of racially discriminatory or biased language.

CERD34 Paragraph 30 and 33

We implore Jyllands-Posten to learn from current events in USA, recall their role as media in a democratic society, and live up to Denmark’s obligation to combat racial discrimination in all forms by either putting a stop to the continued harassment of BLM Denmark, the blatantly biased support of anti-BLM views, and/or at least allow equal time and support to differing opinions of BLM Denmark and identity politics. We also implore politicians to address the actions of Jyllands-Posten in relation to Denmark’s obligation to combat racism in all its forms as outlined in ICERD and CERD34 paragraphs 30 and 33.