An Open Letter to Obama on Racism in Denmark

Jakob Holdt and Rune Engelbreth LarsenTwo popular Danish writers and provocateurs, Jakob Holdt and Rune Engelbreth Larsen, have created a video letter to president-elect Barack Obama asking him to do something about the growing amount of racism against Muslims in Danish politics and media.

The video is primarily critical of anti-immigration politicians from the Danish People's Party, who yield a great deal of power as part of the Conservative government coalition, and have been known to say things like, “Islam is a new totalitarian plague sweeping Europe.”

After a few thousand views on YouTube, critics apparently managed to get YouTube to remove the video by repeatedly flagging it as “inappropriate”. It has since been moved to and has also been re-posted on YouTube by others.

The video was first released on See the full text of the video here.

On, bloggers Troels Heeger and Søren K. Villemoes deliver a scathing attack on the video and its creators, calling it “pathetic amateur video-art by two professional cry babies”. They say:

… Det er i øvrigt ogsÃ¥ komisk, at Obama som forandringens budbringer Ã¥benbart ifølge de to apostle har en rolle at spille i dansk indenrigspolitik, nÃ¥r de samtidig har gennemkritiseret Bush-administrationens indflydelse pÃ¥ Fogh-regeringen. Men det er naturligvis noget ganske andet…

… It's also comical, that according to these two apostles, Obama the harbinger of change apparently has some role to play in Danish internal politics, when they at the same time have thoroughly criticized the Bush administration's influence on the current government. But that is of course something different…

Many have applauded the initiative and re-posted the video, including the blogger Provo. But even on this blog some commenters were less than enthusiastic.

“Border-Collie” says:

Lad os hÃ¥be, Obama har noget bedre at lave. AltsÃ¥ hvis vi endelig skal tro pÃ¥, at den pÃ¥tænkte modtager af budskabet faktisk hedder Obama … hvilket er mere end tvivlsomt. Men hvad fanden, kunstnerisk frihed og alt det der…

Let's hope Obama has something better to do. I mean, if we are even supposed to believe that the intended recipient of this message is actually Obama… which is doubtful. But what the hell, creative freedom and all that…

“Vogter60″ says:

Jeg tror Obama skal koncentrere sig om Amerikansk politik, ellers ender han mÃ¥ske med at blive lige sÃ¥ ” Populær” som den afgÃ¥ende præsident.

I think Obama should concentrate on American politics, or he will end up as “popular” as the last president.

Both Larsen and Holdt are well-known in Danish media. Rune Engelbreth Larsen is a columnist for a Danish national newspaper Politiken, and Jakob Holdt is a photographer who received international acclaim for his photos of poverty in America in the 1970s: American Pictures

1 comment

  • Manus

    Amazing – The same people that went in arms about the erosion of freedoms of speech and the salvaging of the “Civilised world values” after the Danish Cartoons saga are the same people today screaming to remove these videos from the internet. If these values are universal, racism should be tackled under that context and not seen as a national internal matter. After all revisionists such as “David Irving” were universally attacked and become a Persona non grata within all intellectual and academic circles. I think we need some moral consistency otherwise us and our values will become irrelevant in many parts of the world.

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