Saturday, August 21, 2010

Another perspective

I used the content of THIS recent blog post in a lesson this week with 2 of my 3rd year classes because both are studying "The Face(s) of Humanity".

We had just watched the film "Crash" as the springboard for this unit and I wanted to have a class discussion about how the image of the world map from Dansk Folkeparti could be connected to the ideas brought forth in the film and the lessons that would follow as we began reading our first novel of the year. Most of them had not seen the image before and were outraged by what it represented; many had pure emotional responses to it (much like their teacher had!), while others responded from a more logical perspective, trying to understand and/or explain why DF would even propose something like this. However in the end, everyone agreed that it is just plain absurd. No matter how DF tries to spin it or tries to justify it through economic jargon, it is absurd and it is wrong.

However I am not writing this today to talk about my students' responses or how proud I was of their comments (although I was). I am writing it to document what I took away from that discussion. To document what happened as I looked out across the faces of my students in those two classes, faces I see every day, but on this particular day, some of those faces had quite a different effect on me.
Because you see, in those two classes, I have students whose families have immigrated to Denmark from Iran, Sri Lanka, India, and Somalia--all countries that, according to DF's proposal, should be blocked from being allowed entry into Denmark.

I realized even more how outrageous and absurd this proposal is, but I also realized that if I have an emotional response to it, how must they feel? One student told me she was used to it, but that, I think, bothered me even more. How DARE DF cause her to become "used to" things like this. How DARE DF discount the contributions that ALL of their families are making INTO Danish assuming that they are only here to drain and use the society. How DARE DF say that people like me, Americans, are more worthy to be here because I was "fortunate enough" to be born in the west.

Yes, we need immigration regulations.
Yes, we need standards.
But no, we do not need bigoted people deciding in such a carte blanche manner who is worthy and who is not.


ladyfi said...

Amen to that! Amen...

NotQuiteDanish said...

Prime Minister Nørgaard måske?

BABS said...

Um, it's not purely DFP politics causing your student to become used to being treated with disrespect in Denmark, I guess.

The DFP is just a symptom, an extremely ugly symptom, but we cannot hold those who are into the DFP as personally responsible for the primitive bigotry that is widespread in Denmark (as it is anywhere).

It goes way deeper than that, is a very complex situation and it's just too easy to blame the DFP for what the complacent masses are quietly allowing, day in day out.

Thing is, if you want to start taking action to speak out against this bigotry, you would have huge success. The movement for multiculturalism in Denmark needs people to be the public face who will not be marginalized. You are white, and that is a start. No offense meant. But sadly, first impressions count. A dusky Indian of origin engineer acquaintance can only get work as a cleaner. Funny that, because in other countries she'd be qualified to do an engineers job. Here she is qualified to clean toilets?

Plus: There are already visa restrictions placed on those applying from the so called 'unwelcome' countries. This news is not new. And it's certainly not just about the DFP. *shrugs*

I think it is great you are challenging your students to think about these issues. They will be introduced to new angles by you, old accepted ideas will be watered down and this indeed is the way forward for the next generation in Denmark. I hope that there will be more international teachers within the Danish school system in the future.