by Alyssa A. Lappen
January 5, 2009 | An Exclusive Right Side News Interview
On Sept. 15, 2008, the editor of Danish daily Berlingske Tidende summoned historian and columnist Lars Hedegaard to his office to lower the proverbial ax. He received a transparently suspicious explanation. “I’d been tedious and repetitive, and they needed younger people,” he said. “I thought, they’re not going to get me. There will be a record of what I’ve done these nine years.”
Within two weeks of its December 1 publication, Danish bookstores sold out two printings of Hedegaard’s Groft Sagt (“Roughly speaking”), a collection of 109 of his 2,000-plus columns for Berlingske Tidende. The book also includes 26 cartoons by Kurt Westergaard, 73, renowned for Jyllands-Posten‘s September 2005 Mohammed cartoons—which the Muslim Brotherhood blamed for the January 2006 worldwide riots, murders and embassy attacks they instigated. But Hedegaard, too busy with two other book projects, does not plan to translate the work into English.
The book cover (and page 35) feature a Westergaard caricature of former Danish Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, reviled by the Danish populace for opposing the original cartoons. Ellemann-Jensen is kneeling by an inkwell labeled “freedom of expression,” which also contains an explosive-laden (presumably Islamic) fanatic. For his courage, Hedegaard has received great blog coverage, but not much American press notice beyond that of Washington Times columnist Diana West.
Overall, the press and Western leaders have had “yet another missed opportunity” to stand up “and call madness what it is,” in the words of scholar Robert Spencer. During World War II, however, Denmark was the only European nation to save virtually all its Jewish citizens.
In that Danish tradition, Hedegaard recognizes “the fragility of freedom.” In an exclusive interview with Alyssa A. Lappen, Hedegaard announced the December 21 formation of International Free Press Society (IFPS), following the lead of Denmark’s Free Press Society, established in 2004. The founders chose Hedegaard as their president, and Diana West as vice president. Among the organization’s Board of Advisers is Fitna producer Geert Wilders.
Hedegaard: Of course, many more people are involved in this…. We are trying to create an organization that will defend free speech in the Western World, on the assumption that if free speech goes down where we live, it will be doomed in the rest of the world as well.
The organization will be built up over the next few months. I am the president of the Danish Free Press Society, created in 2004, and a very successful organization. The enemies of free speech are organized and well financed and we have to counteract their activities. The new international organization will lead the fight for free speech on a global basis. We will then set up national organizations where they do not exist, as sisters to the Danish organization. We have very ambitious plans to recruit people. We already have a board of directors, and want to recruit for the board of advisors. We will set up a website and will pull together all we know about relevant issues, that is, attacks on free speech everywhere.
AAL: How do you defend against an onslaught against free speech that is so prevalent and widespread?
Hedegaard: You make the public understand that free speech is under attack. That was why we thought of [forming the Free Press Society] in Denmark. We found ourselves in Denmark in a situation where most of the press was not telling the truth and not dealing with real issues.
AAL: How exactly does Denmark’s Free Press Society help?
Hedegaard: It is a fact that we exist. Even that alone [has made us successful]. The membership is 500 to 600, which is quite big for a country of our size. Membership is growing all the time. The very fact that we have the audacity to organize ourselves gives our members courage to express themselves. The biggest fear is that anyone thinks, “here, I am, Joe Schmo. I am all alone and no one thinks like I do. I can’t see anyone who expresses the same opinions or fears as I do, so I am probably crazy.”
My family tells me that I am insane.
So the fact that we did this gives people courage. We have big conferences in Copenhagen, and frequent meetings that are very well attended. The press is there and we always fill the hall. And we invite all kinds of speakers. Like Geert Wilders.
We have had Ibn Warraq, Bat Ye’or, Kurt Westergaard, Daniel Pipes, Roy Brown, Chahdortt Djavann, Shabana Rehman, Samia Labidi, Bruce Bawer, Henryk Broder, and anyone who is in fear for his or her life. Copenhagen gives them a hearty welcome and it makes a difference. In February we’ll have the pleasure of meeting [Dutch cartoonist] Gregorius Nekschot.
That’s how we operate. We also have friends in government and in parliament. Many do not say they are our friends, but that is quite an accomplishment. So if we stay the course, true to our convictions and do not waver, there is hope. I am optimistic.
AAL: Yet many Europeans are coming to North America because they think Europe is dead.
Hedegaard: Europe is not dead. What does it mean, “we’re dead?” You know the true resistance against tyranny and Islam and bullshit is here in Denmark. It is. I do not like to brag, but this is where it’s at. I do not feel that we have lost.
The backbone of all this is the Danish population of 5.4 million, of which about 5 million are Danes. It’s always been the backbone of our identity and our nation. Never the upper class, never the rich or famous or the nobility. It’s always been the peasant, the man in the street, the working class, and I do not have the sense that they are giving up. The upper crust are willing to sell out. They would sell us out for anything. Jesus. Of course there are exceptions and these brave people are more than welcome in our midst.
AAL: The same kind of people are selling out in the U.S. and Canada, too.
Hedegaard: It is happening all over. It is a disease. It is a sickness. The upper crust, the upper classes are simply opposed to the idea of the West. They hate our freedoms. They hate our culture. We saw it in the ’30s, with the British aristocracy [alliance with] Hitler. We saw it in the U.S., where many members of the political class were Stalinists, Alger Hiss and what not. Books were written about that. And again now, we see it. It’s a very mysterious thing. But you could go back even to the Roman Empire where a guy named Tacitus wrote a book about the barbarian Germans (my own ancestors, by the way), and his admiration for these people. The Roman upper crust admired barbarians. When some, a certain class of society get all they want, money, sex, power, it’s like they have gotten bored.
AAL: They seem to think that they will not be targeted and do not understand that they, too, will have nowhere to go.
Hedegaard: They can’t imagine that. They do not think that way. They start hating their own people. Why has practically every Danish political party backed immigration of Muslims into the country. We have taken in 10,000s people from the back woods, goat herders and the like who could neither read nor write. For what purpose? Why have they done that?
I am talking about things that I have thought about constantly for seven or eight years. Every day I question how they could have done this. What is the purpose? Why are the universities going along? Why haven’t they warned politicians about what would happen? Why have the journalists, the artists, everyone who should be in the know, failed to tell the truth? Not only that. They have actively encouraged this influx of enemies into our midst.
AAL: The press has committed a dereliction of public duty.
Hedegaard: You cannot trust any Western world institution. Mark Steyn wrote a book, America Alone. But in fact America will not defend itself either. There is no difference. I have been to the U.S. three times in the last three months. America is even more stupid when it comes to facing up to reality than Europe.
How can you allow some Taliban idiot to parade on Fifth Avenue with a sign saying: “Death to all Juice“? He’s not talking about orange juice but about finishing Hitler’s project. In the middle of the biggest Jewish town in the world. What a disgrace.
AAL: Why are you so optimistic, then?
Hedegaard: I am optimistic because I have experienced the difference made by what you do. You can accomplish a lot by organizing and telling the truth. What you absolutely must not do is sit back and despair. You mustn’t do that. That is what the enemies of free speech want you to do. Everyone that I know is telling the truth. So as long as we can tell the truth, and work, and talk and write and make waves, we are not dead. There may come a time when we can do nothing, none of what we’re doing now, and then we will be really dead. Let’s not give them the chance.
And also, despite the fact that I am probably one of the most hated men in Denmark, the enemies of free speech don’t know really where I am coming from. My views are noted. Hardly a week goes by than I am not talked about. “He’s an idiot. He’s an asshole. He’s evil.” But as long as you annoy them, you’re okay.
AAL: I had 2,200 attempts to break into my website the week before last alone.
Hedegaard: Well they fear you, and that is to your great credit. Keep it up. I have been asked, Do you fear for your life. The answer is no. I don’t know why. I have given that answer to others. I am sure that there are all kinds of plans to eliminate any one of us, but we are going to die any way. So let’s have some fun in the meantime.
I tell my family, “How would you like to live after I am gone. It won’t be a hell of a lot of fun, if we lose.” I think adults have an absolute duty to stand up for what is right.
AAL: Why aren’t you translating this book into English?
Hedegaard: I don’t have the time, and I’m not sure that my Danish angles on the concrete issues would be appreciated by an English-speaking audience. And if you have to provide footnotes for your pieces, it’s not very elegant. I can get things into the mainstream press. I won’t write any more for the paper that fired me in September, just as a matter of pride. I have no problem publishing. But I am more engaged in the work to set up the international organization. And I am also engaged in writing a couple of books now. The first one, I will finish in about three or four months, is on war theory and the concept of Holy War.
The other book that I’ve been working on for the last six or seven years, is on the Danish left wing.
For the time being, I feel very relieved not to have to write a daily column for any newspaper. I am sure I will be back to write something. But I am not in need of any immediate communication.
AAL: Are the Westergaard cartoons directly related to the content?
Hedegaard: Every one of the cartoons is directly related to content. The cartoon labeled Adolf Laban relates to the text on page 29, written on Dec. 19, 2005, just [before] the cartoon [riots] took off in January 2006. A group of Danish imams was then traveling in the Middle East trying to stir up trouble. There was also a request by a number of Danish imams, including the most influential imam and chief organizer of trouble at the time, Ahmed Abu Laban, to atone for the cartoons with a Mohammad week in Danish universities. Several university presidents were receptive to the idea. My point was that this monopolization of Muhammad would leave other institutions chagrined. But they shouldn’t despair. So far no university had thought of celebrating Hitler’s birthday, so why not do that? However, the organizers had to make sure that the two arrangements didn’t collide – especially because they would largely appeal to the same audience.
Laban is dead. He died [in February 2007] of some disease [cancer].
On page 82, there’s a cartoon proving a woman may rape a man. It is based on a column entitled “On the peeing front,” that is absolutely true. [In Sweden, activists at Malmoe’s Free Women’s University attacked “the root cause of sexual inequality – the fact that men stand up when they urinate whereas most women tend to sit down.” In August, 2007, the university offered a three-day course in Upright Urination for Women and university director Aasa Staahl noted in the daily Sydsvenska Dabladet that women could “either use a funnel-like device” or “direct the jet by means of a special squeeze with their fingers.”]
AAL: You don’t have to make this up.
Hedegaard: No I don’t.
On page 18, we find “Jews and Yogurt,” a January 2006 column written after Hamas won the Palestinian elections. “The Europeans have been pumping lots of Euros into creating a representative government that would reflect the will of the Palestinian majority.
And now they have succeeded as the great majority of the Palestinian voters have backed a party that favors the eradication of Israel. Now the big Arabian riddle is who will last longer? Danish yogurt in Saudi supermarkets or Jews in the tiny strip of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.
And although the prospects are bad for both Jews and yogurt, “Roughly Speaking” would put its savings on the Jews. For even though Hamas leader Mahmud al-Zahar, speaking to the Italian daily Corriere Della Sera in July 2005, rejected co-existence with Israel, he was magnanimous enough to grant the Jewish State a respite of 5-10 years before removing it from the face of the earth. … That is better than nothing, and ‘Roughly Speaking’ therefore believes that it is only a matter of time before the European countries gathered around the EU’s idealistic foreign policy spokesman Xavier Solana will accept Hamas’ extended hand and put some billions into it. That will also give the European countries time to consider what to do with the Jews of Israel. In view of all the commotion it would cause among our Arab friends, the Jews would be wise not to settle in Europe. But in the 1930s there was a plan to settle them in Madagscar. Perhaps the EU would be well advised to reconsider that option.”
On page P. 43, “Uhort Klarsyn,” means “Unheard of perspicacity.” The column, written on April 29, 2008, concerns the fact that the Danish court authorities have decided judges can wear the hijab. A Supreme Court justice has ruled that there is absolutely no problem with women wearing Islamic garb when serving as judges or jurors. The important thing, according to this upholder of due process, is that veiled women signal neutrality. And they do. Otherwise they would be exposed before they were hired for the job.
Now the point of the commentary is that the Danish courts must have discovered a method to expose the Muslim use of taqiyya – which implies that the true believers are advised or required to hide their real intentions when it benefits Islam or the individual Muslim. “This newly discovered method – which Islam’s neighbors have been trying to find for the past 1400 years – enables the Danish courts to determine whether or not the veiled woman speaks the truth. … Would the court please be kind enough to inform the rest of us how they have accomplished this feat, particularly in view of the fact that this must be of great interest far beyond our Danish borders?”
Kurt’s cartoon shows that the real wielder of power is this jerk hiding behind a screen of legality. By opening our legal system to the hijab, we’re bowing to the leaders of the Islamic ummah, or “nation.”
On page 104, another column entitled “Revealed law” concerns Islamic law, supposedly revealed by God, and the competing system in the European Union, which is also revealed law. Nobody knows where it came from, and no one has ever voted for it. There is, however, an important distinction between the sharia – Islamic law – and EU law in that no new revelations have come down since the death of the Prophet in the seventh century, whereas our European law-givers are constantly receiving new revelations from someplace they have never told us about.
I never asked Kurt what to draw or what his drawings mean. He had an absolutely a free hand. We took every drawing he did and put it into the book.
AAL: What do you conclude about newspapers and the press?
Hedegaard: I have the better part of my life ahead of me…. Newspapers have the better part of their lives behind them. No, the newspaper business is dead and deservedly so, because they gave up on news and independent commentary and analysis many years ago. There is this brotherhood of journalists. It’s like a monastic order engaged in the business of educating the populace.
I learned that the hard way when I was chief editor of the Copenhagen high-brow daily, The Information, in the late eighties. The paper grew out of the Danish resistance during the German occupation and I thought that would be a wonderful place for real news that mattered. I found out, however, that if there is anything journalists hate, it’s news and independent analysis.
They rarely write to keep their readers informed about what’s really going on in the world. They write to indoctrinate the public, to give them the right PC perspective.
AAL: The public must be reeducated.
In August 2007, I devoted a column, “Topskat, mon Amour,” to a Danish pun.
The pun on page 22 is lost in translation. In Danish, ‘Skat’ means both honey or beloved and taxation. Danish is the only language in the world where tax and honey are the same. You couldn’t say this in German, English or French. ‘Schatz’ means honey in German, whereas taxes are called ‘Steuer.’ So it wouldn’t make sense to address your girl friend as ‘my Steuer” if you wanted to keep her. We have created a perfect system in Denmark, where willingness to pay to the state is the same as sex..”
[Westergaard’s clever accompanying cartoon shows an oversexed fat lady, picking the pockets of the common man.]
By the way, the system is very effective. Denmark has just captured the top spot as the country with the world’s largest public sector. And the more it grows, the less effective it becomes.
As I told Bruce Bawer, on which he quoted me in While Europe Slept, journalists think that they’re conducting this sort of finishing school. The common man has been brought up by his mom and pop but journalists know more than them, and want to educate people and mold them into Manchurian candidates, whom they can control. Common men and women hate that. So why the hell should they read the papers? They’re all the same.
AAL: They should read your book instead.
Hedegaard: In Denmark they are doing that. We have sold a great number of copies. The first edition was sold out before it came out and the second one was also sold out. I am so happy and so is my bank.
AAL: What is the most important thing?
Hedegaard: It is to underline that we’re taking steps to go international. People are going to hear from us. We are undeterred, We are on the offensive. That is the most important thing.
International membership is open to all for Denmark’s existing Free Press Society – founded in 2004. Anyone interested in supporting the unconditional struggle for free speech against any threat anywhere may apply. The membership fee is $80 US a year. Applicants must write to:
, stating their full name, postal address and telephone number.
Alyssa A. Lappen, a freelance investigative journalist, is a former senior fellow of the American Center for Democracy, former senior editor of Institutional Investor, Working Woman and Corporate Finance and former associate editor of Forbes. Her work has also appeared in FrontPage Magazine, the Washington Examiner, Washington Times, Pajamas Media, American Thinker, Human Events, Midstream and Revue Politique. Her website is http://www.alyssaalappen.org/.
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