By Lars Hedegaard (President of the Danish Free Press Society, Sappho.dk)As depicted in your book, until a few years ago you were living a privileged existence as a rising young intellectual with a high profile, European tours and Chlamydia. What made you leave this protected workshop? You could have lived happily until you were 92 if you had chosen to continue swimming with the rest of the Danish opinion elite.“It was reality calling. You search for the meaning of existence, and existence knocked on my front door. I was living in life’s fast lane as a carefree luxury student without any major concerns. To start with I pushed away any bad news. I would rather hit on the pretty girl at the party or bicycle around Tuscany. One day in 1999 I was on the airport shuttle and started a conversation with a middle aged man who could have been my father, and who expressed great concern over the consequences of Muslim immigration. It was a clash between two worldviews, but not until after 9/11 did I admit that something was seriously wrong.”You obviously experienced what psychologists call cognitive dissonance or — more straightforwardly put — an insurmountable contradiction between that which you believed about the world, and the world as it actually is. How does such a break occur?“I was living in a kind of parallel society, in a bubble where everybody had the correct opinions and where no one had any interest in reality because it was too awful and populist. But after 9/11 I realised that I would have to study Islam and put myself in the picture. When it became obvious that those who exploded bombs and worked towards destroying Western freedom had business with me, then it was clear that I would have to have business with them.”Pseudo-ChristianityWhy are there so few others who come to that conclusion — especially when we speak about the highly-educated? After all, they should have the best prerequisites for reading, understanding and learning.
“Everybody is busy with their careers and scraping together enough money for mortgages, taxes and luxury consumption. The ‘zeitgeist’, this intangible entity, does not invite scepticism or critical reflection; you’d be crazy to engage in that! On top of that we’ve all become a kind of ‘liberalist’ because we have a great deal of trouble imagining that we have enemies, ideological enemies. Enemies are something only evil people have, or something we enjoy watching in Star Wars or in crime dramas. Instead we are subject to a tacit agreement on some pseudo-Christian positive words — tolerance, respect, understanding — and a notion that all cultures are equally good. We are brought up and educated to silence problems to death, and if someone dares to come and tell us that there’s a problem, we collectively turn on the messenger.“We must remember that the efforts of intellectuals in the 20th century have not been a success story; on the contrary. There is no end to the atrocities that have been legitimised by intellectuals, and the lies that they have had a part in spreading. Think for a moment of the totalitarian ideologies which have derived their justification from intellectuals, philosophers, artists, scientists, journalists. Intelligence or higher education is no guarantee against fanaticism and extremism. That is just something we, the educated and the chattering classes, believe.“However banal it sounds, intellectuals are no different from other people when it gets down to basics. They, too, must ask themselves where their next paycheck will come from and if they perceive, consciously or unconsciously, that the future in some sense belongs to Islam, then they will try to make some arrangement with the coming rulers, or with their current Western henchmen.”We have forgotten our cultural heritageWhat do you think is wrong with Western culture, since it is voluntarily and enthusiastically letting itself be overtaken by a backward culture?“What is wrong with our culture is that we no longer carry it within us. We have stopped teaching it. We no longer know our history. We are ignorant of the pinnacles of Western thought on freedom, which you and I have given examples of in the book ‘Frihedens vaesen’ [‘The Essence of Freedom’ — an anthology of essays on freedom from ancient to modern times — translator]. Today you are almost considered a nerd if you know something about the history which has brought us to where we are today. It is considered — even at universities and by the cultural elite — ‘old’ knowledge. Which is the same as saying it is useless.“But if we don’t know where we have come from then we cannot know where we are going, and we become easy victims of deception. From there it’s not a long stretch to adjust to the future which others have imposed upon us. The intellectuals and the cultural elite presumably notice the demographic trends and can see which way the wind is blowing in those places where Islam has a heavy presence — e.g. Malmö, Bradford, Rotterdam or Marseille. And they find a niche where they think they can survive and make arrangements with the future rulers, while they harangue others with accusations of racism or indecency.”Why has it become “right wing” to fight for freedom and oppose religious fanatics?“I ask myself that question every day. It is most peculiar, especially if you consider our experiences from World War Two. The Left is rapidly collapsing, and has seemingly given up on defending freedom. So much so that today it may be perceived as a mark of ‘nobility’ to be right-wing, thanks to the left wing.”How will it end? Who do you think will win the struggle? The defenders of freedom or the enemies of freedom?“I am a pessimist and an optimist on alternate days. It will depend on whether we can, want to, and dare to make up our minds to defend Western civilization — rather than how many or how few Muslims come here. To my mind it’s more about culture than about demography. Without a conscious reaffirmation of our own culture we cannot win the fight. If we refuse to admit that gang riots cannot be explained with the usual clichés about poverty and alienation, but must be seen in conjunction with Islam’s struggle for political supremacy and cultural virility, we don’t stand a chance.”
Translated from the Danish by Anne-Kit of Perth, Australia