Racism Vs. Xenophobia

Well, 31st March passed, and I didn’t get news of any important incident. Good, good.

Talking about the event with some Danish friends they said that they think there’s a certain underlying racism in their society. But then, a comment in my previous post got me thinking. It said that Danes are not racist, but xenophobes. So, not being very aware of the difference at that moment, I decided to look it up:

Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term “racism” is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature (i.e., which harms particular groups of people), and which is often justified by recourse to racial stereotyping or pseudo-science.

Xenophobia is defined as “an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange.” It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning “stranger,” “foreigner” and φόβος (phobos), meaning “fear.”

Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an ingroup towards an outgroup, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity.

(source: Wikipedia)

So, Danish are xenophobes. Maybe. But, I mean, can you blame them? They have a perfectly functioning society, and they want to keep it like that. Does immigration threaten the system? No… and yes.
I am from Barcelona, Spain. I have seen, and experienced how massive immigration can destabilize a country.  Some would say that the number of mafias in Spain (Chinese, Romanian…) has risen considerably, that people get mugged more than ever… but of course there’s a lot of legal and hard-working new-comers aswell.

The fact is, there’s been a positive discrimination towards immigrants for a long time. I’ve seen people who’ve never worked or paid taxes, get financial help from the Government, while Spanish people in the same financial situation couldn’t access that help. Immigrants don’t pay for books in most of the schools (while other students pay up to 250€ per year for their books), or for lunch service (otherwise expensive too), or school trips. Some companies were “adviced” to hire a certain number of immigrant workers (even if some locals were better prepared). All this “little” things (that would never happen in a country with the immigration policies and laws Denmark has) have favoured rejection from the locals towards immigrants. They’ve gone from xenophobes to racists. The cause? Poor immigration laws. Little protectionism.

So, no. I can’t blame Denmark for wanting to keep what’s theirs. Of course there has to be place for respect towards other cultures, and equality of possibilities for everyone (no matter where they come from). Discrimination, positive or negative, is always something to avoid. But also, as an immigrant, I know where I am going and I know it’s me who needs to make the effort to adapt to the country that’s welcoming me (in its particular way) and not the other way around.

Of course, I don’t mean that everyone who comes to Denmark needs to “become Danish” (as sometimes I feel they’d want us to 😛 ), but laws (written and unwritten) need to be respected.

Multiculturality enriches a society and its members and it’s something to look forward to . Also, people moving to other places to find better possibilities is totally understandable (I moved here for love, but I probably would have ended up moving out of Spain anyway), but there needs to be some control over it.

As always, just my humble opinion.

By Natalia • April 3, 2012
Categories: , , , , , ,



  1. Posted April 5, 2012 at 19:11 by ib51 | Permalink

    Actually racism (in fact, racism is a nonsense because it’s only the human race which exist, beside horse race for example ; there is no several races of humans, only several ethnicities) and xenophobia are different but I fear sometime that xenophobia could lead to racism because of culture shock.
    If xenophobia could be understandable, we, on an other hand, can push the reasoning further. We can state that Danes are not owner of the land they occupy (they own just their social organization). If some foreigners who are starved or unhappy in their native country (like economical immigrant) or just want to do some money abroad (like mafia) they are allowed to come to Denmark because earth belong to everyone. Of course Danes think their way of life is the best one and have to be defended but Spaniards, Moroccans, Tibetans (and so on) could think they have also the best way of life and thus force upon their native culture to their host country. Indeed, it’s a idiot reasoning :-) but it’s just to say that immigration issue is a wide subject … maybe insolvable.
    Tusind tak for din blog.

  2. Posted April 5, 2012 at 19:47 by Natalia | Permalink

    How idealistic of you to say that Earth belongs to everyone :) Don’t get me wrong, I agree, and I wish that was true, but on practical effects it isn’t. To be able to stay on “Danish land” (and I guess whoever has lived here the longest gets the right to the land? :P) you need to fulfill a long list of requirements and the moment you don’t fulfill them anymore you are at risk of being deported.
    The immigration issue is a wide subject indeed, and as we say in Spain “Nunca llueve al gusto de todos” (something like, It never rains for everyone’s taste). There’s a lot of founded and unfounded opinions circulating, and it’s the latter ones we should be worried about.
    Thank you again for your contributions! :)

  3. Posted April 6, 2012 at 18:58 by ib51 | Permalink

    An aspect of the Spanish multiculturalism : http://www.cafebabel.es/article/40810/gastornomia-sevilla-lucha-innovacion-cocina.html

  4. Posted April 6, 2012 at 20:31 by Natalia | Permalink

    Can you read Spanish? :)
    I find multiculturalism very positive, but here’s a bit of the other side of the coin:


  5. Posted April 7, 2012 at 08:38 by ib51 | Permalink

    No, I don’t speak Spanish. Cafebabel is an european and polyglot electronic “news paper” with a lot of article translated in English.
    It’s an interesting article but, in my opinion, it brand too much Romanian. Of course, sex-mafia is leaded by some Romanians but all Romanians are they mafia leader? Not easy :-(
    Why does emigrants come abroad? Sometime for love (rarely), some time it’s by curiosity (but they don’t become definitive immigrants, just travelers) but, manly, it’s to make money (because they have nothing at home or because they think they will earn more abroad)
    At last, the behaviour of these mafia people lead to xenophobia and further to racism if they have a too much slavic face. Not easy again :-(
    Choice between integration policy (as in Denmark or France) and multicultural policy (as in Spain or US) is not obvious. Maybe a mix of the two?
    Here is also an article about immigration trap : http://www.cafebabel.es/article/40734/comunidad-marroqui-sevilla-planea-regreso.html
    Buenos días.

  6. Posted April 7, 2012 at 09:57 by Natalia | Permalink

    Of course, not all Romanians are mafia leaders but articles like this lead to generalizations and discrimination. As always, the things that are more noticed by people are the ones on the papers, and only bad things make the papers. So lately, you start to see that all the mafias they put down are Romanian or Chinese, that all the pickpockets teams working in the metro that they detain are Romanian too, that many of the stabbings on the street are South-American-gang related… And then the xenophobia starts building.
    Maybe the crimes commited by the locals don’t make the papers? I don’t know, sometimes they do. I just think foreigners have it sometimes harder than locals (and I say sometimes because I have already talked about some positive discrimination) and they have to turn to less legal ways of life. I guess.
    In any case, I believe that foreigners that are caught involved in illegal activities should be deported. And that’s not the case. They are kept in Spanish prisons, paid with Spanish taxes. And then, the prisons get overcrowded, and they start letting people out before they had to (or not putting people in when they should).
    The sad part is, a lot of people lives better in a prison in Spain (with 3 meals a day, a bed where to sleep, and a lot of facilities) than in their home countries. How crazy is that?
    So, I don’t know, everything is way too complicated. As always, the best would be to find some balance, but how do we do that?

  7. Posted April 7, 2012 at 17:15 by ib51 | Permalink

    I’ve never been in jail and I don’t think I would like to do it but you have right it depend on our usual way of living. I’m well-off, I’ve a freedom of moving and acting and I believe that going into jail would be a hard reduction for me … but, maybe, it’s the first step which is the hardest …really, it something which fear me :-(
    I’m not sure that throwing out all the alien thieves could be a durable solution because they will come back. Maybe the solution could be that all the natives cease to thief to leave place in the prisons to foreigners. But if you push the reasoning to it limit, why allow thieving natives and not thieving foreigners (sorry, it’s a joke, but I like to play with paradoxes :-/).
    Of course,when a foreigner earn a lot of money with illegal business and drive in a big BMW, it’s shocking but, often, he doesn’t finish in jail. But what about this poor Romanian who thief my car to survive? For me, it’s the same bother when a French man or a Roumanian man robs my car? However, I recognize that I’ve not been hold up or threaten by a Roumanian … if it would be the case one day, I would, perhaps, change my mind.
    About the integration/multiculturalism issue, why not imagine an outside integration (I take off my cap when I come in a church if their is someone in it) and outside, private multiculturalism (I don’t bilieve in God) … I’m a dreamer.
    Buenos días (these words summarize all my knowledge of Cervantes language and my English is barely best :-))

  8. Posted April 7, 2012 at 18:32 by A&J | Permalink

    I’m not sure it’s a perfectly functioning society, is it? I mean, if people go around believing that, they will never think improvements are possible.

  9. Posted April 8, 2012 at 10:39 by Natalia | Permalink

    @ib51 I think the problem with some kinds of immigration is that they, for instance, go to Spain with their illegal business to make money and they don’t care what happens with the country and its economy, because they’re not planning on staying. And that means they won’t have as many boundaries as someone who worries about the stability of the country they live on (as maybe, a native). I don’t think that makes more sense (am I really talking about patriotism among delinquents? about sustaintable illegality? lol) but in a way, there’s always been mafias and thieves but it’s never been this bad!
    I don’t know, I think it’d be pretty discouraging to be sent back to one’s home country, and in some cases it’s expensive to try and come back. But of course it’s also expensive to send them there 😛
    And I don’t know about your Spanish, but your English is perfectly fine!
    Hav en god dag!

    @A&J I think a lot of Danes go around believing that there’s little room for improvement. That’s why they’re so scared of change! I think they’re more worried about keeping things the way they are, but of course, that’s just my opinion :)

  10. Posted April 8, 2012 at 18:26 by ib(& | Permalink

    These mafia men are just the archetype of capitalist men … make money, regardless of the consequences for individuals. Of course mafia and robbers had always existed (even before capitalism) and they have always been as so bad as now (not more, not less but now, we are more aware of their behaviour, thanks to mass medias). But, to be cynic, are we sure that, if we had the same opportunities or the same courage (or egotism) as them, we didn’t do the same? (I hope we don’t … in a kind of way, I’m optimist :-))
    About the answer to A&J, is it you or someone else who talk about Jante law?

  11. Posted April 8, 2012 at 18:34 by Natalia | Permalink

    I don’t know, I can’t think of myself doing something that is hurting so many other people in so many ways… I’m THAT good!! haha!
    But yeah, I’m sure more people would go into illegality if it was easier and less risky to make profit 😛
    I think I said something about Jante law in some post, thought I would like to talk about it more thoroughly, because I think it’s a very interesting topic.
    Nevertheless, I think although individual Danes won’t think of themselves as anything special (following that unwritten law), they do think their society as a whole is better than many others.

  12. Posted April 9, 2012 at 11:39 by SRC | Permalink

    I don’t think this society is as well functioning as Danes will lead us to believe, and their focus on ethnic-nonDanes is nothing more than scapegoating. Many of the problems in Denmark are a result of things that Danes have done. There is no way that 8.5% of the population here has caused all the damage that Pia, among others, ascribes to them. That’s wrong and that’s racist. The rhetoric surrounding immigration and integration here smacks of the same kinds of discussions regarding Jews in Germany in the beginning of the push towards Nazism. It’s sickening and I, for one, won’t be raising my child in a place where Others are so systematically, and so easily, devaluated. There is also no acknowledgement of the massive amounts of structural barriers to “integrating” here. Discrimination is the way of the world in Denmark- statistics and qualitative studies have documented that. How is it that the dirty foreigners should contribute to Denmark when they aren’t even allowed in the job market?

  13. Posted April 9, 2012 at 12:04 by Natalia | Permalink

    Well, I think it’s well functioning for the Danes, at least. Of course if you’re a foreigner, things are different. I agree with the fact that there is some barriers for integration (I don’t know which ones did you reffer to) and that all the effort is one-sided.
    Nevertheless, I don’t think we can consider Pia’s view like the general trend among the Danes (or at least I want to think that).
    I don’t think it’s true foreigners are not allowed in the job market. A lot of foreigners work in Denmark, and there’s a growing tendency in some companies of seeking high-qualified workers from abroad. That said, it’s very true that it’s really difficult (and this is personal experience talking) to get oneself started in the Danish job market, specially if you don’t know the language very well. It took me many months to find even a cleaning job (which is how many people start), but if we think about it… it wouldn’t make much “sense” to give a job to a foreigner if there’s a local equally qualified (plus the language and cultural bonus) also applying, right?
    Of course I know there is discrimination, and some people don’t want to hire foreigners, for one reason or another, but I think that can be found everywhere.
    It’s hard, but it’s possible.

  14. Posted April 9, 2012 at 19:15 by ib51 | Permalink

    Pia (neither Søren Pind and so on) is not responsible of the behaviour against foreigners. It’s people who vote for her party who are. What has been the score of the Dansk People Party (10 per cent?). In France, Mrs Le Pen attract 15 per cent of the voters. How much in Spain? The problem is not this one of the job-market. Denmark have a liberal view of the labour market since a long time and it’s defensible. What fear me is the behaviour of the State of Denmark and it inhabitants which and who have sometime (often) a marked xenophobe attitude. In a kind of way, it could be considered as an honest attitude reflecting a deep aversion toward all which is no Danish and this is this aversion which have to be fought.

  15. Posted April 9, 2012 at 19:34 by ib51 | Permalink

    @SRC. It’ daring to compare current danish behaviour and Nazi attitude against Jews. In the first case it’s racism (inaccepable) and in the second, xenophobia comprehensible). I’m aware that current danish xenophobia is aimed toward muslim since some years (as in a lot of countries in Europe) and it’s a bad tend. But I convinced that this muslim-reject is only steered against foreigner they don’t know or understand (they fear that some or all strangers could threaten their way of life).

  16. Posted April 9, 2012 at 19:36 by ib51 | Permalink

    I forget this link http://cphpost.dk/commentary/cph-post-voices/pernickety-dicky-can-foreigner-ever-become-dane. Read the topic and the comments.

  17. Posted April 10, 2012 at 18:11 by Natalia | Permalink

    Wow, VERY interesting article, ib51! But even MORE interesting comments!

    There’s a lot of stories of people that, if they’re right, really show there is some kind of problem with Danish laws. But of course, that’s only one side of every story.

    Anyway, if you don’t mind, I’m going to make a new post refering to this article and its comments. :)

  18. Posted April 10, 2012 at 18:37 by ib51 | Permalink

    No problem … it’s an CPHpost’s article, not mine.
    I’m just a French man who is in love with Denmark since forty years … and, as often in old couples, uncover, in the long run, some imperfections about his Dulcenea … but stay in love :-)

  19. Posted April 25, 2012 at 06:42 by Xenophobia | Permalink

    I think Xenophobia is earlier of Racism

  20. Posted April 27, 2012 at 16:42 by Natalia | Permalink

    I agree that Xenophobia can lead to racism (I’ve seen that happen), but I don’t think one is necessarily linked to the other.

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Home is Where Your Heart is


Atypical Mediterranean married to a Viking and learning the “ways of the North” in beautiful Aarhus. Amateur photographer, fairytale believer, Biologist and closet sci-fi geek, among other things.