Thursday, March 30, 2006

Danish PM Blasts Business

Random Platitudes is back after a brief intermission with part 8 of his exploration of the cartoon crisis from a Danish perspective.

This installment deals with Danish businesses, which were threatened by a boycott from the Muslim world following the printing of the controversial Muhammad cartoons. In the non-Danish Western press, this issue was dealt with rather uncritically. RP takes a look at the internal debates between Danish companies, which were trying to avoid being boycotted, and the Danish government, which was—in the person of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen—trying to look tough on the freedom of speech issue.

Some major Danish companies, including dairy giant Arla, distanced themselves from Jyllands-Posten and the cartoons, having already suffered through a domestic boycott thanks to their heavy-handed competitive tactics. Others, like shipping giant A.P. Møller, had nothing to worry about since Qatar wasn't about to shelve their $5 billion offshore oil field project.

Rasmussen, as always, wanted to score some political points off the cartoon crisis, so he publicly chastised Danish companies for being "unprincipled" (for giving humanitarian aid to the Red Crescent, for example) and he came down hard on Denmark's intellectual PEN club as well for not supporting the government line on the cartoons.

According to RP, Rasmussen's decision to go on the offensive to take on Danish intellectuals and business interests "was to be one of the most potentially self-destructive decisions of his political career." Click here to read more.
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