The love Bernie Sanders and his coterie of propagandists have for Denmark is disgusting in its selectivity. They have lots to say about the country’s generous social benefits but nothing to say about who gets to receive them or how the polity’s access to them is protected.
Denmark was the first European country to close its borders this summer and instituted strict new asylum laws specifically for people that were fleeing the brutality in Syria, Eritrea, and other places. The government even placed advertisements in newspapers in Middle East newspapers discouraging people from migrating there because their families would not be able to join them and because there would be a four-year wait before they would be issued even a temporary residency permit. Bernie’s social-democratic paradise was called the Hungary of the north for good reason, except that it was probably even worse: at least Hungary allowed, at intervals, migrants to travel through; Denmark’s policy this summer was to detain and deport.
The government that instituted these emergency measures was the recently elected rightist Venstre party, but they were mostly an extension of the logic of citizenship-based policies instituted by the Social Democrats, which controlled the previous government and admitted that it had to tightly control immigration in order to protect the welfare state.
The Social Democrats saddled the migrants that are able to stay with the strictest requirements in the EU: migrants must marry someone with citizenship to a EU country; migrants earn points toward citizenship by showing they’re serious about linguistic and cultural assimilation through active labor force and civic participation, by being tested on their knowledge of Danish history and culture, and by attaining advanced educational degrees, and those who came from certain places (EU and Nordic countries) are awarded more points than those that came from other countries; the state instituted a nine-year waiting period before a permanent residency permit would be issued, and longer even for full citizenship; and those that need to access social services first have to place 13,000 euros into escrow.
None of this is to even make the argument that social-democracy is inherently racist. But if people are going to lionize the Danes, it’s worth pointing out that even by the country’s own estimation, the continuation of those social benefits and the happiness they create entails a managed cultural homogeneity and universal acceptance of the nation’s communitarian principles. Not even those fleeing war, famine, and climate change can be exempted from those requirements.
On the other hand, Bernie and his fans — the guy who called open borders a “Koch brothers proposal” and blames migrants from driving down wages — are not being selective when they ignore all this. Maybe they just don’t care.