In the wide scope of all the mistakes being made lately, such as Vice President Dick Chaney haphazardly shooting his friend and the Academy not awarding Brokeback Mountain with Best Picture, the Danish government passing-up their chance to end the Middle East’s ban on all Danish products is the worst.
In a peace conference held in Copenhagen last Friday, the Danish government and a group of Muslim scholars and preachers convened in efforts to end the protests and the boycott in response to the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
The Muslim representatives clearly and simply stated that a formal apology from the Danish government would suffice and that all boycotts would be lifted. They were also lobbying for the European Union to enact a law that prohibits printed insult of religious figures.
Instead of taking an easy opportunity to end this ridiculous mess, the Danish government refused to issue an apology. Their justification was that they “cannot be held responsible for the actions of an independent newspaper.”
Then whose responsibility is it? Of course, it was the Danish paper, Jyllands-Posten, which printed the inappropriate cartoons that began the uproar in the first place. But with a problem of this magnitude, the affronted party is not going to be satisfied with a publicly-pressured apology from a tiny newspaper. The apology must mean more and be more valuable. The Danish government is the perfect establishment to offer this.
The Danish government is wrong when they say they cannot be held accountable for the newspaper’s actions. The newspaper, independent or not, represents Denmark. The country has been disgraced and damaged during this debacle. It is every government’s duty to make sure its organizations and citizens portray their country in a positive and respectable light to the rest of the world.
Whether Jyllands-Posten was right or wrong in publishing the cartoons, these events occurred and people were killed. The situation lies on the shoulders of the Danish government – the entire world sees it this way. The government has no convincing rational to not accept responsibility.
Not only was Denmark’s refusal to apologize a dumb mistake because they are only lengthening its economic punishment, but it was a cold shoulder thrust in the direction of peace. Amr Khaled, an Egyptian preacher in attendance at the conference, said, “We are here to build bridges for dialogue.” Denmark seems to be in the business of burning bridges. The government’s decision says that evading responsibility is more important to them than making peace. Given the state of this world, that is not the message anyone should be sending.
No one wants to take the responsibility in solving this problem. The Danish government is saying how unfortunate these events have been, ‘but we didn’t do it, so it’s not our job to fix it.’ Why would Denmark deliberately shoot itself in the foot? Maybe this is the government just throwing a temper tantrum because no one even knows what Denmark exports.