Fey metropolitan ponce that am I, I love nothing better than curling up on the sofa with my partner to watch a Scandinavian drama. Borgen, The Killing; we haven’t got around to watching The Bridge, but only because I’m so busy walking around with a baby in a Kari-me or actually lactating milk, so European and progressive am I.
Part of the fun of these Scandi dramas is that the assumed leftism is so ingrained as to be almost comedic; each episode of Borgen features the statsminister having some moral dilemma because her coalition can’t sell hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of windpower to a former Soviet state because of its human rights record (in real life of course former Soviet states are keen users of expensive Scandinavian green energy rather than the lakes of cheap oil near them). It normally ends with her principles compromised because of the powers that be, whether financial, military or politics (not because the ideas don’t work in practice).
So just as the British Left sees Scandinavia as a sort of mystical liberal paradise in which social inequality and sexism have been eliminated, I obviously have an insatiable appetite for any stories which show them to be crushed by debt, warped by their weird sexual politics, riddled with crime or learning the lesson that you can have equality or diversity but not both.
But the latest news from Denmark is just depressing, the country having banned kosher and halal slaughter because ‘animal rights trump religious freedom’. What a strange and perverted set of priorities to have. The argument over ethics is hypocritical to start with, since a great deal of non-religious slaughter is equally bad if not worse, and there are ways of regulating kosher and halal to make it less cruel. But even if it is cruel – they’re animals! Muslims and Jews are people. For the sake of animal rights they’re prepared to create an atmosphere of tension and even fear among religious minorities? If people care about animal rights, they should campaign to make meat-eating illegal; if animal rights really mattered, then ethically the pig-holocaust state of Denmark would be down there with North Korea.
I don’t for one minute believe that the people who make such laws are driven by hostility to Muslims or Jews; quite the contrary, they’re fairly standard Left-liberals in the throes of late modern decadence which pretends that animal rights trump ancient liberties. They are also supported by many who are alarmed by the growth of Islam in Europe but, being from the secularist Left, are scared of appearing nativist, and losing trusted moderate supporters and gaining some unsavoury ones. But if people were just honest about discussing their difficulties with Islam, rather than pretending it was about ‘religion’ in general or animal rights, we’d actually end up with a more reasoned and liberal response. There are some minority cultural or religious practices that are barbaric – female genital mutilation, for one – but this is one of those instances where western decadence is to blame for inter-cultural conflict.
Banning ritual slaughter is just cruel to people. Still, at least I have another thing to rant at the telly about when the statsminister is giving a lecture about Denmark being a haven of social justice.
More Spectator for less. Stay informed leading up to the EU referendum and in the aftermath. Subscribe and receive 15 issues delivered for just £15, with full web and app access. Join us.