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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mark Steyn: The 'Racist' and the Unknown Man

My friend Lars Hedegaard is a dapper, courtly publisher and editor just turned 70. Like many Scandinavians, he speaks very evenly modulated English, but, insofar as I can tell, his Danish is no more excitable. A cultured, civilized fellow, he was for most of his life a man of the left, as are the majority of his compatriots, alas. But, as an historian and a chap who takes the long view, he concluded that Islam posed a profound challenge to Scandinavian liberalism. And so at a stroke he was transformed into a "right-winger."

The other day in Copenhagen, he answered his doorbell and found a man in his early twenties who appeared to be "a typical Muslim immigrant" pointing a gun at him. He fired from a yard away, and, amazingly, missed. The bullet whistled past Lars's ear, and the septuagenarian scholar then slugged his assailant. The man fired again, but the gun jammed, and, after some further tussling, the would-be assassin escaped. He has yet to be found.

How does one report an assassination attempt on a writer for expressing his opinion? Most North American media didn't report it at all. The BBC announced, "Gunman Targets Islam Critic Hedegaard" — which is true, although one couldn't but notice that the Beeb and the Euro-press seemed far more interested in qualifying the victim's identity ("Islam critic") than in fleshing out the perp's. And then there were the Swedes. Across the water from Lars's home town, most prominent outlets picked up the story from the national news agency, TT, the local equivalent of the Associated Press. Here's how they began:
Lars Hedegaard, once convicted for racism, has been subject to an assassination attempt. An unknown man reportedly shot at Hedegaard outside his Copenhagen home.
The author Hedegaard is one of the few Danes who is a certified racist, as he some years ago was fined by a High Court for having stated in a blog interview that Muslim fathers rape their children. He was later acquitted by the Supreme Court.
That last sentence negates the ones above. There is no conviction for "racism": Both it and the fine were quashed, reversed, overturned, kicked into the garbage can by the supreme court. The prosecution was outrageous, and some sense of what Denmark's most eminent jurists made of it can be deduced from their decision to revoke his conviction 7–0. What sort of reporter writes that "the author Hedegaard is one of the few Danes who is a certified racist" ("papper på att han var rasist")?

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