An Introduction to Danish Culture

FrontPage Magazine 11 April 2012
By Jamie Glazov

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Norman Berdichevsky, a contributing editor for New English Review and the author of more than 200 articles and book reviews that have appeared in a variety of American, British, Danish, Israeli and Spanish periodicals. He is the author of the new book, An Introduction to Danish Culture.

FP: Norman Berdichevsky, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Berdichevsky: Thank you for having me and allowing me to present readers with information about An Introduction to Danish Culture which followed the publication of The Left is Seldom Right by a few months.

Tell us what inspired you to write An Introduction to Danish Culture.

Berdichevsky: The book was my answer to the moral crisis that grows ever more ominous and threatening and was brought into the public forum with the so called ‘Muhammad Cartoon Crisis’ in which, overnight, Denmark became the target of not only Muslim wrath and violence but an unprecedented and ignorant criticism of Danish society in much of the Western media as if it were the culprit for a "provocation.” It was a bitter pill to swallow for many Danes who saw their country turned into a pariah state in 2006 by worldwide demonstrations just as Israel had been by the JIHAD GENIE that will continue to run amok (an old Danish expression) and needs to be put back in the bottle. Yesterday, Israel, Today, Denmark ……. tomorrow the World! Nevertheless, the full cost of the Muslim boycott of Danish goods and services was far less than first feared and more than made up by a spontaneous "Buy Danish” campaign that was wholly the initiative of individuals and owed nothing to any formal support or statement by Denmark’s "allies” in NATO and among Western heads of state.

The record needed to be set straight and proclaimed loudly and strongly. My familiarity and appreciation of Denmark, family connections, its people, culture, language, traditions and way of life were gained through first-hand knowledge of Danes I am proud to call my friends, many years residence in the country, family connections (my son and three grandchildren) and a profound respect, admiration and sense of obligation to acquaint my fellow Americans and others with a realistic picture of what I learned. I also wrote the book as a personal testimonial to my deep sense of gratitude towards the Danish people for their conduct during World War II and especially for the aid and comfort they provided to their Jewish fellow citizens.

I had seen two Danish films at the old Thalia movie theater on Broadway and 95th Street and they had made an enormous impression on me – Dreyer’s "Ordet” (The Word) based on the play by World War II resistance hero, Pastor Kaj Munk and Ditte-Menneskebarn (Ditte-Child of Humanity) based on the book by the great proletarian writer Martin Andersen Nexo. They intrigued me – how did these writers – much like Hans Christian Andersen use the tiny canvas of their small country and ‘minor’ language (about the same number of speakers as Hebrew) to paint such a universal work.

FP: What are the central themes of your book?

Berdichevsky: The book is divided into several sections on the country’s geography, economy, important historical events, the language and cultural achievements including Denmark’s contribution to science, engineering, seafaring, shipping, exploration, literature, philosophy, the cinema, architecture, its record on human rights, democratic institutions, and humanistic traditions all of which deserve to be much more widely known; eleven outstanding ‘Great Danes’ and those facets of the national culture such as the national language, social relations, food and drink, the country’s reputation as a social welfare state, the role of the tiny but influential Jewish community, modern political issues and the role played by Danish-Americans in American society. (...)