Every now and then, a European newspaper will surprise you by publishing something totally out of character. Example: last September, Norway's newspaper of record, Aftenposten, ran a surprisingly honest – and politically incorrect – piece by someone named Kristoffer Gaarder Dannevig. The subject: Afrikan (sic) History Week, an initiative that was apparently the brainchild of someone named Brother Buntu, who, a week earlier, had complained in Aftenposten that both Norway's authorities and its media present Africa in a negative way.
This statement, I must interject, has got to be one of the great laugh lines of all time: no country on earth treats Africa and Africans with more reverence – for their innate innocence and virtue, the greatness of their ancient civilizations, and the tragedy of their victimization by Western imperialists – than does Norway. Nonetheless, Brother Buntu framed Afrikan History Week (AHW), which received financial support from the municipality of Oslo as well as from such respected Norwegian groups as Arts Council Norway, as a response to Norway's alleged negativity about Africa. As he put it, the whole shebang was “a gift to ignorant Norway.” Uh, gee, thanks.
The point of Dannevig's piece was to blow the whistle on this preposterous scam. AHW, he charged, was “a mishmash of conspiracy theories.” Why is that sphinx in Egypt missing its nose? According to an AHW seminar, it was “because racist Europeans chopped it off.” And why did they do that? Because they “wanted to hide the fact that the sphinx had a broad African nose.” In fact, as Dannevig noted, the sphinx's nose “disappeared some time prior to the year 1500. There is little to indicate that Europeans were the culprits.”
But that was just the tip of the iceberg. According to the lecturers at AHW, “it was Africans who founded the first urban cultures in the world, in Mesopotamia and India (!).” (That parenthetical exclamation point, by the way, is Dannevig's.) Also, “pre-colonial Africa was a place where the sexes had equal rights and there was no prejudice against homosexuals.” The sexual discrimination and violence against gays in today's Africa, you see, are entirely the result of European colonial influences. As for the slave trade, AHW dropped down the memory hole the fact that it was Africans who sold their fellow Africans to European traders – no, according to AHW, Europeans alone were responsible for the slave trade. In sum, as Dannevig put it, “Africans stand for everything good and Europeans stand for everything evil. African culture is the world's most humanist.”
For Americans, of course, this brand of propaganda is highly familiar. It dominates a great many Black Studies programs in the United States. Instead of learning real history, African-American students are fed sheer fantasies that are designed to make them feel proud of distant ancestors who supposedly reigned over highly advanced and broad-minded civilizations in the heart of Africa. Whole books have been published (mostly by university presses) that consist of nothing but this kind of balderdash. Supposedly distinguished professors make a living serving up these ridiculous fabrications. Now, as Dannevig noted, this nonsense – this claptrap going under the name of Afrocentrism – has found its way to Norway. And, as in the U.S., you challenge it at your peril.
Sure enough, guess what happened when Dannevig confronted the AHW speakers with their factual errors? Exactly! He was called a racist. One of the “experts” who had been invited to Oslo to spread his Afrocentric hogwash told Dannevig that “it was because of people like me that Europeans commit mass murder wherever they go in the world.” What was frightening, wrote Dannevig, was that this thoroughly disgusting statement – an expression of pure racism – won applause from about half the people in the audience.
Dannevig proposed in his article that the funders of AHW re-evaluate their support for this charade – for, as he quite properly pointed out, twisted history of this sort can be truly dangerous. Afrocentrism removes from the shoulders of Africans any responsibility for their own lives. It represents them as nothing more or less than the passive victims of outsiders. Instead of inspiring them to make an effort to change their poor mess of a continent for the better, it encourages them to cultivate, exploit, and wallow in an image of themselves as eternally helpless, eternally exploited, eternally suffering – and eternally impotent to do anything about any of it.
Dannevig's piece was a worthy response to an ignoble project. But he paid a price for writing it.
At the time it appeared, you see, he was employed as a consultant for the municipality of Oslo – specifically, for an agency dealing with diversity and integration. On June 7, he returned to the pages of Aftenposten to describe what happened as a result of his burst of public honesty. In a piece headlined “Silenced by the city government,” he noted wryly that, despite the declaration by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg after the massacres of July 22 last year that Norway would respond to its new circumstances with even more openness and democracy, the Norwegian state is in fact a “closed culture without real freedom of expression.” The city of Oslo “opposes and punishes employees who take part in public debate.” As a consequence of his piece on AHW, Dannevig was punished with “powerful sanctions.” His superiors considered demoting him. They removed many of his major responsibilities because they didn't trust him anymore.
When Dannevig reminded his boss that he had freedom of speech, he was told that in Oslo's city government, freedom of speech takes a back seat to loyalty to one's employer. It wasn't just Dannevig's own boss who felt this way: when he asked another highly placed municipal official for his opinion, the latter “confirmed that he would have given me a very rough time of it if he were my boss.” Dannevig pointed out in his article that if everyone working for the Norwegian government is, indeed, under an official obligation not to speak out on issues, that means that “over 30 percent of Norway's employed population lacks real freedom of speech.”
In conversations with Dannevig, his higher-ups made his situation crystal clear, explaining to him that if he should speak out again in the media, he'd lose his job. “I could be fired, then, for writing these words now,” noted Dannevig in his June 7 article. “Instead, I hereby resign my position in order to regain my full freedom of expression.”
Fortunately, Dannevig has found another job. I hope he prospers and is able to continue to speak out about the politically correct poppycock that passes in these parts for intercultural enlightenment. In the meantime, needless to say, Brother Buntu and the other fourflushers behind Afrikan History Week are doubtless moving from strength to strength, planning even more cavalcades of disinformation with which to bamboozle the guilt-ridden natives.
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