Cynical as I am about the media's stance toward critics of Islam, even I was taken aback by an article that was posted Thursday evening on the website of the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet, and that I assume appeared in Friday's print edition.
Headlined “Lars Hedegaard moves” and written by Bo Poulsen, the article began by informing readers that on the previous day the possessions of the Islam critic, who survived an assassination attempt last month at his apartment in the Copenhagen suburb of Frederiksberg, had been loaded into a moving van and driven off. The article is accompanied by a picture of the moving van outside Hedegaard's former residence.
Here's the kicker. Two Ekstra Bladet staffers, presumably Poulsen and a photographer, were in a car watching the moving men load the van, after which they followed it. And Poulson – here it is – actually describes the route taken by the van. If you plot the course of the van on Google Maps, to be sure, it looks rather meandering, as if the moving men were aware of the two reporters on their tail and were trying to shake them off.
Fortunately, the police intervened. Perhaps the moving men alerted them to the problem. In any event, a motorcycle cop pulled over the reporters' car. Poulsen is snide about it, describing the intervention sarcastically as belejligt – meaning “timely” or “convenient.” Poulsen is obviously indignant about the injustice of it all. “Without any justification, the driver was asked to show his driver's license, even as they could see the moving van disappear over the horizon. After a few minutes the officer returned and said that everything was in order and that they could drive on.”
The reporters did so – but the cop followed close behind. After a short while he pulled them over a second time and “said in a not particularly convincing manner that he would like to see the driver's license again, because 'We can see that it's been used in some connection or other, so we should double-check it.'” Another five minutes or so went by. Then the cop came back with the license, pronounced again that everything was in order, and told the reporters that they were free to continue on their way.
“The two stops,” Poulsen writes with what certainly reads like righteous indignation, “had now detained Ekstra Bladet's reporters for over ten minutes, and the distinctively green moving van was now far over the hills.”
It's plain as day that Poulsen and his colleague were fully prepared to follow that van all the way to its destination, take a picture, and print the address – which would, of course, have been exceedingly helpful to anyone planning to make a second attempt on Hedegaard's life, and would utterly have defeated the entire purpose of his move.
The very idea of following that van with the intention of revealing Hedegaard's new address is beyond vile. It is a profoundly mischievous and potentially deadly act. Yet Poulsen seems incapable of imagining that he is doing anything remotely inappropriate. The tone of his article is that of a citizen – and member of the fourth estate – who has been deeply wronged by the law-enforcement establishment, in league with, and doing the bidding of, a racist, Islamophobic Enemy of the People. The clear implication of Poulsen's article is that the police officer's conduct was thoroughly unacceptable – that he had far exceeded his legitimate duties – and that any reasonable newspaper reader will feel the same way.
I was, as I say, thrown by Poulsen's article. I shouldn't have been. The unblushing zeal with which Norwegian journalists, in the wake of the Breivik atrocities, sought to link honest critics of Islam with a mass murderer provided a definitive demonstration of just how hostile many members of their profession are toward those of us who strive to tell the not-so-pacific truth about the Religion of Peace. Given what happened post-Breivik, it shouldn't be surprising that a member of the mainstream media, whether in Norway or Denmark or anywhere else in Europe or North America, would be ready, willing, and eager to report in detail the movements of a van bearing the household goods of a septuagenarian fleeing his home because jihadists are out to murder him. Out to murder him, note well, because he – unlike the cowardly so-called journalists trailing the van – has the courage to speak the truth.
Poulson's article closes with a simple statement: “Lars Hedegaard did not wish to speak to Ekstra Bladet.dk about his change of address.” No kidding! All I can say is, good for the Danish police, and shame on Poulsen and Ekstra Bladet.
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