The Corrupt Underbelly of the Nordic Utopia

Daniella Cressman

Racism Rears Its Ugly Head
Simon Daoudi

I’ve been on a bit of a run lately.

When I found out that Denmark and Iceland were at the top of lists when it came to gender equality, I did some digging around about these seemingly idyllic countries.

On the surface, it looks as though these nordic countries are about as close to utopias as they could possibly be: They’re amongst the happiest on earth, their populations are supported in a myriad of ways, attitudes towards women are notably respectful, and they even topped the list of some of the least racist countries on earth, but, if you look a little closer, there’s more than meets the eye.


The population in Denmark is primarily composed of porcelain-skinned, blonde-haired and blue-eyed individuals.

This fact in itself triggered a certain feeling, bringing back memories of the Nazis. That being said, I didn’t see it as a red flag — at least at first — when I read that they remained neutral during WWI and WWII.

Herein lays the problem: A large portion of the Danes do not believe racism exists in their wonderful country, but that is just not the case.

As much I was attracted to the social programs and the general contentment of the population in Denmark, I realized with a pit in my stomach that the story many black residents had to tell was very different.

The famed term “hygge” had a more sinister side: “Hygge Racism” or “fun racism.”

Obviously, racism was only fun for whoever was calling these people despicable names.

Several black residents said that their classmates referred to them using racial slurs daily when they went to school from a very young age, and that they felt as though they were “othered” constantly even though they were born and raised in Copenhagen.

There was a law passed that literally used the term “ghetto” to refer to communities that predominantly housed immigrants, and crime penalties were doubled in those areas.

Not to mention, these peoples’ houses were often torn down without a decent explanation as to why.

When confronted, many of the Danish officials said it had absolutely nothing to do with ethnicity…One man’s exact words were that it was only due to how lazy, unambitious, and disobedient these people were of Danish rules and values, especially when it came to the way they view the LGBTQ+ community and their treatment of women. He was also frustrated that they had trouble learning the official language of the country, and that they weren’t contributing to the economy as much as he believed they needed to.

While Muslim communities do often struggle to accept the LGBTQ+ and, quite frankly, tend to have ridiculously oppressive customs when it comes to the way women are treated, this course of action does not seem like a viable solution to those issues.

He neglected to mention that these communities had often escaped from war-torn countries and were experiencing trauma, and that they were facing racial discrimination daily at school, which does make it difficult for a person to be as productive in society: The pain of these experiences are very real, and very challenging to navigate.

The most painful video to watch was the one covering the brutal murder of a biracial man by the name of Phillip Johansen.

He was killed by a white guy who had a swastika tattooed on his leg, along with the words “white power” and his brother.

Apparently, according to Danish authorities, this was not a hate crime….

Many believed that Phillip sexually assaulted the murderer’s mother, but there was no solid evidence to prove that this incident had actually occurred.

Sexual assault is a major issue, and it certainly should be addressed.

That being said, a hate crime is still a hate crime.

To me, it seems obvious that there had to be racist intent behind this killing.

The way they did it was nothing short of cruel, yet the black lives matter protestors were met with a counter-protest of people claiming all lives matter to dismiss their very valid concerns, and reporters and others who were working on the case stating that it wasn’t a racist attack because the killers did not openly declare that they murdered this man solely due to the color of his skin.

A large portion of the population was in complete denial that racism even existed in their country.

The two defendants were sentenced to prison for fourteen years, but it still wasn’t called a hate crime.

On top of this, Denmark’s stance on immigration is quite controversial: They’re sending Syrian refugees back to Syria because they believe Muslims can’t properly integrate into their society!


A lot of Icelanders can be very racist when it comes to the way they view Muslims, and minorities in general.

There is a prevalent assumption, for instance, that someone who is black cannot possibly be Icelandic, even though that’s simply not the case. It can, unfortunately, lead to a great deal of alienation.

Furthermore, people of certain ethnic groups are not provided with the same opportunities in the workplace and get paid less when they do manage to land a job.

The United States is more racist than the Nordic countries on the lists I looked at, but a common complaint I heard was that America does at least acknowledge that it is a racist country and needs to improve. On the other hand, many Nordic countries don’t even realize racism exists.

If these are the least racist countries in the world, we clearly have a lot of work to do.

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Canadian-American author writing about local politics, personal finance, & dining in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque, NM

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