Lars Hedegaard: Eternal Danish Optimist

In an exclusive interview published this morning by Right Side News, Alyssa A. Lappen talks to the Danish historian and author Lars Hedegaard.

Ms. Lappen says in her introduction:

Lars HedegaardOn Sept. 15, 2008, the editor of Danish daily Berlingske Tidende summoned historian and columnist Lars Hedegaard to his office to lower the proverbial ax. He received a transparently suspicious explanation. “I’d been tedious and repetitive, and they needed younger people,” he said. “I thought, they’re not going to get me. There will be a record of what I’ve done these nine years.”

Within two weeks of its December 1 publication, Danish bookstores sold out two printings of Hedegaard’s Groft Sagt (“Roughly speaking”), a collection of 109 of his 2,000-plus columns for Berlingske Tidende. The book also includes 26 cartoons by Kurt Westergaard, 73, renowned for Jyllands-Posten‘s September 2005 Mohammed cartoons—-which the Muslim Brotherhood blamed for the January 2006 worldwide riots, murders and embassy attacks they instigated. But Hedegaard, too busy with two other book projects, does not plan to translate the work into English.


Groft SagtOverall, the press and Western leaders have had “ yet another missed opportunity “ to stand up “and call madness what it is,” in the words of scholar Robert Spencer. During World War II, however, Denmark was the only European nation to save virtually all its Jewish citizens.

In that Danish tradition, Hedegaard recognizes “the fragility of freedom.” In an exclusive interview with Alyssa A. Lappen, Hedegaard announced the December 21 formation of International Free Press Society (IFPS), following the lead of Denmark’s Free Press Society, established in 2004. The founders chose Hedegaard as their president, and Diana West as vice president. Among the organization’s Board of Advisers is Fitna producer Geert Wilders.

Below are some excerpts from the interview:

LH:   Of course, many more people are involved in this…. We are trying to create an organization that will defend free speech in the Western World, on the assumption that if free speech goes down where we live, it will be doomed in the rest of the world as well.

The organization will be built up over the next few months. I am the president of the Danish Free Press Society, created in 2004, and a very successful organization. The enemies of free speech are organized and well financed and we have to counteract their activities. The new international organization will lead the fight for free speech on a global basis. We will then set up national organizations where they do not exist, as sisters to the Danish organization. We have very ambitious plans to recruit people. We already have a board of directors, and want to recruit for the board of advisors. We will set up a website and will pull together all we know about relevant issues, that is, attacks on free speech everywhere.

AAL:   How do you defend against an onslaught against free speech that is so prevalent and widespread?
LH:   You make the public understand that free speech is under attack. That was why we thought of [forming the Free Press Society] in Denmark. We found ourselves in Denmark in a situation where most of the press was not telling the truth and not dealing with real issues.
AAL:   How exactly does Denmark’s Free Press Society help?
LH:   It is a fact that we exist. Even that alone [has made us successful]. The membership is 500 to 600, which is quite big for a country of our size. Membership is growing all the time. The very fact that we have the audacity to organize ourselves gives our members courage to express themselves. The biggest fear is that anyone thinks, “here, I am, Joe Schmo. I am all alone and no one thinks like I do. I can’t see anyone who expresses the same opinions or fears as I do, so I am probably crazy.”

My family tells me that I am insane.

So the fact that we did this gives people courage. We have big conferences in Copenhagen, and frequent meetings that are very well attended. The press is there and we always fill the hall. And we invite all kinds of speakers. Like Geert Wilders.

We have had Ibn Warraq, Bat Ye’or, Kurt Westergaard, Daniel Pipes, Roy Brown, Chahdortt Djavann, Shabana Rehman, Samia Labidi, Bruce Bawer, Henryk Broder, and anyone who is in fear for his or her life. Copenhagen gives them a hearty welcome and it makes a difference. In February we’ll have the pleasure of meeting [Dutch cartoonist] Gregorius Nekschot.

– – – – – – – –

    That’s how we operate. We also have friends in government and in parliament. Many do not say they are our friends, but that is quite an accomplishment. So if we stay the course, true to our convictions and do not waver, there is hope. I am optimistic.
AAL:   Yet many Europeans are coming to North America because they think Europe is dead.
LH:   Europe is not dead. What does it mean, “we’re dead?” You know the true resistance against tyranny and Islam and bulls**t is here in Denmark. It is. I do not like to brag, but this is where it’s at. I do not feel that we have lost.

The backbone of all this is the Danish population of 5.4 million, of which about 5 million are Danes. It’s always been the backbone of our identity and our nation. Never the upper class, never the rich or famous or the nobility. It’s always been the peasant, the man in the street, the working class, and I do not have the sense that they are giving up. The upper crust are willing to sell out. They would sell us out for anything. Jesus. Of course there are exceptions and these brave people are more than welcome in our midst.

AAL:   The same kind of people are selling out in the U.S. and Canada, too.
LH:   It is happening all over. It is a disease. It is a sickness. The upper crust, the upper classes are simply opposed to the idea of the West. They hate our freedoms. They hate our culture. We saw it in the ‘30s, with the British aristocracy [alliance with] Hitler. We saw it in the U.S., where many members of the political class were Stalinists, Alger Hiss and what not. Books were written about that. And again now, we see it. It’s a very mysterious thing…

For the rest of the interview, plus a large selection of Kurt Westergaard’s illustrations, visit Right Side News.