Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Denmark Rising - "The Danes said, 'No!'”

Barry Clemson has written a fascinating, fictional novel that poses the question, "What if the Danish government led its people in nonviolent resistance against the German army in Germany's occupation of Denmark in WW II?"

Although fiction, it is historically accurate regarding this period of great uncertainty and brutality.  The main exception to this accuracy is in presenting the Danish government as leading this nonviolent resistance.  In truth, it was a grassroots resistance effort that slowed Germany's efforts in Denmark for several years.  Danish government finally did say "No," when Germany tried to arrest Danish Jews in 1943. 

I admittedly was eager to read the book, so when it arrived in my mailbox Monday I put everything else aside for the evening and started reading.  I didn't stop until I'd finished Part I.  From the opening paragraph, Denmark Rising captured me.  I am putting this evening aside to read Part II. 

Clemson's passion for "liberty, equality, and justice," and strategic nonviolent responses to abuses of these, is reflected in his work.  A self-proclaimed scientist/activist/novelist, Barry writes and educates.  He hopes Denmark Rising will be used to help teach and understand the philosophy of nonviolent resistance. 

This page on Clemson's website helps explain his strategic nonviolent response philosophy.  In that article, Clemson explains the "John Wayne syndrome," in which there are only warriors and cowards; there are "good guys," "bad guys,"and the people who need to be saved from the bad guys.  Our television and movie world is filled with examples of John Wayne syndrome in action.  It becomes easy to emulate because it is so visible. 

However, there are many examples of strategic nonviolence available.  We just have to search a bit more for them.  Some examples, include Jesus, Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.  The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is an example of an organization that led nonviolent responses to racial oppression in the American South.  With that group, Clemson experienced first-hand how strategic nonviolence could radically change the attitudes of many and lead government to change. 

Add Denmark Rising to your reading list and enjoy a thought-provoking yet easy read.  It may give you food for thought and the soul. 

For reviews of Denmark Rising, see this page on Clemson's site. 

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