In 1943, my father was a young man of 22, an RCAF airman and sole survivor after his plane had been shot down over the Danish island of Sjaelland. Alone and afraid in an occupied country, he had to walk across the island in the hope of somehow crossing over to neutral Sweden. He was forced to throw himself at the mercy of Danish civilians, knowing they could be executed for helping him. Along the way he stopped at half a dozen farmhouses to ask for food and water. He was never turned down and he was never turned in. He eventually made contact with the Danish Resistance who kept him hidden and arranged for him to be taken to Sweden by kayak. They helped him because he was Canadian and because they recognized that he was involved in the fight to free them from oppression.
In 1999, I travelled to Denmark with my father's ashes in order to fulfil his wish to be reunited with the seven crewmates who had perished on that flight. Nothing could have prepared us for the incredible hospitality we experienced. In honour of our visit, there was a wreath-laying ceremony at the monument that had been erected at the crash site, followed by a luncheon at the local town meeting hall.
Danes are a freedom-loving people who are now facing an angry backlash over an incident that most of us consider to be minor. It is not something the Danish people did. It is because of a decision by the editors of a newspaper, over who the people have no control, to run some cartoons of a character we know to be Muhammad only because the name appears. It is highly unlikely it is even a remote resemblance to the Prophet.
The Danish prime minister, to his credit, refused to discuss the issue with Islamic ambassadors because it is a matter of reedom of speech. Canadians should appreciate his stand. It is one of the principles of free democracy which led a generation of young Canadians to fight for the freedom of Danes and the rest of western Europe.We owe it to our Danish friends to make sure this boycott has no harsh impact on them. We owe it to ourselves to demonstrate that any call for boycotts of this nature will be counterproductive. I trust my fellow Canadians will join me in a counterboycott by refusing to patronize any store that supports the boycott and by making an effort to buy Danish products.