APOLOGETIC BRIEFINGApologia Pro Sua Apologia
May 5 - It's the fifth day of the fifth month of 2005, meaning it's 5/5/5 in European and American notation. Numerologists and Christian Fundamentalists must be shitting their pants in anticipation of next year, so we ought to start reminding them now that there've been about twenty 6/6/6's since Jesus died and we've dodged the Apocalyptic bullet this long.
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Sixty years ago yesterday, just five days after Hitler's suicide, German forces in Denmark (along with those in Holland and northwest Germany) surrendered unconditionally to British Field Marshal Montgomery. Danes used to commemorate the event by lighting candles in their windows on the anniversary. Some still do, but it's a distinct minority.
"When this generation dies," my mother-in-law explained to me last year, "the candles will die too."
The Queen and Prime Minister attended a solemn ceremony last evening to commemorate the occassion, and the latter also took advantage of the opportunity to apologize for Denmark's having repatriated a number of German Jews and other refugees back to the National Socialist government.
Other services took place this morning.
The apology appears to have been well received in most quarters, although one academic seems to have gotten his panties in a bundle:
Ikke alle historikere er begejstrede for undskyldningen, og lektor Palle Roslyng-Jensen, Københavns Universitet, begrunder det sådan:I'm still scratching my head over that one—I suppose the good professor is just trying to be sensitive to National Socialists and their Danish collaborators. After all, it was another era. Things were different. Who are we to judge?
»Ingen bør have en undskyldning, for det gør diskussionen sort-hvid«.
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Not all historians are thrilled with the apology, and professor Palle Roslyng-Jensen of Copenhagen's University puts it like this:
"No one ought to have an apology, because that makes the discussion black and white."
When the relativists start excusing collaboration with Nazis, they've pretty much swept the board.
If someone can think of a more charitable interpretation of Professor Palle's cryptic remark, or can correct some error of mine in the translation, I'd be happy to hear from you.
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A friend lamented today that we live in the age of the apology. It rankled him that Denmark, which had done so much good despite their occupation, and had saved so many Jews from Germany in spite of the few they could not, and lost so many of her sons and daughters in a robust resistance movement, should be bullied (from within or without) into making the ritual apology three generations after the fact.
I think I agree with him.
If we're going to demand that every government apologize for every misstep, why are we not also demanding that governments be thanked for every good deed? If Denmark has to apologize for the wrongs they did sixty-plus years ago, shouldn't it also be thanked for the good it did?
I can already feel the riptide of a vast digression pulling at me, so I'm going to get out of the water while I still can.
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Today is Cinco de Mayo ("The Fourth of July") in Mexico. It doesn't appear to be a significant holiday here in Denmark, which may have something to do with the lack of Mexican nationals here. (I haven't encountered a single Mexican citizen here in the last two years, despite having met nationals from at least a couple of countries on every populated continent.)
It is, however, "Ascension Day" in Denmark. So schools and most businesses and government offices are closed. Again. In case you're keeping track, this is about the twelfth holiday of the past six weeks. It's exhausting work just keeping track of all these holidays.
That's probably why Danes need five weeks of vacation a year to recover.
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There's been an interesting discussion of the royal family (see comments) on Moron Abroad, if you're into that kind of thing. Feel free to join in.
Molli is progressing with astonishing speed. She only started crawling a month ago, and she's already pulling herself up whenever possible on whatever possible, and even standing on her own from time to time. She's begun waving. She announces the end of a meal by blowing a raspberry at us—usually spraying the contents of the last spoonful back at us. Her two lower teeth are finally showing. Her eating and sleeping patterns are all up in the air. She sleeps on her belly, face down, butt slightly raised, her head wedged into a corner of her crib, in total comfort—but wails bloody murder if her sut (pacifier) falls out of her mouth.
Although her weight is still relatively low compared to babies of her age, her length (when can we start calling it height?) and development now seem normal compared to full-term babies of the same age, despite the fact that she's seven weeks younger when measured from conception.
When the doctors and nurses told us last July that her development would be indistinguishable from full-term babies by the time of her first birthday, July of 2005 seemed ages away. The idea that the little four-pound baby in the little plexiglass box would ever be anything but the most fragile, delicate, and utterly dependent creature seemed unthinkable. Some of that was normal first-time-parent jitters, some of it premie-parent jitters, but it was damn jittery however you want to look at it.
This morning Molli was playing on the floor in front of me when she attempted to execute some kind of strange ballet move, reaching up and to her left for the coffee table while twisting her lower body to the right as though for counterbalance. It was a move she had executed to perfection a few moments earlier, but this time her math was off and she fell to the floor—bonk! on her head—before I even had a chance to thrust out a hand to break the fall.
She looked at me with irritation and frustration.
"Get up," I said.
Molli grunted and propped herself back up, and within a moment I was running after her as she ambled toward the power strip to Trine's computer.
This is the very same girl over whom Trine and I spent one of the most anxious nights of our lives because the hospital staff had decided she didn't need her apnea monitor any more.
"What if she stops breathing?!" we asked in horror.
The heartless bastards asked us sarcastically if we'd intended to keep it on her until she went away to college—and we took a minute to answer.
This is the very same girl whose mother and I used to shudder every time we ran her pram over cobblestones because we were afraid the bumpiness of the ride would give her brain damage.
Now her head hits the floor with a thunk and I tell her to get back up.
As cold and terrible as it sounds, in many ways that's the most stunning development of all to me: that Molli has become an extraordinarily ordinary toddler, who gets her bumps and bruises just like all the rest, picks herself up, dusts herself off, and starts over again.
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Today is Karl Marx's birthday (1818). Other celebrants include Tina Yothers (1973), Tammy Wynette (1942), and Tyrone Power (1913).
Besides Liberation Day in Denmark and Norway, it's also Europa Day in the EU, Children's Day in Japan, Mother's Day in Lithuania, Senior Citizens' Day in Palau, and Coronation Day in Thailand.
© 2005, The Moron's Almanac