Published September 22, 2006
Recently I heard someone say that retired politicians were their own partys’ worst nightmares. In the case of Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson, this might be accurate. Hannibalsson has become decidedly more radical in his golden years than the party he used to represent. In an interview with the Grapevine, he pulls no punches and speaks out on various issues, most of which have been in the public eye for a while.
I believe Hannibalsson’s refreshingly candid approach is sorely lacking from Icelandic politics. If politicians, in general, would speak in plain and simple terms, our duties as citizens would be a whole lot easier. Candid politicians are rare. I think this is a partial explanation for the diminishing voter turn-out in our country. Voters have grown tired of half-truths and hidden agendas. Even if you do not agree with Hannibalsson’s views, I think we could all at least agree upon that.
But sadly, we do not seem to care all that much about what our leaders have to say. Lately we have all been more worried about what Tommy Lee’s next words will be. Tommy, for his part, has never been known for speaking in plain and simple terms, although that has little to do with half-truths and hidden agendas. This is an interesting reflection on Icelandic society: a contestant on a reality show, featuring three burned-out rockers, returns to Iceland to find 8,000 people greeting him in a mall. The Minister of Foreign Affairs believes it is fitting to present him with a book, a gift from the government for his superior representation of Iceland.
Meanwhile, Icelandic officials decide that it might be a good idea to resume commercial whaling, and nobody so much as shrugs. Not a word on Greenpeace’s petition drive in which they gathered 69,000 signatures from people who pledged to visit Iceland if scientific whaling were ceased. For some reason, no one has presented Greenpeace with a book from the government for putting Iceland in the spotlight.
No, commercial whaling must resume. Who cares it there is not market for the product? What matters is that we cannot let anyone strong arm us. We might be tiny, but we sure are independent. That is why we have spent months trying to get the USA to honor a worthless defense agreement. It shouldn’t really matter that we have hardly been able to get a meeting with US officials; we should still put our tails between our legs and keep trying, instead of doing the only honorable and stand-up thing — simply terminating the agreement. We are nothing if not persistent.
In this issue, I am particularly proud of Virginia Zech’s interesting summary of Iceland’s policy on resuming commercial whaling and Steinunn Jakobsdóttir’s entertaining look at an interesting subculture thriving around a group called Live2Cruize. If nothing else, make sure you do not miss these two pieces. Jakobsdóttir also found a country on the verge of change when she traveled to Greenland. Further, for your comfort, we have picked out some interesting things for you, our readers to enjoy for the next two weeks. So, enjoy.