From Iceland — Editorial: What We Do In The Shadows

Editorial: What We Do In The Shadows

Editorial: What We Do In The Shadows

Valur Grettisson
Words by

Published December 7, 2018

Icelandic society has been shocked and outraged because of an unprecedented leak wherein five MP’s were recorded talking trash about, well, basically everyone. They made fun of the disabled, said humiliating things about women and gays, and there are even indications of political corruption.

One of the MPs caught on tape is Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, a disgraced ex-Prime Minister who had money hidden in offshore accounts in Panama (the revelation of which forced him to resign), and Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, who was Minister of Foreign Affairs, and just couple of years ago, the architect for the Barbershop Conference at the UN aimed at combating the very “locker-room“ talk that he engaged in. How far he has fallen.

The systemic misogyny in their discussion was alarming, to say the least. Their lack of respect for the handicapped was sad, to say even less. And the indication that some of them happily engaged in political corruption is downright chilling. Yet, those men, and one woman, refuse to resign from office, even as up to 90% of Icelanders polled want them to. Their defence is laughable. In a nutshell it’s this: Everybody is doing it. You are no better. Other MP’s are no better. We just got caught. You didn’t.

It’s true, in some sense, that we all have said things in private, things that would hurt our reputation if it were to be blasted across the covers of newspapers. But most of us do not bear the same heavy responsibility for the groups that these MPs humiliated and denigrated in the bar.

How can a woman trust that these MPs, if they maintain their positions governing the country? Will they fight for their rights?

The lives of disabled women are based on these people’s views and decisions. When it comes to salaries, housing, caretaking. Everything. So, what? Should they trust that these MPs who made fun of them — both for being women and for being disabled — have their backs? Should they try to understand the defence of the MPs, that everybody is making jokes about handicapped people and women behind their backs?

Or should MPs perhaps have higher standards than a few drunk friends that degrade themselves with such jokes?

What happened the night these MPs were recorded was a violent affair. Something that not even the shadows can swallow and make disappear. It was a declaration that these MPs are not driven by the need to make their society better, but to tear it down, so they can hold power once more. Not to change the world, but to exploit it. Politicians like that are a cancer on every community in the world and should be cut away immediately.


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