From Iceland — LETTERS


Published June 25, 2004


Subject: Augen auf! (So sieht es aus!)
Please take me off your mailing list.
Dear Grapevine,
I’m a bit confused with your mission statement: “The aim was to create a paper that would be informative and entertaining, as well as a useful guide for what is going on in Reykjavik for visitors as well as locals.” You indicate that the paper is for tourists. I’m not sure what to make of your #2 issue in 2004 with the black women wearing an Icelandic costume. As a tourist why would I want to come to Iceland to experience the multiculturism that I can see in practically every American town and most large cities in Europe[?]. If I come to Iceland and engage in the social and cultural activities I want them to be Icelandic/Nordic and not African.
G. Pomrenke, Virginia USA
Talk to Sasa. He´ll put you on his mailing list.
Received SMS:
Tuættir ad skammast tin..lata eikkern negra vera islenska tjodbuningnum. Ekki gera somu misok tvisar
I´d translate this, but it would lose too much of its style in translation. When you have learned the fundamentals of the Icelandic language, or indeed any language, I might talk to you. To tell you you´re an idiot.
A black woman wearing Icelandic national costume! Whatever next?
T-shirts depicting Jesus being crucified on the Icelandic flag for sale on Laugavegur no doubt.
Hassan Harazi
101 Reykjavík
Are you suggesting that our cover was intended for shock effect? Then please tell us what about it was so shocking. It looks fine to me.
What a pity that the organisers of Icelandic National Day couldn’t have chosen another day to hold their celebrations rather than the same day as Og Vodafone Day. This is now the second year running that they have shamelessly hijacked this celebration of mobile telephones, text messages and polyphonic ring tones.
Hassan Harazi
101 Reykjavík
The weather is brought to us by phone company Tal. Why shouldn´t Independence Day be brought to us by Vodaphone? At least they seem to do better with the weather.
Hi you there, I just wanted to thank you for showing how prejudiced Icelanders are in fact towards black women, ie towards two minorities, but it made me happy that that at least there were some WOMEN who wanted to lend you these beautiful clothes.
Regards, Halla.
Ps.1. It seems typical of Icelanders to not want to admit how prejudiced they are.
Ps.2. I am very prejudiced against Icelanders.
Thank you for existing and thank you very much.
Well, we weren´t trying to show that ALL Icelanders are prejudiced towards black women. They´re not, not even the non-women. But it´s nice to get a non-Nazi letter for a change.
You know you´re doing something right when you´re pissing off the wrong people. After our first issue of the year, which had an article about the new immigrant laws, we received a letter addressed to Paul Fontaine-Nikolov. Paul has this to say:
It’s always a pleasure to find something in the mailbox that wasn’t sent out in mass circulation. Something personal, something from the heart. Like white supremacist literature.
Without any note of explanation as to what I’m supposed to do or think about it, Nordwave (“the Euro-American racialist update”) arrived at Grapevine’s office, addressed to me. Do they want me to join? Is someone trying to point out the existence of racists in Iceland? Is this a veiled warning of some kind?
The cover story, by “Anonymous”, first lamented “that the Jewel of the North, Iceland, should be overrun by mongrel bastards that share our blood.” Scenes from American History X came to mind; namely, the pseudo-intellectual racist played by Stacy Keach who doled out literature to his swastika-tattooed minions. Then this cover story went on to discuss one racist Icelander who belched forth his ideas during a newspaper interview and was summarily charged with a hate crime. While I’m all for freedom of speech, I admit I have a hard time feeling sorry for this guy.
In this same newsletter, I learned such fascinating tidbits as Rudolf Hess’ assassination by the British Secret Service, and that “only 375,000” died at Auschwitz. “Only 375,000”? Even if this were true – and it isn’t – to be able to say “only 375,000 died” must take an amount of callousness that Pol Pot would find exemplary.
It’s a sad fact that even in 2004 there are still people who place so much importance on skin colour, as if it were capable of tarnishing everything from a national costume to the nation itself. It’d be a good idea if they all shipped off to Utah and set up their own bleach-blonde utopia; I don’t think any of us would miss them. The rest of the world is moving forward. Without them. And I think they know it.

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