From Iceland — Sour Grapes

Sour Grapes

Published February 9, 2007

Sour Grapes

Gabriele Gudbjartson writes “If you do say you are a believer, how well do your actions separate you from an unbeliever?” The arrogance is breathtaking. Show me one shred of evidence that believers are kinder, more generous or more willing to make sacrifices to help others than atheists.
  Reliogous beleif involves superstition and irrationality and sometimes, pure nastiness. These are a few of the actions of believers:
  In Nicaragua last year, the Catholic Church led the successful campaign to ban all abortions, even where it might save the mother’s life.
  In the US, Christians have been trying to have Creationism, under its new name of Intelligent Design and for which there is no evidence, taught as an equal alternative to evolution, for which there is a mountain of evidence.
  Plenty of churches view homosexuality as a sin, including the Catholic Church, Anglican churches in Africa and plenty of US evangelicals. Millions are condemned and in many countries their lives are in danger because of something that occurs naturally and not just in humans.
  Many Christians oppose the use of condoms, which are an effective weapon in the battle against AIDS. For religous reasons, the US has cut support to AIDS projects that include the use of condoms.
And by the way, Christians appropriated the 25th December, not to mention the Christmas trees, yule logs, holly, ivy and mistletoe. They are all as pagan as wicker men.
Andrew Clarke
Is the lesson, then, that not only various Christians, but also Atheists, Pagans, Moslems, Buddhists, Libertarians, Communists and Freemasons – PEOPLE, for short – foster tendencies to be self-righteous and sanctimonious? And that it is suspect to generalize about large groups of people? I would think so!

I picked up a copy of your wonderfully entertaining and enlightening Grapevine during my recent four-day stay in Iceland. Of course, four days were more than enough for me to become thoroughly acquainted with the country’s special charms and also to understand immediately the solution to all its problems (just kidding).
I did notice that the issue I read (number 18) carried a number of articles about the immigration debate. This debate is not unique to Iceland – many countries are dealing with similar issues. But for Iceland immigration has a special dimension: with its small population, it would take only a small number of unsuccessful immigrants to disrupt society’s delicately balanced social contract.
In my opinion – and I realize that no one has asked for my opinion – Icelanders should actively seek out immigrants who identify completely with Icelandic values (self-reliance, full civil, political and economic rights for everyone – women included) and who are anxious to work hard to advance themselves and their children and to integrate into the surrounding society. Don’t try to use immigration to solve the world’s problems. Iceland is small and the world’s problems are big. Don’t bring in large communities that will reproduce generation after generation of their misogynistic, backward societies in ghettos, educating their children to live forever off Iceland’s generous welfare system. If you bring in the right people – and by “right people” I emphatically do NOT mean people of a certain skin color or religion – then immigration will make Iceland a better place for everyone, immigrants and old-timers alike. But if you bring in the wrong people, you will saddle yourselves and your children with problems that will never, ever go away.
Best of luck to your lovely country in making the right decision on this and all other issues you face. I personally cannot wait to get back for a much longer visit.
Alex Ragen
Jerusalem, ISRAEL
Dear Alex,
I applaud in your general direction, too. Bringing in large communities of misogynistic, backward, ghetto-folk that reproduce incessantly and educate their children to live off Iceland’s generous welfare system would be a truly bad idea. Call off the boats, close the gates and draw the bridge: The backward ghetto-societies are upon us yet again!
While I refuse to pander to my tremendous urge to make jokes on your expense about the usefulness of building giant, steel walls around those backward people-filled ghettos, I will allow myself to say that I am truly appalled by your determinist view on human beings in general.
But it’s great that you like our country, and feel free to come back as often as you want. You are clearly neither backward nor misogynistic. And you don’t seem interested in abusing our generous welfare system.

Greetings.  I’m happy that I have found your publication, as I like to keep up with what is going on in Iceland and unfortunately Morgunbladid publishes only in Icelandic.  I am curious, however, why you refer to persons in your articles by their patronyms instead of their given names after the initial reference.  Is it because most Westerners are accustomed to that style of address?
Thank you for posting your paper.  It’s good reading.
Sincerely, Tom Booker
Your guess is absolutely spot-on! We DO refer to persons in our articles by their surnames or patronyms instead of their given names after the initial reference because most Westerners are accustomed to that style of address. If it’s bothering you at all, we might consider changing our ways, but this arrangement has worked fine thus far.
Thank you for your kind words about our paper and enjoy life, wherever you find yourself.

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