Former PM Regrets Racist Remarks

Former PM Regrets 1968 Racist Remarks

Published October 24, 2014

Geir H. Haarde expressed shame and regret for opinions voiced in school paper

Geir H. Haarde expressed shame and regret for opinions voiced in school paper

Former Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde says that regrets and feels ashamed by racist remarks he made in a school paper at the age of 17.

Geir’s article, “Maladies in our Society” resurfaced earlier this year. Its final paragraphs consist of explicitly racist remarks, including: “… I want to mention the highly increased blood-mixing of people of color and Icelanders. I think that such mixing is, to say the least, highly undesirable and unhealthy. The results of mistakes made by nitwits in these matters can be horrendous.” And so on.

When the paper came under public scrutiny, last January, Geir responded by saying that the words therein were stupid and indefensible. Among those who criticized Geir as well as those who found coverage of the almost half-century old writing unfair, was musician Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson (of Retro Stefson fame). He now hosts RÚV’s young adult-oriented show Hæpið . In an episode broadcast last Wednesday, Unnsteinn confronted and interviewed Geir, who now spoke about the issue at more length.

In the interview, Geir said: “It is of course incomprehensible that this was put on paper less than 50 years ago. These remarks are ridiculous, they were then and they are now. Naturally I just feel ashamed for them. If I have hurt anyone by this, you or anyone else, I apologize.” He called the writing a “stupid act” by a teenager. “Of course I was not raised this way and I have not raised my children this way either.” He said that his whole political career contradicted these writings, and mentioned that he had partaken in amending laws, as well as the Constitution, to strengthen the legal position of victims of discrimination.

“Prejudices are never to be tolerated and people must fight against them in any way they can,” said Geir. “It is the individual that matters, not the way he looks, his color, his sexuality, race or gender. This is not what matters. What matters is who a person is, what his character is like, and what sort of person he is.”

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