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View Diary: Icelandic Exceptionalism (211 comments)

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  •  Yeah, it's real melting pot (7+ / 0-)

    94 percent Nordic AND Celts!

    •  The US is #42 in the world, Iceland #61. (19+ / 0-)

      ... in the world in terms of percent foreign-born population (out of 194), 12.81% versus 7.67% for Iceland.  More but hardly some massive difference.

      The first person I ever met on my street when I moved into my apartment was a little black girl, who spoke only Icelandic.  When I started work at my company, both the guy who gave me my security briefing and the woman who processed my paperwork were immigrants.  Of my 8 or so immediate coworkers, two (myself and one other) are immigrants.  And there are plenty more in the building.  Iceland has among the highest percentages of Poles, Filipinos, and Lithuanians as a share of its population in the world outside their native countries.  Here's a music video from one of our current chart-topping bands.  Do I really need to keep going?  Heck, our first lady is an immigrant, for crying out loud.  

      Why on earth are people who've never been here always so damned incredulous that Iceland is some racially uniform place?

      •  Oh, you met a black girl. Good for you! (0+ / 0-)

        Look, Iceland seems to be a lovely place, but let's not pretend it's something it isn't. We have many many races, ethnicities, religions, languages, etc. The US is an incredibly diverse place and trying to make Iceland sound comparable just isn't going to fly.

      •  Ancient history - 1970s (1+ / 0-)
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        When I was stationed in Iceland, they were just allowing Black soldiers to be stationed there. Honest. No black service people were allowed.  You also had to clear customs every time you left the base. A six pack of soda would get you a $250.00 fine. All you cassettes had to be listed on a customs form.  Americans were not really popular politically, but the people were wonderful!  

        Jesus died to save you from Yahweh.

        by nolagrl on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 09:09:48 AM PST

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        •  Yeah, it's amazing how rapidly Iceland has changed (6+ / 0-)

          I mean, in the 1970s, oranges were a luxury good.  The first Icelandic TV broadcast wasn't until 1966.  Indeed, at one point, not only was Iceland a very racially uniform nation, but there were strong policies in place to keep it that way.  Those who did immigrate were under strong pressure to assimilate as much as possible (including the taking of Icelandic names).  I've seen some criticism about Iceland's refusal to take in jewish refugees from Germany during WWII, for example, but the reality is they didn't just do it with jews, they did it with everyone.  Even Danes and Norwegians often had trouble.

          It's just not the case today, however.  Especially during the 90s there was a massive influx of immigration and there was a strong shift in attitudes.  I still see it today, with the older people slower to accept the newer situation.  Example: I once was at a performance at Airwaves and there was an old Icelandic guy playing, doings songs in each language that people there spoke.  And at one point he asked, "are there any Icelanders in the audience?"  and I responded (in Icelandic) that I'm an immigrant.  He responded nicely in Icelandic, then asked again, "now, are there any Icelanders in the audience?"  Quite the contrast, I've had quite a few times with young people where even immediately after I point out that I'm an immigrant, they refer to me as an Icelander.  Even while I'm bungling the language  ;)

          There's also sometimes issues related to the lack of historic racial conflict in Icelandic society; a lot of things that are seen as racially taboo or offensive in the US often aren't here - for example, actors using blackface or taping their eyes back when playing an asian character or whatnot.  For some there's no understanding of how that even could be offensive, which has occasionally led to minor dustups (most recently, the "Tong Monitor" incident where a comedian was pretending to be a generic asian game show host)

          So yes, Iceland had a long history of relative racial uniformity.  But the society is in the middle of adapting to a new reality of a large percentage of immigrants.

    •  So? How is that bad? (1+ / 0-)
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      You do realize, don't you, that people in Northern climates do not produce much melanin, which makes for lighter skin?

      When the ancestors of any now-white group of people migrated out of Africa and into climates farther and farther north, they lost the darker skin coloring because the sun's rays at the northern latitudes are not that intense and skin doesn't need to be protected as much with all that clothing on to keep warm, so eventually the dark skin was lost to people who stayed in northern climates.

      You don't say what skin color you have, but if you are dark-skinned and lived in a far-north climate, had children, and their children had children, and so on, it would take a remarkably short evolutionary time period for your descendants to lose the dark pigments as a result of melanin not being necessary to survive in a cold climate.

      Ergo, if you can't stand being around people with light skin tones, I recommend you stay in equatorial climates where there are any number of shades of light brown to dark brown to black-skinned people around the world (and very few light-skinned people, but if they have descendants who stay in equatorial climates, their descendants will acquire dark skin in time, too).

      Rei does not need to defend her new country.  It is what it is based on events that happened during the last 1300 years and the people who settled there.  It just so happens they were not dark-skinned and some were from even farther north than Iceland.  So what?

      Do you think countries with fair-skinned people need to import dark-skinned people to provide what you think of as a balance, or diversity?  Do you want to use coercive force on Iceland's government to import dark-skinned people by invitation?  What if people with dark skin from warmer climates do not want to move to colder climates?  Do you recommend forcing dark-skinned people to move to cold climates where they don't want to live?

      Do you see where your criticism is way off the mark, beaky?  Iceland's history is far different from US history, and Rei had no control over Iceland's history.  

      If you don't like the "lack" of ethnic diversity (as you see it), don't visit Iceland.  Stop judgmentally and negatively criticizing the country because it doesn't meet your standards for diversity.  It's cold there, much of the climate is harsh, and you might freeze your @$$ off.

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 01:55:27 PM PST

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