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Strætó a(nother) rant

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I do not like Strætó very much. Now in the pandemic they have been doing everything to justify my disdain for them.

They started out well. When the first wave hit, they took measures to protect their drivers. They taped off the front of the bus and made passengers go in and out in the back, holding up their bus card, easily keeping the 2m distance.
Then they decided they really would like their passengers to die. Instead of implementing any of the social distancing measures other bus companies around the world have been doing (taping off seats, deploying more buses during rush hour), they decided to cut the service. The only motivation was to use the crisis to cut costs, public safety be damned.
People using the public transport in Iceland are mainly blue collar, low income and essential workers, those who cannot work from home (cleaning staff, kitchen staff, hospital staff etc). With fewer buses running every hour, buses were more crowded. There was no mask requirement in the first wave.
In the second wave Strætó got an exception to requiring masks (usually if it is not possible to keep the 2m rule, masks are required). They went back and forth on whether they want to make masks mandatory anyway, until they came up with the rule that you are only supposed to wear a mask if your travelling time is more than 30 min. Because that is not complicated and confusing at all. They also decided that they do not actually care about the safety of their drivers, not requiring them to wear masks either and having people enter from the front, breathing in their drivers faces. Probably because people were using the measures from the first wave to use expired bus cards and we are all welcome to die to make sure Strætó makes a profit.

First of May speech (kinda)

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This is the speech I wrote for 1st of May, but then didn't give it.

I always was the good foreigner, the one to show off, the example for good integration. I have the right skin colour. I come from a desirable country. Nationality matters. It appears to matter more than any other aspect of me, as it is usually the first question to be asked, sometimes even before my name. It is vital for judgement and to place me into the grand hierarchy of foreigners in this country. I'm high up in this hirarchy. I'm young(ish), educated and usually employed. Also, as Icelandic people like to tell me "Ég tala góða Íslensku". It is one of the many ways random Icelandic people like to let me know that my existence in this country has their approval.

Icelanders like to let me know how and why they approve of me. In conversations with more openly racist foreigners the adventitious nature of my skin colour, nationality and "culture" are commented on. If the Icelander is a self proclaimed liberal it's all about being "dugleg", next to my language skills.
Because if there is one defining trait of being a good foreigner it's being duglegur. Dugleg í vinnu, dugleg að tala íslensku, dugleg að blanda í samfélag, dugleg, dugleg, dugleg. A good foreigner works hard. A good foreigner speaks Icelandic. A good foreigner blends in. A good foreigner does not complain. Always. A good foreigner works tirelessly for the approval of any and every Icelander and is grateful when it is granted. "Þú tala góða íslensku". "Hún Christina er mjög dugleg".

I know I'm breaking protocol here. First and foremost a foreigner's function is to like Iceland and Icelanders, to soothe the nagging suspicion that "bezt í heimi" is just collective performative nationalism in the face of a crippling inferiority complex. After all, "How do you like Iceland?" is not more than fishing for compliments.

Being a good foreigner means confirming Icelands and Icelanders superiority, and because of that it is chasing an ever moving goalpost. With equality superiority is lost. First it's about working hard and learning the language. Then it is about not rocking the boat and staying pleasant when faced with underlying racism and structural inequalities. The promise of integration a mirage in the distance with acceptance just around the corner.

Individualism has taught us, that if we only work hard enough we can reach even the farthest goal. It is the grift of the capitalist society, which the lone foreigner is especially susceptible to. Sociocultural differences being used to justify socioeconomic ones. It is implicitly understood that we do not only have to compete with each other for our place in society, but even to have one at all. There are only so many token foreigners even the most liberal society needs after all.

The solution for sociocultural marginalisation is the same as for the socioeconomic one: organise, organise, organise. If you organise you do not have to work harder than everybody else to have a fraction of the rights and acceptance, you can demand it. Just look at the famous slogan: "We're here, we're queer, get used to it!" We need a slogan like this for us foreigners. Then we can change our answer to "Þú ert dugleg að tala íslensku." from "takk" to "why do you think I would give a fuck about your approval?"

Posted on - Categories: Iceland

I needed a laugh

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The election results were sad and it seems more and more likely that we are going to get the same government which collapsed last year, with a xenophobic party thrown in for good measure.
I has also gotten cold, windy, rainy and worst of all dark. Then I found this:

So true
Posted on - Categories: Iceland


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The one thing that these elections have told me is that the Icelandic Pirates are more than willing to throw the rights of foreigners and asylum seekers under the bus.

The endless cicle of frustrating Icelandic politics

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Last year the government collapsed over the revelations from the Panama Papers. Two politicians were implicated, Sigmundur Davið Gunnlaugsson and Bjarni Benediktsson. Sigmundur Davið, chairman of the Progressive Party and prime minister resigned from both posts after massive protests, which went on for weeks (so many days standing in the rain). The government collapsed and new elections were set for October, 29th. Bjarni Ben, chairman of the Independent Party did not resign and went on to run in the election. In the election, the Independence Party won the majority, with 29%, 3% more than in the previous election and formed the government with Bjarni Ben becoming the prime minister. Maybe the reader can start to spot the source of my frustration.

This September the government collapsed again, this time over the stomach turning scandal that Bjarni Ben's father had provided a letter of recommendation to a convicted pedophile for a process called "restored honor", which Bjarni Ben and others in the Independence party (among others the minister of justice) had been covering up.

Now after just one year there are again elections in Iceland (28th of October). Bjarni Ben is still the chairman of the Independence Party, even though there is yet another scandal involving insider trading and an injunction against the newspaper reporting on it, that I'm too tired to elaborate on, see here and here. The Independence Party is currently, one week before the election, polling between 23% and 25% and there is a chance they will again form the government...

Sigmundur Davið, feeling himself to be a victim of a leftist-liberal conspiracy and stabbed in the back by the Progressive Party founded a new party, Miðflokurinn (the Middle Party,) three weeks before the election. The party's logo looks like it could be from some hippie party from Lower Saxony:

They immediately started polling around 10%, even before they had a program. I saw someone with a Miðflokkurnn badge the other day and had the urge to go up to him and ask: "What is wrong with you people?"

As a none citizen I have no vote, I can only hope.

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