Best columns: Europe
The wrong done to Greenland
Noa Agnete Metz
La Stampa (Italy)
The homeless Inuit who live on the streets of Danish cities “are a symbol of Denmark’s failed colonial policy” in Greenland, said Noa Agnete Metz. In the 1950s, the Danes began “a radical experiment” intended “to create a Danish-educated Inuit elite” in Greenland who, they thought, would “bring civilization” to the island’s native people and allow them to thrive in the modern world. Instead, the program, which continued through the 1990s, all but destroyed their culture. Inuit children were shipped off to Denmark to live in boarding schools for several years of instruction in the colonial power’s language and culture. Separated from their parents, the kids lost their fluency in Inuit and their sense of tradition. In Danish schools, said one Inuit graduate, “they don’t teach you how to hunt—they don’t tell you our stories.” The program “caused a rupture in Greenland’s cultural fabric and created a social crisis that continues to this day.” Even Denmark’s attempt to remedy the problem has backfired: Children are no longer sent to Denmark, but all the good administrative jobs in Greenland require Danish fluency. Meanwhile, those Inuit who settled over the years in Denmark find themselves and their children “marginalized from broader Danish society.”
Austerity without end will kill us
The Greeks are being offered up as a “massive human sacrifice” to the gods of international finance, said Dimokratia. The government in Athens, led by the left-wing Syriza party, has utterly capitulated to the demands of foreign capital and agreed to yet another austerity package in return for $8 billion in emergency loans. Our pensions will be slashed, our taxes raised. What do we get in exchange for “our blood”? Nothing—the loans will be used to honor debt payments, so all the money will leave the country. We are commanded to suffer as penance for years of allegedly living above our means. Syriza was supposed to be the voice of the people, “the rebels, the indignant, the expressers of society’s wrath.” The party came to power in 2015 promising to protect workers and old people, to cut a better deal with international creditors. But life for ordinary Greeks has only gotten worse. Nearly half the youth are unemployed, and half of Greek households rely on pension benefits—how are we supposed to live if pensions are cut even further? Even if we somehow survive all these cuts, our national debt will continue to soar, and creditors will never be satisfied. The government once complained that the international lenders’ “prescription would kill the patient.” What is it doing now but feeding us poison?