Richard Thornton | May 9, 2017 | 23
Columbus Day farce provokes bitter internet debate in Scandinavia
This is funny. POOF’s farcical account of political demonstrations in Europe against the continued annual celebration of the discovery of Europe by Native American explorers went over like a lead balloon among regular readers, but quickly made its way to European Facebook and Google+ accounts. The result has been a multiplication of blog sites to debate its contents ever since then. POOF does create controversies!
You probably didn’t read the article, so here it is again:
APPARENTLY, what happened was that the sophisticated people of Scandinavia are accustomed to reading drivel in web news, coming out of the United States . . . and for Americans, in general, being grossly ignorant of their cultures and languages. They assumed that anyone who correctly punctuated their words and knew what foods they ate, HAD to be a Scandinavian writing serious journalism and reporting actual news. Otherwise, how else would they know that Agnetha Fältskog did like to dress up as an American Indian, before she was the A in ABBA . . . and even had a photo of her?
Answer: I knew Agnetha, when she was playing Mary Magdalene of Jesus Christ Superstar in city auditoriums around Sweden. She was a very sweet, young lady, who later married a manipulative man.
There were two sections of the article that really struck a raw nerve. The most controversial was the fictional woman being interviewed, who complained that traditional Swedish food had been replaced by foods that originated in the Americas. Actually, her comments are true. Traditional Scandinavian cuisine is boring and starchy, while foods from the Americas do predominate in Scandinavian supermarkets. Remember, even chocolate came from the Americas. The fact is that Europeans SHOULD be celebrating the many nutritional gifts that indigenous Americans gave the world.
However, Scandinavians do sometimes resent the Americanization of so many aspects of their culture. As I mentioned in the article about the TV series Rita, many English words have entered the Danish language and replaced Scandinavian words in normal conversation.
The Google+ debates seem focused on the comment about the Scandinavians not being able to adjust to their natural environment in the past. The Vikings raided Europe when their climate got colder in the late 800s AD. The Greenland Colonies died out when the climate got colder again during the Little Ice Age, because they refused to adopt the clothing and lifestyle of their Inuit neighbors.
However, many Scandinavian readers interpreted the comment to mean that they were today not environmentally concerned . . . and they were insulted! As many blog sites do, the discussion went off topic. They are now arguing back and forth on the internet as to whether their big corporations are really committed to environmental concerns.
The latest blog comment turned the tide toward the consensus that Swedish companies are pro-environment. I am convinced!
“Ikea has committed to spending €1bn on renewable energy and sustainable manufacturing, rivalling the efforts of some developed countries to fighting climate change. ”
Meanwhile, back in Plum Nelly, USA
I received one comment on the European Discovery Day article that I did not publish. It would have confirmed what many Scandinavians think of Americans.
“Stop writing about those Commies in Sweden and get back to what you are supposed to be writing on. Everyone knows that because they have socialized medicine – AKA Obamacare – they are always depressed, unhealthy and have the highest suicide rate in the world.”
Actually, the Scandinavian countries have much lower suicide rates than most of the countries in Europe and all of the countries in North America. The United States now has one of the highest teenage suicide rates in the world. Scandinavians are much healthier and live longer than Americans. Their national healthcare systems cost about 1/3 less per capita than in the United States, even though Scandinavian per capita income is much higher.
The Swedish suicide myth was created in the 1944 U.S. presidential campaign. Franklin Roosevelt stated that he wanted to make all college education free and adopt a healthcare system like Sweden’s after World War II ended. His opponent, Thomas Dewey, had a hissy fit on that one. Soon, so many newspaper political ads stated that Sweden had the highest suicide rate in the world that everyone thought it was true.
Okay . . . I hope that the final comments will make some angry Vikings satisfied. We don’t want them raiding our coast during global warming. Well . . . maybe the female Vikings can make friendly visits.
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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history.Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.
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