Economics professor Uwe Reinhardt's column in yesterday's Daily Princetonian has elicited both hostile and friendly attention in Iceland and from the Icelandic diaspora.
In the column, "Bomb Iceland instead of Iran," Reinhardt facetiously proposed that the United States should attack Iceland rather than Iran in its next military intervention, arguing that Iceland and the United States would both benefit from the conflict.
The column was covered in Morgunbladid, one of Iceland's major newspapers, and picked up by other papers, as well as by Icelandic radio shows and TV programs.
Several Icelandic blogs linked to Reinhardt's piece on dailyprincetonian.com and more than 4,000 internet users in Iceland read the column. Dozens responded with emails to Reinhardt and the 'Prince.' The country has a population of about 300,000.
Reinhardt said he wrote the column as a critique of a perceived U.S. eagerness to bomb Iran. "The people [whom] I was really attacking were the neo-cons and the warmongers," he said. "The idea that you can just go bomb the hell out of a country like Iran and somehow save the world is nuts."
Some Icelanders expressed concern that Americans might read Reinhardt's column as a serious argument and act upon it.
"There is nowhere in the world [with] more stupid people than in [the] USA," Icelandic poet Olafur Skorrdal wrote in a message to Reinhardt. "We never know how they will read your sarcasm and take it as something that needs to be done."
But other Icelanders wrote to Reinhardt in appreciation of his column.
Kristin Sigridarson, an Icelander who has lived in New Jersey for 20 years, wrote a complimentary email to Reinhardt, agreeing with his point that it would be easier to bomb Iceland than Iran, because Iceland is closer to the United States.
"Loved your article!" Sigridarson wrote. "I can appreciate the convenience you so well illustrate. You can get [to Iceland from the United States] in only 5 hours so what could go wrong[?] No need to even refuel!"
A Norwegian, Bjorgolfur Havardsson, even suggested to Reinhardt an additional reason why Iceland would be an ideal target for the United States to bomb, arguing that Icelanders speak English well and would be able to interview with the American press without interpreters.
Other Icelanders were less appreciative of the article's humor and were furious with Reinhardt for suggesting that the United States bomb their country.
"You are a bloody motherf—ker," Magnus Schram wrote to Reinhardt last night. "It would please [me] if you would die in flames ... your ancestor was probably a poor Irishman who traveled across the sea in search for a better life."
After reading Reinhardt's column, a spokesman at the Icelandic Consulate in Los Angeles declined to comment.
Reinhardt said he was shocked to receive so many emails from Iceland and surprised that so many people seemed to take his article seriously. "Not in my wildest dreams did I think anyone in Iceland would read this," he said.
But the internet extends beyond national borders.
Hanna Bjork, an Icelander currently living in Tehran, also wrote to Reinhardt in appreciation of his column, both for its humor and its serious message.
"Every paragraph had me laughing out loud," Bjork wrote. "However, the sad thing is how true this situation is ... It is so ridiculous to read about starting a war in Iceland that it becomes hilarious. But in reality it is just as ridiculous to start these wars with Middle Eastern countries."
Reinhardt says he is very fond of Iceland because he grew up listening to Icelandic folk tales and used to make stopovers in Reykjavik on the way to flying to Europe.
"It's been entertaining for me, receiving these emails," Reinhardt said. "Though what it really shows is that the rest of the world is scared of the U.S. However, I do feel sorry that some Icelanders really do think I look down on them, so I'm going to try to do an oped piece in an Icelandic newspaper to clarify that."
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