NARSARSUAQ, GREENLAND — It is an eight-hour flight from Chicago to the southern tip of Greenland, not counting the hour drive from Keflavik International Airport to smaller Reykjavik Airport for the hop from Iceland, across the Denmark Strait, to the southernmost town of this very northern island, two-thirds of which is located above the Arctic Circle.
Actually, “town” is an exaggeration. Narsarsuaq has only about 150 residents, making it more of a settlement. Which might come as a surprise to, let’s say, a newspaper reporter rushed here by editors frantic to get boots on the ground at the scene of the latest international crisis.
If you assume that there being flights here — $1,800 on Icelandic Air — by necessity means there is also a significant community waiting, well, let me set you straight. It’s austere.
Eight hours is plenty of time to brood on Donald Trump’s gambit to buy Greenland, which at first, I assumed had to be a joke (the poor Onion, how do they cope?)
The truth came as a surprise. No, “surprise” is too weak a word. When I read he canceled an actual state visit to Denmark because of their prime minister’s reaction to his offer, I was dumbfounded.
OK, not “dumbfounded.” That’s an average day.
“Super-extra-dumbfounded” perhaps — a very Greenlandic way to express something. The common language here is Danish, with many speaking English. School children are also taught West Greenlandic, an Inuit language where computer, ‘qarasaasiaq’ translates, poetically, as “artificial brain.”
Trump said the purchase would be a strategic move, which really doesn’t explain why he wants Greenland. Maybe he feels an intellectual kinship. One visitor described Greenland as “spectacularly barren,” which also describes the interior landscape of our president.
Denmark took official control of Greenland in 1775 — making their connection older than our country — but granted home rule in 1979. Trump offering to buy Greenland is akin to China trying to buy Puerto Rico.
Narsarsuaq boasts two places to eat: The Blue Ice Cafe, next to the airport, where fare tends toward frozen pizza heated in a microwave. And the restaurant on the second floor of the Hotel Narsarsuaq. The “Greenlandic Plate” lets you sample dried seal (chewy) and raw whale (don’t bother with moral qualms about eating it, since it’s practically inedible). Both have a reputation for running out of food from time to time.
Here’s an irony. Greenland has about 58,000 people — the population of Des Plaines — spread over 836,000 square miles, or slightly bigger than Alaska and California combined. Only 10 percent are Danes and other ethnic Europeans, the kind of folks Trump clearly favors over all others.
The rest are Inuit, either full-blooded or mixed-race descendants. A group Americans used to call “Eskimos” before we got woke. People of color. So while the Trump administration defies standards of decency, putting kids in cages, building imaginary walls on our southern border, all in an attempt to rebuff the descendants of the Aztecs and the Maya who are desperate to live here, he is simultaneously floating this mad scheme to buy an island with 50,000 indigenous northern people who want nothing to do with us.
That’s craziness on a grand, epic, almost awesome scale. A wonder dwarfing the largest glacier.
The residents here, by the way, are full Danish citizens, with all the rights therein, including free health care, in case you’re uncertain which nation is the backwater.
Clarification: While the information presented here about Greenland is accurate, that dateline might give the impression I was actually sent to Greenland to write it, which sadly I was not. The funny thing is that if I left you with the incorrect impression the above is culled from on-the-scene reportage, and not found by scouring the web and the Encyclopedia Britannica, then the same people who blithely condemn any information that makes them uncomfortable as “Fake News” would spin on a dime and denounce me for betraying the established values of professional journalism, values they otherwise loudly claim don’t exist. Which shows you the bone-deep dishonesty of the administration and its water carriers. Heck, if Donald Trump can shred the standards of his profession — politics — then I can have a little fun with mine. Fair is fair, or was. Now unfair is fair. But we’ll save that for another column.