What is more incredible? Is it the indifference of the police, bouncers and near-silence of society as people are openly discriminated right before our very eyes? Answer: all of the above.
How we got to become a society that condones intolerance and open discrimination isn’t difficult to understand. Look at the Romany minority, which has lived here for five centuries, the Saami and study closely our history. When you read our history, read it critically and don’t allow yourself to be spoonfed by the codewords that hide our intolerance.
Outright denial is the oxygen that intolerance, prejudice and Finnish white privilege use survive. No matter how qualified and how big the scoop you have on this issue, it will rarely receive the needed public attention and, most importantly, a long-overdue public response. Why? Because we’re still in denial mode.
Because too few really care enough about your rights in this society if you are an immigrant or visible minority, it means that you will be relegated to second- and third-class status. No matter how much you try or how qualified you are, you will never be able to compete, be treated equally and feel at home.
In the process you may become a mamu, a modern Finnish Uncle Tom, and rise a notch or two in status but never ever be equal and enjoy the privileges of white Finns.
Is it your fault that Finland is becoming a culturally diverse society? Is it your fault that white Finnish society has defense mechanisms to show its hostility and loathing for you in the form of politicians like Jussi Halla-aho, James Hirvisaari, Susanna Koski, Wille Rydman and many others including the media and the whole establishment?
Certainly it isn’t your fault. The cards are stacked against you in this society because that’s how they are meant to be.
And why wouldn’t they be? The police service is white, political parties are white, the media is white, universities are white, our history is painted with strong brushes of white paint that constantly remind “us” against “them.” Add to this mix the element of denial and self-righteousness at the cost of others, which drown out the New Finland, and we begin to understand the severity of the problem.
Do you have to be a social scientist to grasp that Finland is having a hard time accepting cultural diversity? Check out the Restricting Act of 1939, which made Finland a closed country to foreign investment, and the fact that immigrants got their firs Aliens Act in 1983, or 65 years after independence.
A Helsingin Sanomat article on Finland’s largest-ever march for immigrant rights in 1981 wrote the following: “Moreover, foreigners should be given the right, among other things, to join a political party, to be a member of a union, and the right to own a home.”
Folks! This article was written 32 years ago!
The Restricting Act of 1939 prohibited foreigners from owning real estate and acquiring a majority stake in Finnish companies – limiting this to 20% normally and 40% under special permission. The Act stipulated that foreigners could not own shares in sectors such as forestry, securities trading, transportation, mining, real estate and shipping.
Imagine how a society must educate its children and how it must maintain and feed certain prejudices in order to justify such a closed model of society?
Like it or not, Finland is a growing culturally diverse society. No matter how extreme and hostile the arguments become against the acceptance of other groups as equal members of society during this century, our culturally diversity will continue to grow. Nothing will stop it. Those who attempt to, will look like modern Finnish Don Quixotes charging against windmills.
As our cultural diversity grows and as our voices become louder and put intolerance on the defensive, the closer we’ll be to making this country a just place for everyone.