By Enrique Tessieri
What do people really mean when they claim that racism is a minor problem in Finland and elsewhere? Are they stating that since racism is a small problem, politicians and public opinion should not concern themselves too much with the issue? If a white Finn claims that racism is not a problem, is he or she stating that immigrants hardly exist in this country?
Debating Finland’s cultural diversity can be an exercise in opening up old wounds. Denying the historicity and existence of a group is an effective way of making a social problem disappear.
I lived in Argentina during the dirty war from 1976-1978, when the country was ruled by a ruthless military régime responsible for the disappearance of some 30,000 people.
The video clip below is a speech by then de facto President Jorge Rafael Videla, who offers excuses to the media on why the military régime cannot do anything about the tens of thousands of people that have gone missing.
Like the debate on racism in Finland or in Europe, General Videla brushes the issue of the disappeared under the rug. He says in effect that since a missing person does not exist he cannot make any demands. A missing person is a question mark.
Videla states at the end of the video clip: “The person who is detained without any rights and the one who went missing is another (case). With respect to the one that went missing, there is a question mark because he’s disappeared. If that person would appear he would get treatment x (by the authorities), and if he appeared and were dead he would get treatment z. But until this disappeared (person) doesn’t appear he cannot be treated in any special way because he is a question mark. He is a missing person. He doesn’t have an identity. He doesn’t exist. He isn’t dead or alive, he’s gone missing.”*
* El hombre que está detenido sin proceso es uno o al desaparecido es otro. Frente al desaparecido en tanto este come tal es un incognita el desaparecido. Si el hombre apareciera, bueno tendría un tratamiento x y si la aprecion se convirtiera en certeza de su fallecimiento, tiene un tratamiento z. Hasta que este desaparecido no puede tener ningún tratamiento especial porque es un incógnita. Es un desaparecido. No tiene identidad. No está. No muerto o vivo, está desaparecido.