Finland and Europe must not forget its culturally diverse history

by , under Enrique

Why have so many in this land forgotten our culturally diverse history? Why don’t we teach it more at schools? At homes? If over 1.2 million emigrants left this land between 1860 and 1999, certainly that says a lot about the source of our diversity. 

It’s fortunate that Finland wasn’t a former European colonial powers like Britain, France, Portugal, Germany and others. Even so and just like Malcolm X saw racism as a new Cadillac model they introduce every year, intolerance has found its roots in this society as well.

It is learned and reinforced thanks to our near-silence.

When you look at European racism, this social ill is nothing more than the legacy of colonialism and capitalism staring back at us reminding us that we shouldn’t forget what we learned.

Colonialism and capitalism, which add up to genocide, gave European powers the right to enslave millions of people and exploit their resources. 

This destructive system lives on. It exists because so much rides on it. Those that defended wrongly believe that we’d lose everything and our right to be the king of the hill.

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In order for white Europeans to enslave, exploit and commit genocide in Africa, the Americas and elsewhere, they devised a racial classification system that placed them at the top.

But we are foolish and short-sighted. We refuse to slay it even it has returned on many occasions with a vengeance to haunt us in Europe in the form of two World Wars that cost the lives of about 90 million people.

If such a destructive force has returned and devastated us in the past, it’s logical that it will return again and again.  Every now and then it pops up and scares us as we saw over two years ago Norway on 22/7 with mass killer Anders Breivik.

Certainly white privilege in Finland was helped by our violent history with Russia and geopolitical isolation, which permitted us to conveniently near-forsake those hundreds of thousands that moved to new lands.

Official Finland in the last century, scarred by the Civil War of 1918, fascism of the 1930s, and three wars in the 1940s, ensured that we’d suffer from historical memory loss because it was in conflict with our white Finnish myths, which are exclusive, even racist.

It shouldn’t come to a surprise why some racist politicians and the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party, which are openly hostile to immigrants and cultural diversity, speak so passionately about defending white Finland. It’s white Finland they are defending, not culturally diverse Finland.

The answer why we have near-forgotten these hundreds of thousands of emigrants is white Finnish privilege. It sheds like to why there is in some Finnish and European circles such a violent knee-jerk reaction to our ever-growing cultural diversity.

How we challenge the threat of the far right and xenophobia hinges on ourselves. It’s leadership like we saw in the 1950s and 1960s in the United States with the Civil Rights Movement. One of the most important messages of that movement is social equality and the acceptance of cultural diversity.

Thus the best way to challenge the far right, right-wing populism, xenophobia and all forms of intolerance is to acknowledge our cultural diversity.

It’s accepting who we are, like coming out of the closet.

If it means rewriting our history to do away with those myths that reinforce white European privilege, let us then find the courage and leadership to do so before it’s too late.

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