Finland’s New Identity in the New Century

by , under All categories, Enrique

Here is the Finnish-language version of the article below that appeared in the 4/2009 isuue of Monitori-lehti.

What will our new identity be like in the present century as our society becomes more ethnically and culturally diverse? Will immigrants be clumped into one group and called New Finns, or will they prefer a hyphenated identity such as Iraqi-Finn?

A middle-school geography book published in 1941 claims that the Finns comprised of two main racial groups: Nordic and East Baltic. The characteristics of the former group was, ”tall, thin, blue-eyed, fair-haired and have red cheeks,” while the latter one was ”stockier, blonde-haired and have no redness on the cheeks.”

Even though there is no scientific basis for such classifications and they appear odd from our information-age perspective, some history books continued to classify Finns in such a manner up the 1970s. One of the matters that these type of racial classifications did was keep the definition of the Finn on very narrow terms.

In my opinion, our identity as Finns took a radical break from the past with the passage of the new Constitution (1999), Naturalisation (2003) and Non-Discrimination Act (2004). Even though there is no mention of the term multicultural society in these laws, they do show great sensibility to minorities and acceptance of cultural diversity.

Everyone knows that laws cannot change attitudes in an instant. They can, however, be important watersheds of our values and aspirations as a society.

Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen has called immigrants uusia suomalaisia, or New Finns. In principle there is nothing wrong with this classification since it implies permanency as well as a readiness by society to accept newcomers. Others such as maahanmuuttaja, immigrant, have been met with mixed feelings since it implies non-permanency.

Even though these identity labels are imposed by the outside, it is important to keep in mind that what different groups call themselves depends on them. For some minorities this may be more important than for others.

Whatever identity a group prefers to use – New Finn, Finn, hyphenated, hybrid or none – isn’t the underlying case. The key factor is that we are capable as a society of drawing strength from our diversity, and that Finland can become a new home for those who may choose to live with us.

  1. hannu

    “Even though there is no scientific basis for such classifications ”

    Only newest genetic studies, thats not scientific then i presume…

    • Enrique

      –Only newest genetic studies, thats not scientific then i presume…

      Please enlighten us.

  2. Tony Garcia

    If I may…

    I don’t understand why the left insist in divisive ideologies. How can we create a unified and cohesive society if we insist in split people into groups?

    Why people need to be labelled? That is what the Nazis did with the Jews.

    Is there any difference between a black person and I? I know that any leftist will run to say no. If so, why do I need to be a white person and he a black person? Why can we both be people?

    The very term ethnic minority is wrong. For me a black person born in Finland, or holding Finnish citizenship is a Finn, nothing else. I hold Finnish resident permit, so I’m a Finnish resident and my religion, colour, race or the size of my arse should be completely irrelevant. But isn’t for the left, and I don’t understand…

    We should NOT have laws preventing discrimination based on race or religion or whatever. We should have laws presenting discrimination. The people should be protected regardless.

    When I read that a person won a race discrimination case it shows me that his/her race played a role in this case. I would rather read that a person won a discrimination case. That won’t make the person different that I, what I think means equality.

    You will find no group fighting more vigorously for racial equality than the left, however they do nothing but emphasise racial differences.

    I’m completely against New-Finn, Old-Finn, White-Finn, Afro-Finn, Iraq-Finn or whatever-Finn. Labels only create divisions, divisions only create struggle and hatred , and the constant felling that we are not equal.

    Other day I hear an interview with an American congressman. When introducing him the host said his name followed by “an Afro-American congressman”. I ask, why do I need to know his black? What difference that makes? For me non, but for the leftist talk-show host, apparently it does.

    The left insist that people should be proud of being black or Asian or whatever (Of course, if you say that you are proud to be white, you are then a nauseous white supremacist, but… oh well… we’re talking about the left).

    Anyway, I disagree, I’m not proud of being white, I’m proud of being a good engineer, and a good father and I law binding person. In fact, I started to be white 10 years ago, growing up by the beach under a 40C sun, my skin colour was as dark as it could be.

    If race doesn’t matter let’s stop make it matter, shall we?

    A journalist once wrote a article for HS calling for a colour-blind society. I’ll ask this now, when are going to have such a society?

    • Enrique

      –I’m completely against New-Finn, Old-Finn, White-Finn, Afro-Finn, Iraq-Finn or whatever-Finn. Labels only create divisions, divisions only create struggle and hatred , and the constant felling that we are not equal.

      I don’t like labels either. But it’s up to the people to decide what they identify with. I think that if a society were one of true equal opportunity some of these labels would disappear, possibly.

    • Enrique

      –“Within Finland, the observed sharp genetic borderline is probably partly explained by the gap between Western and Eastern Finland in our sampling, and a geographically continuous sampling could have yielded a more clinal pattern of genetic variation.

      So what. It does not prove that there was a race nor does it state that one group was genetically smarter than the other. These types of “theories” that you are talking about existed in the nineteenth century, when Europe was a colonial power. Anthropologists created fairy tale theories about how advanced the Europeans were and how stupid were the rest. But then we had World War I and Europe acted in a very uncivilized fashion…
      So no. There was no such thing as Nordic and Eastern Baltic “race.”

  3. Tony Garcia

    And just to complement…

    I’ve two children born in Finland, although only half of their blood is Finnish, for me Finn is what they are. The very idea of them to be called “whatever”-Finn it’s completely offensive to me.

    I wish a hard-core Finnish extremist who think they only deserve to be called half Finn, or a leftist multicultural arsehole who think they should be proud to be half Finn, could say this to me… face to face…

    • Enrique

      –I wish a hard-core Finnish extremist who think they only deserve to be called half Finn, or a leftist multicultural arsehole who think they should be proud to be half Finn, could say this to me… face to face…

      Tony, your children are who they think they are.

  4. hannu

    “nor does it state that one group was genetically smarter than the other. ”

    Now you are again inventing claims. What you said there isnt “two main racial groups: Nordic and East Baltic. The characteristics of the former group was, ”tall, thin, blue-eyed, fair-haired and have red cheeks,” while the latter one was ”stockier, blonde-haired and have no redness on the cheeks.”” and when i proved you wrong you start babble about intelligence…
    And your argument about race is meaningless in finnish context since we do have races in finnish not breeds or other fancy words. Races of horses, dogs and of course humans. Fact doesnt change if you change naming. Next you tell chinese are short, yellow and bendeyed just because… THERE IS NO RACES!!
    Should we invent new word about differences? What does that change?

    • Enrique

      –Should we invent new word about differences? What does that change?

      Hannu, congratulations: you misunderstood my whole post. Read it carefully.

  5. hannu

    What i misunderstood? you said “there is no scientific basis for such classifications ” and i prove it wrong. then you rambled about it doesnt prove differences in intelligence what no one even claimed.
    It looked to me you were offended because word “race” and i replied to that too.

  6. Tiwaz

    -“I don’t like labels either. But it’s up to the people to decide what they identify with. I think that if a society were one of true equal opportunity some of these labels would disappear, possibly.”

    Except you have to qualify for identity.

    I cannot have claim to being Swede, Russian or Mongolian no matter how much I would want to identify with that identity.

    I am Finn, through and through. Genetics? Less relevant. Pete Parkkonen Pihtiputtaalta is as Finnish as I am. And one quarter of his genome comes from abroad.

    Culture? EXTREMELY relevant. Our cultural identity defines us. It does not matter where half of genome of Tony’s kids come from. Neighbors neighbor in the village from which my old man originated married Russian woman. Their kids speak Russian and Finnish. And are Finns. They pass the duck test. They quack like Finn, they walk like Finn and swim like Finn. Ergo, they are Finns.

    • Enrique

      –Except you have to qualify for identity.

      Here is another area where we disagree. Identity is a personal matter. The person decides with which group he identifies with. If you state that you are a Finn then that is the group you identify with.

      The same goes for Tony’s children. Tony should read up on hybrid cultures. It may help him to understand his kids’ identity.

  7. Tiwaz

    -“Here is another area where we disagree. Identity is a personal matter. The person decides with which group he identifies with. If you state that you are a Finn then that is the group you identify with.”

    Except group may not identify you as part of them. In which case your fanciful delusion of your identity is false.

    We identify through groups. Gambian cannot claim to be Finn if all other Finns do not see that Gambian guy to be like them. He is Gambian pretending to be Finn.

    That would not be identity he would want, but it is the identity he would have.

    As for your statement on hybrid cultures, what proof you have that Tony’s kids have hybrid culture?

    None, you just assume so because you want to believe that it is possible or natural. It is just as likely, if not more due to attitude Tony presents, that his kids are Finns through and through if he has lived his life with them in Finland respecting the traditions and habits of his wife.

    Like those 2 guys I spoke of. They have not ever been in Russia to my knowledge, as their mother did not even spit in that direction once she got to Finland, so they have no hybridization. They speak the language, but it is unlikely they act like Russians.

    • Enrique

      –Except group may not identify you as part of them. In which case your fanciful delusion of your identity is false.

      Who decides that? Is there a referendum organised on the matter??

  8. Tony Garcia

    “Tony, your children are who they think they are.”

    Hum… The good old relativism, where would we be without it?

    “If the way things appear to me, in that way they exist for me, and the way things appears to you, in that way they exist for you, then it appears to me that your whole doctrine is false. Relativism thus has the strange logical property of not being able to deny the truth of its own contradiction. Indeed, if Protagoras says that there is no falsehood, then he cannot say that the opposite, the contradiction, of his own doctrine is false. Protagoras wants to have it both ways — that there is no falsehood but that the denial of what he says is false — (today’s double standards) and that is typical of relativism (also of multiculturalism).”

    By Plato.

    PS: Text inside parentheses were added by me.

  9. Tony Garcia

    “Culture? EXTREMELY relevant”

    Spot on, Twiaz…

    “As for your statement on hybrid cultures, what proof you have that Tony’s kids have hybrid culture?”

    He doesn’t because they don’t. My children are 100% Finns independently of the blood with runs in their veins, and I’m very proud of it.

    “The same goes for Tony’s children. Tony should read up on hybrid cultures. It may help him to understand his kids’ identity.”

    Enrique, as I just said yesterday, this statement is offensive to me and I’d ask you please don’t use my children to exemplify your theories. My children’s identity is very well understood.

    • Enrique

      My children’s identity was never so absolute and they are very successful in what they do. Their multicultural background is a normal part of this world and they are very cool about this. Maybe if I would have placed all these stiff idiotic labels about how some narrow-minded people would want them to be, then I would be doing a big injustice to them. At the end of the day, it is them who decide who they are and who they belong to. Does anyone have a problem with that? Then, my friends, it is solely YOUR problem. Thanks to this open approach to culture, they do not have hangups and they can stand on their own feet. Hybrid culture, which I strongly believe in, is a very good answer to living and growing up in many cultures. Absolute definitions are harmful in my opinion.

    • Enrique

      –Would you endorse one?

      Do you mean a referendum on identity? It would be absurd. You cannot impose such matters with a referendum.

  10. Tony Garcia

    I never stop amazing me the inconsistencies from the multicultural utopian dream world.

    How we fix this? How about braking it? Good idea…
    How we unite the nation? How about dividing it? Excellent…

    This kind of “ideas” must have come from social thinker who “understand” society in their pyjamas behind their keyboards, who probably just go outside 2 minutes a day to pick-up their leftist newspaper to see if their column has been published.

    So I should tell my son that he’s Brazilian-Spanish-Italian-Finnish-Irish-White-Straight-Christian. How “luck” boy he’s, isn’t he?

    I was asked here once this question…

    “How we create community cohesion?”

    Well how about not spreading ideas with destroy community cohesion?

    • Enrique

      –I never stop amazing me the inconsistencies from the multicultural utopian dream world.

      Why is it difficult for you to accept diversity? This must be the place where you and I differ. I grew up, lived, and continue to hope on this type of society. It is NATURAL. And, thanks to it, you have found a profession and a job that enhances diversity and globalization.

      If you permit me, Tony, your sons will decide on their identity when they are older. You must have very lucky children who come from such backgrounds. Labels are not important. But I think they will be very adaptive and smart in life. They will find many solutions to a problem thanks to their background. You and your wife have given them a great resource.

    • Enrique

      –Is this same Enrigue who told i cant decide to be Sami?

      I never said or suggested anything of the kind.

  11. hannu

    “never said or suggested anything of the kind.”

    Lie, you said i can feel like it but they probably wont accept me as one. You can dig that out.

    • Enrique

      –Lie, you said i can feel like it but they probably wont accept me as one. You can dig that out.

      Then IF I said that, then it is their problem.

  12. hannu

    What IF…
    “Hannu, you are who you think you are. If you feel like a Sami, then all the power to you. What do you call when, identifying with the Sami, some from that group would never accept you.”

    I dont identify as sami, im lappish like they are and a finn like they are.

    Now i will identify as vegarian-lesbian, well i do eat meat and im a man but thats their problem…

    • Enrique

      Hannu, sometimes I wonder if you understand what I write :). I asked if you feel that way but others disagreed. It is not a value judgment.

  13. Tony Garcia

    “Now i will identify as vegarian-lesbian, well i do eat meat and im a man but thats their problem…”

    If I identify myself as a lesbian can I be watching women making out?

  14. Tony Garcia

    Although I’m against the hybrid-identity idea as a whole, of course it does work in some cases.

    Of course your children didn’t end up in disaster, where are you coming from? Please tell me one principal/value from Argentina/US with is contrary to any Finnish principle/value. Opinion about Brazilian football doesn’t count.

    However, what happen when we go a bit further east?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/feb/15/communities.uksecurity

    “Deference to multiculturalism undermines those fighting extremism, generals warn”

    “The United Kingdom presents itself as a target, as a fragmenting, post-Christian society, increasingly divided about interpretations of its history, about its national aims, its values and in its political identity.””

    PS. Yes that’s right, these people are just top brass generals, MI6 senior officers, chief of defense staff, UN and Nato commanders. They should leave the talking about security to more qualified people like social thinkers.

  15. Tony Garcia

    And just when I decide to give a final look before go home I found another example on how the generals were “wrong”…

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8406886.stm

    “A suicide bomber who killed at least 22 people at a graduation in Somalia was brought up in Denmark, officials say.”

    If we let people be what they are, they will be what they are…

    • Enrique

      –If we let people be what they are, they will be what they are…

      It is a tragedy and should be condemned. We can debate on the reasons (exclusion, racism etc) of what happened but taking lives in any form should be condemned.

  16. Tony Garcia

    “Do you mean a referendum on identity? It would be absurd. You cannot impose such matters with a referendum.”

    Of course we can’t. You do like this…

    You get a group of “specialists”, who spend a considerable amount of time reading social thinkers, and let them decide what the new Finnish identity should be.

    Then you impose it to 5 million people through legislation, suppressing any criticism by vigorously using “hate” speech laws.

    After that we can show to the world how “modern” and “tolerant” we are.

    But underneath…

    • Enrique

      –You get a group of “specialists”, who spend a considerable amount of time reading social thinkers, and let them decide what the new Finnish identity should be.

      Pretty funny, Tony. However, culture is made by writers, social thinkers, politicians; in sum, by all of the members of society. How it is absorbed and accepted by society is a totally different story.

  17. Tony Garcia

    Amigo Enrique, I wish you a nice weekend…

    Tomorrow it’s my son’s 7th birthday, and if you think it’s a challenge promote multiculturalism in Finland, I have to say, this is nothing comparing to have 20 wild kinds in your house for 3 hours…

    Talk to you on Monday. If I survive…

    • Enrique

      Amigo Tony, give my best to your son. I wish him a wonderful day and have fun with those 20 wild kids! Have a restful weekend as well.

  18. hannu

    “Tomorrow it’s my son’s 7th birthday”

    Im sorry and say good birthday to your son. Sauna, few beers and glass of a good whiskey takes most stress away after his friends are gone. After that you dont remember that cattleprod, whip and chains sounded a good idea 🙂 Atleast that helped me when i “had” to help in birthdayparty like that 🙂

  19. Tiwaz

    -“Why is it difficult for you to accept diversity?”

    Because we want to live in functional society not anarchist shithole like wonderful Somalia or war torn nation like Yugoslavia. Or divided society like USA.

    Each failure of multiculturalism from different angle.

    -“This must be the place where you and I differ. I grew up, lived, and continue to hope on this type of society. It is NATURAL.”

    FALSE! If it was natural, then progress towards such society would have already taken place. Instead, we see that each society gravitates naturally towards cohesive society with ONE set of cultural norms. Those who try to impose multiple ones in same area tear themselves apart.

    Multiculturalism is artificial construct of philosophers who are distanced from reality and which is being attempted to be forced on populations in western world.

    This is twice the folly because immigrant groups do not see any need to make ANY compromise, as multiculturalists like you Enrique tend to see every failure of immigrants to be fault of society where they moved, not fault of immigrants themselves.

    This leads to tyranny of minority where minority immigrants form their own little cliques which start to impose their cultural norms (and no fucking multiculturalism there! It is their way or end up dead!) to their surroundings.

    -“And, thanks to it, you have found a profession and a job that enhances diversity and globalization.”

    Bullshit. Tony says he is engineer. Multiculturalism has nothing to do with engineering, rather, it is anathema to engineering as engineers seek to IMPROVE things. And find WORKING things.

    -“Pretty funny, Tony. However, culture is made by writers, social thinkers, politicians; in sum, by all of the members of society. How it is absorbed and accepted by society is a totally different story.”

    Again false. Culture is born from common roots of people. THEY form the culture.

    Finnish culture existed here before anyone could write. Finnish culture existed here before word politician was invented.
    Finnish culture existed here before social thinker concept was invented.

    It is the collective sum of our history, tradition and way of life. Writer can only record it, not make it.
    Social thinker can only try to analyze it, not design it.
    And idiot politician can only try to destroy it, not improve it.

    Culture is the core of our identity. It is extremely important thing to every living human to have their own cultural identity, for without it we are lost.

    That is why I oppose your attitude Enrique, you try to deny me right to homeland, native land, native culture and through that to my very identity.

    -“We can debate on the reasons (exclusion, racism etc) of what happened but taking lives in any form should be condemned.”

    Here we see it again, blame is on society not immigrant.
    How far backwards should we bend before you would accept that blame rests on immigrants for failing to understand that they are no longer at home and things are not like at home?

    If we turn Finland into yet another failure by copying Somalia to make those refugees more comfortable, and they STILL keep failing (because this country is quite different from Somalia in terms of climate for one)… Is it still our fault that they cannot get it to their heads that they have to change to fit the nation instead of demanding nation to change to fit them?

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