It would be naive to believe that the same structures that aimed at annihilating the Sami culture and the hostile and systemic social exclusion of the Roma in the past have disappeared. You can actually find them everywhere: in our integration program for newcomers, education, and the generally acceptable narrative that gives white Finns their identity, power, and privilege to exclude minorities and migrants.
Even if white washing is a formidable foe, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t people, associations, and institutions in this country that want to dismantle this racist system. We are, however, still too few and too weak to make a real difference.
I know what white washing is because my family was affected by it.
Despite the fact that one of my long lost late relatives, Jacob Weikan (ca. 1785-1848) was the first Jew to get a residence permit in this country in the eighteenth century, anti-semitism and nationalism forced and encouraged my family from my mother’s side to abandon their Jewish identity.
The white washing was so thorough that my grandfather, a captain in the Finnish defense forces and a White Guard, hid his Jewish background all his life with his nationalism. Very rarely did he speak about his Jewish roots but expressed it in a question that wasn’t supposed to be answered: Do we have Jewish roots?
Integration was a different matter in the first half of the last century compared with today. One way was to change your “foreign” surname into a Finnish one.
The document below shows how my grandparent’s family changed their surname in 1931:
In light of the petition made by military instructor Harald Vilhelm Handtwargh, the governor of the province of Mikkeli grants his family permission to change their surname to Harvo; this is backed by statements from the vicar [of the Lutheran church], Suomen Sukututkimusseura [Finnish Genealogical Society], and the Suomalaisuuden Liitto [Association of Finnish Culture and Identity.
Is it a surprise that the chairman of the Association of Finnish Culture and Identity is none other than Sampo Terho, a former member of the Perussuomalaiset* (PS) party and today’s minister of European affairs, culture, and sport?
Terho wrote ten years ago an essay in Kanava about how migration was threatening the white European majority. His opinions on migration and cultural diversity don’t differ much from PS Chairman Jussi Halla-aho’s.
Just like in the first half of the century, the aim of groups like the Association of Finnish Culture and Identity was to discourage and remain hostile to cultural diversity.
I hope that one day Finland will apologize for the white washing it has committed against the Sami, Roma, and many other people like my grandfather’s family.
See original posting here.
* After the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13 into two factions, the PS and New Alternative, which is now called Blue Reform. Despite the name changes, we believe that it is the same party in different clothing. Both factions are hostile to cultural diversity. One is more open about it while the other is more diplomatic.
A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Official translations of the Finnish name of the party, such as Finns Party or True Finns, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and racism. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and after that the acronym PS