Leave my multicultural Finnish identity alone!

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

Many of the arguments used by the anti-immigration camp in this country is based on myths from nineteenth century Finnish history. When these groups declare war on multiculturalism what they are revealing is their denial of our cultural diversity as a nation.

When a person or group openly oppose multiculturalism in Finland they’ll never tell you how they plan to make Finland ethnically homogeneous.

Certainly Nazi Germany’s ethnic policies are one horrific reminder of what happened when racial homogeneity became an aim of state policy. Never in the history of humankind have we seen such systematic mass murder on such a grand scale as during Nazi Germany. Not even Stalin’s purges or Pol Pot regime’s killing fields come close.

But let’s ask the following question to those that deny Finland’s cultural diversity:  How can we be “ethnically and culturally homogeneous” if our country was part of Sweden and under Russian rule for six hundred years? How about the over one million Finns that left this country as immigrants in the past 150 years?

Some of these so-called critics who are vehemently against immigration and cultural diversity make it sound as if Finns evolved separately from other groups. There was no genetic and cultural mixing with anyone, period.

These types of arguments, used by parties like Persussuomalaiset (PS) MPs like Jussi Halla-aho, are based on myths that are deeply rooted in nineteenth century Finnish national identity. Instead of celebrating and encouraging  our diversity as Finns after 1917, we erased it in order to build a national identity.

While nationalism was one important cultural eraser that encouraged Finns, for example, to change their surnames after independence and hide and even be ashamed of their cultural  diversity, it has become today one of the biggest obstacles in accepting immigrants and multicultural Finns.

Groups like Suomalaisuuden Liitto have through the PS declared open war against our Swedish-speaking minority.

New Finns is in many respects a deceptive label because we are not speaking of “new” Finns per se but in some cases quite old ones whom we have forgotten or erased from our collective memory. Jews and Russians are just a few to begin with.

Ever wonder why a Nazi-spirited association like Suomen Sisu or its members like Halla-aho don’t openly condemn the works of David Duke? It is because this former Klu Klux Klan member is an enemy of multiculturalism, or cultural diversity.

The video below on an interview with Duke exposes Suomen Sisu’s mindset in a Finnish context. In a recent television program Halla-aho refused to condemn the works of Duke and Alfred Rosenberg, a former Nazi pseudo-philosopher who defended ethnic homogeneity as a state virtue.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd69pe_cL08&feature=related

My message to anyone who messes with my multicultural Finnish background is simple, loud and clear: Leave it alone and learn to accept it. If you don’t, that is your problem.

  1. Ilona

    Don’t forget how Western and Eastern Finns are genetically different 🙂 There is no one Finland, there are multiple identities, some of which feel more familiar than others. As a short, fat and loud Easterner I’m planning a summer road trip to Satakunta and Etelä-Pohjanmaa. It’s going to be very exotic…

    • Enrique

      Hi Ilona, isn’t that the beauty of Finland? We can be different but still this is our home? Enjoy your holiday to Etelä-Pohjanmaa! Welcome back to Migrant Tales!

  2. Ebby

    Please remember that “under Swedish rule” is wrong: Prior to 1809 Finland was a part of the country just as Uusimaa, Lappi or Häme are parts of Finland today. Finland was just the eastern, completely equal part of the Swedish kingdom, and all the centuries as a PART of that country cannot be compared to the slightly more than one century under Russian RULE. Just as a small history lesson!

    • Enrique

      Hi Ebby, good point. Thank you for pointing that out. Welcome to Migrant Tales!

  3. Niko

    “Never in the history of humankind have we seen such systematic mass murder on such a grand scale as during Nazi Germany. Not even Stalin’s purges or Pol Pot regime’s killing fields come close.”

    Small correction: actually Stalin DID kill more people than Hitler and Mao Zedong killed even more than Stalin. The difference is that they mainly killed their own people in their country, while Hitler invaded other countries and killed people also in there.

    • Enrique

      Niko, I don’t think that is a “small correction.” How many in your opinion did Stalin kill during the purges of the 1930s?

  4. Marjukka

    Just some more about history: When Finland was a part of Sweden it was hardly an equal part of the kingdom: it was just a remote place with no importance, not important enough to be even really defended in 1808-1809. During the time “under Russian rule” Finland had an autonomy, our own currency and even a customs border towards Russia… It was only in the late 1800’s that Russia started to take our rights away, but before that Finland had a much better position “under Russian rule” than ever under the Swedish…

  5. Kalle

    Marjukka: Yes, Finland was an equal part of the kingdom during the Swedish rule. For instance, provinces in Finland could and did send representatives to the riksdag (parliament) on equal ground with provinces in Sweden proper (Sweden’s conquests in the Baltic states and Germany however had no such right). The supposed oppression by Sweden during their hundreds of years of rule is another 19th-century myth, just like the claim that Finland wouldn’t have been defended during the 1808-1809 war. It was, but the Swedes were vastly outnumbered and their leaders incompetent.

    Also, when it comes to the Finnish autonomy during the Russian rule, this on the whole was based on the fact that Swedish law was retained in use in Finland without changes after 1809. The only difference to pre-1809 status was the fact that the head of state was now the Char of Russia and not the King of Sweden. The people living in Finland retained the exact same rights and privileges as during the Swedish rule

  6. Niko

    Mao Ze-Dong (China, 1958-61 and 1966-69, Tibet 1949-50) 49-78,000,000
    Joseph Stalin (USSR, 1932-39) 23,000,000 (the purges plus Ukraine’s famine)
    Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1939-1945) 12,000,000 (concentration camps and civilians WWII)

    These are just estimates, but still Stalin killed more than twice as much as Hitler.

  7. Ezi

    Actually during Russian rule Finns were given moderate right to organize themselves under the umbrella of civilizing the population and to use the Finnish language as their working language. Soon after that churches had many projects of educating the mass.

  8. Niko

    I guess you can find quite easily the information if you search with Google. But for example:

    Stalin:
    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_people_did_Stalin_kill

    Here are also some gathered sources:
    http://www.scaruffi.com/politics/dictat.html

    There are many estimates how many people’s death Stalin actually caused, but I believe around +20,000,000 is quite near the true. Mao still takes the krone

    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/maos-great-leap-forward-killed-45-million-in-four-years-2081630.html

    Hitler and Stalin were such a boy scouts compared to him. Mao did much more in less time.

    • Enrique

      Niko, I think these dictators whomever they may be tell us something important: it can happen again. It’s very difficult to state exact figures like the ones you claim about Mao.

      With respect to Stalin, I mentioned the purges of the 1930s. As you know, there are death estimates ranging during Stalin’s regime from as low as 3 million to 20 million. What can you say after a million people die? What other outlandish things can we put into the calculation? The Nazis did it faster and more systematically than Stalin? What about the 20 million that were killed during the war in Russia by the Germans? It gets complicated. But let’s put it this way, then: The Nazi regime was one of the most brutal and murderous ever. If Stalin was obsessed with his enemies the Nazis were fixated on race. Certainly they murdered homosexuals, Communists and Socialists but their thing was race, or anti-Semitism.

      With respect to the claims on the massive death toll by Mao there are more questions than reliable answers.
      http://monthlyreview.org/commentary/did-mao-really-kill-millions-in-the-great-leap-forward

    • Enrique

      Hi So depressed! How are you doing? I hope the summer has helped pick up your spirits?

  9. Niko

    Pfff, I just proofread my previous message and it contained so many misspellings 😛

    But ok, Enrique, fair enough. But actually if we want to think the most brutal actions in “recent” history, I think Japanese comes to very close to Nazis, even they killed little bit less (estimate 6,000,000). Check “Unit 731” if you are not familiar with it already.

    Sorry, this went little bit off-topic 🙂

  10. Seppo

    – “If Stalin was obsessed with his enemies the Nazis were fixated on race.”

    I would say that Stalin shared a very similar fixation. The difference was that he did not concentrate on just one race or ethnic groups but on many. Basically all non-Slavic groups of the USSR got their share.

    Finns are a good example. There were around 150 000 Finns living in Soviet Union, mainly in Ingria and Karelia, in the late 1920’s. By 1950’s they were down to around 50 000 persons. In two years 1937-38 alone 40 – 50 000 of them were murdered (http://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inkeril%C3%A4iset).

    When talking about Stalin’s purges one should remeber that they continued throughout the 1930’s, during the Second World War and also the years immediately after it. The last groups of Finns were sent to Siberia and Central Asia after the war and those who managed to stay alive were not allowed to return before mid 1950’s.

  11. Jamaican in Finland

    I do agree that many people lost their lives during the Haulocaust, and that it was one of the worst human tragedies . However, as far as I am concerned, slavery was a lot worst! Millions of people were affected by slavery, including my forefathers.

    It is deeply upsetting to me when slavery is totally ignored when “mass murders” and “systematic killings” in history are mentioned.Yes I do consider slavery “systematic mass murders” as people were deliberately plucked from their homeland, and brought to another part of the world to die under harsh conditions!

    • Enrique

      Jamaican in Finland, thank you very much for bringing that up. How many lives were destroyed as a result of the slave trade? Too many to count.

  12. Hannu

    “Jamaican in Finland” Those were like lung fewer in finland so not really comparable, you sold your fellow mans in world and now you blame us? Bleh.

  13. Jonas

    When one considers the Swedish period, it is as Kalle and Ebby mentioned, very necessary to underline that what is today’s Finland was an integral part of the Swedish realm. When one considers the period before 1809, it is more useful to think of the realm in terms of the periphery and the core. Places such as Stockholm and Åbo/Turku were very much at the core of the kingdom – it was, after all, easier and faster to travel by sea than overland. On the other hand, places such as Karelia and Småland were more peripheral.

    Unfortunately, Finnish popular history has been coloured by nationalism in dealing with the period before 1809. One often hears that the Swedes “invaded” or “occupied” etc, which is nonsense. What is now Finland became a part of the Swedish kingdom in a way very similar to that of e.g. Småland, gradually. Nobody writes that Svealand went to war with Småland in its incorporation into the Swedish kingdom. In 1809, one must remember that much of the peasant opinion was against leaving Sweden and becoming part of Russian; the peasants had (for the time), relatively large influence in Sweden – they were represented in parliament and they feared Russian serfdom (of course, fortunately – as Kalle points out – we were permitted to maintain Swedish law so these fears were not realised).

    Scandalously, Finland’s pre-1809 history is not included in the compulsory school curriculum today. Thus, it is even easier for populist nationalist myths on the Swedish period to spread.

    I feel empathy for those that are told they can not be Finnish if they have anything else other than two Finnish-speaking parents and eat only HK Blue sausages and mashed potato for dinner everyday. It is much the same as how we must hear that we Swedish-speakers are also not proper Finns from time to time. Boring, narrow-minded and above else, wrong.

    • Enrique

      Thank you as always, Jonas, for your support. We are at a very low point in Finnish history now. The PS and other groups like Suomen Sisu and Suomalaisuuden Liito are a menace to our society by spreading fairy tales about minorities and other cultures. They should have lived in the Eastern Territories under Reichminister Alfred Rosenberg and seen with their own eyes what happened when a regime attempted to advance racial homogeneity.

      Sensible Finns of all backgrounds are concerned by these types of ideas. And they are right.

  14. JusticeDemon

    Hannu

    If you can’t write in English, then comment in Finnish. If your contribution is any good, then someone will translate it (but don’t hold your breath waiting for this with most of the trash that you submit).

  15. Seppo

    – “What is now Finland became a part of the Swedish kingdom in a way very similar to that of e.g. Småland, gradually. Nobody writes that Svealand went to war with Småland in its incorporation into the Swedish kingdom. ”

    This is a good comparison. But unfortunately, history is always seen from today’s point of view. If Småland had become it’s own state and nation, independent of Svealand, there would be similar stories going on about “occupation” as there are now in Finland.

  16. Allan

    Yes I do consider slavery “systematic mass murders” as people were deliberately plucked from their homeland, and brought to another part of the world to die under harsh conditions!

    The slave trade had a very bad ratio of survival of the people being plucked ending up in the harsh conditions, so it could be constituted as “systematic mass murder” from the beginning.

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