The absurdity of the reverse-racism argument in Finland

by , under Enrique

Every now and then you’ll hear a visitor on Migrant Tales claim: What about [reverse] racism against [white] Finns!? Racism is a complex problem but one matter singles it out: It is an effective tool to socially exclude, control and exploit other groups in society from vital resources such as jobs and economic wealth. 

The fact that white Finns are the standard of everything in Finland is enough proof that they wield real power. White Finns don’t have to understand racism because they simply don’t have to. It’s not an issue because they are the standard of this society, the norm. Everyone else has a prefix attached to them like immigrant, immigrant descendant, black, Roma etc.

In May 2011, the anti-immigration Perussuomalaiset (PS) party renounced all forms of racism, even positive discrimination, or affirmative action. 

It is surprising that when the PS made their preposterous statement, few if any media in this country understood how racist and grotesque it was and how it revealed a serious case of  colorblind racism (let’s pretend we’re equal because ethnic background does not matter, when in fact it does).   

Colorblind racism works in Finland in an implicit and explicit manner. Its aim is the same:  ethnic background is not the issue. If it is an issue, it’s your  ethnic background. 

  • ·         We have such a wonderful society that we are way past racism so get over it (explicit colorblind racism);
  • ·         It’s your culture, your parents or you that is hindering adaption to our society. In this case I recognize your ethnic background but only to shift blame and wash my hands of the problem (implicit colorblind racism). 

 This graffiti that reads “White Power” in Finnish was on a special elementary school’s wall in Mikkeli, Finland, for months before it was removed. 

Accusing a visible minority, or immigrant of being racist against white Finns, is a good example of implicit colorblind racism.  Since racism isn’t a problem in our society, it can’t be my problem. It’s your problem. 

Some successful immigrants or visible minorities who have succeeded in Finland may reinforce the same colorblind racist argument as white Finns. They may claim:  “I’m not white but I adapted to the white Finns’ world. That is why I am successful. You too can be.” 

Those immigrants who have racism issues usually come from countries where such a social ill is the standard. It’s easy for them to accept the white Finn as a standard because they too were the norm in their former home country.  As a result, some embrace the idea of becoming a Tuomo-setä, or Uncle Tom, because they are encouraged to and rewarded by white Finnish society for such behavior.

If you are ever confronted by a person who uses the reverse-racism argument, ask him or her how is the prejudice of a minority as devastating as that of the majority? 

White Finns should stop whining about reverse racism because it isn’t an issue. It’s only one of many loaded arguments used by them to justify their racism.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. tp1

    That is not completely true. If a white finn becomes a victim of racist violent attack by black immigrants, how can you say it is not a problem?

    You easily put every white finn in same category and then say that category is the majority. But being part of that group mean nothing on individual level. If one person in that group experiences racism, it doesn’t take away the suffering or the problem if that group is the majority. On individual level we are all unique.

    How can you say that if a single member of majority is harmed via racism is somehow less important than if a single member of minority is harmed?

    • Enrique Tessieri

      typ1, there is a big difference between white Finnish prejudice and immigrant prejudice. The big difference is that the former controls everything while the latter does not.

      All types of violence are wrong but the one by institutional racism by the majority beats the other racism by minorities hands down. In my opinion, racism is a means to an end. It is the way the majority control, excludes and exploits minority groups.

      How do these minority groups “control” such resources never mind wield such power? They don’t.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      tp1, I think I answered your question in a newer comment.

    • D4R

      Are you really scared of small black minority committing racism against native white Finns? and so this justifies the ever increasing white nationalist racism in Finland? who should people scare of the two? a racist white nationalist majority or few black individuals who attack native Finns supposedly having racist agenda? c’mon, i visit alot of racist Nationalist spewing hataret and they go by the same mantra wich is if you’re against or speak against racism then that automatically makes you antiwhite.

    • tp1

      D4R. I’m talking about individuals, human being. If person will come under racist attack, it doesn’t matter if he belongs to majority or minority. It doesn’t ease the pain any way to know that he is part of majority.

      This is the problem when you try to force people in categories: whites, blacks, immigrants, native, majority, minority etc. When you categorize people like this, you forget the most important fact: every individual is a human being. Getting attacked, for example beaten, is equally severe no matter what “category” that person belongs to.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      tpi1, you know perfectly well that we condemn all types of violence, even violence like institutional racism and the bullying and social exclusion of visible immigrants and immigrants in general.

      –Getting attacked, for example beaten, is equally severe no matter what “category” that person belongs to.

      True, but add to that a hate crime and it’s a harsher offense.

    • tp1

      True, but add to that a hate crime and it’s a harsher offense.

      But that still doesn’t make any difference, whether the attacker or victim is part of minority or majority. So even if we add hate crime to that, it is still equally harsh or severe offense, no matter which categories the victim and attacker belong to.

    • JusticeDemon

      tp1

      It is instructive that you fasten on racially motivated violent assault as a “typical” expression of racism, when this is comparatively rare. Why did you not focus on discrimination in employment, housing or access to public services? What about all those occasions when a Somali district surveyor has rejected claims that your neighbour’s fence is on your side of the boundary, or when an Iraqi public prosecutor has decided to drop your complaint that someone stole free newspapers from your letterbox on the grounds that the matter is too trivial to investigate, or when an Ethiopian environmental inspector has ordered your business to stop storing toxic waste in your own garden? What about all those jobs that you have lost because Congolese or Ghanaian managers insisted that you simply “wouldn’t fit in”? Why not talk about how the Zambian Principal of the local elementary school picks on your children and is ruining their education?

      More generally, this reflects the extraordinary degree of ignorance that we have found in Finland over the entire phenomenon of racism as a factor in human interaction: if it doesn’t literally hit you in the face, then it doesn’t exist.

      One clear symptom of this ignorance was the way in which even quite highly educated people in Finland, such as the former Mayor of Helsinki, Raimo Ilaskivi, have used the term “rasismi” in ways that are complete gibberish to anyone who understands that term. In Ilaskivi’s case we heard a great deal about ikärasismi, and we have also heard such expressions as sukupuolirasismi, seks. suuntautumisrasismi and ylipainorasismi. Most recently, we have heard that criticism of the fascist peruSSuomalaiset political faction is also motivated by rasismi, though the epähiket commenters in question have yet to coin a rasismi neologism for anyone who dares to suggest that a party harbouring so many convicted racist criminals might just possibly be a racist party.

      Racism is also an irreducibly collective phenomenon, and its expressions have an inalienably collective character and context that derives from power relationships between communities. No expression of racism can be understood without reference to that collective character and context.

  2. Iam

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heAw4z71lvo&feature=fvwrel
    Hi MT, bravooo
    Hi dear all,
    Some foreigners are racist thats true but against other foreigner groups, other immigrants, refugee and not against Finns, ha ha ha they cant be racist against Finns, because it is Finns who control everything in here, i mean Finnish system, Finnish law, Finnish TE office, Finnish social welfare …etc
    Some immigrants wordship Finns because they r not enough brave for talking about truth, or they really dont know whats matter here in Finland cos they have not contact with Finns, or they cant understand Finnish language, or they r just living in their own groups, or they prefer to be silent cos afraid of system, or they have enough money and made decision to live with social welfare service for their entire life LOL
    and many other reasons, but who can be racist against Finns???
    In a country that best point of ur character is being white color on ur face??
    Have a great weekend uuuu all, i mean Finns friend and foreigners, all means all
    Best to the world

  3. akaaro

    MT,This is true, bcoz racism is not a problem in finland and it is a part of our culture, something we proud of. it s not surprising that you see direct racial attacks against visible minority groups such as a neighbour come to your door and spray on ink of what ever comes to their mind or pour used oil from their car engine through the mail slot as happened to my freind before two months and still point the finger at us when it comes the social interaction and everyday life problems that are going on here. May be if we complain about that we are experiencing we are against white finns because we can’t say every thing ”YES” and we can have difference and that is not a big issue

    • Enrique Tessieri

      Hi akaaro, pretty incredible. Just post what has happened on MT. This will be a shameful archive of racist acts in this country. Likewise, brave Finns can show their disgust at such things. Did the person take a picture of what happened? Did he reported to the authorities?

  4. akaaro

    As he told me at that time he reported the police but i dont know what was the outcome. this seems minors case however it is a big problem in reality. There were some other cases i was witness such as Finns sent to the mosque and Somali community office a head cut off from dog and they reported to the authorities but they even didn’t bring any result of their investigation.

  5. D4R

    tp1, Look this is not a racist site, this is anti racist site, we’re against all forms of racism, be it against whites or colored people, we’re witnessing all europe increase of nazim hided by nationalism and Finland is no exception, we want to battle that because we know what happened in the past. Finland has it’s law and everyone should abide that law, if some darkskin person commits a hatecrime then he should be punished under the Finnish law ame goes to native Finns. But we really need to worry about the every increasing racism in Finland wich is held by the majority because it’s a threat to the colored people living i Finland, me and you don’t want that a silent genocide will be committed by the immoral dangerouse racists who’re delusional about the small vicible minority thinking they’re threat to their wealth and genes, we need to tackle them, they’re threat to good white Finns too because they oppose freedom, they’re not here to serve people but to bring destruction.

  6. Jssk

    tp1, Look this is not a racist site, this is anti racist site, we’re against all forms of racism, be it against whites or colored people, we’re witnessing all europe increase of nazim hided by nationalism and Finland is no exception, we want to battle that because we know what happened in the past.

    Im more worried about leftist totalitarianism hidden by the tolerast ideology.

    What comes to racism against finns and whites, see for example “How many types of racists are there in Finland?” and also the orginal Abagond’s entry. Thats pretty clear racism.

    Also what silent genocide do you mean? Yes, immigrants will be eventually assimilated, thats usually the fate of small minorities. Im not talking about blacks only.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –Im more worried about leftist totalitarianism hidden by the tolerast ideology.

      “Tolerance” is another interesting term used in Finland and Sweden as a synonym for anti-racism (intolerance = racism). Why is tolerance “leftist totalitarianism?” Are you suggesting that our Constitution and the spirit of our laws are leftist and totalitarian?

      This argument is like the usual anti-immigration rhetoric like “cultural enrichment.”

      Acceptance, tolerance, respect, equal opportunities are NORMAL values in our society. The more we have of these values the stronger our society. Excluding other groups by being intolerant is a very costly path.

      –Yes, immigrants will be eventually assimilated, thats usually the fate of small minorities. Im not talking about blacks only.

      They won’t be assimilated. They will adapt and be integrated. Assimilation is one-way integration.

  7. Jssk

    ever increasing white nationalist racism in Finland? who should people scare of the two? a racist white nationalist majority or few black individuals who attack native Finns supposedly having racist agenda?
    clear

    Ever incresing white nationalist violence? Can you back that up somehow? And are you implying majority of finns are racist white nationalists?

    • JusticeDemon

      Not a majority – except, perhaps, anonymously and obsessively on the Internet.

    • D4R

      Why are you twisting my words? i said racism and nazis are increasing through out Europe and Finland is not exception. In Finland there are too many racist and they’re the majority, now make no mistake im not claiming that all Finns are racist but there’re alot of them. Now if these racists arent done smething about then surely it may lead to violence, now we know that their ideology is based on ethnic cleansing so, there are reasons to be concerned about.

  8. Yossie

    How I see it is that finns are tiny tiny minority in a global scale. The only ones who can be counted to safeguard the finns interests and culture is the finns themselves and the Finland.

    As such I find it really rich for all the immigrants to whine in here when they can go home where they can live according to their own ways if they wish. We can go back anywhere if people like you keep yelling how WE should adapt to YOU.

    Immigrants can come here if they wish, they can leave if they want. Dont come here calling the shots since this is the only country finns have.

    • JusticeDemon

      Yossie

      This attitude is usually expressed by epähiket stadilaiset who are unaware of just how different their culture is from that of their parents and grandparents. The fact is that Finland and the Finns have changed beyond recognition over the last century and nearly all of that change is foreign influence.

      The culture of Finland in 2050 and 2100 will be whatever the people mimic, accept and adopt from the huge range of influences that they experience. The people will be a mixture of individuals with ancestral and cultural backgrounds from all over the globe, and the influences will be increasingly global.

      There is absolutely nothing that the epähiket stadilainen can do about this except to make the process more painful by arguing that there is some kind of dominant uniform community that seeks to impose its culture on others. If we understand that a “normal Finn” lives in a surburban multi-storey apartment building with collective and public services, then there were virtually no “normal Finns” living in Finland a century ago. If we say instead that a “normal Finn” lives in a wooden shack with an outside latrine that has to be dug out every year, then we find that very few people even want to be a normal Finn.

      Now you, Yossie, are obviously not an epähiket stadilainen, so I’m sure that you can explain what you mean by “calling the shots” when everyone both makes and advocates cultural choices. The individual can either be aware or ignorant of this, but ignorance of the mechanism of cultural propagation does not magically make anyone’s culture “dominant”. After all, there is nothing more Finnish than paying a fortune for carbonated and caffeinated sugared water flavoured with Kola nut extract.

    • Yossie

      JusticeDemon

      It is one thing that finns want to adapt something than when some people decide to come here and then start telling we need to do something because his culture/religion/two way intergration or what ever.

  9. tp1

    They won’t be assimilated. They will adapt and be integrated. Assimilation is one-way integration.

    Why do you consider one-way integration wrong? That is the only proper way to do integration.

    One can’t expect that the country and it’s people would need to change everytime new people comes in. That would be totally wrong and very arrogant. That would be the most certain way to turn native people against newcomers.

    It should always be the newcomers who must adapt to the country they want to start living in. All that is required from natives are acceptance.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –Why do you consider one-way integration wrong? That is the only proper way to do integration.

      One-way integration is wrong because it doesn’t work. It destroys self-esteem and shows a great lack of respect for diversity by the majority. People decide at the end of the day how they will integrate or take a more radical approach like assimilation. Lots of parents do this in Finland. They refuse to speak to their children in their native tongue because they don’t want their children to suffer from discrimination. In a way they are right but in another dead wrong.

      In our laws, we encourage two-way integration. How this happens in practice is a good question. But the great thing about our society is that we can make lifestyle choices. That is our right. Such lifestyle choices are not only defended by the state but encouraged as well.

      Any psychologist can tell you that strengthening one’s identity (a person can have many) fuels self-esteem. People who are proud of their multiple identities learn to accept other cultures/languages more readily. People who are challenged on the racism front suffer from low self-esteem. Somehow some of them were taught to be ashamed of who they are. Not a good thing.

  10. JusticeDemon

    Yossie

    It is one thing that finns want to adapt something than when some people decide to come here and then start telling we need to do something because his culture/religion/two way intergration or what ever.

    In the first place, everybody does this all the time to everybody else. Look at everything about yourself, the clothes you wear, the music that you listen to, the management theories that you apply, the fascism that you espouse, and ask yourself how much of this is your very own design. You have absorbed almost everything from the range of options that was available to you. The only difference is that immigrants enlarge that range of options more rapidly and more palpably. Your children will appreciate this, and they will rightly consider you a fuddy-duddy or worse for not doing so.

    In the second place, you suggest that somehow an immigrant telling you that you should have more respect for your parents is less acceptable than the same admonition coming from your parish priest. We do in fact tell each other how to behave, just as you have been trying to use Migrant Tales as a platform for telling immigrants how to behave. Respect your parents. You should feel ashamed if you don’t, regardless of who is reminding you of this by admonition or by example.

    In the third place, nobody forces you to listen to advice from anyone or to follow the example of anyone, no matter how good that advice or example may be. You are free to make your own mistakes in life, and also no doubt free to imagine that immigrants were somehow responsible for those mistakes. You are also free to be a maverick, as long as you are willing to accept the consequences.

    Racism and xenophobia are soul-destroying tendencies and fascism is a cancer that destroys free societies. You should see through facile arguments and not allow the fascist mindset to pollute your thinking. Always insist on evidence that supports a view both qualitatively and quantitatively (one drunk pissing in a bus shelter does not characterise everyone in Finland). The freedom to evaluate evidence and make your own decisions is one of the few genuine freedoms that human beings have.

    The fact that an immigrant tells you this does not make it false. Indeed immigrants are in many ways the best people to tell you this. In doing so, we are influencing your behaviour and we are also calling that behaviour to the attention of others who will similarly influence it. In the case of racism and xenophobia this has been particularly effective. There are very few people nowadays who are overtly racist and proud to be so, as this is comparable in the public mind to the condition of being overtly unhygienic and proud to be so. That’s why you don’t make racist remarks in polite company, any more than you urinate on the floor. Even the kids who were too cool for school and too thick to follow a two-line deduction have usually managed to absorb this much: racism is dumb.

  11. Jssk

    “Tolerance” is another interesting term used in Finland and Sweden as a synonym for anti-racism (intolerance = racism). Why is tolerance “leftist totalitarianism?” Are you suggesting that our Constitution and the spirit of our laws are leftist and totalitarian?

    I never implied tolerance is leftist totalitarianism like D4R never implied that nationalism is nazism.

    Acceptance, tolerance, respect, equal opportunities are NORMAL values in our society. The more we have of these values the stronger our society. Excluding other groups by being intolerant is a very costly path.

    Indeed. If you see for example Sweden, theres a lot of state propaganda against nationalists.

  12. Mark

    Enrique – one of the best articles you have written. You have really grasped the issue and its subtleties. Well done! We need more writing like this.

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