Finland’s anti-Semitism and “r” problem: Washing one’s hands with Denial soap

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Finland’s reaction: See no evil, hear no evil.

Finland has had, for a long time, an “r” problem in the way of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and other social ills like hatred against the Romany minority. Part of it has to do with the historical acceptance and even closet glorification of our alliance with Nazi Germany.

The photograph below of Marshall Carl Mannerheim and Heinrich Himmler toasting to a glass of schnapps, at the height of Operation Reinhard to commit mass murder to wipe the Jews off the face of Europe.

You may ask people about this shameful picture and if it is ok to be on the wall of Mikkeli Klubi in Mikkeli. “It’s history,” the majority would respond and thereby washing their hands of such genocide.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Turku Synagogue saw its walls vandalized with red paint, according to Yle News.

Is it a cultural thing or is that some of us have witnessed racism and the oppression from it directly? It seems that every time a Finnish politician speaks about “rising racism” he attempts to be diplomatic and kind.

President Sauli Niinistö was asked to comment on what happened in Turku. Writes Yle News: “[N]iinistö characterized the incident at Turku Synagogue as very disturbing. He said the vandalism was an indication of broader racism, saying that the growth of racism and anti-Semitism was worrying and that their developments were linked.”

Niinistö said that the growth of racism and anti-Semitism “was worrying” and what happened in Turku “very disturbing.”

The term “worrying” should, in my opinion, be replaced with alarming taking into account the present situation spearheaded by an Islamophobic party on the warpath against migrants and minorities.

A respectful question to President Niinistö: What have you done to challenge this “worrying” and “very disturbing” news?

Read the full story here.

President Niinistö, like any other politician in Finland, is part of the racism problem in Finland. It is, unfortunately, done through denial and watered-down reactions.

The good news is that President Niinistö appears to be waking up as he warned in his New Year’s speech about the dangers of hate speech.

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Further reading about Niinistö’s gaffes about migrants and asylum seekers: 

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Vandalism and attacks against others like Muslims is too common in Finland these day.

Spiral of hatred is a tightening noose around the neck of the Perussuomalaiset party

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Racism is like a rabid dog on a short leash. The racist shows of his dog and other racists are amazed. But a warning: The dog can bite back and hard because the sick dog knows no master.

The Perussuomalaiset (PS)* is a party that is spinning out of control, and it is self-inflicted: Ethnonationalism, fear-mongering about white Finns becoming a minority, glorifying fascism, attacking researchers and other institutions, tweets about defecation and eating feces.

The PS leadership wants us to believe that there is no connection between them and rising Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, hate speech and attacks on our institutions. The party rose with hatred in its throat, sanctimony in its message, and hatred for migrants and minorities like Muslims on its tongue.

Welcome to the PS’ style of doing politics. Frame and attack people who oppose you and blame everything on migrants.

The famous “We are not a minority” mural in Los Angeles. Photo: Enrique Tessieri.

Finland, the country with the best education in the world, produces Frankenstein politicians who can only utter words filled with hate and fantasies of Nazi Germany.

In the same way, the slaughter and mass murder of the Jews and other minorities began in Germany in the 1930s, the PS has politicians who label asylum seekers and Muslims as “invasive species.”

And let’s not forget the Holocaust deniers like Jussi Halla-aho, who plays down such mass murder in a 2004 quote:

“Retroactively opposing the Holocaust is nicer and easier than getting involved in solving present-day problems. It is nice to accuse the Germans because cosi fan tutti. Armenians are irrelevant, because Armenians don’t own Hollywood and the American media.”

The PS has steered further to the far right under the leadership of Halla-aho, who was convicted in 2012 for ethnic agitation and breaching the sanctity of religion.

If the PS ever got its way and did away with hate-speech laws in Finland as it wishes, it would lead to a free-for-all turkey shoot where the victims are migrants and minorities.

Using racism to gain more votes and power is a double-edged sword. It is like a rapid dog that can bite back as Anders Breivik did in Norway, murdering 77 victims.

There is another danger: Greed and hatred will fuel internal fighting and bickering.

Even if the PS has a nose around its neck, it is important that we deal with this menace or succumb to its fascist ways.

Mehdi Ghasemi: Towards inclusive and culturally diverse literature in Finland

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Migrant Tales insight: A few days ago, I got an email from Mehdi Ghasemi, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Tampere and Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura (SKS). He says that he’s working on a project that aims to increase the “visibility, readability, and research on immigrant authors in Finland.”

His latest book, Opening Boundaries: “Toward Finnish Heterolinational Literatures,” is an anthology by twenty-four immigrant authors living in Finland from sixteen different nationalities in ten different languages.

You can purchase the book here.

Ghasemi writes:

Opening Boundaries: Toward Finnish Heterolinational Literatures is a part of our project, entitled “Toward a More Inclusive and Comprehensive Finnish Literature,” conducted at the Finnish Literature Society (SKS) and the University of Tampere during 2018-2019. The anthology includes some literary outputs by twenty-four immigrant authors, living in Finland from sixteen different nationalities, and their works in ten different languages make this collection multilingual. However, for the sake of readability, the translation of some of their works in Finnish or English has been offered.

This cross-cultural collection of texts demonstrates the emergence and growth of new heterogeneous, multicultural and multilingual literatures within the Finnish literary canon. This anthology is also an indication of our cultural and literary activities, which, if appreciated, can further grow and enrich the Finnish literary canon. In that case, the literary works produced by immigrant authors in Finland not only diversify the narratives, languages, themes and genres of Finnish literature, but also add to the literary credits of their host society. This would pave the way for the celebration of ethnorelativism and recognition of all authors, regardless of their races and languages, involved actively to promote Finnish literature. Since immigrant authors reside in Finland, they usually take their subjects from the Finnish society, history, culture, language and literature, mix them with their transnational and transcultural experiences and eventually offer a body of literature, which proffers different insights and transforms Finnish literature in both form and content.

Mistä on rasistipojat ja Incel-miehet tehty?

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Mikä saa monet suomalaiset miehet kuvittelemaan, että riittää, kun he vain ovat miehiä? Kuinka pitkälle kantaa vaikkapa sellainen perussuomalaisuus, että hoohakkaraisena ollaan avustajatätien ohjauksessa Euroopan parlamentissa tai persu penkissä istutaan kunnanvaltuustojen kokouksissa antamatta mitään panosta yhteisten asioiden hoitamiseen? Mistä lähtien suomalaiset ovat alkaneet olla halukkaita jättämään hallinnon ääliöiden käsiin? 

Kovasti ällistyttävät myös nämä ukkelit, joita ei ilmastonmuutos pelota, mutta siihen äärimmäisen hyvin perehtynyt ja koko sielunsa voimalla kamppailuun lähtenyt ruotsalaistyttö pelottaa. 

Naisten johtama hallitus on myös nostanut setämiesten säärikarvat pystyyn. En ole koskaan nähnyt vastaavaa ulinaa heikosta, keskustelukyvyttömästä ja epäpätevästä hallituksesta, kun neljän vuoden hallitustyöstä on tehty pari kuukautta. Hallituksen naisten yhteinen saunominen sattui suomalaiseen sieluun syvälle. Yhden naisministerin englannin kielen ääntämyksen kehuminenkin aiheutti närkästystä, onhan suomalaisten miesten kökköenglanti ihan yhtä tärkeää!  

Näyttäisi myös siltä, että meillä Me too -kampanja aiheuttaa muuta maailmaa enemmän vastareaktioita ja puistatuksia. Asia yritetään painaa villaisella ja unohtaa, ettei miehille vain tulisi paha mieli. Miksi ei keskustella enemmän siitä, miten poikien ja miesten on lupa naisia lähestyä? Luulisi, että tällaiset asiat opitaan jo omissa perheissä, mutta onkohan sitä kaikissa perheissä koskaan opittu ja onko nykyään  niin, että oppi tulee sosiaalisesta mediasta? Pitäisikö peruskouluissa järjestää käytös- ja kosiskelukursseja? 

Monet muistavat Napakymppi nimisen1980-luvulla suositun TV-ohjelman, jossa neiti tai herra X valitsevat itselleen kumppanin palkintomatkalle. Järjestään tuossa ohjelmassa olivat naiset ihan fiksun oloisia, mutta suurin osa miehistä kömpelöitä ja kummallisia. En ollut itse edes tunnistanut tätä asiaa, ennen kuin tuolloinen puolalainen esimieheni kysyi, mistä tämä johtuu. Muualta tullut näki selkeämmin eron muun maailman miehiin. Miksi Suomessa miehet keskimäärin ovat niin paljon naisia hömelömpiä? 

Tähän samaan rytäkkään on vielä nostettava ns. Incel-miehet. Meillä on Hommaforum ja moni muu sosiaalisen median alusta pullollaan miehiä, jotka valittelevat naisettomuuttaan. Väistämättä on syntynyt sellainen vaikutelma, että naiskatkeruuttaan purkavat miehet ovat juuri niitä samoja, jotka vihaavat myös vammaisia, vähemmistöjä, feministejä, ”vasemmistolaisia”, eli lähes kaikkea muuta, kuin itseään. Tai ehkä sittenkin eniten itseään ja sitä peitellään käymällä somessa riekkumassa naisten kirjoitusten kommenttiosioissa ja huutamassa rajoja kiinni, jotta muut miehet eivät saisi meidän naisia. 

Yhtenä mallina nettimouhuajille on toiminut rasistien ”mestari”, joka on kertonut nuoruuden huonosta naismäihästä ja nyt näyttää esimerkkiä, että naisia kyllä piisaa, kun on valtaa ja tunnettuutta. Ja sitä taas saa vähemmälläkin karismalla, kun osaa oikealla tavalla vihata ja kiihottaa muitakin surkimuksia vihaamaan. Kuka kertoisi heille, että sellaisiin  miehiin takertuvat naiset ovat hyvin pieni vähemmistö? Erityisen kiihkeän vihan kohde nettinulikoille ovat vierasmaalaisen miehen valinneet naiset. Tuleeko vihaajille koskaan mieleen, että kohteliaisuus ja toisen huomioon ottaminen ovat saattaneet viedä naiselta jalat alta? 

Miksi meillä ajatellaan, että maaseudun poikien ei tarvitsekaan muuta osata, kuin tarttua pyssyynsä ja luikkia metsään kuuntelemaan korpikuusien kuiskintaa? Miksi juuri meillä murrosikä tarkoittaa sitä, että poikalapsen ei tarvitse tervehtiä, katsoa silmiin tai edes vastata, kun kysytään? Jo valmiiksi umpimielisessä maassa ollaan monessa perheessä vain alistuttu siihen, että nuori tuijottaa tietokoneen ruutua yöt pitkät ja käy yhteisissä tiloissa vain hakemassa virvoitusjuomansa. Pitäisihän olla selvää, että murrosikäiset pojat pidetään mukana perheen ja suvun normaaleissa toimissa ja hyvät käytöstavat kuuluvat etenkin heille, joiden hormonitoiminta vilkastuu. On maita, joissa IT-nörtit ja autonasentajat hallitsevat normaalin kanssakäymisen muiden ihmisten kanssa ja osaavat vaikkapa kaupassa pyytää anteeksi, jos vahingossa tönäisevät toista ihmistä. 

Mitä meillä on tehty poikien eristäytymiselle? Syrjäytymisen ehkäiseminen oli yksi presidentti Niinistön kampanjan kärjistä jo ensimmäisellä presidenttikaudella. Missä ovat pyhät puheet nyt? On käsketty maahanmuuttajien pitää huolta omistaan. Kuinka on käynyt meidän omille? Nyhjöttävätkö jotkut tietokoneen ääressä peräkammareissa ja vuodattavat naisettomuuden tuskaansa ja vieraanpelkoansa vastaanottavaisille vihakanaville? Sieltäkö tulee se sakki, joka äänestää vaaleissa mahdollisimman törkeää öykkäriä? Miksi he eivät ole mukana yhteiskunnassa oppimassa tavoille? Ei tämä ole rahasta kiinni, vaan välittämisestä.

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Hyvien perheiden pojat harrastuksensa parissa?

The Finnish police, politicians and the media live in deep denial about the threat of far-right ideologies

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Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you the Soldiers of Odin, a far-right group with close ties with neo-Nazis. When they appeared, the media seemed to be amazed and swept off its feet, while the police played down the problem, just like the previous government did.

Just like in the Oulu sexual assault cases, the police asked white Finns to avoid contact with foreigners (see below). Even so, the most surprising matter is how the police played down the real threat: far-right vigilante gangs like the Soldiers of Odin.

Detective Chief Inspector Markku Tuominen is quoted as warning Finns to avoid taking routes that are risky. He states: “If a foreigner attempts to make close contact with you, you should leave rapidly and, if needed, call the emergency response center. It would be advisable to save the 112 number as a shortcut number on your phone. You should not begin talking with a foreigner because he may get the wrong signal.” Source: Helsingin Sanomat.

Apart from Tuominen’s example, the police in Häme, which welcomed Asikkala-Turva vigilante gang despite some of its members have criminal records.

The police service of Häme is an unfortunate, disappointing example of how biased the Finnish police service is when it welcomed Asikkala-Turva’s vigilante gang activity even though one of its members has a criminal record. Criticized by then-Interior Minister Petteri Orpo for being too lenient, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

Soldiers of Odin founder Mika Ranta, who promises to pay 1,000 euros to anyone who knock a woman’s teeth down her throat. Source: Twitter.

National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen didn’t shine either in the face of these far-right groups. He stated in 2016 that vigilante gangs are fine as long as they didn’t break the law. “It’s a positive matter that [Finnish] citizens [note: not migrants] are interested in their neighborhood’s security and take part and debate in such matters,” he was quoted as saying in Helsingin Sanomat.

Apart from having a reputation for one of the best education systems in the world, Finland has the dubious honor of exporting far-right ideology.

The Anti-Defamation League warned about the presence of the vigilante gang in the United States.

It says in a statement: “Moreover, Soldiers of Odin USA is attracting adherents from both of the two largest segments of the American extreme right—white supremacists and the antigovernment extremist “Patriot” movement—and may be the most significant coalition of such extremists in the U.S. since the early 1990s.”

The Soldiers of Odin are a group that glorifies violence and Nazi ideology. In Migrant Tales, we have written a number of stories exposing their violent ideology like taking over a border checkpoint in Tornio.

A Soldiers of Odin clubroom. Source: Twitter @dimmu141.
Another act of violence includes the throwing of petrol bombs at asylum seekers demonstrating peacefully.
Read the full story here.

The far-right Perussuomalaiset* party has close links with the Soldiers of Odin.

PS MP hides behind his party to absolve him of ethnic agitation charges. Chicken!

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“Part of the problem seems to lie with Finnish politicians who truly believe that having a dialogue – any dialogue, regardless of who is on the opposite side of the table – is better than having no dialogue at all. So you can easily end up with the equivalent of a businessman trying to reach an agreement with Al Capone.”

Kenneth Sikorski, Jerusalem Post

The latter quote fits perfectly with the naive perception that racists and antiracists will one day kiss, makeup, and live happily together.

Dead wrong.

Talking to the likes of Jussi Halla-aho and his political cronies, who have built their careers on racism won’t work because those who try will be exploited and crushed.

And why should I talk to a racist? A racist is a racist who is set on his idea. The racist has to make the first move and renounce his hateful ideology.

PS MP Juha Mäenpää is the latest example of an Islamophobic politician who is afraid to stand by what he said in June, when he compared during a session of parliament asylum seekers, who are mostly Muslim, as an “invasive species.”

Mäenpää hates Muslims. He is the same person who in 2015 said that god had answered his prayers when an asylum reception center, which going to be used to house refugees, was razed to the ground. Mäenpää is a member of the Nazi-spirited Suomen Sisu association as well.

Juha Mäenpää is an Islamophobe who is member of a Nazi-spirited association, Suomen Sisu. Source: Yle News.

After over a half a year, Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen announced Thursday that she plans to charge Mäenpää for ethnic agitation. This may be better said than done since for an MP to be charged, it requires the approval of five-sixths of parliament, or of 167 out of 200 MPs.

The PS, which has said that they will vote against such a proposal, has 39 MPs, which would be enough to force the proposal to be voted down.

The defiant attitude of Mäenpää was clearly seen when the police questioned him. He refused to answer some of the police questions and stated that it wasn’t his fault for how people interpret what he said.

What a bully! What a coward! Chicken!

Should we be surprised by Mäenpää’s reaction to the ethnic agitation charges? Not at all. Those who bully and use their power to push around others are usually cowards when challenged.

Calling Muslim asylum seekers an “invasive species” is 1930 déjà vu, when the Nazi regime victimized and systematically murdered Jews and other minorities.

Andrew Stroehlein is a spokesperson for Human Rights Watch.
Entrance to the Auschwitz death camp where it mockingly reads: “Work will set you free.” On January 27,1945 the camp was liberated. Photo: Enrique Tessieri.

How much gender equality is there in Finland? Is it a myth?

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Finland scores poorly in a comparative study on migrant women employment in the Nordic region, according to Yle News. While 72% of migrant men are employed, the corresponding figure for migrant women is 55%, according to the study by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland.

If we look at specific groups like Somali women, 17% are employed in Finland compared with 33% in Sweden.

Why are there such big differences in migrant women’s employment, especially those who are from North Africa and the Middle East?

Apart from the challenge of speaking the language and other factors, one of the factors may be the double whammy of racial and gender discrimination.

Read the full story here.

Women have made substantial gains in Finland by becoming the first country in Europe to grant women the right to vote and the first in the world to permit women to hold public office.

Even if Finnish women were able to vote and run for parliament, Finland had its first woman minister in 1924. After that, there was a long dry spell of women ministers. Moreover, women were not trusted to give citizenship to their children. Until 1984, only the Finnish father could pass on citizenship to the child.

Other matters that eat away at the myth of the “perfect gender equality society” is that women make about 20% less salary than men. For migrants, the corresponding figure is 0.50 euros.

Moreover, Finland is also the second most violent country for women in the EU, according to a report by FRA European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

Minna Silanpää was appointed Finland’s first woman minister in 1926. Source: Government of Finland.
In this century we have seen a dramatic rise in the number of women ministers. In Marin’s government, women form a majority, with 60% of them being ministers. Source: Government of Finland.

Just like those who deny that racism is a serious social ill in our society, there are also those who deny that everything is fine on the gender-equality front.

Denial is a way of maintaining the status quo.

Kotoutuminen* #8: Let’s do away with “us” and “them”

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In many schools where there are people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, they may be asked to participate in “cultural events” where the pupils are obliged to represent their perceived country and or culture.

Is this ok? Is the problem too much emphasis on “us” and “them?”

One matter that gets lost or forgotten in these types of cultural events is if the non-white pupil considers Finland his or her home country.

Certainly, the pupil does not aim to be white but be himself a fully-fledged member of this society under his or her own cultural and ethnic terms.

By emphasizing “us” versus “them” we are excluding and reinforcing that these people are of “foreign background” and belong to some abstract culture they have only experienced through their parents.

In some cases, these cultural events may turn out to be forums to reinforce our stereotypes of our culture and of others.

These cultural events arranged at schools are a reflection of the prejudices and the place non-white people have in our society.

Let’s stop with this racist nonsense and ask non-white pupils to tell about their home country, which is Finland.

See also: