An effective way of putting racism in context in Finland

by , under Enrique Tessieri

There are many ways to understand ethnic hatred and racism in Finland. One of these is by substituting the word ‘migrant’ for your ethnic group and/or ‘woman’ in a text that’s aimed at fueling ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Let’s take the recent claims of two politicians, MPs Tom Packalén and Pia Kauma, to see how passions are fueled or can be smothered. 

Original claim by Perussuomalaiset (PS)* MP Packalén.

Before: Gangs made up only of young people with migrant backgrounds said their motives are racist because their aim is to hurt white Finns.

After: Gangs made up of only young white Finns said their motives are racist because their aim is to hurt migrants and minorities.

Näyttökuva 2014-10-26 kello 10.24.24
Before and after. Racism is like the fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) mushroom. It looks beautiful when it fruits and may invite some to eat its hallucinogenic poison. Time, like racism, reveals the true face of this mushroom when it ages and dies.


As we all know, Packalén pulled a fast one on the media and public. The problem with the PS MP’s claim is that it just isn’t true and an inflated exaggeration. Even so, his claims have spread fear and labelled non-white Finns, encouraging even neo-Nazi groups like the Kansallinen Vastarinta and members of the PS to patrol the streets of Helsinki.

Here’s National Coalition Party MP Kauma’s claim.

Before: Migrant mothers buy new baby carriages with social aid.

After: White Finnish mothers buy new baby carriages with social aid.

Like with Packalén, Kauma’s claim is stuffed as well with lots of baloney.

Even if these two MPs made up these stories in light of the April parliamentary elections, is one point. But the other very important one is that they succeeded at getting a lot of media coverage, which was their original aim.

Check out the two postings below on how by just changing a few key words in a vengeful and racist text reveals the underhanded motives of the writer and brings the topic closer to home:

If you still are trying to grasp these two disgraceful examples, why not replace migrant or ethnic group with ‘woman.’

Remember how urban tales about women were and still may be rampant in Finland? Women can’t drive, they’re poor in math, all they know what to do is have babies and cook…This is the exact anatomy of racist discourse in Finland today. Migrants live off welfare, they’re lazy, sly and shouldn’t be trusted…

How many generations did such outright lies about women still continue to oppress them?

Ever figure out how it feels to be in a university math class and be the only women? Think about how much pressure there is on that woman and how much energy she must expend to prove that she’s just as good as her male classmates.

This exact feeling is what many migrants feel in society. They’re constantly trying to prove that they are just as good and worthy of being treated as equal members of society.

Thus there is nothing harmless when politicians reinforce prejudices about migrants. On the contrary – it is a violent act that aims through power to dominate others.

Add to the latter the near-silence of society and a bigger picture of the social ill emerges.

Racism is not only costly to society but especially to the victim.


The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.

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