Denial is a time-tested method to make a social issue go away

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

What do people really mean when they claim that racism is a minor problem in Finland and elsewhere? Are they stating that since racism is a small problem, politicians and public opinion should not concern themselves too much with the issue? If a white Finn claims that racism is not a problem, is he or she stating that immigrants hardly exist in this country?  

Debating Finland’s cultural diversity can be an exercise in opening up old wounds.  Denying the historicity and existence of a group is an effective way of making  a social problem disappear.

I lived in Argentina during the dirty war from 1976-1978, when the country was ruled by a ruthless military régime responsible for the disappearance of some 30,000 people.

The video clip below is a speech by then de facto President Jorge Rafael Videla, who offers excuses to the media on why the military régime cannot do anything about the tens of thousands of people that have gone missing.

Like the debate on racism in Finland or in Europe, General Videla brushes the issue of the disappeared under the rug. He says in effect that since a missing person does not exist he cannot make any demands. A missing person is a question mark.


Videla states at the end of the video clip: “The person who is detained without any rights and the one who went missing is another (case). With respect to the one that went missing, there is a question mark because he’s disappeared. If that person would appear he would get treatment x (by the authorities), and if he appeared and were dead he would get treatment z. But until this disappeared (person) doesn’t appear he cannot be treated in any special way because he is a question mark. He is a missing person. He doesn’t have an identity. He doesn’t exist. He isn’t dead or alive, he’s gone missing.”*

* El hombre que está detenido sin proceso es uno o al desaparecido es otro.  Frente al desaparecido en tanto este come tal es un incognita el desaparecido. Si el hombre apareciera, bueno tendría un tratamiento x y si la aprecion se convirtiera en certeza de su fallecimiento, tiene un tratamiento z. Hasta que este desaparecido no puede tener ningún tratamiento especial porque es un incógnita. Es un desaparecido. No tiene identidad. No está. No muerto o vivo, está desaparecido. 

  1. Mary Mekko

    Excuse me, but were not the Disparadoes native Argentinian, mostly young people, mostly Communist, and of these, many of European Jewish descent? Were they not dropped from airplanes by the military? Of course it was horrible and inhumane, for even Commies are not so evil that they should be killed. Such evil ideas from Russia were combatted, but too fiercely in Argentina. I think that a real Communist should work for free on a collective farm and quit the hypocrisy of living off wealthy parents or student grants. Shovel-ready Commies, unite under the hot sun growing tomatoes for the poor of Argentina, who deserve good, free food!

    But how does that compare to say, an Estonian who moves to Finland, and who thinks he or she is being treated unfairly? Aren’t you really stretching a point here?

    • Enrique

      Mary Mekko, your logic amazes me. They were young, middle-aged, old, children, men, women of all religions, political ideologies, Argentinean and foreign, were killed by the military regime. Certainly you did not live there at the time nor did you hear the cemetery silence of the people as a whole nation was terrorized by a ruthless regime. The excuse was to combat “communism” but in reality it was only an excuse. It was the same excuse used by governments to declare war on others. George W. Bush used it to go on his crusade against Muslims.

      I am not stretching it at all. My point is simple: If you deny the suffering of another person what you are doing is denying that person’s existence. If a Finn says that there is little to no racism in Finland, he or she is saying that foreigners are such a small “happy” group that they shouldn’t even complain or demand any rights.

  2. eyeopener

    Dear Mary Mekko.

    Why does history seem to play a trick on you al the time. And you let it happen over and over again.
    Desparados were those people who fled from the consequences of the capitalist society that they lived in. Plundered, working for indecent payments, long hours etc. But that seems quite normal to you. Probably you don’t like trade-unions either, do you??

    I think you do not have any problem with the current financial crisis. Probably you would call it a bobble on the road to a better society, don’t you??

    But you critizise the former Soviet Union like an established economist, political analyst and an acknowledged sociologist. You seem to know it all. Why don’t you run for the Finnish Presidency??

    Three times in the 80s you have been in the Soviet Union (as it was called those days)!! How did Finland looked those days?? Free, wealthy and all people wanted to stay in Finland. Tell me, why do so many Finns live abroad then??

    Chasing ghosts do not make you happy!!

  3. JusticeDemon


    You must appreciate that Mary has been visited by the space aliens and has made a deal with them in return for some precious bodily fluids. She does not think as others do. She has no need of logic or historical information or any of the flim flam that occupies the weak minds of ordinary mortals. Mary does not need these things because Mary knows the Truth.