Finnish identity: You define who you are, nobody else can or should do that for you

by , under Enrique Tessieri

We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.

Anaïs Niin (1907-77)

The Islamophobic Perussuomalaiset (PS)* is a shrinking single-issue political party that wants, but cannot succeed, at turning Finland into a Denmark-style country where political parties try to outdo each other in their racism and bigotry. 

With parliamentary elections just ten months away in April 2019, it is clear that the PS is doing everything possible to attract attention with their political antics. Contrary to the 2011 parliamentary elections, when the number of their MPs rose to 39 from 5 in the previous election, those years are long gone.

According to some polls, the PS is going to be one of the biggest losers of the 2019 parliamentary elections.

While this may be the case, the PS will launch repeated attacks and spread lies about migrants and minorities.

One of these involves closing our borders to asylum seekers, especially to those who cannot read or write.

One PS city councilman from Mikkeli contended in a blog post, which was full of grammatical errors that 46% of all sexual crimes against under-18-year-old teenagers are by asylum seekers.

The claim, which the councilperson bases on a Police University College report, forgets to mention that 46% figure he uses is from a sample of 147 cases or a total of 68 cases. In 2015, 32,477 asylum seekers came to Finland. If we just look at that year, 147 cases out of 32,477 asylum seekers total 0.45%.

Getting one’s facts wrong and grossly exaggerating them is nothing new for the PS.

Another recent claim by the PS is that in 30 years Finland will have cities where white people will be minorities.

Read the full story (in Finnish) here.

The claim, that white Finns will become a minority in the face of migrants and minorities, is one of the oldest tricks in the books by anti-immigration parties.

Stumbling by accident on one of my grandfather’s Finnish-language Reader’s Digest from 1966, I noted a story that claimed that by 1980 Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore, Chicago, and St. Louis would be n-word cities. Yes, you read right, the story is peppered with the n-word in Finnish to denote black people.

Of those cities today that the magazine cites, Detroit has the highest black population with 82.7%, while Baltimore has 64.3%, Cleveland and St Louis have 51% apiece.

The racist tone of the Reader’s Digest article, like that of the PS politician, and by anti-immigration populists throughout Europe and the United States, is that white people are in danger because our society is becoming ever-culturally and ethnically diverse.

Why is greater cultural and ethnic diversity seen as a threat? Or is it?

It can become a threat if we continue to exclude and victimize minorities and treat them the way we do now. If this is the case, there may be social upheavals and movements as we saw in the Civil Rights Movement (1955-68). Such social conflicts will be our own making.

The only way we can avert such problems is to build today an inclusive society where racism and discrimination are on the defensive. Our Nordic values, which hinge on social equality, must apply to every single person of our society irrespective of his or her background.

The highly charged who-is-a-Finn debate is an example of the fear-mongering spread by anti-immigration populists and parties like the PS.

Instead of debating with a racist party we should go for gold and fight for equal rights, equal opportunities, and fair treatment.

Meanwhile, I decide who I am and if somebody has a problem with that, then it is that person’s problem, not mine.

* The Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13 into two factions, the PS and New Alternative, which is now called Blue Reform. Despite the name changes, we believe that it is the same party in different clothing. Both factions are hostile to cultural diversity. One is more open about it while the other is more diplomatic.

A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Official translations of the Finnish name of the party, such as Finns Party or True Finns, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and racism. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and after that the acronym PS.