MTV3: Jari Tervo: Suomeen pitää saada lisää ulkomaalaisia

by , under All categories, Enrique

Comment: Writer Jari Tervo continues to make waves in Finland about racism and the ever-growing immigrant population. He hoped that Finns would become more tolerant of other groups since the immigrant population in Finland has grown significantly in the last decade.

Tervo makes a very good point and addresses a big issue in this country: the lack of cultural diversity.

Finland’s cultural diversity was crippled in the last century when our foreign population plummeted. In 1920 we had 3.5 times more foreigners living in this country than in 1970, when the immigrant population totalled about 7,000. The biggest national group back then were Finns who had become naturalized Swedes. 

The lack of cultural diversity reveals a lot about us as a nation and society. The ongoing immigration debate is one of many examples. It shows how ill-prepared we are in accepting cultural diversity and how aggressively some of us react to it.

The lack of cultural diversity hurts how we approach and resolve problems. One of the reasons why we can still agree about our history is because cultural diversity was on the defensive. What do, for example, Russian Finns think about our independence and the Continuation War?

As our society becomes more culturally diverse, we will not only begin to look at ourselves differently but accept certain matters that are still unacceptable or still taboo about ourselves today.


Kirjailija Jari Tervo syyttää yhä suomalaisia rasisteiksi. Hänen mukaansa esimerkiksi useissa nettikeskusteluissa kirjoitetaan rasistisia kommentteja. Tervon mielestä suomalaiset joutuvat pohtimaan uudella lailla suhtautumistaan ulkomaalaisiin ja erilaisiin ihmisiin.

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  1. Asian

    Jaa on ehkä vähän naivia olettaa, että monimuotoisuus lisää suvaitsevaisuusta.
    Monimuotoisuuden lisääntyminen useimiten vain lisää jyrkää jakoa värillisiin ja valkoisiin, kun valkoiset pakenevat lähiöistä peläten rikollisuus aaltoa. Minusta meidän pitäisi vain hyväksyä ,että värilliset eivät koskaan voi olla suomalaisia ja alkaa rakentaa omaa yhteisöä jossa me olemme normi.

    • Enrique

      Hi Asian and tervetuloa Migrant Talesin. Cultural diversity is in my opinion what is lacking in Finland. Nazi Germany was a good example of how a group of madmen tried to rid Germany of its diversity (the Jews and others). Diversity is strength. Immigration always gives something back to society. People who think that it only takes away something are those who still don’t get it.

      Our main language is English but other languages like Finnish have been used.

  2. Foreigner

    Just read this;last year about 68000 Chinese became permanent residents of the USA.Keep in mind that this is only one immigrant group, and that there are several others.I do know that some of you will argue that the population of the US is a lot larger than that of Finland, but if we look at the immigrant to “born citizens” ratio of the USA, that ratio is so much higher in the US than it is in Finland.

    To my recollection, up till a few years ago, the US had a booming economy.The economic problems it now suffers can in no way be attributed to its immigration quota.In fact,from my experience in the US, immigrants have boosted that economy, and made it what it is.Plus, on the cultural side, immigrants have had positive impacts on the cuisine, music, and general way of life of the US.

    Finns, no one is asking you guys to change your culture.However, there are a few positives you people could learn from immigrants here, such as bathing daily (especially during the summer) and being a bit more innovative in your culinary offerings.You at least need immigrants to tell you outright that riisipirakka(?) and mammi (Easter favorite) taste AWFUL!!!

    • Enrique

      Hi Foreigner, the idea that immigration is a threat is an argument used by far right and right-wing populist groups to incite nationalist sentiment. When they do this they harm the country because immigration is totally the opposite: it brings growth and innovation. We must also take into account that since no society is perfect because it is made up of humans, this is also true of the immigrant community. But like society, the grand majority do adapt. One of the most important qualities that humans have is their ability to adapt.

      Finland’s economic growth is going to slow this decade due to more people retiring from the workforce. Parties like the PS rarely speak of these type of issues because they are more into building walls around Finland than anything else.

  3. Jaakko


    I believe that most people don’t have any issues with, for example, Chinese immigrants, because they (and other Asians) are known from their good working ethics and good education level (if I remember right, Chinese had the lowest unemployment rate amongst the foreigners in Finland). However, people have some issues with foreigners who don’t have possibilities to get a job in Finland (no language skills in English/Finnish/Swedish, no education etc.).

    – However, there are a few positives you people could learn from immigrants here, such as bathing daily (especially during the summer)

    Have you ever been in Finland or where did you heard this? Do you also believe that French never shower, Russians are communist and all Japanese have glasses? Hehe, I can sure you that most of the Finns shower at least once a day, usually two times.

    – and being a bit more innovative in your culinary offerings.You at least need immigrants to tell you outright that riisipirakka(?) and mammi (Easter favorite) taste AWFUL!!!

    In this I can agree with you. Even thought Finns eat nowadays more outside in international restaurats, there are still some disgusting foods like riisipiirakka and mammi… eww. However, which country doesn’t have “disgusting” foods? In China you can dog meat, but it doesn’t mean that you have to eat it or all Chinese are doing so. I have been eating many exotic foods (for example, ants, scorpions and snake), but you probably would find them disgusting 🙂

    However, I do agree with you that there are many things in Finnish culture which I don’t like. Especially the drinking culture is something so absurd and unhealthy that there could be some improvement.

    • Enrique

      –To be finnish is same to be white.

      I’m not white by your definition but still I am a Finn. So what do you want me to do? Run to some corner and cry that I cannot be Finnish because my skin color doesn’t match yours?

  4. JusticeDemon


    It doesn’t occur to you that there is a glaring contradiction between your first and third paragraphs? You happily stereotype Chinese immigrants, but then object to stereotyping of Finns and argue that this must be hearsay. Spot the doublethink?

    Perhaps instead of merely relying on your mutu assurance, the Chairman of the parliamentary committee for administration should request objective statistics on how frequently people of varying national origin bathe in Finland?

  5. Jaakko

    I think referring to positive stereotypes is acceptable, but Foreigner stated quite negative stereotypes of Finns (even I have never heard that stereotype that Finns don’t shower). It’s like saying that all Asians are bad drivers or Africans are lazy.

  6. Martin-Éric

    If being white were the same as being Finnish, I would have not encountered so much racism, despite being white and speaking Finnish with a Karelian accent.

  7. JusticeDemon


    Look at your first paragraph again and ask whether your stereotyping was exclusively positive.

    Should an international business apply the same reasoning when deciding where to set up a branch in Finland? After all, people in southern and western Finland have the lowest unemployment rate, whereas we might have problems with people in northern and eastern Finland, who are evidently less employable.

  8. Foreigner

    Jaako, I too never heard of the stereotype that Finns do not shower. Actually, it is not a stereotype, but something I have observed and witnessed after having lived here for some years. When I first got here, it really astounded me how my Finnish acquaintances and in-laws would get up in the morning,brush their teeth, change clothes, and head out the door. That was a new experience for me, coming from a culture where we bathe at least twice a day.

    When I confronted these Finns about why they do not bathe before heading out of the house, they simply told me that it is too cold.Give me a break! I am from a tropical climate, and even in the dead of winter here, I bathe before heading out of the house. Don’t you people feel uncomfortable going to work with the sweat from sleeping plastered all over you? Yes, even in winter, we all sweat (perspire if you like) whilst sleeping.

    Maybe the bathing issue is petty to some, but it really irritates me when I use the public transportation system on a morning, and am assailed by the smell of unwashed bodies.

    It is true, political parties like the PS keep building walls around Finland, as if to say that Finland can survive on it’s own. Well maybe it can, but I am sure that life here will be a lot merrier if Finland opens itself to the outside world, acknowledges that immigrants here can be a positive force in society, and realize that we are in the year 2011.

    What does this say about Finland, when in 2011, we are here discussing the case of a black man dismissed from his job, because clients did not like the colour of his skin? I am very happy now that such cases are seeing the light of day!

  9. Jaakko


    So, referring the Chinese as hard working and educated is a negative stereotype? At least I would be proud if that would be Finns stereotype as well.

    The immigrant unemployment level with specific nationalities can be usually explained with their education and language skills. It can’t be because of the skin colour, even the statics shows that. For example, people from Kenia and Ghana has low unemployment level even most of them have a dark skin.

    Of course, the international companies should establish their branches where the necessary skills are available to do the job. If the branch is Subway, I think all cities has the needed skills for it, but for IT company it is not wise to establish a branch middle of the forest. I’m not trying to get a job as a cook either, because I know that I don’t have the necessary skills and education to do so.

  10. JusticeDemon


    It is beneath you to be so disingenuous. Go back to that paragraph and focus hard on why you said However…. There is your negative stereotype.

    I think you will find that the sample sizes are generally too small and the profiles of various immigrant groups are too specific to draw reliable conclusions about inherent employability, which is evidently what you are trying to do.

    The example of where an international company should establish a branch was designed to illustrate the point that people in eastern and northern Finland cannot be viewed as inherently less employable than people in southern and western Finland simply because the general level of unemployment is higher where they live. Of course you realised that, but you had to ignore it, as it undermines your thesis of inherent employability based merely on membership of a group with a certain employment profile.

    More to the point, how far do you think an employer should be influenced by statistics on alcohol abuse in various population groups when deciding whether to employ you as a bus driver or airline pilot?

  11. BoredinFinland

    Jaakko who told you that the Chinese have lower unemployment rates here because they are educated and hard-working? So the rest of us are juts lazy?????

    It does not occur to you that maybe they are self-employed (as the Kenyans too) because that is the most probably way to get a proper income here if you are a foreigner (just ask the Vietnamese too)!

    There is definitively something going on here in Finland. Please, do not cover the sun with your hand, as we said in my country.

    FYI, I am a qualified and a hard-working person, yet, I have being unable to secure a job position here….I applied to a job where knowing the Finn language was unnecessary, and I had similar qualifications than the Finns applicants (or better to be honest), and even in that case I wasn’t even called for an interview (!). How do you explain this situation?

    I just admire the way in which Finnish rationalize their behaviour. They always find the “rational” reason behind their attitudes. It is striking that in the Flemish area of Belgium we could find many racism attitudes openly done, yet, anybody regardless the colour of their skin, nationality or name can have a proper job there. Well, that country went down the route of being truly multicultural. And they are not carefully creating a fake image of themselves as the Finns do. Whereas in Finland, they made a big act of contrition whenever they have being caught of being a racist country, then after that, they begin to find any reason other than racism to explain their behaviour: they exclude and isolate from the system anybody that is not remembering the image of the True Finn as the Nationalist ideology has imposed in this country for many years.

  12. Ius

    Finland is a racist country, there’s no doubt about that. Most, if not all, other countries are racist too.

    What I do find quite absurd when I read these comments concerning RACISM is some of the points which are repeated in the discussion:

    1. Finns do not bathe often enough (ehm, does that sound prejudiced to anyone else than me?)

    2. Some Finnish food is disgusting (may so be, but how is that relevant in the discussion?)

    3. “Finns” rationalise their bad behaviour (does this mean that ALL Finns do this at all times? Not generalising at all there, are we? Because when someone else generalises you lash out instantly, but when you do it about Finns it’s okay just because you’re the immigrant and thus the victim?)

    Also, someone chose to compare Finland with Belgium. I’m sorry to say this, and I wish it wasn’t so, but just take a look at the map of Europe. Look up Belgium. Then look up Finland. Belgium is literally in the middle of Europe, people from all over coming and going. It’s a country with a history of having colonies. Then look at Finland, at the far end of Europe, no colonies, stuck between Russia and Sweden. It is kind of naive to think that Finland would be as ‘truly international’ as Belgium. Historically Finns have been in little contact with other nations. I’m not justifying it, I’m just saying your expectations are unrealistic.

    I’m just asking you too keep it on a fair level.

    • Enrique

      Hi lus and welcome to our blog, Migrant Tales. I agree with you and that is why it is safer to use SOME before the noun, or some Finns.

  13. Jaakko

    Ok, I will make one my short message:


    The stereotypes are often referring a people of certain group (usually nationality/race), but when I continued saying “However…”, I didn’t mention any specific groups, did I? Of course, you can try to read between the lines and imagine in your head what you want. I just said that most Finns have nothing against foreigners/immigrants/people of different colour, but they don’t understand why Finland should take people who have no opportunities or any changes to get a job here.

    If the person has a history of alcohol problem, then I would reconsidering hiring him. The problem with some group of people is that they don’t have the needed skills to survive in Finland (meaning: proper education and language skills). From the employer perspective it is not wise to take a risk with a person who can’t do his job. Some nationalities have a higher education than the others and are more easily employed. However, I do admit that especially outside capital area, there are more racism and foreigners have harder time to get a job, no matter what their education level is. So, basically this could maybe also explain the unemployment levels between some groups?


    I never said that other immigrants are lazy (or even the groups which has higher unemployent level). Statics shows that some group of people are better employed than the others and it doesn’t seems to have anything to do with the skin colour as some people are referring. There are still a few options: a) these groups don’t have the necessary skills for the jobs b) all Finnish employers are racist towards these specific groups c) they don’t want to get a job. I know which option you are going to pick.

    I do agree with you: if you are (better) qualified, hard-working and the job doesn’t require Finnish language skills, you should be at least called to the interview. I don’t know the reason why you weren’t invited, but it is also possible that the interviewer/employer is a racist as you are probably referring. Or that the job was already taken, but they just had to publish open position still… this is annoying.

  14. BoredinFinland

    Lus, yep! Amendment: I should have used “most of the Finns” …no generalizations here…. 😉

    About comparing Finland and Belgium. I know Finland is far away from continental Europe (almost like Sweden -but they have managed to be a more international and inclusive society, haven’t they?). BTW I am from a non imperialist country and yet we are a more inclusive society than Finland(!). Of course I did not compare Finland and Belgium geographically and neither historically (where did you read that idea? ). But yes, I do understand you are trying to rationalize (you see ) the idea of not being an open and inclusive society. I did that comparison on the basis of being both RACISTS societies. Finland = Belgium (Flemish part) = Racist society. But even so, in Belgium you still can get a job regardless your colour of skin, etc…!. Here, it is very difficult (no generalizations). The thing is that Belgium is not telling the rest of the planet that they are a tolerant society, whereas Finland, well you know they are the number one (more generalizations! lol)

    I know Finland is not multicultural ( I knew that when I visited for the first time this country back in 2001). That is why we have open advocates like Enrique and an NGO (my Finland is international – I bet you thought it was created to show the rest of the facebook world that Finland was international and multicultural 😉 to begin debating these issues and produce some social change here.

  15. BoredinFinland

    Jaakko: Actually, I am unsure about the options (abc) you gave, because, we do not know what kind of employment they have: they might be working for a Finn company or having their own business or working for a foreigner company or working for a foreigner who has his/her business here. I am afraid I can not give you my opinion here, (and I think you cant neither conclude about this issue as you have done) with that information.

    Yep, you see, I still see good things in Finns…because instead of thinking about racism…I thought they had somebody for that position in advance.

  16. Ius

    To BoredinFinland:

    I think you are naive beyond words. You say I am rationalising like it would be a crime. Of course I’m rationalising. Rationalisation is not the same as justification. Of course in order to analyse things you HAVE to rationalise. To look at the reasons behind the problems. How else do you make things better? Or are you saying that being racist is somehow inherent to the nature of Finns. That they simply cannot be otherwise because of genetics? Now who’s flirting with racism.

    Sweden is not much less racist than Finland. This I can say after living there for 5 years. So I actually have personal experience of being an immigrant in Sweden. I most certainly don’t think Finland or the people of Finland think they are an open society. I have a very hard time believing there are many people living in that illusion. To me this seems more like your personal opinion (spiced by bitterness of the unfair and unfortunate treatment that you have received in Finland). And as far as being number one: well, every country likes to think it’s number one. Flanders thinks its better than Wallonia, richer and better organised. Sweden thinks its the conscience of the world. The USA see themselves as the most democratic society in the world. Small countries in far-end parts of Europe just have to blow their own horn a bit more than big countries.

    And as far as you coming from a more open society than Finland? Good for you. But there are few countries (at least in Europe) that have historically been as isolated as Finland.

    • Enrique

      Hi lus and welcome to our blog, Migrant Tales. I agree with you and that is why it is safer to use SOME before the noun, or some Finns.

      I for one am very careful about speaking badly in other people’s company about how bad food is. On a blog it is different. But in effect when you say that you don’t like somebody’s food you don’t like that person. You are what you eat so you can’t be nice because what you eat isn’t good.