The Association of Finnish Culture and Identity (Suomalaisuuden liitto) is an association founded in 1906 to “strengthen the sense of national identity, to promote Finnish education and culture.” While this statement may appear innocent at first, the association endorses the intolerance white Finnish speakers have today against Swedish speakers never mind immigrants and visible minorities.
In sum, the Association of Finnish Culture and Identity is an enemy of Finland’s inevitable cultural diversity.
The values and attitudes of the association are maintained with the help of myths tucked deep in the nineteenth and twentieth century. In their world, Finnish-speaking culture is static and supposed to remain in a time warp. They promote an exclusive ethnic club that has no place in modern Finland today.
One of its campaigns is to undermine cultural diversity in Finland together with Vapaa kielivalinta, the youth wings of the PS and National Coalition Party. These four groups succeeded at gathering over 50,000 signatures for a direct initiative to demote the Swedish language to elective status at schools.
Swedish is a minority language in Finland. It is the country’s second official language together with Finnish.
Here’s a logo used before by the Regional Council of South Savo. It depicts the inhabitants of this region as indigenous natives, which fuels “us” versus “them.” Anti-immigration groups in Finland argue that they are “vulnerable natives” being attacked by “immigrant colonizers.”
When the association speaks in defense of “Finnish culture,” it is defending only the rights of white Finnish speakers and not that of other groups who are Finns as well.
It shouldn’t be surprising that in the face of Finland’s ever-growing cultural diversity, there’s still no non-white Finns on the board “strengthening our national identity.”
The Association of Finnish Culture and Identity is today led by anti-immigration and anti-EU Perussuomalaiset (PS) party members. Its chairman is Sampo Terho, a PS Euro MP.
When building a social construct like Finnish national identity, like what happened to Swedish and foreign surnames in 1906-07 and in the 1930s that were changed into Finnish ones, there are bad side effects like xenophobia and racism.
Groups like the Association of Finnish Culture and Identity continue to promote intolerance, indirectly and directly, by not questioning, or even recognizing, how some of its former causes, like strengthen Finnish identity, promoted, and continue to fuel, intolerance and hostility towards non-white Finns.
One of the biggest decision that Finland must make in order to take that first crucial step towards cultural diversity is acceptance and respect for other groups. This process is a two-way street.
While many of us are acceptant of cultural diversity, the shadow of our own national identity social construct continues to intimidate us into not accepting that our national identity in this century is very different from what it was before.
Apart from being a proud nation of its accomplishments, it is a nation that accepts and is respectful of its cultural diversity that is inclusive.