Suomen Kuvalehti: Professori Vesa Kanniainen: Jokainen on rasisti

by , under All categories, Enrique

Comment: Here is another column that will add to Mark’s good contribution on what is racism. 

This column below is by Vesa Kanniainen, a professor of economics at Helsinki University. When reading opinion-pieces on immigration in Finland and elsewhere it is important to find out who the writer is and what may be his motives for writing on the topic.

We at Migrant Tales don’t hide the fact that we aim to be a blog that debates some of the salient issues facing the immigrant and minority community in Finland. It aims to be a voice for those whose views and situation are understood poorly and heard faintly by the media, politicians and public.

In my opinion, Kanniainen’s column is a borderline case justifying racism on the one hand and giving it the thumbs down on the other.  He attempts to defend how we are all racists deep inside and that this hinges on our genes. Why doesn’t he speak how nationalism, instead of genes, fuels racism?

Some believe that the flip side of nationalism is always racism. according to Chris Hedges.

A lot of people who play down racism in Finland do so because they are white and are not immigrants.  The issue affects them in another way as opposed to a person who may have a multicultural background.

If racism is learned it can be unlearned. How much we want to unlearn racism is, I believe, the big question that Kanniainen should address.

He concludes: “As an economist I know that Finland needs immigrants. Finns still have the right to not accept the values that many immigrants represent. This isn’t racism.

What does this statement tell us? What does it imply about immigrants? Is it for acceptance of minorities or under certain conditions?

True,  Finns (no pun intended) do not have to accept the values of some immigrant groups in the same way that immigrants are not obliged to accept the values that some Finns have. By values I do not mean being against the UN Declaration of Human Rights but permitting people in our society to make choices about their lifestyles. This is a human right.

Kanniainen’s column is a good example of the undercurrents found in today’s debate over Finland’s ever-growing cultural diversity. We state that we want to accept immigrants but the conditions are quite rigorous and narrow. These conditions are generally being made by white Finns.

What makes these conditions suspect, however, is that they’d never be suggested to members of our own group. 


Vesa Kanniainen

YK:n yleissopimuksen mukaan rasismilla tarkoitetaan rotuun, ihonväriin, syntyperään tai kansalliseen tai etniseen alkuperään perustuvaa erottelua, poissulkemista. Koko elämän mysteeri on kuitenkin rasistinen.

Read whole story.

  1. Hmmm

    ”Why doesn’t he speak how nationalism, instead of genes, fuels racism?”

    Well maybe because nationalism doesn’t always fuel racism. Or maybe, even more importantly, they are not exclusive factors.