Too many Finnish politicians and parties are ignorant of their country’s migrant and refugee history

by , under Enrique Tessieri

-titta, en finne igen i fyllan!
-satans finjävlar!

-look, (a) drunken Finn!
-damn Finnish devils!

The infamous saying, en finne igen, yet another Finn, can be found in Urban Dictionary. The statement was used by Swedes to claim that Finns are “violent, primitive savages” because some have issues with learning Swedish and alcohol. After World War 2, hundreds of thousands of Finns emigrated to Sweden. 

Watching YLE’s Pressiklubi and the debate between rector Tiina Rosenberg of the University of Arts Helsinki and Simon Elo, the head of the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* youth league, it’s clear that the PS is one party that is very selective about how it treats Finnish history and racism.

One of the ways of tackling the prejudices that the Swedish media spread and reinforced about Finns in the 1970s was an active campaign by the Finnish embassy in Stockholm to meet the editors of different media. One of the outcomes of such lobbying was not labeling crime suspects to national origin.

Elo states on the interview that the PS has renounced racism but the party continues to act in the same way as the Swedish media did over 40 years ago when labeling Finns.

A good example is the latest edition of the party’s newspaper, Perussuomalainen, which claims in the most sensationalist language and images that Jihadists use refugee centers in Finland as holiday resorts. The pictures and the message of the story labels Muslims and migrants in Finland in the same way as the Finns were labelled once by the Swedish media.

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Watch program here.


Moreover, when Rosenberg mentioned that many Finns emigrated to Sweden, Elo snapped back and stated that it was “an insult” to compare Finnish migrants to refugees that come to this country.

Elo, with his knee-jerk statement,  exposes in one sentence the prejudices that this country has for refugees.

This shouldn’t surprise us since the term is loathed in the Finnish language so much that the 420,000 Karelians that were forced to flee their homes after the Continuation War (1941-44) are called evacuees, or evakkot, not refugees.

For some strange reason as well, Soviet citizens that defected to Finland during the cold war were never seen as refugees, which they were.

Elo’s statement, that one cannot compare asylum-seekers that come to Finland to Finnish emigrants that moved to Sweden because they “were hardworking,” exposes not only the PS politician’s ignorance of this country’s history but the myths that his party is reinforcing and spreading.

What does it say about Finland as well, a country that has seen over 1.2 million emigrants between 1860 and 1999 and resettled 420,000 refugees, doesn’t have a clear idea and understanding about its own immigrant and refugee history and on top of this has a party (PS) that is openly hostile to them?

The answer to that question lies in our own collective deconstructed memory and our low national self-esteem.

Haven’t studies showed that people with low self-esteem are more prone to prejudice?

Elo also claimed on the program that the PS is a party that supports “healthy” nationalism.

Is there such a thing in a party like the PS that flirts with far-right ideology and nativist nationalism?  Certainly Elo is white so he can claim anything he wants to but I suspect that many migrants and minorities will disagree with his statement.

Rosenberg said that the seeds of fascism are planted in a party like the PS, which singles out others from being treated equally and with dignity in this country.

Migrant Tales has said it many times: Parties like the PS are not only a menace to this country but especially to migrants an minorities.

Alberto Coronel sums up well what is happening to us in Finland today with parties like the PS with the quote below. In this same questionable group we can place the National Coalition Party, Christian Democrats, Center Party and Social Democrats.

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In plain English the quote by Chris Rock means in our context that if the PS could, they would disenfranchise as much as possible migrants, minorities and Finns who don’t see the world in the same way as them.


Because that’s their political agenda.

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.

  1. Yossie

    If anything, you don’t have a clear idea or understanding of finnish immigration history or you just want ignore some critical differences to justify the mass immigration to Finland. You should just stop coming up with that 1,2 million finnish immigrants as your excuse to allow uncontrolled immigration to Finland.

    Finland now is not a Sweden of 60s or 70s nor is it a US of 1800s. Back then Sweden needed a lot of manual labor to fill its factories. There were recruiters in Finland to attract more people to Sweden. People got there and they were working next morning. Required skills were pretty low and there were not enough workers in Sweden. In US there were a lot of unsettled land they gave away for free to used farming for immigrants or there were other manual labor work. Again, required skills were low or they already had the necessary skills to begin with.

    Nowdays all kind of manual labor either gets automatized or it gets moved to countries with cheaper labor costs. Low skilled work were immigrants typically get employed is disappearing. There is no jobs for the immigrants. That’s the major difference.

    US & Sweden back then: Need workforce -> attract immigrants
    Finland & Sweden now: attract workforce -> try to find them work -> Try to fight off problems because there were no jobs