What happens when you dilute a term like racism?

by , under Enrique

Ignorance is a crucial factor that still holds Finland back from tackling effectively a social ill like racism. If it’s not seen as an issue, very little will be done to challenge it. 

Add to the latter the fact that even some of our elected representatives in parliament don’t know the difference between racism and discrimination, and the issue becomes clear.

Reijo Tossavainan, a Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP, wrote the following comment on Pekka Siikala’s blog entry: “I don’t accept racism. Not even age racism (ikärasismia).”

The comment by Tossavainen not only offers us a glimpse of the elected official’s knowledge of racism, but how his ignorance plays down the problem.

Diluting a term like racism to mean something else is like using water in liquor bottles “so no one knows you drank some.” Soure: Allenate’s photostream.

It’s clear that a lot is lost when you water down a term like racism and redefine it as “age racism.” It’s like taking the term Holocaust and applying to something minor than the systematic murder of six million Jews in World War 2. Diluting the meaning of the term to mean something else is synonymous to denying or playing down what Nazi Germany did to the Jews.

The same applies to the term racism. If we use it differently, like in “age racism,” we deny the history and suffering of other ethnic groups like blacks in the U.S., Somalis and other minorities in Finland.

If an MP doesn’t get what racism is, how can you expect him to fight such a social ill?

Tossavainen is not alone in Finland. There are other politicians from other parties who believe that there is such a thing as “age racism.”

Sad but true.