Why do we still hesitate to challenge intolerance in Finland?

by , under Enrique

I had an interesting chat yesterday with an old friend about racism in Finland. One of the matters we agreed was that Finland hasn’t reached that stage where we accept that racism exists and that concrete steps must be taken to challenge it. This fact leads us to a second important question: Why? 

The answer is obvious and could be answered with the statement below I got from Ruth Rubin’s Facebook wall.

They give as a present fear so they can sell us security.

Wars will never end not because it is in our blood, but because it is big business. Why would the army, navy or air force of a country admit that we live in a safer world? If they did, they’d see their budgets slashed.

Since racism is hostile and a violent act like war, it’s clear that it has a role as well. The above-mentioned statement if applied to racism would read something like the following: We deny racism in order to remain in our historic, political and economic comfort zone.

There’s a lot of money riding on ensuring that we have an effective system that discriminates against different groups like immigrants and visible minorities.

Why not ask the Perussuomalaiset (PS) if they agree?  What would happen if they admitted that racism is an issue in this country that should be tackled. Making such an admission would be synonymous to commiting political hara-kiri.

Like some political parties, some institutions like the police, educational sector, Finnish Immigration Service, even some so-called anti-racist associations, don’t want to take the debate to the second level and admit that racism is an issue in this society because it would diminish their power and status.

So to answer my friend’s comment, why Finland still resists to recognize that racism is an issue in this society, is clear: We deny racism as a problem because intolerance gives some status and power at the cost of other groups.

My friend and I have lived in this country for many decades. Contrary to him, I have Finnish ancestry. I believe that we know a little about racism in Finland.

Even so, few are willing to discuss in earnest our view on the matter. 


Because we are still in the phase of denying rather than challenging racism.


  1. fringedweller

    I see Finland sometimes as a sort of Asian style social harmony society. There is a tight cap on what can be said in the media and what not. It’s like there is an official narrative and everybody should just stick to its unwritten rules. Partly, it’s because the society is very small and introverted and there is this code of omerta on topics like racism. So there is this disconnect on the one hand you have official discourse of multiculturalism and etc, which mostly just repeat empty slogans like Finland needs foreigners etc, but on the other hand there is a very potent xenophobic force which is to a various degree everywhere and it affects many people’s life. And then there is a small but very vocal group of racists that mostly expresses itself through internet and sometimes in the streets and the mainstream population just turns a blind eye on that or silently condones it.

    It’s good that there is a blog like this because the immigrants especially the Somalis and other minorities so openly despised by the majority population should have a voice. Those few Somalis that make it in this society beyond cleaning jobs and manage to get decent jobs they are usually so drilled into obedience by the majority, they don’t wanna have anything to do with these issues, because like all of us they want to adapt and blend and be accepted and succeed and bringing these issues forward publicly for them is in many cases means asking for troubles. And they already have enough troubles.