I’ve done several posts, here and on other sites, in which I’ve shared letters from immigrants to Finland who felt disenfranchised, bitter, depressed, at the ends of their ropes. I received an email yesterday from a thoughtful person I correspond with on occasion. Her comments were poignant. I thought about only excerpting them, but she’s so well-spoken that I’ll just give them to you verbatim.
“I missed this post of yours back in August, and reading it now, I’m struck by just how vitriolic some of the comments are. Comment #2 especially stood out in that respect: “Finns are the coldest people on the planet and they are selffish and jealosy. They have very little knowlegde about other poleple and cultures and often assume they are superior to other peple. […] Never expect a finn to have guilt or show compassion or simple good will eg look at the industries serving old people. They are just there to suck them dry.” Ouch! While I don’t doubt that there are Finns who are selfish and jealous, and won’t visit their sick relatives for all the tea in China (maybe they don’t care much for tea?), I find this kind of comment to be a tad ironic to say the least… He or she accuses Finns of being ignorant and prejudiced, then goes on to make absolute generalizations about Finns!
“To me, that sounds very much like reversed racism; because let’s be honest here: the people who wrote the comments that you included in both of your “Finnish Racism” posts are really criticizing white Finns. Everyone knows that only white people are racist, and therefore any criticism of white people, however unwarranted it may be in more than just some cases, is fair game. It’s not racism, it’s criticism. It most certainly is; but it’s also a half-crock of shit, if you ask me. Allow me to explain myself. For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to use the term “white people” to refer to all people whose skin and hair colour would typically land them in the “Causcasian” ethnic group, and who would describe themselves as either “white” or “Caucasian”, regardless of their nationality. I will also use masculine pronouns and adjectives to refer to the authors of the comments I pinpoint in “Finish Racism #2″, since I have no idea whether the people who wrote these comments are male or female.
“I agree that there are plenty of white people who are ignorant and prejudiced about people who stem from cultures they are not familiar with, and as such, calling them ignorant and prejudiced is completely justified. But when someone starts throwing generalizations around and accuses all people who belong to a particular group of being this or that, it really gets my goat. If we go back to Comment #2 of “Finnish Racism #2″, this person starts off by stating that “Finns are the coldest people on the planet”. Really? And how does he know this, exactly? It’s very unlikely that he knows everybody on this planet (or even everybody in Finland, for this matter), so how can he say such a thing? I don’t see a big difference between a person who says that “Black people are all criminals and thieves”, one who claims that “all Muslims want the destruction of Western civilization on one level or another”, and another who maintains that Finns are the coldest people on the planet, and that they are selfish and jealous on top of it.
“In my opinion, all three statements reek of blatant ignorance and prejudice; but I’d be willing to bet that while the first two statements would cause a large number of people to object regardless of their “ethnic persuasion”, the third one would only elicit a shrug and an apologetic comment along the lines of: “I don’t know any Finns, so I can’t really say… Sorry.” Except, of course, from Finns, who would most likely be offended by the comment, and rightfully so, if I may add. Saying that racism is a reality in Finland and that a significant portion of the population of Finland holds what would be considered racist views is fair; claiming that all Finns are rotten to the core is preposterous. I may not personally know any Finns, but I feel pretty confident in saying that there must be some Finns who are inherently good; just like I’m confident in saying that many black people and Muslims are inherently good. As a matter of fact, I have yet to meet a single black person, or a single person who practices Islam, who isn’t inherently good. So while I can appreciate that the author of Comment #2 has had some bad experiences involving Finns, and that these experiences have affected him greatly and caused him much pain and frustration, I refuse to accept his comment as a valid assessment of Finnish society.”
She’s right as rain. The following letter from an immigrant is pure hate:
“Finnish people they are fucking stupid and crazy i wish i have never been adobted to this fucking shit country and spending 20 years of my childhood here…believe me it has made serious problems to me.
finns are a cave people,i haven t been able to socialize with them,only i have been able to socialize with people from other cultures.
Finns are very bitter and emotionally invalid people. for me it seems that finnish people are even so stupid that they cannot understand these things if you say to them.well what do they understand…nothing….”
She asked, so why did I publish this material? My answer: To give a disenfranchised group a voice. There are a couple blogs, mostly written and read by immigrants, but don’t effectively reach the nation at large. I have a big voice. 40,000 unique visitors will at least click on this essay and open it. How many will read it from beginning to end, I don’t know, but I do know that in an average month, I reach give or take 100,000 people via the different forums I contribute essays, blogs, and posts to. I have three programs processing analytics and demographics on my own blog and Facebook, a small fraction of my total internet readership. At least 2000 Finns will visit them. 33% of my Facebook ‘likes’ are from Finns, although by percentage, their demographic representation by country is quite small. Most groups in Finland are able to vocalize effectively through the media, immigrants aren’t, so I loaned them my voice. Here in Helsinki, I’ve witnessed women and children sworn at and spat upon, intimidated, frightened and humiliated, because of their ethnicity. It seemed, and I believe is, fair to give them a louder voice.
What about the other voice? The voice that criticizes immigrants. They have a site nearly exclusively for that purpose. Homma forum. It has hundreds of thousands of posts on it, although—I can’t help myself and have to take a look at it once in a while—it reads as if many of them are written by sock puppeters, users with multiple accounts holding conversations with themselves. It’s the major social networking site for the political party Perussuomalaiset (True Finns or The Finns, they’ve advertised themselves under different names in English over time). They go on and on and on and on about how immigrants are fucking up not just Finland but the entire known universe.
Perussuomalaiset consider themselves the party of the common man, the true voice of Finland. The following links are photos of Perussuomalaiset candidates in the upcoming elections, as submitted by the candidates themselves. It caused quite a stir and made news when they were collected and disseminated as a group, as they felt they were being made fun of. I don’t know why. They chose their own election campaign photos. I’m showing their photos to you so that you can get to know them, because it demonstrates how they view themselves and what they consider appealing to their potential constituencies.
Do they have valid points? In their views on global politics, I sometimes agree with them, or most of them, as there’s usually quite a bit of dissent within the party itself. Like most of them, I also want Finland out of the EU and NATO. Europe is falling apart. Switzerland is preparing to mobilize for war. They’re prepared to call up 200,000 troops. Say what you want about the Swiss, but they’re not stupid. About immigrants? Perussuomalaiset have some concrete arguments. Immigrants constitute 2.2% of the population, but crime statistics say they commit 27% of rapes. Not good.
As an aside, Finland has Europe’s highest murder rate. Finns tend to internalize things, but when they let go, boy, do they ever!
But the main complaint about immigrants is that they’re a burden to society and a drag on the economy. Yes, they have a point. The latest stats I can find say well over half of Somali immigrants are unemployed. Given that they live on the public dime, our tax money (I pay taxes here, too), and many then rant and rave about how Finns and Finland suck, as above, I can see how many Finns might feel insulted by their ingratitude. However, Somalis only comprise less than 1% of the population, not enough to suck Finland under the economic quicksand, as rhetoric would have you believe. As to the insults: sticks and stones and bones and all that.
But what about the Finnish unemployed? Two decades ago, Finland had a severe economic depression. Quite a few Finns lost their jobs then and were never able to re-enter the workforce (I’m unable to find a hard number, but it’s beside the point anyway). What about them? Their balls aren’t being busted. Like the unemployed Somalis, they’re now jobless drags on the economy. Should we take these lily white, born and bred, God fearing but unemployed Finns, and kick them out of the country along with the infidel immigrant blights on society?
What do I think? Posts about my cat receive 2-3 times more hits than cultural and political essays. Russia has threatened to occupy Finland. My cat is of more interest to people than maintaining their national sovereignty. I suppose considering such weighty matters interferes with watching reality TV or tweeting about what you had for lunch. I think I should write exclusively about Sulo and boost my web traffic.
October 15, 2012
With his first internationally published novel, Snow Angels, James Thompson proved himself Finland’s best and most popular representative in the rise of Nordic noir. It was selected as one of Booklist’ s Best Crime Novel Debuts of the Year and nominated for an Edgar Award, an Anthony Award, and a Strand Critics Award. His novel, Lucifer’s Tears, has received critical acclaim from all quarters, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus, and was selected as one of the best novels of the year by Kirkus. His novel, Helsinki White, was released to critical acclaim in the U.S. in March, 2012. He is also a reviewer for The New York Journal of Books. The first three books in his Inspector Vaara series have been optioned for film.