Edward Dutton, American Renaissance, December 2006
Immigration in Finland is a powder keg waiting to explode. Until the mid-1990s, Finland was one of the few Western European nations with almost no non-white immigrants. In just ten years, there has been a dramatic change, and the country is quickly finding itself with the problems that beset its neighbors to the south and west. Due in part to its unique history, Finland is doing just about everything wrong.
As recently as 1995, there were people in the medium-sized western Finnish city of Kokkola who, as one resident put it, “had only ever seen a black person on TV.” Now, the picturesque city of 35,000 has a Sudanese population of over 500 and assorted Somalis. Like so many other towns in Finland, Kokkola suddenly finds itself with a new population that lives largely on government benefits. At the same time, police report that blacks commit violent crimes of a kind to which Finns are unaccustomed. Finland’s capital, Helsinki, which was an almost completely homogeneous city in 1995, now contains outposts of Mogadishu, and even in Oulu in the far north, a gang of Sudanese “asylum-seekers” raped a young Finnish woman with a pair of scissors.
Finns have nothing like the open debate on immigration found in Denmark or Norway. Even Sweden, which is firmly in the grip of racial orthodoxy, is more open about the harm done by immigration. The number of non-white immigrants is still small, but Finland’s unusual history and traditional ethnic mix have led to almost complete silence about a process that is transforming a distinctive and successful Nordic society. The government hides the truth about immigration, and has succeeded in turning race into one of the most powerful taboos in Finnish politics.
Why is Finland blindly aping the racial problems of its Scandinavian neighbors? One of the reasons is scarcely known outside the country: the role of Swedish Finns. Sweden ruled Finland until 1809, and lorded over the Finns, treating them as inferiors and suppressing their language and culture. The Finnish elite started speaking Swedish, and today, although Swedish-speakers, are only about five percent of the population, they continue to wield tremendous power. No one likes to talk about it, but Swedish-speaking Finns are almost a separate nation. They have their own schools, their own churches, their own university, their own (consultative) Parliament, their own towns, and a political party that represents only them. The Swedish Peoples Party has been in almost every Finnish government since independence from Russia (which ruled Finland from 1809 to 1917), giving this minority massively disproportionate influence.
Almost everything in Finland must be in both Finnish and Swedish: movie subtitles, railway station and airport announcements, all public documents, the television news, Parliamentary debates, and even the president’s annual television address. All Finns must study Swedish up until university level, and a certain number of public-sector jobs are reserved for Swedish-speakers. There are parts of Finland where it is impossible to get work if you cannot speak Swedish. These include not just Swedish-majority areas but towns where Swedish-speakers number more than about eight percent, and where absolutely everything must be bilingual by law. The parliamentary system is designed to allow tiny minority parties to maintain seats solely in order to keep the Swedish People’s Party — which gets about four percent of the vote — in the Eduskunta or Parliament.
Even unpleasant historical events that might embarrass this minority are suppressed. After the Winter War of November 1939 to March 1940, the Soviet Union forced Finland to cede Karelia in the east (a tenth of its territory and one fifth of its industrial capacity). Over 400,000 refugees had to be resettled in Finland but many Swedish-speaking towns on the west coast would not accept any for fear of being outnumbered by Finnish-speakers. Official Finnish history books often omit this.
Traditionally, Swedish-speakers have thought of Finnish-speakers as a Mongolian people, and there may be some justification for this. The Finnish language is part of the Finno-Ugric language group and, along with Estonian and Hungarian, is one of the few European languages that is not Indo-European. Some anthropologists have argued that Finns are about half Mongoloid and half European; the Nazis considered only the Swedish-speakers white. Some anthropologists, however, have suggested that only about one quarter of Swedish-speakers are of Swedish descent; the rest are Finns who changed their names along with their language.
As a result of this complicated and not always savory past, powerful Swedish-speaking interests suppress anything that could call attention to race. They fear that free discussion could stir up unpleasant memories and even lead to the loss of their privileged status. If Finns begin to consider immigration from a racial point of view, they may question the position of Swedish-speakers, a position that was once justified in racial terms. The Swedes and other elites want silence on the subject, especially since Finnish nationalists — the very people who doubt the wisdom of Third-World immigration — question the status of Swedish-speakers as well.
This helps explain why the influential Swedish People’s Party has vociferously condemned anyone who has doubts about immigration. Its candidate for the presidency in 2006, Henrik Lax, even built his campaign on the theme of “a Finland of many cultures.” Of course, virtually all immigrants will learn Finnish, not Swedish, and eventually reduce his interest group to insignificance. This is typical of the self-destructive thinking behind those who promote immigration.
Ida Asplund, president of the Finland-Swedes Association, has a different approach to maintaining the Swedish minority’s powerful position. She says Swedish-speakers are generally a different race from Finnish-speakers, and wants the differences established by genetic testing. Miss Asplund, who has been called the “Swedish-Finnish Joan of Arc,” says “Finland-Swedes,” as she calls them, should defend Swedish-speaking areas so as to preserve their race and culture. Far from admitting their privileged position, she argues that Finland-Swedes are a persecuted minority because there are parts of the country where Swedish is not understood. She complains that Finnish-speakers are moving into traditional Swedish-speaking areas and turning them Finnish. She welcomes immigrants who are willing to learn Swedish rather than Finnish, and claims they face “double discrimination” for being foreign and Swedish-speaking.
Miss Asplund therefore promotes multiculturalism, on the grounds that Finland-Swedes are just another minority suffering discrimination at the hands of the Finnish-speaking majority. Despite its interest in preserving race and culture, the Finland-Swedes Association is therefore on the multi-culti bandwagon along with everyone else.
Another problem for Finnish nationalists is that, traditionally, Finns are afraid to rock the boat. This timidity goes back at least to the immediate post-war period when Finland was essentially a Soviet satellite. Finland was independent, but Soviet influence was so great and economic ties so close that sovereignty was in some respects only theoretical. “Finlandization” came to mean the client status the West feared other countries might eventually assume.
De facto dictator Urho Kekkonen, who ruled form 1956 to 1981, encouraged this submissive relationship with the Soviet Union. He essentially banned criticism of the Communists for fear it might jeopardize economic relations or even trigger an invasion. His government outlawed all nationalist organizations, and open expression of nationalism remained suppressed until the end of the Cold War. From 1962, he essentially faced no real opposition until declining mental powers led to his resignation in late 1981 at age 81.
Since his time, Finland has edged towards greater dissent and democracy, but the October 1994 referendum on whether to join the European Union showed how difficult it is for the country to tolerate disagreement. Many Finns even felt that a serious wrangle over the question threatened their independence and the very future of their country. The government was desperate to join the EU, and launched what one Finnish professor called “a campaign of textbook Soviet brain washing” for a “yes” vote. Needless to say, it got its way.
Even today, the leader of True Finns, Finland’s small nationalist party, claims that the “psychological legacy of Kekkonen,” or the inability of Finns to disagree or be controversial, prevents his party from having the influence of similar parties in Norway and Denmark.
It is membership in the European Union, however, that has most damaged the country because Finland must now accept asylum-seekers and immigrants just like other member countries. In 1990, there were just 21,000 immigrants in Finland. Most were from Sweden so could easily integrate. By 2005, there were over 140,000 immigrants, though about 40,000 were Russian or Estonian. Many Russian immigrants are native Finnish-speakers — Finnish is the language of Russian Karelia — so integration is relatively smooth. The same is true of Estonians. Estonian is part of the same Finno-Ugric language family, and many immigrants from Estonia are ethnic Finns who emigrated in the 17th century. Even Finland’s tiny Vietnamese minority, which entered in the 1980s as boat people, has integrated reasonably well, starting restaurants and keeping to themselves.
This has not been the case with the Somalis or Sudanese, most of whom have arrived as recent war refugees. It is not easy to get good demographic information on Finland because the authorities do not count by race. They do count by “nationality,” however, and there are now more than 6,500 Somalis living in Finland. About one percent of the population is made up of citizens of non-white countries — this is the lowest level in Western Europe — but this figure does not include naturalized Finns or children of non-whites, who would be “Finns” by birth. Somalis are the largest non-white group — probably numbering about 11,000 if children and naturalized citizens are included.
Three percent of the 500,000 people who live in Helsinki are non-white, and again Somalis are the most numerous group. Needless to say, non-whites clump together in certain areas and, according to police, are responsible for almost 40 percent of all violent crime in the city. This means they are about 20 times more likely to commit violent crimes than the rest of the population. In other large cities we find the same pattern: Finns may get drunk in public or commit traffic offenses, but it is Somalis and Sudanese who are behind the growing numbers of muggings and rapes.
This raises difficult questions for the Finnish government. It cannot plausibly blame “Finnish racism” because the Vietnamese and Chinese minorities make little trouble. Nor can it blame poverty. The Russian minority is very poor but not responsible for anything like the same level of criminality. Nor can the government try to distract people by pretending Finland has chosen the path of multicultural harmony, the way the British or the Dutch governments have tried to do. With so few immigrants, that would be absurd. The real issue — the unassimilable nature of Africans — is taboo. Ironically, Finland is rated by Reporters Without Borders as having the freest press in the world. It is free so long as no one writes about immigration or race.
The establishment does its best to sweep problems under the carpet. Newspapers no longer mention the race of criminals. Indeed, they no longer include names, since a non-Finnish name is a dead giveaway. At the same time, it encourages the appearance of token non-whites in the Finnish media, including what is probably a half-Somali weather girl on the national TV channel. There is also a Saturday night program for Somalis in which Finnish girls are rated by Somalis by video-link from Somalia, with the “cutest” girl winning an all-expenses-paid trip to the war-torn mess from which the program’s hosts have fled. It does not appear that any of the “winners” actually collect their prizes.
Six Degrees is another example of the anti-racist propaganda the government encourages. This English-language newspaper, given away in Finland’s larger cities, is highly political and has an overtly anti-Finn, multicultural agenda. It claims to be a cosmopolitan forum through which Finns and foreigners can meet, but one Finn, who felt he had to remain anonymous, summed it up as follows:
Six Degrees has a constant theme that it’s always hammering home: Finns are ignorant, stupid, ugly, evil and racist, and the only way they can ever be accepted by the rest of the world is to open the borders for everyone to come here (although, of course, Finland is such an awful country and the Finns are such racist bigots that no one would want to come, which is why we must welcome the thousands or hundreds of thousands clamoring to get in).
A recent article called “Racist Pack Design” was entirely typical, criticizing Finns for allowing “stereotypical” images of Africans on chocolate boxes. Another, called “Stolen Generation,” inveighed against early attempts to give Australian aborigines a European culture, blaming these efforts for all the Aborigines’ current problems. Anyone who opposes multiculturalism is, of course, “racist.”
It has been a great misfortune for Finland — and a boon to the multiculturalists — that the only well-known politician in recent years who has dared raise the issue of immigration has been something of a buffoon, a former WWF wrestler and boxer named Tony Halme. He was elected to Parliament for Helsinki in 2003 as a member of True Finns Party, with more votes even than the then-Prime Minister. He said people with asylum-seekers as neighbors “sleep either very badly or not at all,” and that all the blacks in Finland should be “put on an island.” This sort of talk does not appear to have hurt his campaign, but the day after the election, he made the mistake of calling the popular president Tarja Halonen a lesbian, and his career has gone downhill ever since.
In July 2003, he was involved in a drug-fueled fight with his wife in which shots were fired, and an unlicensed handgun was found in his apartment. He ended up in a drug-induced coma, went on trial, received a suspended sentence, but stayed in office. In 2006, his party disowned him when he argued in Parliament that pedophiles should be castrated.
The rest of the “True Finns” are too timid to talk about immigration openly and, in an interview, the leader publicly distanced himself from anything to do with people like Jean-Marie Le Pen. Recently, Mr. Halme suffered an alcohol-related nervous breakdown, which resulted in an involuntary stay in a mental hospital. Finland’s left-wing government could not have picked a spokesman for immigration control more likely to discredit it.
At the same time, the government has been true to the Kekkonen tradition by enforcing conformity. Earlier this year, when the Muslim world went into an uproar over a series of Danish cartoons that mocked Mohammed, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen took it upon himself to apologize to the entire Arab world, even though not a single Finnish newspaper reprinted the cartoons. Papers in Norway, Holland, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and Italy either reprinted them or published their own cartoons critical of Islam.
Shortly thereafter, the website of a tiny Finnish nationalist pressure group that few Finns had even heard of — Suomen Sisu — posted the cartoons. In response, President Tarja Halonen and the foreign secretary issued public statements “regretting” their appearance on the site. Before long, the National Bureau of Investigation (Finland’s FBI) was “looking into” Suomen Sisu to see if it had broken a law against “endangering the lives of Finns abroad.” This was too much for even the tame Finnish press, which widely condemned the investigation as well as Mr. Vanhanen’s pointless apology. Suomen Sisu was never indicted, but Finns must have wondered just how much freedom of expression they really have.
August 2004 saw similar repression. The prime minister’s father, Prof. Tatu Vanhanen, is an academic who does research on race and intelligence. In 2002, he published a book with Richard Lynn about the connection between a nation’s average IQ and its wealth. Like Suomen Sisu, he was investigated when he reported his findings to the Finnish press. He was duly branded a “racist,” and the prime minister had to denounce his own father. Fortunately, Prof. Vanhanen escaped prosecution, as well.
One reason why the Finnish government can get away with this kind of highhandedness is that the nationalist right, which is muted even by Scandinavian standards, is so small. In a system deliberately designed to make things easy for small parties, the True Finns have only three MPs out of 200, making them the smallest party in Parliament.
Still, the situation may be changing slowly. The younger generation has little memory of Kekkonen’s dictatorship, and the national fear of dissent may be waning. Although the status of the Swedish-speakers was recently reconfirmed by Parliament, courses in Swedish are no longer compulsory at the university level. The influence of the group that seems most dedicated to blocking discussion of immigration may be declining.
Support for the True Finns has crept up, albeit very slowly, from less than one percent in the 1999 election, to about two percent in the 2003, to almost four percent for the party’s leader, Timo Soini, when he ran for president in 2005.
Perhaps Finland will soon be a freer country. We can only hope so. Denmark, Norway and particularly Sweden have been fundamentally changed by massive immigration. Unless Finland wants to see minarets rising among the saunas, it must drop its fear of talking about race and immigration — sooner rather than later.