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Finns and an Italian man sitting at a cafe
by Thanos Kalamidas
2015-10-03 11:23:09
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Last week and after a photograph of a Finnish man wearing the notorious racist KKK’s characteristic robes leaked to the media, everybody in Finland started talking about acts that hurt Finland’s reputation and how this will cost in the future. Soon after, Finnish author, filmmaker and former politician Jörn Donner, in an interview said that, “it is only Finns that are worried about Finland’s reputation abroad. A normal Italian isn’t sitting at a cafe wondering about what Finland is doing.”

finnnnn01_400Donner could be right. But for the name of the argument just revers the roles. Think of a normal Finn siting in a café and seen a photo of an Italian wearing a KKK robe. If he had any sense of humour – even a twisted one – worst case he would have thought that this was a new way to promote some kind of a pizza label or he would have thought that it has something to do with some kind of strange southern religion ritual or just a lunatic that escaped from the hospital. At first sight he would have never thought of it as an extreme racist demonstration.

But the Italian man would not think the same, would he? Most likely neither the Dutch, the Greek, the Brit, the French, the German; definitely not the Swede. All of them most likely would think, “It is Finns again!” And that has nothing to do with the incident of a racist public demonstration of one lunatic but with the fact that with or without a white robe, this lunatic is not alone in Finland and the last three years at least they have made sure that everybody knows.

I think it was Winston Churchill who said that when you see the name of your country making headlines too often – for bad or good – in the end is not good news at all and Finland has tried hard to monopolize headlines the last decade. So hard that actually has built a trademark and a reputation based on headlines. And like castles made from sand, it takes a ripple to go away.

But let’s first have a look at the incident with the man and the KKK robe. What I’m going to write is purely my opinion and the result of living in Finland and socializing with Finns for more than fifteen years. In Finland there is a very twisted covered fascism and pro-Nazism often confused with patriotism. Finns having lived under the shadow and fear of the Soviet Union for long before the WWII, they pampered a feeling that every USSR enemy is their ally. So when Hitler appeared they saw him as a savour and protector giving him water and ground as long as he could keep the Russians away. No, it wasn’t so simple, they didn’t just want the Russians away, they wanted Russians end. They wanted somehow the whole USSR disappear and the German empire to rise in its place.

But Hitler lost and Stalin won. Even though Finland changed alliances the last minute, nothing changed their hate to USSR and as a consequence to Russia after the fall of the Wall. That while their admiration to Hitler and his ideals grew instead of fade. Actually with most of the west looking at Finland suspiciously as Russia’s loyal satellite, Finns felt more isolated and closer to Nazism and its fascist, discriminating and racist ideals. This theoretically changed in mid 1990s and especially after Finland’s full membership in the European Union. Theoretically; because in practice everything is just the same. Finns continue looking at the world with a suspicious eye, a certain degree of paranoia and persecution mania; and of course they still hate everything Russian. Therefor they still look back at Hitler as the only one who really did something to protect them.

Another thing that always impressed me with Finns is the fact that they are strongly hostages of their inferiority complex. A new nation though, still trying to find its historic and national identity had for more than four generations a sign saying “to born Finn is like winning a lottery” and a saying I heard too often from every age, education or gender, “we are the humblest, more down to earth people in the world.” The semantics behind both these sentences show the schizophrenia the average Finn has been into for generations. They cannot even see how contractively schizophrenic both sentences are.

One last thing about Finnish psychic, also result of the above semantics. Finns love their ten minutes of fame. And if they cannot find them they create them. I have never seen a nation where even the media is so upset to constantly research lists that include Finland, in which position Finland stands and if it is the first place then headlines and parties everywhere. Even if that first place is about the worst crime in history. As long it is the first place and puts them on the map they are happy. It goes so far so when there are no lists or surveys around, media create their own with the most imagery and bizarre issues.

It gets more thrilling when an individual’s name is mentioned. This makes thrills not only for the person, the family and friends but for the whole area and gradually the whole country. Think of it, the biggest public gathering in the modern Finnish history has happened when Lordi returned from Athens with the Eurovision contest award. Even the President of the republic joined the celebrations awarding the pop group with a national medal.

The combination of all three, the historic background, the search of a national identity and the psychic they grew up with the need of the ten minutes fame, has resulted a man with a KKK robe. But he is still the side effect. Or better it was the power of the ten minutes of fame that dressed him into the KKK robes.

finnnnn02_400Until this point, Jörn Donner could have been right and the Italian man sitting at a café wouldn’t care but the real problem is not with the one who put the white robs on but with the 524,054 votes, the 38 seats in the Finnish parliament and the foreign minister who might never wear KKK robes but they share the same ideals and who knows how many more with similar ideas but hiding in other parties like they have done the last fifty years.

Timo Soini, the leader of the True/Pure Finns and Foreign minister of Finland, has never tried a KKK robe and I’m sure he will never do, but he has never hidden his ideals, his stands, regarding immigration, refugees and in the end most kind of foreigners in Finland and about multiculturalism in general. Actually his party has made loud what they believe and this is exactly why 524,054 voted for them in 2015 and made them the 2nd party in Finland.

- Opposition to the planned burden-sharing mechanisms of the Common European Asylum Policy

- Opposition to using public funds to advance multiculturalism

- Tightening the conditions of family unification by migrants

- Allowing the immigration of workers from outside the EU and EEA countries only if they are found to be necessary in a given field in a means test by the Finnish Labour Office

- Making sure that migrants living on welfare benefits are not concentrated in the same areas

- Ending positive discrimination

In 2009, before the European Parliament election, Timo Soini refused to sign an anti-racism appeal all Finnish parties signed.

In December 2011, an opinion poll revealed 51% of True Finn voters agreed with the statement, "People of certain races are unsuited for life in a modern society."

These have made stronger impact abroad than any photo with a lunatic dressed in KKK robes. And this is known to everybody, including the Italian man sitting at a café. Yes the Italian man sitting at the café is not going to start wondering about what Finland is doing but after seen the photo of the man wearing the KKK robe his mind will connect the dots with all the things he has read the last few years about these new Finns, all these pompous announcements and arrogant declarations and what will be left will be something with very bitter taste. Not for the Italian man.


Oddly for a nation that prides to always says the truth, Finns never liked it when somebody tells them some truths about themsleves! They label it ...finnhate!

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Emanuel Paparella2015-10-03 16:01:34
You have it on target Thanos. The Italian man sitting at a cafe would actually think that the KKK robed man in Finland belonged to a religious confraternity that one sees regularly in Southern Italy in religious procession. Indeed, the Italian man may get fooled by the photo, but as Lincoln said once: one can fool some of the people all the times, and all the people some of the times, but one cannot fool all the people all the times.

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