Rambling and ranting, Gap Week Special.

Dear reader,

In my first ranting I hinted I’d be writing something about racism. “I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man”, said Nelson Mandela according to CNN. I cannot even describe how deeply touched I was when I first heard that quote, the idea of equality that lived inside his mind even after horrible years of imprisonment and oppression had kept him righteous. As a Finnish citizen, our country is often described as one of the benchmarks of equality. Well, I have to admit that even if we do have things we need to fix, we could be doing quite a lot worse when it comes to questions of equality and tolerance. And even though we have relatively short history when it comes to immigration, I would be ready to state that most of the things have gone quite smoothly. After all, Finland has been just for a while a nation with any international significance, and still a small country (not by size, but by population and significance as well as assets). But, however, there are people who disagree with me and are more than just willing to express their opinion.

I mentioned in my first ranting about this American male. One day a few years ago, I was on the gym having an exercise when a man pretty close to me started swearing and shouting profanities. When I inquired about the problem, he spat out how the machine was out of order and continued how he hates everything in Finland and every Finnish person. I mentioned that I am Finnish also, to which he replied “No, you are a Scottish”, and after I repeated I am a Finn, he started the most unbelievable mud-slinging I have ever heard of. He started that it was a mistake to begin with to leave U.S.A for his Finnish wife to try it in Finland, shouting that everything in Finland is rotten especially people, that he had had no Finnish friends but on the following sentence that all his Finnish friends had divorced [sic]. He claimed us all to be hypocrite, racist, hate-filled sub-human scum and started explaining how all the other Nordic countries were so much better (even though, of what he explained, nothing indicates he had ever visited any of them). When I tried to explain that it would be too harsh to condemn me as a racist because I have had friends from several different cultures, he just replied with a grimace and shouts: “You are all racists! You are all racists!” and at one point he looked like he was going to attack me. He also explained how he once got in a fight in a pub and (after “I did beat the living cr** out of everyone!” shouting it with pride) was arrested by the police, like it was any wonder considering his openly hostile attitude and claiming it was all because he came from U.S.A. He also explained how we all are racists because we don’t have so many restaurants in here (I do not know how on Earth could anyone make a connection between a quantity of restaurants and racial tolerance) and dared to shout that it also indicates racism that Finns do not go to restaurants so often. He also whined about that he hadn’t received a job in a restaurant he had inquired, whilst forgetting about a “minor” thing like reputation: It is commonly known fact that if a person has a bad reputation, one is unlikely to have a job in a restaurant business, especially when there is oversupply of trained restaurant personnel (and, by judging his attitude, is it any wonder he wasn’t successful?). His attitude is something worth of mentioning: he was under delusion that he had some talent that no one in Finland had, that U.S.A is so much more superior compared to Finland that he should have been greeted with honour and respect.

At the end of our “conversation” (a monologue during which he slung mud over me and every other Finn due to our nationality), he mentioned a case during which he stopped a lady in the middle of the street and asked “Hey, what’s your name?” which the lady refused to tell, again an indicator of racism to him. This was quite stopping moment understanding his stupidity: he had been more than a decade in Finland and was unable to realise on single fact about Finnish mind set or culture. As far as I know, one just doesn’t do such a thing in St Petersburg, in Stockholm, in Berlin, in Copenhagen, in Rome, in London… And yes, I have visited every each of the mentioned cities more than just once; I am not going to make a list of every single city or town I’ve visited, but just to make a firm foundation that I have never encountered a situation in which said intrusive behavior would be justified without any good reason. If a person does not understand the simplest fact about interacting with other people in a different culture, how could one even expect to be able to manage in the said cultural environment? And his doctrine about “respecting the other cultures” is thus a hollow phrase since he doesn’t understand anything about them. Now, I shall analyse the flaws of his logic. Generalisation of a whole population of more than five million people to be “racists, hypocrites” etc. is itself a racialist statement; he did so to me even if he didn’t know anything about me and even when I tried to explain his argument was invalid due to the fact I happen to have a certain amount of friends from different cultural backgrounds. Talking about hypocrisy, isn’t generalisation of all Finnish individuals itself a hypocritical statement? Hate filled does not even need a justifying: he hates everything in Finland, in its people and culture. Thus he is himself a hypocrite, hate filled racist. Well, he mentioned he was going to move back to U.S.A, so I think I do not have the unpleasant opportunity to meet this person ever again. People like him are the reason so many American people face the prejudice: culturally ignorant, arrogant, stupid individuals with dellusional mindset of superiority and inferiority of different ethnic groups are the ones the stereotypes are born from, shaming the vast majority of the people they represent. I happen to know a few Americans as well: they are quite friendly and willing to accept the foreign cultures as they are.

Oh well, back to the topic about racism itself. I am aware of the recent document about tolerance, which showed flaws: people with Muslim background have significant difficulties of having a job or a flat compared to autochthonous population. Yet still, even if racially motivated violence has increased since the beginning of the recession, it is still under control and it is not only Finnish problem: during the past few years in every country struck by economic difficulties, the attitudes have changed more hostile. And when compared to e.g. to Russia and Sweden, in which far right extremists conduct severe, organized violence towards ethnic and religious minorities, the Finnish situation is quite well under control: In 1999, an assault with explosives was carried out against a journalist in Sweden, neo Nazi extremists are infamous due their actions (including cold blooded murders and torture) in Russia, and do I even have to remind what atrocities happened 22nd July 2011 in Norway? I am not saying that Finland would be perfect when it comes to tolerance and equality, but can you recall anything similar during our recent history? We sure had our own share of school massacres and that sort of violence, but they are directly connected to mental issues that have occurred since 1989 due the shutdowns of mental health services because of tightened budgets. There has been no racial motivation, the acts have been committed by disturbed individuals. Believe me, I have had my own share of both Swedish and Finnish racism and delusions of the superiority of one ethnic group over the others (I have received both verbal and physical abuse from them, that is. I will not go into further details).

So, what would be the conclusion of this ranting? Maybe that racism does exist and we cannot eradicate it since people have right to believe in what they want as well as express their opinion without insulting anyone. However, we can do us all a favor by not judging a person by ones nationality, religion or ethnicity (unlike that unpleasant man did), since every hostile gesture towards other group increases bitterness and hatred (I can only imagine what that idiotic American has done to the image of other Americans). Unpleasant incidents are fuel for the doctrines of those unwilling to comprehend other cultures and will only serve as catalyst for them enforcing their twisted doctrines about inferiority of some certain groups compared to others. I have for many times wondered whether the American I have written above even understood how racist his own attitudes towards me, a total stranger, were because of my ethnicity. It might be that some individuals are just too stupid to understand their own actions: the said man was so convinced about righteousness of his own standards and attitudes that he didn’t even question if they were compatible with other cultures. Very unpleasant case indeed but let him be a warning example of how not to act with people from different cultural origins.

1. http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/06/24/mandela.quotes/


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