After about five years of existence, 887 blog entries (including this one) and over 20,140 comments, I would like to make a confession: Deep inside I have always hoped that what I write isn’t true. Finland is a noble country and noble countries stay clear of racism and xenophobia, right?
Still I do not know what is worse: The xenophobia, which has followed Finland like a shadow throughout its history, or the silence and indifference of too many politicians, academics, media and society in general. True, we are becoming familiar with this dark side of ourselves. Banishing our fears and prejudices will take a national effort and generations of hard work.
A fellow student from Kenya at Turku University in 1979 threw a cold bucket of reality on my face. John K. said that he was commonly harassed in public, complete strangers even threw stones at him. When I asked immigration researchers at the time why Finland had such a draconian attitude towards foreigners, his answer shocked me: “It’s to keep the trash out.”
At the time, there lived under 10,000 immigrants in the country.
The PS councilman Tommi Rautio scandal offered us yet another crude wake up. He, like many before him, forced us to see something unpleasant about us: the xenophobia and racism that has lurked out there in our society for a long time. It survives and continues to grows because of our lack of resolve.
How many Rautios are there in Finland? We could safely state that there are still too many.
I started Migrant Tales in 2007 and it didn’t take long for this blog to find its identity and place among a wide international group of bloggers.
Every day I write a blog entry I hope that what I say isn’t true. I tell myself, however, that that hope speaking back to me is nothing is nothing more than our denial.