Another bus driver was assaulted in Helsinki, in middle of the day this Wednesday.
I could not believe it when I heard the most likely cause of the attack was the driver's immigrant background.
Or rather, I was forced to believe it.
The driver was working, earning his pay and paying his tax. Regardless, just as he was stepping into the relative safety of his place of employment, he was assaulted.
The person who carried out the attack grew up like me in Finland, one of the best countries in the world, as widely reported in American newspapers last year.
Too many stories such as this one tell of a Finland possessed by intolerance and all out hatred.
It's as if someone opened the hatch of a cage of rats, and let the rodents run amok. They've spread far and wide, and spread their disease, even to young children.
"We don't play with niggers", I heard a blonde-haired little Finnish girl say to another Finnish child, whose skin colour was a shade browner than your typical native resident.
This was in the middle of the day in a fashionable suburb of Vantaa, with parking spaces gleaming with new cars and whose shopping centres are a typical western cornucopia of earthly goods. I though this was a place with affluent, satisfied people.
I also heard of a group of little kids of Somalian descent being harassed and intimidated by a Finnish man as they were travelling on a bus.
When a man with half foreign background was assaulted in Helsinki this spring, youth workers helping him heard from the police: "Crimes such as these have increased since it is an election year"
I had to check, and sure enough hate crime prosecution by the police force increased by nearly a fifth in 2009, according to a study this November.
It was recently reported in Helsingin Sanomat that a wrong skin color gets you turned away from restaurants in Helsinki.
And it's evidently not even enough to have the right skin tone: speaking the wrong language is enough to make you the target of hatred.
When the son of a Finnish-speaking friend of mine was caught speaking Swedish to a friend of his at a subway station, this was too much for a man nearby. He followed the young boy, hitting him and cursing. For no other reason than speaking Swedish in public. The young man escaped unharmed, this time around.
Every time when racist rats gnaw at the foundation of Finnish civilisation and equality I believe in, I feel the urge to rise up. For the past fifty years I have, but lately there have been just too many incidents.
I'm just yout normal middle-aged man, a father. I'm no fighter, nor a politician.
A friend was wondering why the parliament or officials do nearly nothing. The interior ministry has stated it continues to fight against racist attacks. Forgive me for not noticing. Racist attacks concern regular people like you and me, not the immigration policy. You need to be able to take immediate action when one happens.
Strangely enough this racist harassment seems to have increased along with the support for the True Finn party. This is even though they claim to be supporting regular people just like you and me. People.
I was very pleased reading heavyweight boxer Robert Helenius' comment about being made into sort of a great white hope by a group of internet nazis. His comment was succinct and to the point.
"F*ck no", he said.
Like he's speaking my words. But more eloquently.
Saturday, 7 May 2011
Excellent opinion piece from Helsingin Sanomat
There was again an excellent opinion piece by Matti Mielonen in Helsingin Sanomat yesterday. I've translated it here for your reading.