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“New” Finns, Finns or which ethnic label fancies you?

December 15, 2008

I went to a meeting recently where a civil servant who works with refugees asked the small group of foreigners the following question: “Do you want to be called immigrants (maahanmuuttaja) or New Finns?” She explained that the word “immigrant” meant that one was “constantly moving” and therefore “New Finn” could be considered a more appropriate word for foreigners in Finland. “Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen has started to use the term New Finn.”

I personally feel that it is not only a mistake but wrong for Finns to place ethnic labels on foreigners living in Finland. What is a New Finn?! I remember in my youth that in Mikkeli people spoke of “Old Mikkeli” (vanha mikkeliläinen) residents. If foreigners will start to be called “New Finns” then the majority culture that labels them as must be the “Old Finns.”

Even if such labels are ridiculous because they are only invented by people who do not even belong to such a group, one must ask if they are even important for those that live in Finland.

Which ethnic label would be appropriate? That depends on the person. What would he/she like to be called? Does he/she want to be called an “absolute Finn,” a Finnish xxxxx or possibly he/she does not want any national-ethnic labels placed on him/her?

The term New Finn conveys hope since it suggests that outsiders can integrate and become part of Finnish society. Placing labels, however, on groups that do not identity with such names ensures that they will be replaced. A good example is the Finnish term Lapp versus Sami, or Eskimo versus Inuit.

Let the person decide what he wants to be called and with which group he identifies with.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Tiwaz permalink
    December 16, 2008 8:39 am

    Being Finn is not label, it defines you as cultural identity.

    Immigrant or rather maahanmuuttaja is perfectly good term for immigrants. It tells who they, you people, are. Once you get citizenship, you become citizens.

    This politically correct crap to try to rename immigrants into “Finns” is idiotic.
    Realitycheck, when immigrant opens their mouth, huge amount of time they reveal their foreign origin. Learning not to speak with clear accent is decades of work.

    So why pretend to be something you are not? Honestly… Finns do not CARE if you were born in Pori or BongoBongo-land, as long as you play by Finnish cultural rules and adjust to society around you… Huge majority do not care.

    You are equal. Which, in turn, means that you can’t expect to receive preferential treatment most of you immigrants want. You want jobs without speaking language or knowing culture. Doesn’t work like that.

    Immigrant has little hope for job without language or culture. It is not because of racism, like many idiots think, but because you lack skills.

  2. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    December 16, 2008 3:19 pm

    Well a “new Finn” would be a Finn who used to be a foreigner. I guess an “old Finn” would be someone who used to be a Finn, but is now a foreigner.

    • Enrique permalink
      December 16, 2008 8:01 pm

      That is a pun by a conservative.

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