In the late evening of September 24, the vile reactions to refugees in small towns around Finland took a quick turn for the absurd… at least in the eyes of those who know their history.
Finland’s public service broadcaster YLE reports that a bus transporting 49 mostly middle eastern asylum seekers were met by a group of 30-40 individuals protesting their arrival. The mob launched fireworks at the bus and later threw rocks at Red Cross workers operating the gates of the refugee center. As picked up by international media by now, one of these clowns wore an improvised Kuu Klux Klan outfit, of all things.
This kind of abhorrent reaction to the relatively miniscule number of asylum seekers reaching Finland has been discussed at length elsewhere. As a modest contribution to this, we want to give you this tidbit on how Finnish immigrants were perceived by the clan in early 20th century Oregon:
“The Klan’s law-and-order platform resonated with diverse Oregon communities. In the lively port town of Astoria, the Klan succesfully attracted citizens who abhorred the flagrant wantonness of the port culture, as well as those who felt threatened by the city’s large Finnish population.”
– Abrams, Paula 2009. Cross purposes. Pierce v. Society of Sisters and the struggle over compulsory public education. University of Michigan Press (link).
This should come as no surprise. Our short history of Finnish immigrants in America shows racism against Finns was commonplace and accepted.
We also recommend taking a glance at another essay on ethnic relations in early 20th century Astoria, Oregon. The town of Astoria had a large Finnish population, largely thanks to opportunities in the fishing industry. The paper notes “[an immense] drinking problem among Finnish- Americans and their often violent behavior when drunk”.
This sounds a lot like the daft, present-day Lahti culture Vice documented a couple of years back in a stunningly depressing photo essay by Antti Sepponen.
Read more: How Finnish immigrants helped build America