Let me be absolutely clear: speaking up against the insanity of the identiterian woke left is not identity politics, but common sense.
Many will remember 2020 as quite an extraordinary year due to Covid-19, and fortunately, thanks to a concerted effort, we can see light at the end of the tunnel in the form of vaccinations. Hence, as acute of a crisis as Covid-19 is, I am optimistic that we can solve it and eventually return to a more normal life. In the shadow of this global health emergency, another insidious phenomenon has been brewing, taking at least the form of the spread of idea pathogens into my native Finland, where wokeness has started to bleed into the mainstream discourse. Regrettably, in contrast to the virological pandemic, we have yet to embrace a solid exit plan out of this pandemic of pernicious woke ideas, which erodes the foundations of civilized society with each arriving wave of lunacy. In this text, I will present three examples of how wokeness manifested itself in Finland in 2020, and use these case studies to demonstrate some of the typical woke techniques, so that we can see through the smoke and mirrors and inoculate ourselves against these idea pathogens. But first, I want to recount some observations of my experiences of moving to Germany as a teenager.
I allude quite frequently to the fact that I grew up in a multicultural environment, attending international schools both in Finland and in Germany, because it has forged a substantial part of my identity, and also provided a model on how an ideal society could work. Regardless of your stance on immigration, the fact remains that even traditionally relatively homogeneous and secluded societies, such as Finland, house substantial amounts of people from foreign cultures. Hence, improving current policies is necessary to avoid the pitfalls of faux-multiculturalism (e.g. advocating for policy based on a prescribed group identity in the name of ”justice”), and to ensure the continuation of our trajectory towards a society that appreciates the individual.
Here’s a couple of secrets of how it all worked out at my international school in Germany:
”Race” and racism were never discussed: these were simply irrelevant, because each pupil had to live up to the same standards. People were judged based on individual merit, not a set of immutable characteristics.
We cracked jokes about our own, and each other’s cultures, all day every day, and we had a great time and many shared laughs at it. Modern day wokeists would not have survived a single hour without being triggered beyond repair. Humor is a basic need and stripping it away would both deprive us of our humanity and drive us further away from each other.
This is not to imply that we shouldn’t discuss racism, nor that we should strive to make the most offensive jokes about each other simply for the sake of it. Rather, these observations are indicative of what a society based on the appreciation of the human spirit and the individual could look like. Whenever somebody suggests methods to remedy remaining injustices in Finland, I try to reflect on whether these suggestions would take us closer or further away from the ideal I experienced. Of course, one has to also consider whether the highlighted issues are in fact relevant and whether they can be realistically fixed. After all, opinion polls consistently indicate that Finland is among the happiest nations on the planet, both for natives and immigrants. Sometimes it seems that the closer you are to a just society, the louder and more bizarre the grievances become. This is where our three case studies step in.
Valio and the human rights aspects of yoghurt packaging
Discussion about the racism of food brands in Finland took off in the wake of the decision of Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream to rename its “Eskimo pies” in the US, due to the “problematic” term “eskimo”. Perchance, a popular finnish ice cream happened to also go by the brand name “eskimo”, and prior to the news from the US, nobody had ever thought of it as being offensive, mainly because it is never used as a slur, and it is the correct collective term for the various indigenous people inhabiting the northern circumpolar region between eastern Siberia and Canada. Moreover, the packaging of the ice cream was neutral, simply containing the letters “Eskimo” in a neutral font. No charicatures, no negative connotations.
But lo and behold, the public broadcast company YLE managed to find one activist from Greenland who condemned the brand as racist. Additionally, the coinciding Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd started mounting pressure. The head of marketing responsible for the Eskimo brand stated that equality was a top priority for them, and hence they would rethink the Eskimo ice cream name. Eventually they decided to simply drop the name “Eskimo”.
Next, the discussion turned towards the traditional “Geisha” brand chocolates by Fazer. One person on Twitter questioned Fazer, presumably as a troll, on the continued use of this potentially offensive brand name, and they responded that they appreciate the feedback and will seriously consider renaming the Geisha chocolate. The comedic part is that japanese tourists love Geisha chocolate and this farce was resolved by a japanese youtuber painstakingly clearly explaining in finnish, how the name is not offensive. But wait, here’s the cherry on the top.
Since the hallucination of racism and bigotry in various food brands was taking on ridiculous proportions, turkish-born finn Anter Yaşa decided to test how far people were willing to go. He complained to Valio about how their brand of Turkish yoghurt featured a drawing of a man with a fez hat. According to his joke, this was a stereotypically racist depiction of turks, since fez hats had not been worn since the era of Atatürk. When Valio responded that they had not previously thought of the fez as offensive and that they were currently in the process of designing a new package, Yaşa revealed that his question had been in jest, but it was too late, the circus had already come to town, and parody had become indistinguishable from reality. What followed was a series of earnest conversations on primetime television about the moral implications of ”racist” food packaging, all the while Yaşa tried to spell out that not a single person had been offended by the Turkish yoghurt and it was all just a ruse to show how ridiculous the discussions had become. But alas, Valio announced that they had in fact already pondered the effects of their food packaging on human rights, and would therefore redesign a series of its yoghurt packages. This is so unhinged that it is worth restating: Valio claimed that they had evaluated the human rights impact of their yoghurt packaging.
These tales provide an insite into how the woke mob rule plays out. Simply the fear of being singled out suffices to start acting like a lunatic, just to appease the insane. The finnish media definitely had its part to play, since they played along, finding the largest magnifying glass possible in an effort to zoom in on racism and bigotry in places where there was none. The woke are not concerned whether something is racist or not, they will always find a way in which they believe that racism manifested itself, and then try to revert the burden of proof. When confronted with outlandish statements, remember that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
In the aftermath of all this ruckus, the identiterian left employed a classic ”tu quoque” fallacy by claiming that the people who object to changing the brand names are simply playing on alt-right identity politics. Let me be absolutely clear: speaking up against the insanity of the identiterian woke left is not identity politics, but common sense.
James Lindsay wrote an excellent article on how organizations can resists this type of woke pressure. In summary, his main points are: know that the mob can come for you, giving in will not make the problem go away, and always be unified against woke pressure.
Vigelius and the gender menstruation gap
Little did Tampere University student Joakim Vigelius know what he was getting into, when he shared a screenshot of a discussion during a lecture in a course on non-discrimination and gender equality in society, on Twitter. In the lecture chat, Vigelius had questioned why they were discussing ”men who menstruate”, and upon feedback that his question was ”transphobic” and that he was depriving people of their right to self-identify as men, he restated that ”biological men don’t have periods”. Apparently, this was a big no-no.
Vigelius was promptly barred from the course, since his presence meant that the lectures would no longer be a safe-space, and the university even threatened with repercussions for ”leaking” a lecture chat. Of course, these arbitrary panic-infused decisions had no legal basis and Vigelius was eventually readmitted into the course, and the university has yet to provide a proper explanation for its reaction.
Again, the woke pressure caused the university staff to act as if they were insane. If expressing that biological men cannot menstruate is reason enough to try to unperson a student, what else is looming around the corner? In addition to the mob tactics, this case demonstrates the eternal goal-post shifting employed by the woke. Since they view reality as being socially constructed, broadening the word ”man” to include trans-men somehow changes the underlying fact that only biological women menstruate and anybody who claims otherwise is a bigot. This is very similar to the redefining of the word ”racist” to mean basically anything, as demonstrated by the food brand shenanigans. When the definitions of words are watered down ad infinitum, can we even agree on what is real and what is not? What happens, when people are taught that ”sometimes 2+2=5”?
The woke are masters in transforming non-political issues, such as math or biology, into politics, and at the same time trying to claim that highly political aims, like those of Black Lives Matter, are not a matter of political discussion and anybody opposing them is essentially Mussolini. By the way, isn’t it interesting, how the woke never draw comparisons to Stalin or Mao, when comparing somebody to a genocidal maniac? Just an observation, don’t know if there’s something to it, you be the judge.
Finland and the world’s longest segue to colonialism
Finally, our last case study on the advancements of the woke front bordering on the clinically insane takes us to a discussion on Finland’s colonial past. Over the years, some academics have tried to claim that Finland was complicit in the slave trade, and last year the public broadcasting media YLE doubled down on the claim that Finland had a dark colonial past of its own. For those who are not familiar with Finland’s history here’s a basic summary: Sweden ruled over Finland until 1809, periodically using finnish peasants as soldiers in its wars. In the 1700’s, under a brief russian occupation, finns were captured and sent to Russia to work as slaves. It was only in 1917, that Finland gained independence from Russia, fought a bloody civil war, and then fended off a Russian invasion in WW2. In the 1960’s, the life expectancy of newborns was roughly 60 years, and the GDP/capita was a meagre 1179 dollars. Historically, Finland had been opressed and dirt-poor.
Since it is crystal clear to any multicellular organism that Finland has by no stretch of the imagination been a colonial power, the newest attempts to invoke collective intergenerational guilt rest on incredible segues such as ”iron ore from finnish mines could have been used to forge shackles for slaves”, or ”tar from Finland could have possible been used to impregnate the wood of ships in the slave trade”.
We return, once again, to the infinite redefining of words to the point that they mean absolutely nothing, but can also find another theme. Quite remarkably, collective shaming is never OK, except when finns are involved. ”We” must be cognisant of our dark past and ”we” cannot be exonerated from the sins of our ancestors. In short: we must be woke. In the face of attempts to invoke collective guilt, If I were from Australia, I could retort something along the lines of ”yeanah, get fucked matey”, but being the mild-mannered finn I am, I would never do that and would settle for a ”haha, no”.
Wokeism is no fringe movement, and the spread of idea pathogens has reached pandemic proportions as it has broken into the main stream even in Finland. The very foundation of civilized society is at risk, since the philosophy underpinning the woke movement erodes the existence of objective truths, reducing public discussions to tribal warfare, essentially rolling back on all enlightenment values. This can have very real and grave consequences. For instance wokeism nearly cost thousands of lives in the US, because the woke tried to reprioritize covid-vaccinations away from the elderly, since they were not ”diverse” enough. Attempting to make the immutable characteristics the most salient category of a human being is the most dehumanizing move imaginable.
It is most certainly true that society contains some remaining injustices, and the woke capitalize on this to try to gain power by manipulating people with dishonest methods. You don’t have to be duped. As Andrew Doyle pointed out in his recent column, the woke will try to gaslight us, denying the existence of their tactics, including cancel-culture. Remember: if their suggestions seem insane, it’s probably because they are. Issues such as racism will never be solved by introducing more racism in the name of ”justice”, and the wrongs of the past will never be rectified by penalizing people based on a prescribed group identity. These are not methods that will take us closer to the ideal society, as I experienced at my international school. Faux-outrage and appeasing the mob will deprive us of normal human contact and destroy all humor. It will also deny the very human trait of making mistakes, without the risk of being crucified in public. The woke are very much like dementors, sucking out the will to live out of a functioning society.
Generally, the fact that these various woke-incidents attracted such great attention in Finland can be interpreted as a sign that many people find them ridiculous. This can be easily confirmed by speaking with people outside of the social media bubble. Therefore, the key to solving this mess lies in our own hands and 2021 is a fantastic year for us all to speak up and to show that the emperor has no clothes.