On hijab and David's Star in Austria

The Austrian president Alexander van der Bellen proposes that all women should wear a hijab to show solidarity to Muslim women in Austria and to "fight Islamophobia". As a parallel he cites that the Danish started to wear the yellow David's Star to show solidarity to Jews in their country during Nazi occupation.

This is an embarrassingly twisted view, for several reasons.

First of all, van der Bellen references a myth. The Danish king or Danish people did not start to wear David's Star in solidarity to Jews. Anyone can quickly check this with Snopes. It did not happen.

When a religious symbol is used in a
situation like in this Alamy stock photo,
that is what vilifies its meaning. 
Otherwise, no one cares.
Secondly, wearing hijab is a person's own choice. Whatever perception people have about what the hijab means is largely decided by how the wearers themselves behave and express their religion. As a religious symbol, European law should be neutral about it. But as it's a person's own choice, it's rather insulting to compare the voluntary wearing of hijab to a situation where Nazis would insist that people of certain race must wear a mark to enable persecuting them based on that race. Nobody should be proposing a persecution of people based on voluntary wearing hijab. In fact, even the Nazis did not require Jews to wear the star in Denmark.

(At least I hope the wearing of hijab is voluntary, and not instigated by fear of reprisals and violence.)

Finally, I can only wonder why van der Bellen proposes that Austrian women should start wearing hijab in solidarity. Wouldn't it make a lot more sense if Austrian men, and  Alexander himself in particular, would start with that solidarity?


The lost tale of Turkey in EU

The Turkish constitutional referendum has been resolved in Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's favour. Whether honestly, or, as is more likely, through some suspicious electoral practices, it doesn't really matter. Erdogan will cling to power.

It's time to look at the history of Finnish comments, which show how the local politicians, eager to please the policies in Brussels, have kept talking in favour of Turkey admitted to the union. We'd be in quite a trouble if they had had their way.

The articles are mostly in Finnish, headlined like this:

1997: MTV: Turkey's EU membership is being debated
1999: Verkkouutiset: EU countries support TUrkey's membership
2004: Greens: Membership talks with Turkey must be started soon
2005: Rehn would like to start Turkey's membership talks as planned
2006: Lipponen drivers Turkey's EU membership
2007: Olli Rehn: Turkey membership 'vital' for EU
2008: Foreign minister Alexander Stubb: EU must expand with consistent policies
2009: Matti Vanhanen supports Turkey's EU membership
2011: Erkki Tuomioja: Iceland and Turkey joining EU would strengthen the union
2012: President Halonen promises Finland supports Turkey's EU membership
2013: Journalist union: EU membership would improve Turkish freedom of press
2014: Europe-Youth: Turkey is willing to adapt to similar rules with other EU countries
2015: EK: EU-Turkey economic ties develop further

Finnish politicians apparently kept banging their head to the wall, because it would pelase Brussels. Then comes David Cameron, who is starting to fathom that his electorate really, really does not like to be in the same union with Turkey, or even in the same union with Jean-Claude Juncker who wants to be in the same union with Turkey:

2016: Turkey unlikely to join EU 'until the year 3000', says Cameron

Well, that tale is now over, in many ways.

I just hope, for the sake of the people in Turkey, that they can climb out of this hole without major violence and loss of freedom.


You wanted identity politics. You got identity politics.

(I wrote this the day after Trump won the election, but forgot to publish then).

The world is stunned by Donald Trump's victory in U.S. presidential elections. I'll add my nickel's worth to the discussion why he won.

Trump won because his voters saw others involve in ferocious identity politics, and decided to do the same.

There was Black Lives Matter, tuned to a frenzy so much that they claim that saying "all lives matter" is racism. Really?

There are the people who demand "safe spaces" in universities, to avoid being exposed to controversial ideas or anything that makes them uncomfortable. This is against the very purpose of university, which is to spread, discuss and debate ideas. It's bonkers.

There was the Occupy movement, ferociously partisan.

There are various movements for sexual activists, for example the use the toilets not matching the actual physical gender of people. It's an important matter for a few people out of a million, and it's going all the way to U.S. Supreme Court.

These countless identity movements have left a large part of Americans feel that they are, too, a minority group. At least that they are treated like a disrespected minority group. So why shouldn't they rally to a candidate who makes them feel like they're finally being listened to?

Their vote counts.

Le Pen for President campaign

It appears the French judiciary and European Parliament desperately want Marine  Le Pen to win the French presidential election.

Le Pen posts Twitter messages that highlight the brutality of Daesh. Then the French start to give her more visibility by starting a court case, and the European Parliament lifts her immunity.

But what is Le Pen doing? She is simply showing how brutal the Daish is. She's not working for them. She's working against them. She's maybe using them, knowing that most people find Daish disgusting.

And then the European idiots start to give her more publicity, ensuring she will win the presidential election.

Dear MEPs: you are giving us our very own Trump moment.


Compensations for slave trade? Yes, this way, please.

Suldaan Said Ahmed, a Somalian-born leftist immigrant activist here in Finland, advocates that our country should pay for a welfare state in African countries because Western countries did slave trade. To illustrate the horrors of slavery, the Facebook post where he put out this idea has a staged picture of Bantu people in chains. 

Bantu people, the people who Arabs sold as slaves to Somalians until early 1900’s. That's when the new Italian colonial masters somewhat incompetently stopped the local slave trade. Across the Red Sea in Arabian peninsula, slave-owning continued officially until 1960's  Oman was the last country there to abolish slavery in 1970  and unofficially, who knows. In West African Mauritania, slavery was abolished in 1981 but actually keeping slaves became a crime only in 2007.
Wikipedia: A female Bantu slave in Mogadishu (1882–1883).
I politely pointed this out to Suldaan. His reaction? Remove my comment, block me from his open wall. 
Great. That's a good indicator about the integrity of our country's Left Alliance. It's good we know. Of course, we knew before, but a reminder is good to have.
However, there is something about slave trade that someone should tell Suldaan.  Finland had nothing to do with African slave trade; we were actually not an independent country at that time but even during Russian reign, we retained the Swedish laws which did not allow slavery or serfdom. In Russia, a rich man could own many souls (and trade in them); in Finland, he could not. 

Our last actual involvement in slave trade was in early 18th century, during and after the Great Northern War, when some 10 000 – 20 000 Finnish people were captured and sold as slaves in Russia — among other things, as expendable workers in the construction of St. Petersburg which is founded on corpses of forced labourers.

If Suldaan had bothered to read a bit of the traditional literature in his new home country, he would have learned that a well-known children's story Koivu ja tähti (Björken och stjärnan), written by Zachrias Topelius, tells how two children escape slavery in Russia and, guided by little birds (who turn out to be an angel form of their deceased sisters) finally find their way back home, of which they only remember that there was  birch-tree outside the house and a star above it. There they are re-united with their parents. Not a realistic story, because so few came back from slavery in Russia, but it's a story of hope.

So, Suldaan, if you want reparations to be made to victims of slave trade, we could justifiably ask your country of birth to pay us. However, I'll grant you this: let the reparations be paid out to African countries who are in need, but you need to go to the former paymasters of your party in Moscow and St. Petersburg to ask for the money. 
Go ahead, do it.  Good luck.


UK, what did you go and do?

A friend asked this after the UK vote to LEAVE.

My questions is: EU, what did you go and do?

This is a result of EU policies and also arrogance of EU leaders and the commission. As well as mostly europhilic press. A typical reaction from Helsingin Sanomat today: "it was a mistake by Cameron to let this vote happen".

Think about it. There's a political union, people are fed up with the way it is run, and they want to leave, and it's a mistake to let them vote about it because "they think of all the wrong things when they vote".

Well, they always do when they vote. Still, voting about things is the way democracies work.

Yes, sure, how to practically implement the exit negotiations is quite another thing. It is not going to be completely amicable, but there's not going to be a war between UK and EU about it. Nor is this immediately starting a war between France and Germany, which so many people have been telling is the whole point of EU.

Cameron doesn't know how to do it, Johnson doesn't know how to do it, Corbyn doesn't know how to do it. But someone will find a way. The referendum result will be impossible to ignore.

There are lots of misconceptions about what the EU withdrawal would mean. For instance, that you would need a visa to go to the UK, or that you no longer couldn't move there to work from other EU countries.

Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and many other countries, don't require a visa for EU member citizens to visit the country. Britain will not be different.

There will not be any large-scale pogroms where EU citizens are hung on lamp-posts, either. In the end, I hope this just means that the EU will finally start to come to terms that people in Europe are fed up with its political class who is telling that if you disagree, you are stupid, one of the little people, and to be ignored.

First action proposals: admit that the monthly parliament tour to Strasbourg is not from this century.


Jesus wasn't born refugee

Which is a fancier cover?
On the Christmas Eve this year, the telly had an ecumenical service where the Big Teapot Cover of one of our churches spoke nicely about how Jesus "was born to a poor refugee family".

Actually Jesus was not born to a poor family of refugees. According to Bible, he was born to family of Joseph, an entrepreneurial or self-employed constructor, who was forced by the tax-collecting Roman Empire to travel to Bethlehem, "city of David", because that happened to be the assigned place where his records would be taken to the census administered by the governor Quirinius [1].

The tax collector did not care whether it was reasonable that Joseph and his bride Mary, who was pregnant, had to travel to the site of census, at a time when the accommodation capacity in the place was absolutely fully booked. The tax collector just cared about getting everyone in their books so that they could squeeze every penny that belonged to the Emperor.

So Jesus was born to an entrepreneur family harassed by tax collection, not a refugee family.

Then, after Bethlehem, Jesus's family actually became persecuted for personal reasons. The client king Herod received information from the three Magi which he misinterpreted to mean that he was about to be challenged by a Messiah, and therefore decided to take preventive action. He had male infants of Bethlehem region murdered in order to get rid of the potential leader of this insurgency [2]. Joseph, on the other hand, had been warned of this in a divine dream, and his family sought asylum in Egypt for a couple of years. When Herod had died, they moved to Nazareth [3]. However, they were not particularly poor - Joseph was a constructor known in his home town, a man of means who took care of his family. He was able to travel to Jerusalem to visit the temple [4], etc. Later the family would e.g. visit an affluent wedding where hundreds of litres of wine would be served. [5]

It is fashionable to talk about refugees. It's not fashionable to talk about the oppressive effects of taxation and how the state collects information about people and their financials.

[1] Luke 2:4
[2] Matthew 2:16-18
[3] Matthew 2:13-14,19-20
[4] Luke 2:41
[5] John 2:1-10

(The historical timeline does not quite match the Biblical references. According to sources, Herod died in 4 BC, and Quirinius became the governor only at 6 AD; for the description in Gospel of Luke to be accurate, these events should be the other way round.)