reede, aprill 20, 2007

Finnish Babes

So here I am again, in the Helsinki-Vantaa airport, watching people and, as any man does regardless of his marital situation, watching females. They are -- and always will be -- more interesting to look at. Men are boring. In Finland, most of them come in two shapes -- there's the big guy with the shaved head and the goatee, and then the academic guy with the hair parted on the side and the glasses.

The women of the Helsinki-Vantaa however have different hair colors and body shapes. There are blondes -- both real and false, red heads, brunettes, and I even saw a woman who was sporting some sort of skunk-flavored hairdo that combined bleach blond with black stripes. As for bodies, they range from the lanky to the portly, with the recurring trait of having a large backside, as is common in these parts, the Finnic booty, if you will, with which Estonian women are also blessed.

I haven't seen my wife -- mu kallis naine -- in over two weeks. After two weeks of sleeping alone, I am very interested to ignore all of her bad traits indefinitely just so I can sleep in a bed with a sympathetic human being again. My wife's worst trait is that she is an organized, can do northern European woman, and I am a bit of a southern European-inspired slob. If left unattended, I might just vegetate on a couch reading blogs and eating kreemisaiakesed. Anyway, I am a bit tired of falling asleep on my own. It's much better when there's someone else there to encourage you. When I go on the road I usually fall asleep watching Aqua Team: Hunger Force or The Colbert Report. When I am at home sleep proceeds as ritual.

You can tell I am jet lagged by how much I am talking about sleep. But what about those Finnish babes, particularly the ones in the red and yellow jump suits that are charged with cleaning out the WC? Well, again, they remind me of my wife. Each Finnish lady is like one feature of my wife taken to the extreme. Sort of like different versions of the same prototype. It's a bit weird, but it's oddly comforting to be in the presence of people that even look like my wife, even just a little bit.

Anyway, I am friggin tired and I have to wait until 1:fucking:45 to get on board the plane that will take me to Tallinn where I will meet up with my loved one and take a bus to Tartu. Eventually I will be sitting back in the living room where I packed my bags several weeks ago. And because I am so hungover from work, we've agreed that there will be no furniture assembly projects this weekend!

107 kommentaari:

Flasher T ütles ...

*hums Welcome to Estonia*

Ma pole turist - ma elan siin!

;)

Kaarel ütles ...

Don't you just hate it when you're only about 80 miles away from Tallinn, but have to wait helluva long to get there.

karLos ütles ...

it's worse if you catch that horrible ferry. i could swim faster...

Anonüümne ütles ...

There's something else you left unsaid - not one dark face around you! Once you become aware of that fact you kind a realize, ah, that is why it all looks and feels so normal and comforting and you feel like kissing the first blond girl smiling at you (I know, I know, this is sooooooooooo un-PC to thing to say, but hey, let's face it - we all feel it after arriving from JFK.) I never forget how I almost choked up when I saw a ceterfold quality girl sitting behind the glass in a currency exchange booth. I had to stop looking, she was too pretty. All these pretty people everywhere! It is insane! Even the guys loading the suitcases on the tarmack look like they walked off the A&F photo shoot.

Does this make me racist? Should I be ashamed how I feel about what I notice?

Kristjan ütles ...

Yes, that makes you racist.

Kristjan ütles ...

But being ashamed of oneself isn't particularly constructive. I would advise a thorough reconsideration of why you feel that way, and whether these feelings are justified.

Giustino ütles ...

Does this make me racist? Should I be ashamed how I feel about what I notice?

I think the truth is that there are a lot of ugly people in New York, period, especially in Queens, where JFK is located.

The environment in New York is better than it was, but it's still bad, and if you live in that for enough time, you don't look healthy. And who wants to reproduce with an unhealthy woman? Not me.

I personally find all women pretty attractive. In Mexico I was stunned by these brown mestizo women with dark chocolate hair. But it's true, I am a sucker for blondes with blue eyes. I don't know why.

Anonüümne ütles ...

It's not even about being racist. It's about noticing, recognizing and loving beauty in general. All kinds of beauty. That inevitably makes one discriminating towards everything that is "not pretty."
So I see this kind of "racism" a positive thing. Something that brings about fine arts and high culture. Although Victor Hugo for example was quite successful in admiring ugliness. That's how we know about this Guasimodo. Right? :-)

Kristjan ütles ...

It's not even about being racist. It's about noticing, recognizing and loving beauty in general. All kinds of beauty. That inevitably makes one discriminating towards everything that is "not pretty."
So I see this kind of "racism" a positive thing. Something that brings about fine arts and high culture. Although Victor Hugo for example was quite successful in admiring ugliness. That's how we know about this Guasimodo. Right? :-)


"Right" is not the word I would use. Discriminating everything that's not pretty is quite a world apart from discriminating everyone who's not pretty.

The only form of art that derives from the latter, in my opinion, is ghetto architecture.

Anonüümne ütles ...

The thing v. person point well taken. Then I must just resign myself to the fact that I am an intolerant person. I cannot take ugly anything or anybody. Is there a word or a term for that other than being a "grumpy old man?"
I remember clearly that in my younger years I did not feel that way at all. I was open to the world with everything in it. Roughly until 9/11 I think.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Discrimination is part of the natural law. If there was no such "racism" then bees and the birds would do it between themselves.
... and the morbidly overweight crossing guards at the La Guardia airport would look just as appetizing as Justin's "finnish babes."

Kristjan ütles ...

Is bee, then, a race of bird? I could have sworn there was some species difference there. :-P

Anonüümne ütles ...

in fact, that's my whole point. :-)

Giustino ütles ...

... and the morbidly overweight crossing guards at the La Guardia airport would look just as appetizing as Justin's "finnish babes."

To be fair, one of the chief selling points of Finnish womanhood is that they are just a tiny bit ugly. It works to their advantage.

Kristjan ütles ...

Anonymous, if your point is truly that people with dark skin are a different species than people with light skin, then I fear you're on very shaky ground.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Yeah. I guess I am a bit of a "rageaholic." So if there is no shaky ground, I just stirr it up for the heck of it. You know, this day and age, if you don't make outlandish pronouncements, nobody's gonna pay any attention. So I pull a little Don Imus now and then.
I hope Justin does not mind.

Anonüümne ütles ...

...Finnish womanhood is that they are just a tiny bit ugly. It works to their advantage...

I know, truly beautiful women - those supermodel types you know, they are so intimidating. They know their power over men and are not afraid to use it. I guess that is why I've been sleeping with skanks all my life, come to think of it. :-(

Kaarel ütles ...

wait guys- what makes a person who thinks like that a racist?
I happen to agree with "anonüümne." I come from Estonia, where 90% of the people are pretty. Now I live in Atlanta, where it is kind of the other way - 90+% of people are.. not beautiful (not to say ugly). So, coming back to Estonia, I feel the same way as "anonüümne", and I don't consider myself as a racist. It's more about different societies (Estonia - pretty much white, same looking people vs. US - lots of different people from different races). Therefore, saying that I like Estonian society better doesn't make me a racist, or does it?!

Kristjan ütles ...

Well, I guess it all depends on how you say it, and who reads it. :-)

I consider it racist when someone implies that one race is better than the other, e.g. "white people are smarter than black people". I don't consider it racist when someone declares their likes and dislikes, e.g. "I'm not attracted to black chicks".

Anonymous's first comment seemed to me to give the impression that dark-faced people are the children of Satan, whose company is best avoided.

But I guess it can be read differently as well.

Anonüümne ütles ...

I was suggesting, challenging if you will, that that is exactly racist. The hidden kind of racist. The silent racism if you will. And I was also saying that it is normal.

And yes, you ARE thinking that "your chicks" are better. So there. Case closed?

Anonüümne ütles ...

On the other hand, I may be re defining the word racism. Al Sharpton, I am sure would have a different rant. But, I'd rant right back at him that he's a racist too. By liking black people. That makes him a racist. Anyway you cut it, you are screwed. We all are. Or we are not. That's what I'm talking about.
Take Tirger Woods. Is he a racist or not? Why did he marry a white woman? Should we all marr outside our race to prove we are not racists?
By the way, I did. And I regret it. But that's another story. Although, personally - very educating.

Kristjan ütles ...

No, not really. "More attractive to me" doesn't mean "absolutely better". It means either just "more attractive to me" or "relatively better to me than y,z,x".

Kristjan ütles ...

It's one thing to jump in bed with whoever you want - that is not racist, in my opinion. Just personal freedom of choice.

It's quite another for a society to discriminate against a race systematically, because they are thought to be inferior. That's racism.

Kristjan ütles ...

But that's just a view. I don't feel that my case is particularly strong here. I seem to be making it up as I go along, somewhat. :-)

Anonüümne ütles ...

In life, we are bound to make things up as we go along. It is all one big learning experience until its over and it is no more.
But it is always good to get some good laugh out of it along the way.

Nii see on.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

And we all white and black are looking too big - the nose, too much, the only advantage we got are wide open eyes, blond hair is sometimes too strange. We are looking too old too soon (white people). Old people get blond [white] hair!. Common perspective from the Far East about Europeans.
Following the concept of "Anonüümne" ;)

ylle ütles ...

Mind valdavad samad tunded nagu Anonüümset, kui ma üle pika aja Eesti pinnal jalad maha saan. Rõõmus äratundmine näha taas ilusaid põhjaeurooplasi, palju pikki saledaid neide ja vähem vurritaoliseks vormunud (kui sellist s6na ikka on?)tagumikke.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Folks you gotta be kidding! I remember last year, while visiting Estonia and watching TV with a bunch of friends, one of the hosts of a TV show made monkey sounds after a song was played by a black singer. Everyone in the room laughed and continued to laugh after the host made some choice racist remarks about white women and black men. (I believe the show was Hoia ja Keela).

It is true, Estonia is a young country, but somehow it seems to be addopting one of Western Europe's worst traits; xenophobia.

For centuries Estonians have been isolated from the world, dealing only with their direct neighbors. Now that many Estonians have the opportunity to travel and see the world, I would have expected a different attitude, maybe even excitement about other races and nationalities.

America's success has much to do with its diversity. Ireland is growing like crazy and that is also accompanied by a healthy wave of immigrants. Estonia's growth is likely to slow soon due to a shortage of labor, but Estonian society is too afraid of the "dark skinned foreigners" to do anything about it.

I don't think Estonians are naturally racist people. For centuries they have been oppressed by other nations that viewed their strange language as inferior and their finno-ugric-ness as a dying breed. Made slaves to the land in their own country. I think Estonia should stand for equality and for liberty, despite the fact that many of its neighbors do not. After all Estonians are a contrarian bunch who adopted the flat tax when no one else would, so why not blaze the trail for a new European model of tollerance?

Anonüümne ütles ...

in response to the previous ...

Ah, idealism. So decadent.

estonia visitor ütles ...

It's really difficult when you have 2 posters with the same name (or is it the same poster putting forward opposing points of view).

I think it's a circular argument. If you shut out people who look different, then they remain "strange", therefore there will always be wonder, surprise and yes unfortunately discrimination. On the other hand, if you are in a society where you have gone to school with them, lived next to them, and work with them (say like here in London where I am, and probably like Giustino's life in NY), it gets a lot harder to see them as anything other than just people trying to get through life just like yourself.

This is not to say there aren't pockets of communities where integration hasn't happened, where divisions have built up, where you get violence from both members of the majority and the minority, but I really believe this is how it generally works. Otherwise how on earth would a multi racial country like the US operate on a daily basis, notwithstanding that there are problems - I am talking GENERALLY.

So I think if Estonia is guided by this fear and is so paranoid that Skype has difficulty obtaining a work permit for an Indian programmer, then the attitude won't change because people who look different will always be something to be feared.

It's a nice idea to limit immigration to EU citizens, but unfortunately Estonia is still not in a position to attract many workers from other EU countries. I recently read one of the other Accession countries with labour shortages (Czech Republic or Poland, can't remember) is considering granting work permits to non EU citizens, including people from far-flung places like India.

On the other hand, the number of Estonians in this world is so small, and there already being substantial minorty, I do understand the concerns. I don't know if they would be too thrlled either if for example 500,000 Italians decided to move over tomorrow! Most people with immigration concerns now in the UK have them over (white) East Europeans, Poles in particular.

Anonüümne 1 ütles ...

I liked Iceland where people do not have to apologize for being who they are. They just are. Like birds or animals in the wild do not have to explain their way of life, they live naturally and without hatred. Of course they are not racist or nationalist. To suggest that would certainly offend them.

Now imagine they took in an untold number of people who completely reject their way of life and speak their own languge and have their own customs and morals or lack thereof. Do you think these same peaceful, tolerant and worry free icelanders will remain as such?

Mitte anonüümne ütles ...

Will the real anonüümne please stand up!

The real question is what is an Estonian, is it a set of genetic traits or is it a common linguistic and cultural identity?

I hope it is the latter, Estonia has a strong and beautiful culture and language, and that coupled with a dynamic and modern economy, would be very appealing to immigrants from far flung parts of the world.

As I said earlier, America's strength is in its diversity, and its ability to absorb immigrants is related to the diversity of those immigrants. Estonia's recent problems with immigration would probably not be if Estonia had a small number of immigrants from many different countries, rather than a large number from a particular country.

Lets face it, most of the world is not in the EU, many of the most talented and hard working people in the US came from all over the world. So while I agree that Estonia is too small to be capable of absorbing 0.5 million Italians, what about 200 Italians, 100 Nigerians, 300 Indians, 80 Brazilians and so on. All highly educated and ready for Estonia's high tech economy, and all willing to accept Estonia's central creed of tollerance and liberalism, and above all, all of them speaking Estonian in their day to day lives, because Italians don't speak Brazillian and vice-versa.

Kaarel ütles ...

Well- yes, Estonia is a "new" country, but I sure hope so the society stays "white". I know it sounds racist, but I really do not want these types of people in our stores as you can see in US stores/gas stations. Yes, they are black, indian, mexican, or so. But they are dirty and bottom feeders - it does not make me a racist. I know several educated and rich black people, who I respect. But I surely do not want these bottom feeders to take over Estonias low-paid jobs.
Somebody mentioned the show "Hoia ja keela", where somebody made some racist comments. That's just how the life is in Estonia. We like our white people and we don't really want any other "colors" into our society. Why? Look at america - people look so mixed and so ugly that why should we want a society like that.

yeah- I think it sounds racist, and sorry, if I offended somebody, but that's just how it is.

estonia visitor ütles ...

I agree that having small groups from many countries might be a better idea that one huge minority - cough cough - as that could lead to certain shall we say, tensions.

However, the idea that these Brazilians and Indians and Europeans and whatever will communicate in Estonian is idealistic. Let's face it, it will be in English.

Anyway, for all the Immigration Board's concern, I don't think they have that much to worry about. Most migrants who travel thousands of miles aren't going to stop in Eastern or Central Europe because frankly neither the employment prospects nor benefits justify the cost and time of the journey. They would inevitably be heading towards Western Europe. So frankly, I think they are fretting over a non-issue. The only non-white people a hostile Estonian is likely to bother is a tourist or a student.

estonia visitor ütles ...

Kaarel I find your comments amusing because you're forgetting there are millions of European-born people who are not white. Just the ethnic minority population of London alone is more than the whole of Estonia, and a good percentage of them go back 2 or 3 generations, meaning thy are born here and therefore British and European citizens, certainly European Union citizens long before Estonia and other countries joined. If suddenly the economy of Estonia overtook Finland and Germany, etc, and there was mass immigration from other parts of the EU, including several thousand European born nonwhites, from France or Britain or wherever, there's not much you could legally do. Once you guys agreed to joining the EU, a substantial proportion of your powers to keep Estonia as it is disappeared.

Andres ütles ...

The difference between the US and Estonia is the 200-fold difference in population. English is the world language and it's pretty safe that it will stay that for the next decades if not centuries. It won't fade away. People in the UK and the US will still be speaking English even if they take in a considerable amount of immigrants.
Estonian on the other hand is pretty fragile. We already have a mere 2/3 majority on our own land. Also we don't have particularly good experience with immigrants, so it's understandable that we are a bit sceptical to say the least. We feel that we have to defend ourselves from the "strange men" coming from the outside. Of course there's nothing bad if they integrate and I know a lot of people who aren't Estonian by origin but are still just normal people. But we're afraid to make a mistake, if we some day find out that we let all those negros etc in our land and now they all go crazy like in France or smth, then it'd be too late.

As for the black jokes on TV, consider this that I for example haven't seen a black person for months. They just are that uncommon. If that's a fact, why should we try so hard to not offend them? It's not like you could hurt someone if there's noone to hurt? It's not like there's a considerable black minority and we all make nigger-jokes about them. They are as unknown to us as let's say the Martians. Oh noes, let's not offend the Martians :P

Mitte anonüümne ütles ...

Are there no dissenting views? Is racism so completely acceptable in Estonian society today?

Andres ütles ...

Of course it's not a good tone. And anybody respectable would never say that in front of the camera. But if somebody less important still does, it's not like they're going to be convicted or anything either. Black jokes aren't usually malicious, they're just childish jokes about strange things (in this case people of another race). I know to a Western European that would look as completely racist and I don't quite approve of it either, but making racist comments isn't that big a deal as it would be in the United States for example.

estonian visitor ütles ...

What kind of crap argument is that? There aren't many Estonians in the UK. So if I go on TV and make jokes, say they're all alcoholic peasants or something, that's okay because there aren't many of them here???

Giustino ütles ...

To Estonia Visitor:

However, the idea that these Brazilians and Indians and Europeans and whatever will communicate in Estonian is idealistic. Let's face it, it will be in English.

We cannot predict the future. We can only look to the past. And the past says that if you stay in Estonia for several generations you'll become an Estonian.

Just the ethnic minority population of London alone is more than the whole of Estonia, and a good percentage of them go back 2 or 3 generations, meaning thy are born here and therefore British and European citizens, certainly European Union citizens long before Estonia and other countries joined.

That population predates the EU, and if you think of the larger currents of history you'll remember that the UK, Holland, even Sweden were once empires that had to establish some sense of "Britishness" in order to keep their empires afloat. Estonia is not part of that, so their ability to 'integrate' Africans doesn't match the hundreds of years the English have at doing the same.

Are there no dissenting views? Is racism so completely acceptable in Estonian society today?

Here I don't think it is. In my experience, outside of comments from Kaarel, I would say that people are actually just unexperienced with foreigners. The Estonians I know seem actually more tolerant when placed in foreign situations -- like traveling in the Middle East or Asia or South America -- than many Americans would be.

estonian visitor ütles ...

"In my experience, outside of comments from Kaarel, I would say that people are actually just unexperienced with foreigners. "

I would tend to agree with you.

As an example of the reverse, I would suggest Russia: one of the most multi-ethnic countries on in the world, meaning a high level of exposure to different races/cultures, but an unbelievable problem with racism these days.

Mitte anonüümne ütles ...

The comment about Russia is a very good one. It is ironic, given that ethnic estonians go to great lengths to explain that Estonia is not Russia, that we hear of skin heads in Moskva, Peeterburi, and Tartu, but rarely in London or Paris. So is Estonian racism an import from Russia, and are Estonians not so different after all?

estonia visitor ütles ...

While I think the skinheads hassling students in Tartu is a bad thing, and making monkey sounds about blacks on a tv programme tasteless (actually I think it makes Estonia look backward more than anything else, all this talk about it being a "Nordic country," I would be very surprised to see that kind of behaviour on a Swedish or Norwegian TV programme) - ANYWAY... while I think these are not things to be proud of... I would not put Estonia and Russia in the same category when it comes to racism. In fact, I wouldn't put ANYBODY in the same category as Russia, I really don't know of any country where racists have viciously repeatedly stabbed a 9 year old girl, even in East Germany which has a big skinhead problem. What's happening in Russia is just on a completely different scale...

Giustino ütles ...

I wrote the last post about Finnish women's rearends. And now you got all serious and are talking about skinheads and racism.

To paraphrase Nigeria's Fela Kuti, "all countries have their problems, so does Estonia, so does Europe."

And I have heard racist jokes all over the continent, the most grotesque from a German traveling to a football game in Norway, who said -- in front of a person of African descent -- that I shouldn't listen to black music because it was n*gger $hit.

This one's for you Fela Kuti. Blow your horn in peace. And get with some ladies named Pirkko while you are at it!

Helena ütles ...

kaarel and andres, could you please stop using the word "we" when describing your personal opinions on different races. Fortunately, you don't represent all Estonians, so don't pretend you do. Your views are absolutely embarrassing to me, and I know other people, who would feel the same way.

Andres ütles ...

helena, I'm sorry, it's just common for the Estonian language to use we in monologues, even when explaining how you solve a maths problem or smth like that.

Also I didn't express much of my personal views, I just said that I don't find racism on TV the best thing to do. I was describing the situation I find myself in. Yet nobody is insulted with rare n-bombs so it could be considered harmless. A foolish joke like a fart-joke. Not completely intelligent but still funny in some context. Also people aren't exactly dissing people of other races all the time. People don't even talk about persons from other races. And when an occasional black-joke is made, it's not taken with too much severity. Come on, don't tell me you don't laugh at Estonian-Russian-German jokes. Yet they could be considered racist too.

On a side-note I don't fully agree with kaarel. I would be more reserved in my words although I think the will of Estonia being primarily white is taken as obvious. Again, there is no disrespect to people of other colours or direct racism. But there certainly is prejudice. And well, why shouldn't there be? Who knows, maybe in some decades Estonia will have as much blacks as say London. Estonia today is not ready for that though, let's be honest. Especially the older generation is not the most tolerate kind. I believe the cause is lack of experience, not deliberate hatred against colourful people.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Anonüümne 1

I just wanted to submit, that I have had a cahnce to discover a downside of being away from all this total and absolute whiteness of the society. I got my skull cracked in once in Estonia. The thing is, I had lost my instinct to view a white man as source of threat. Theri shaved heads and drunken blabber did not arise an ounce of danger in me. Well, I know better now. I just could not believe, that another estonian would raise against his brother in such a violent manner over absolutely nothing. It was an astonishing discovery. It kinda ended my personal decadence in believeing that we are such nice people.

Giustino ütles ...

And well, why shouldn't there be? Who knows, maybe in some decades Estonia will have as much blacks as say London.

Again, I'd have to bring up history here again. The *reason* that there are so many relative newcomers in Estonia from Russia mainly is because the Soviet system tried -- and mostly failed -- to turn Estonia into a manufacturing hub.

In reality, Estonia has had a productive agrarian economy for at least a thousand years. Estonia's peak times in the past have been where it served as a trading post within a larger economic system -- you could perhaps see it fulfilling this role in the European Union, for example, or as the 'fifth Beatle' of the Nordic countries.

As Estonia's economy diversifies, some truths have emerged. Estonia is not just a transit economy, relying on lucrative port deliveries. Also, Estonia's growing fields are in the banking and IT sectors.

Therefore, inviting foreigners to Estonia would entice IT professionals and others to bolster these growing economies. That means that you aren't likely to see a large influx of manufacturing workers from Asia or Africa.

"Blacks" that live in London -- as well as southeast Asians -- went there -- as well as to cities like Paris and Amsterdam -- because they probably belonged to former colonies. They were sitting in Lagos and thought, "Hey, where should I go study?" And for decades, even centuries, the answer has been "the heart of the empire" -- London.

Barring its allegedly xenophobic naturalization laws, Finland hasn't seen a socially altering influx of foreigners since it joined the EU in 1995. Why? Because Finland is remote and the immigrants it does attract serve its similar growing economic sectors -- like IT and telecommunications.

Hell, who the hell are people like myself and Phil from Finland for Thought? We're Americans working in Finland in Estonia. We're the dreaded foreigners that accompany globalization. Is my hair Mediterranean chest too much a distraction for Estonia? I don't think so.

Kaarel ütles ...

my apologies as well, Helena!

Many of you commented my opinion on the subject, and I do appreciate it.

What I'm trying to say is in my point of view, all those non-white foreign people will more likely bring the country down. I know it sounds cruel, but does any of you have any data about the education level of people who do immigrate? Why is it that always the bottom class people move into other countries, trying to get more money? Take Mexicans who are moving to the US, where they still end up doing dirty and low-class jobs because of their lack of education.
On of the examples I always bring, is the difference in Estonian and US gas stations. I just love Estonian gas stations - look at the Statoil. It is so clean, so nice, compared to the dirty US ones where I'd like to wear gloves and mask every time I go there. It's the same with most of the grocery stores and so on. Can anybody tell me why is it so?

Long story short - I am afraid that once these type of low class people start moving to Estonia, our country's stores, gas stations, streets, etc gonna be filled with people who does not give a damn about their hygiene (smelling Indians in London stores) and appearance.

Giustino ütles ...

Estonian on the other hand is pretty fragile. We already have a mere 2/3 majority on our own land.

Hey now, you're 68.6 percent and don't forget it. Estonia hasn't been 69 percent Estonian since 1969. So, hurray for that incredible number.

Also we don't have particularly good experience with immigrants, so it's understandable that we are a bit sceptical to say the least.

Eh, from what I have read Estonia did just fine integrating Finnish immigrants in the 17th century (in places like Virumaa) and Russian immigrants (in Valgamaa) in the 18th century.

Currently the big "cough cough" minority question is a figment of one's imagination in most of Estonia. In Pärnu, in Kuressaare, in Tartu, in Võru, in Viljandi -- do people even think about this crap?

No, that's Tallinn talking. Let's not confuse Tallinn with all of Estonia. Tallinn's municipal issues may have national implications on the international circuit, but they don't really trickle down to your everyday Juku Jänes of Jõgeva(or whatever the national personification of Estonia is).

Estonia's really big problems are things like alcoholism, social support for pensioners, not wearing protection, familial instability (see previous item), bad roads, asshole drivers, and a lack of a healthy variety of cheeses in the supermarket. Oh yeah, and sleazy politicians.

Kristjan ütles ...

Hey now, you're 68.6 percent and don't forget it. Estonia hasn't been 69 percent Estonian since 1969. So, hurray for that incredible number.


Giustino, I get the feeling for a few days now that you're trying to cheer us up. Do stop it. ;-)

Discontent is what an ordinary Estonian is. Almost always, and about almost all things. It's the driving force behind our development, and the glue which keeps our personalities from disintegrating into something very grotesque.

Hurray for 69%? -"In 1939, it was over 90%." ;-)

Kristjan ütles ...

I should, perhaps, add that to me, an Estonian is a person who can speak Estonian fluently. It isn't about ethnicity, it's about ability to function fully in society.

Anonüümne ütles ...

LOL, it sounds like Kaarel is stuck at the bottom of the food chain in America, dealing with lowsy gas stations in bad neighborhoods. Perhaps he could visit Silicon Valley one day and see entire neighborhoods full of new immigrants driving Lexuses and BMWs and living in McMansions he can never afford, or Austin, or Dallas, or Chicago or Boston or LA...

The US is truly huge, don't be too quick to judge it or its diverse population.

Anonüümne ütles ...

The answer to the question do immigrants lower a country's standard of living can be gleaned from the following:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_to_the_United_States#Effects_of_immigration

Note that the smelly non-white immigrants from Asia, had a household income of $57K per year in kroonid that would be 54,000 kroons per month bruto, this is higher than the national average, and gasp, higher than the average for European immigrants! Also the non-asians, non-latin Americans, non-Europeans made exactly the national avergae (this group must include Africans) of $42 per year or for those keeping count about 40,000 kroonid per month bruto! The only group that is below the national average are hispanic immigrants, and the majority of these are illigal immigrants.

It seems like Estonia would be in little danger of the sort of illegal immigration that the US must deal with. Could Estonia not attract the type of well educated people that seem to thrive in America? It certainly seems like their continent of origin has little bearing on their success.

Anonüümne ütles ...

!@#$ blogger screwed up the link, lets try again ;-)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Immigration_to_the_United_States
#Effects_of_immigration

Kaarel ütles ...

@Anonüümne

"/../and living in McMansions he can never afford, or Austin, or Dallas, or Chicago or Boston or LA..."

I ignore the "can never afford" insult!!!!!! For your knowledge, I live in a VERY respected part of town in Atlanta, and I've been in different cities in US as well. Furthermore, can buy a Lexus whenever I feel like it.

I haven't said there are no nice parts of town or cities in US, but I am talking about the big picture here. There are some decent parts of towns in US, but more "not so nice" parts. What are the odds you'll never run out of gas while driving trough some of those "not so decent" parts of town?? But when it comes to Estonia, 99% of Statoil gas station or Selver grocery's look the same (read: nice), wherever their location is.

And thank you, another Anonüümne, for the data. That surely cleared up some of my concerns.

Kristopher ütles ...

Kaarel, I'm impressed by your olfactory profiling of the US.

I had some advice for the next time that you're driving around in a "not so nice" part of town and running low on gas. Always have with you a lemon in a silk handkerchief. That way if you have to stop and walk, you hold it up to your nose and thus no problem with smell. Trust me, I lived on in a superlorent on 4th and San Julian in LA and it worked for me.

Oh, and you also want to be wearing a top hat while you are walking. That will mark you as a gentleman. People in the US are very class-conscious and they will give you right of passage.

plasma-jack ütles ...

Mitte anonüümne said...

Are there no dissenting views? Is racism so completely acceptable in Estonian society today?


For the record: my views do dissent. And for the further record, I have actually met some black people living in Estonia.

Estonia visitor ütles ...

Kristopher's post above: Excellent stuff!

I always find it amusing that on these sorts of boards, it's usually the emigrants to other countries who tend to be more nationalist and far-right than the people who actually chose to remain home.

"you aren't likely to see a large influx of manufacturing workers from Asia or Africa."

Absolutely. There's a lot of factors that brought/are bringing people from all over the world to Britain, France etc. Part of it is old colonial ties, language, part of it is the fact that these are huge economies that offer relatively high wages and/or social benefits. I'm afraid to say that Estonia's not quite up there yet. As an example, look at Bulgaria and Romania: those countries have very low wages, I think even lower than Turkey. They have now joined the EU and Estonia is one of the countries that have opened their labour markets fully. So... why hasn't there been a huge influx of Romanian and Bulgarian workers?

"Estonia's really big problems are things like alcoholism, social support for pensioners, not wearing protection, familial instability (see previous item), bad roads, asshole drivers, and a lack of a healthy variety of cheeses in the supermarket. Oh yeah, and sleazy politicians."

YES YES YES! Why go around and around in circles worrying because there might be a few dozen non-white immigrants, when there's far far greater problems affecting the country? Get the country to a level of prosperity where people WANT to immigrate on a mass scale before you spend so much time worrying about it!

Oh and Giustino, yeah you're annoyed that the discussion changed from the original topic you posted, basically from the point where Anonüümne stated that one added benefit of reaching Estonia again is not having to suffer the absolute (gasp!) indignity of seeing any dark faces. But isn't the point of having a blog with a comments board to stimulate discussion? If nothing else, the posts would show to an absolute outsider the variety of views that even a small country like Estonia can have on an issue like this.

Sky ütles ...

If there's one thing I love about Estonians, it's their brutal honesty! (especially with foreigners like me). I myself am brutality honest when it comes to expressing my feelings and so I identify.

Someone here posted "America's success has much to do with its diversity.". This is very true. But the kind of valuable diversity you're talking about came mostly from EUROPE. Never forget that. The United States became successful due to mostly European immigrants in the early days, and now we can include Asians. ( I'm not talking about the backbreaking workers of old, but the real innovators that made the US what it is).

However, this is about to change as other minorities gain a foothold in areas that we are very ashamed of. We export more of this trash to other countries than anyone in the world. We are becoming looked upon as a society with no moral values what-so-ever. We condone the playing of Gansta Rap for instance, and have so for over a decade now. Young people are very impressionable, and it really saddens to see a young teenage Estonian listening to this garbage whenever I'm over there. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a group of people who become "untouchable" in the U.S. And THIS is what the previous posters here are talking about I think. My opinion? You SHOULD talk about it because it's a very real problem

space_maze ütles ...

I would not underestimate the part African Americans have played with the "innovations that have made the US great" in the early days.

http://www.ritesofpassage.org/inventors.htm

Especially considering that these accomplishments were made by an enslaved people, not bad.

plasma-jack ütles ...

(plasma-jack going offtopic)

nowadays, Estonians have our own hip-hop too, which ain't so gangsta, but talking about booze and ladies and society and shit.
http://noizmakaz.illlab.ee/mant/noizmakaz_-_diskokuul_(diskoTiiBii_rmx).mp3

but when talking about music, it's important to remember that it is the 20th anniversary of the singing revolution:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r75WMX1WFgk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrzWuLMhZAc&mode=related&search=
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Q2xNvkyT9U&mode=related&search=


laulame neid laule jälle... (double click on the link, then copy to address bar)

plasma-jack ütles ...

(bloody hell, I'm a 23-year-old with no particualr taste to 80's rock and the first song almost got tears in my eyes..
but I tend to prefer that one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBt8qBdz0gA )

Giustino ütles ...

I remember that we went to visit the tsar's old country estate in Finland. And after walking some time through the woods we came upon a stream and a bridge, where the words "Cypress Hill" had been graffitied.

"Cypress Hill" -- the purveyors of "Hits from the Bong" -- under a bridge. In rural Finland. Yeah.

:)

stockholm slender ütles ...

I wonder whether this will inflame feelings but I have certainly noticed some curiously oldfashioned, traditional attitudes in Estonia as regards gender, race, sexual identity and such. From a Nordic (Finnish) perspective that is. This is not to say that our society would be a tolerant liberal paradise, even Sweden, that every Estonian's dream land (with that ever so hea Rootsi aeg) is not that - but in some respects we have undergone a revolution in social attitudes that largely skipped the Eastern bloc for natural reasons. So, I do feel a bit snobbish when I read crude unopposed anti-gay, anti-black opinions for example on Postimees news comments. Well, talk about provocation here...

Giustino ütles ...

but in some respects we have undergone a revolution in social attitudes that largely skipped the Eastern bloc for natural reasons.

Estonia didn't have a "1960s" like you and I know the 1960s. Their social revolution was a nationalist one that peaked in the mid-1980s. Their universities weren't home to frizzy haired radicals because they were in the Soviet Union. "Dissidents" were right wing!

stockholm slender ütles ...

Well, in many respects Estonia certainly is actually more modern than Finland, because of a later start - even if that is surely not always a positive thing. In any case, it is hard to deny that there is a certain lively dynamism in Estonia that we seem to lack here up north in our smugly Nordic Põderland. Still, some Estonian social attitudes really do seem archaic, even to the degree that they wouldn't be out of place in Moscow...

Giustino ütles ...

Still, some Estonian social attitudes really do seem archaic, even to the degree that they wouldn't be out of place in Moscow...

You mean like the "only women do the dishes" routine?

I don't know how much of it is true and how much is false.

From what I understand, there is an intense effort in the Nordic countries to convince one another that they are tolerant of everybody (part of their overall belief that they are the best in the world).

But in my experience, this is not the case. The Muslim issue confounds them, as it confounds the Dutch. How do you integrate intolerant cultures into a tolerant one while still being tolerant?

It's like a Rubik's Cube -- good luck if you can solve that one.

I don't think at their root that Finnish and Estonian cultures are very different. But I recognize that the social games of the 1960s -- which were encouraged and are still played with in academia -- are largely absent here.

Older people from the Nordic countries often say that Estonia is like Sweden or Norway used to be *before* the social revolutions of the 60s and 70s.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Just a few stats. The Gross National Product of Estonia is $6 billion.

Asian-Americans in the U.S. (who make up just 3.7% of the population) own 1.1 million businesses in the United States that generate more than $326 BILLION dollars in revenue per year.

3.7% of the population make up 45% of students at UC Berkeley, 24% of Stanford University, and 18% of Harvard University. About the same percentages for every other elite Ivy League University. And that's with reverse discrimination keeping numbers down so they can let in more underqualified blacks and latinos.

Anyone who chooses to lump in the contributions of Asian immigrants with Black or Mexican immigrants is plain ignorant.

It's not even close.

Giustino ütles ...

3.7% of the population make up 45% of students at UC Berkeley, 24% of Stanford University, and 18% of Harvard University. About the same percentages for every other elite Ivy League University.

Let's not forget that the Asian cultures are among the finest purveyors of cartoons in the world.

Pokemon! Pokemon! Pokemon!

Look, why are we getting into this crap. Most blacks in the US were brought in the bottoms of ships in the 17th and 18th century as part of a workforce for an economy that dried up.

Their familial units were destroyed, their culture was [mostly] destroyed, and they didn't really get the right to vote across the US without limitation until 1965! Holy crap.

On the contrary, other than older communities on the West Coast, I think most Asians in the US didn't start ariving in the US until after 1965 under very different circumstances.

Trust me, my friend CJ's parents (from the Phillipines) took a plane to the US. They didn't come over in a slave trader.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Well, as I said, we certainly are not any perfect paradises of tolerance - but there is a lively, vocal and strengthening opinion for example in favour of homosexual rights which has led a certain moderation of tone even among the traditionally (and narrowly) thinking majority. This moderation of tone seems to be largely missing in Estonia: it is still acceptable to say things almost unthinkingly by even educated people that is not the case any longer in Scandinavia. This has been my observation at least.

Gender issues have broken so much through that in the Nordic countries there really is surprisingly far reaching practical equality that turns out in small everyday things also. There are more acceptable roles and identities for both women and men than used to be the case. Of course this is visible also on the elite level: now 12 of our 20 ministers are women, and 83 of our 200 members of parliament. Not perfect, but certainly encouraging.

Giustino ütles ...

The gay issue here is very interesting. Most people I know have no problem with homosexuals -- so long as they keep it to themselves! Pretty odd, right?

Honestly though, I just think Estonia is a bit tired. It's tired of Stalin apologists displaying the red flag at war memorials and it's tired of the minority question, and it's tired by the rampant alcoholism in the countryside, and it's tired of Savisaar, and, well, it's just tired.

Throwing the homosexual rights movement on top of all that is bound to just trigger negative feelings.

Andres ütles ...

I think the most competent people should man high-up positions. If those people are women, so be it. But we shouldn't bring in any kind of quotas to artificially bring women into the picture in my opinion. That would be a "Potjomkini küla". Equality must come naturally, not by imposing some limitations.

plasma-jack ütles ...

Attitudes change with generations, so it will take a while. People born in 1989 are already in eligible to vote, we'll see what the society looks like when they are in their 40-s.

hullu poro ütles ...

'We're the dreaded foreigners that accompany globalization.' (Giustino)
The unfortunate Finnish stereotype is that a 'foreigner' is either an illegal immigrant trying to claim refugee status on fraudulent grounds or (best case scenario) a Turkish pizza delivery guy. No room for IT professionals in that. Or for any foreigners who are not visibly different. Or visibly different people who are nevertheless native born Finnish citizens with law degrees and no interest in the fast food industry.

hullu poro ütles ...

'I always find it amusing that on these sorts of boards, it's usually the emigrants to other countries who tend to be more nationalist and far-right than the people who actually chose to remain home.' (Estonia Visitor)
Try these two guys from nice, Scandinavian, tolerant Sweden for some real immigrant/emigrant pathology: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laserman , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Arkl%C3%B6v
Can't make something like these two up.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Of course it can't possibly be that Asian cultures stress obedience, hard work, education, and professional success versus a dysfunctional black culture that thinks an educated black man speaking grammatically proper English is an Uncle Tom.

Let me break this to you.

It's not always the white man's fault.

Blacks (who by the way, haven't been in chains or the cotton plantations for quite a while now) have to face up to the dysfunctional aspects of their culture if they ever want to advance.

Giustino ütles ...

Of course it can't possibly be that Asian cultures stress obedience, hard work, education, and professional success versus a dysfunctional black culture that thinks an educated black man speaking grammatically proper English is an Uncle Tom.

How do you think it got dysfunctional? Servitude broke the basic foundations of African culture in the United States. Language, family units -- destroyed. That's a rotten base on which to build a future.

Let me break this to you.

It's not always the white man's fault.


It depends who we are crediting as the "white man." I sort of reject this idea of "black and white". As a person of Mediterranean descent, it's clear to me that the lines between Italian and Greek and Turk and Lebanese and Egyptian aren't that clear.

But anyway, the Dutch and English created the slave trade that led to the mass settlement of agricultural workers in the US from Africa.

But it was the homegrown American system of apartheid that kept them down for all those hundreds of years. As late as the 1950s, if you had African blood in your background, you were considered persona non grata in the state of Virginia. That was something you had to hide, unless you were found out.

The state governments were run by racist bastards. Period. And yes, most of those racist bastards had roots in England.

Blacks (who by the way, haven't been in chains or the cotton plantations for quite a while now) have to face up to the dysfunctional aspects of their culture if they ever want to advance.

That up for them to decide. I don't recall the strong hand of "white society" on my shoulder telling me I had to "get my act together".

Furthermore, there are huge swaths of the United States that are just as disfunctional as the urban African American communities, and guess what -- they are all comprised of people of European descent. Take a trip to upstate New York -- unemployment, alcoholism, who are you kidding here?

This leads me to think that it is poverty that is harder to escape than race, though I am sure the two of them are twisted together.

Estonia visitor ütles ...

Anonüümne's points, right or wrong, are irrelevent to this blog. As Giustino pointed out, african-americans come from a legacy of hundreds of years of slavery, complete breakdown of links with homeland and family, at least a century of de facto segregation (remember the Jim Crow laws, or Brown v Board of Education - separate inherently breaks down into unequal).

How would that be relevant to Estonia, where any African immigrants would choose to come rather than be forced to? Unless Estonia plans to import African slaves in shackles and slave ships, hold them in slavery for hundreds of years, then suppress them via discrimnatory laws for another hundred, Anonüümne's points are just about airing his own views about blacks in America, and I am sure there are hundreds, thousands of other websites better suited to these thoughts.

Giustino ütles ...

Well, my long-term goal is that my Finnish Babes post should get 100 comments. By any means necessary.

Anonüümne ütles ...

I am sorry guys for distracting your attention from finnish rumps. Let's keep it simple and keep talking about things that we understand. With the words of great black civil rights activist and ill fated LA motorist Rodney King, allow me to conclude: "Let's just all get along."

Giustino ütles ...

Well, anyway, back on topic, Phil at Finland for Thought recently asked readers which new minister they'd most like to take a nude sauna with.

Most people chose Paula Lehtomäki, but after doing some research I am leaning towards Paula Risikko -- she looks the cleanest.

Anyway, look for yourselves. And for the ladies, there's always Finland's most handsome man, Vanhanen.

http://www.finlandforthought.net/2007/04/18/ministers-photos/

Martasmimi ütles ...

I don't recall the strong hand of "white society" on my shoulder telling me I had to "get my act together".

Sure you must recall the most important member of your "white society", kicking your butt on a daily basis.
That would be....
"Your Mother"

Anonüümne ütles ...

I guess thousands of years of slavery and the white man breaking down family units is the reason why today's blacks are crime-prone and povery-stricken in the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Germany, and every single other country they're in.

Yup, makes total sense.

That must be why Africa is doing well, since they were able to keep their family-units and heritage intact.

Thanks for clearing that up for me.

Giustino ütles ...

That must be why Africa is doing well, since they were able to keep their family-units and heritage intact.

Who drew the borders of the countries in Africa? Was it the Africans, or was it the Dutch, Belgians, Germans, French, English, and others?

Thanks for clearing that up for me.

I'd hate to say this to you, but I didn't start this topic to discuss the problems of the global African community. I am not an expert and I will probably never be.

But I think it is arrogant and stupid to assume some sort of superiority on the part of Europeans, the same Europeans who fought mindless, bloody religious wars throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, and who made the 20th century one of the bloodiest on record.

You can thank your buddy Hitler for that one; a real European :-)

Estonia visitor ütles ...

You know what I really feel bad about? This is one of the few really informative English-language sources of information about Estonia. Whether or not I agree with everything he says(eg the great "Nordic" debate ;) ) I think Giustino is doing a great job.

So, if I'm somebody from, I don't know, Idaho, or Ontario, wherever; and for whatever reason, I am interested in knowing about Estonia - maybe for tourism, maybe for business, maybe my great grand mother was an eestlane. Not so many sources out there in English so a google search brings me to this site. I am excited, because it gives me a better idea of life in Estonia than dry newspaper articles about skype and flat tax.

Then I start reading comments. I read xenophobic and racist comments. Coupled with the fact that all I can remember hearing about estonia is various stories about them being called nazis by the russians, or gay parades hijacked by skinheads, or the gay black ambassador's boyfriend leaving because he "couldn't take it anymore" (front page on BBC Europe), the comments confirm my thoughts on what the stories seem to point at: narrow-mindedness and prejudice. I sigh and dismiss the country as just another "East European" country with a long way to go. There's a bad taste left as I close the window down. I decide maybe I will instead take the family this summer to that charming village in Provence instead...

OK, it's a bit of a contrived scenario, but you get my point. Somebody who doesn't know ANYTHING about eestimaa COULD come away with this sort of impression - and I know that Estonians aren't a bunch of nazis prowling the streets beating up russians, blacks and gays; that is why it's a shame if people did get that impression.

So if someone has views on racial superiority, the need to keep a country "white," etc etc, wouldn't it be more appropriate to find a website more suited to their views? Stormfront would be a good one. But I just don't see the point of it here. All it does it confirm the constant "estonian fascists" accusations.

Giustino ütles ...

OK, it's a bit of a contrived scenario, but you get my point. Somebody who doesn't know ANYTHING about eestimaa COULD come away with this sort of impression - and I know that Estonians aren't a bunch of nazis prowling the streets beating up russians, blacks and gays; that is why it's a shame if people did get that impression.

I am thinking of putting together a humorous post -- "Life in Fascist Estonia" where we can point out how idiotic the argument that Estonia is somehow fascist is.

Should I post photos of all the products in my house that are bilingual? Or maybe of the signs in the hardware store here in Tartu (of all places, ethnic Estonian population 80+ percent) that are bilingual, or maybe link to Postimees and EPL which also offer news in both languages?

Just to dispel these memes that circulate.

Look, there are racists and idiots everywhere. In Estonia there are some that may have yelled or harassed people of color on the streets. In the US people have been chained and dragged behind cars because of the color of their skin in recent years.

People say racist comments on this board, but I hear racist crap *all the time* in the US, particularly from older generations who love to talk about "the blacks and the jews" as if we were all in this together.

And look at where one half of my family comes from -- southern Italy. A place where one of the major institutions is the mafia. And I am going to buy arguments that people are genetically inferior? Well, if so, then I am guilty as charged.

As for the old nordic question, did you know that the Estonian word for pants comes from the old Norse for the same item? I just learned this today.

That's right, "Püksid" comes from "bükse" -- the point being that Estonia is part of the old nordic world, and its culture and economy reflect this.

I am talking about an idea that goes back a thousand years, not just since the Swedes discovered feminism and social democracy.

Anyway, I like my tagline because it's controversial -- as it should be.

Estonia visitor ütles ...

You are preaching to the converted. People who post here are generally already familiar with Estonia and know the true situation. I am talking about people outside this "magic circle," people in the greater world who know very little about the country except to make comments like, "Oh that used to be Russia, didn't it?" (Funnily enough, they NEVER mix it up with Sweden or Finland or Norway, it's always "East Europe" or "Russia" ;) ).

Anyway, THOSE are the people who need to be brought into the loop.

Here's an example. On Sunday I had a heated debate with a German guy who had interviewed some Estonian EU parliamentarians, and had come away with a fixed view that Estonians were absolute racists (towards Russians). I had to argue strongly about the language issue and the tests, try to give the reasoning behind it all. This indicates a pretty widespread lack of knowledge about what the real situation in Estonia is in the wider world, and that's what needs to be addressed.

Now, I know most people are immediately going to start pointing out the shortcomings of the German state with regards to its minorities, but that's not really constructive, is it? And your example that the US is a country where ONE black man got dragged to death behind a truck doesn't take into account that it's also a country that while not perfect, is still a country of opportunity, where the present and previous secretary of state are African-Americans.

The point is not about presenting other countries in a bad light, but to slowly imprint a positive impression of Estonia on the international consciousness. Just calling it "Nordic" and crowing about Skype and internet usage doesn't cut it. And having tired racist cliches on one of the few English-language sources of information on this little country doesn't do it any favours.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Well, one sure measurement of civilization is truly whether a Gay Pride parade can be held without harassment. This might sound esoteric but I think that's really the case. Try holding one in Iran. I'm an estophile and would never, ever repeat these vile Russian lies about fascism and other historical forgeries, but I do think, unconnected with any vile Russian lies, that there is a problem with some issues in Estonia. Not perhaps a huge one, or one that would not have time as solution, and which has nothing to do with fascism, of course, or even politics as such - it's a question more of social attitudes.

The same attitudes are of course expressed everywhere in the West, probably often, in some form, even by clear majorities. But with educated and young people in general there is a certain moderation of tone, also a certain public tolerance that is gaining ground, and a deepening awareness that the old attitudes are not uncontroversial and maybe even not justified. So, there you go - things don't happen immediately, and in this respect very valuable, very patriotic work is being done by Estonian gay/lesbian activists, feminists and other grass roots groups challenging the outmoded, narrow, oldfashioned consensus, artificially preserved by the Soviet ice age. Unlike in Russia, for example, these groups have luckily a true freedom of action and agitation.

Giustino ütles ...

I am talking about people outside this "magic circle," people in the greater world who know very little about the country except to make comments like, "Oh that used to be Russia, didn't it?" (Funnily enough, they NEVER mix it up with Sweden or Finland or Norway, it's always "East Europe" or "Russia" ;) ).

Oh I hear your point loud and clear and agree too. But I am also happy to see the racism out in the open so we all can dissect it.

As for Estonia in the global mindset, how many friggin' countries in Europe end in "-ia"?!?!?

Unless you are like me and spent a lot of time looking at maps as a kid, how would you know the difference between Latvia and Slovakia?

You wouldn't.

I don't know how to bring people into the loop. I do know that the top readers of this blog are in Estonia, the UK, the US, Finland, and Germany and sometimes Sweden.

Latvian and Lithunian readers are at the bottom of the list, next to Croatia. I am not sure if I have any Russian readers.

Here's an example. On Sunday I had a heated debate with a German guy who had interviewed some Estonian EU parliamentarians, and had come away with a fixed view that Estonians were absolute racists (towards Russians).

One thing I sort of have a problem with is this idea that we non-post-communist countries are justified in casting judgement on countries like Estonia -- from Germany, for example -- because we think we could do the job of running Estonia better than the Estonians.

When we all know that things in Western Europe aren't so peachy either. In the UK you've got a situation in Northern Ireland that is just patching itself together after almost 40 years of trouble. And then, not even two years ago, you had homegrown suicide bombers blow themselves up inside the Tube and on a bus, killing 52 people and injuring 700.

Let me put that on my scale of problems should I? 100,000 people who have yet to naturalize versus homegrown suicide bombers killing 52 anonymous fellow citizens.

Looks like things are worse in Britain.

So maybe its because the Western Europeans are desperate to feel better about themselves. I don't know. I mean there's a huge stag party industry in Tallinn and Riga, and who comes here? A bunch of Brits.

As much as I like you Estonia Visitor, let me say that I have been the UK, and British "eurotrash" and Estonian "eurotrash" are pretty indistinguishable to me.

But they come and live it up as if they were special or different. But they're not. They are all just a mass of lumpen Europeans.

And that's what I am getting at. You're not different. Estonians and Germans and Brits are the same.

Homophobia and racism and anti-semitism are Europe-wide, indeed, global problems. Racism in Estonia is not different from racism in Germany. Vandalized graves in Estonia is not different from vandalized Jewish cemeteries in France.

If the Western Europeans spoke to Estonia and didn't say," You in Estonia should do something about your racism problem, but instead said, "We in Europe must do more to combat racism, and Estonia needs extra help" -- maybe we could get somewhere.

Because I'd rather see progress than feel good about how superior my country is to another.

Estonia visitor ütles ...

"I mean there's a huge stag party industry in Tallinn and Riga, and who comes here? A bunch of Brits. "

And there wasn't a huge problem of sex (and alcohol) tourism from Finland in the years before that? Perhaps they were a bit more discreet than the Brits, but they were definitely there. And I saw quite a few examples of the Finns lording it over their "little brothers".

"Let me put that on my scale of problems should I? 100,000 people who have yet to naturalize versus homegrown suicide bombers killing 52 anonymous fellow citizens. Looks like things are worse in Britain."

Come on Giustino, you can't beat us on the head with this, any more than I could say that the US is in deep trouble because one home grown bomber, Tim Mc Veigh, blew up the Oklahoma building killing 3 times as many of his fellow citizens as the London bombers managed.

Giustino ütles ...

And there wasn't a huge problem of sex (and alcohol) tourism from Finland in the years before that? Perhaps they were a bit more discreet than the Brits, but they were definitely there. And I saw quite a few examples of the Finns lording it over their "little brothers".

Yeah, and they were disgusting scum bags too. See, that's my point. You're not superior, you just had more money. Don't think the Estonians aren't immune from "slumming" either.

So if you want to address problems in Estonia, it would be best not to approach it from the mantle of, "look how well we've integrated our minorities [cough cough 7/7 attacks]" and more of "maybe we as Europeans can share ways of integrating minorities."

Because minorities are minorities -- in France, in the UK, in Sweden, in Estonia -- the problems they face are similar -- access to employment, lack of political power, feelings of marginalization.

Come on Giustino, you can't beat us on the head with this, any more than I could say that the US is in deep trouble because one home grown bomber, Tim Mc Veigh, blew up the Oklahoma building killing 3 times as many of his fellow citizens as the London bombers managed.

The US is a messed up place. We just had a school shooting that claimed more than 30 lives at Virginia Tech. I am the last person to walk in and say, "we're America and we know better."

I am sure we could learn a thing or two from the Europeans about healthcare and gun control. But we are too stubborn and we'll stay in our own little myopic oasis in the New World.

The US was founded by greedy Dutch traders, genteel English cavaliers, and Puritanical religious extremists. That's us in a nutshell.

Giustino ütles ...

I left out the overly aggressive backcountry Scots-Irish. There are some good books on this subject out there.

Estonia visitor ütles ...

Since it's been brought up, I have a question I've wondered about for a long time: why IS Tallinn such a stag party favourite?

I understand Prague and Riga, where you can't walk through the central parts without being called over to, or being handed flyers for, strip joints, sex clubs, etc. The city guides often have a central pull-out magazine advertising the multiple sex establishments!

But this is not the situation in Tallinn which, as far as I know, has just a few conventional strip bars, none of which is in a particularly prominent location. And that's it. No massive sex industry, no blinking neon red light area. And they seem to have cleared the hotel bars of the blatant prostitution,that could be seen even just 3 or 4 years ago.

Furthermore, beers in the Old Town aren't significantly cheaper than the UK, at least not enough to justify a flight over. And yes, Estonian girls are beautiful, but so are for example, Czech girls.

So why has Tallinn developed this notoriety as a stag party destination??? Anybody? anybody?

Giustino ütles ...

Good advertising?

Jaan ütles ...

I'm sure the once foreign-owned pubs like Nimeta and spinoffs and competitors like Nimega and Ruby Tuesday helped get the ball rolling in the 1990s.

But who's to say the Brits are coming for sex? Maybe they are coming for the culture. On a recent EasyJet flight, I overheard a nice young man with a public school accent quizzing an Estonian woman about life in Estonia and sights to see.

Damn, should have split this comment into more than one.

Declan ütles ...

Ach, "overly aggressive" Scotch-Irish, is it nou? Aye, maybe agin the Indians, but we wiz the western front back then. The English wouldnae been sae "genteel" had we no been defendin them, wad thay nou?

stockholm slender ütles ...

Now, let's put this thread above 100 comments! The conversation has maybe bit strayed but certainly to an interesting and worthwhile direction. For what it's worth I think I have detected a genuine difference of tone between Finland and Estonia although both countries have lots of unpleasant, aggressive and ignorant prejudices around, maybe even in practically similar amounts. Like in every Western country, the majority certainly is quite prejudiced. It is just that a certain part of the national discourse has changed, got more moderate, aware and inclusive in the Nordic countries - perhaps, I have just my narrow observations that might be wrong, Estonia and other former Soviet bloc countries are slightly lacking behind in this particular development, I mean so far, as this surely will change. Hopefully I haven't now insulted anyone's national honour!

Andres ütles ...

Don't worry, we know you think of us as savages :P In some way we are a bit. The only real difference between Finland and Estonia in my opinion is the outer polishing of Finland. Everything is so tidy - the houses, the streets etc. In my little town it's a wonder if you find a sidewalk that's decent to walk on. The fact that you have enough money and time to pay attention to the details is the most important difference between Western or Northern Europe and Estonia. I can't stand untidy streets :P

stockholm slender ütles ...

Will I now get to be the 100th!?

I don't know, as said I am a true estophile, married to an Estonian, a Finnish patriot certainly, but in many ways cosmopolitan and fairly liberal minded in social attitudes. Finland certainly is not excelling in all qualities of openness( I'm not such kind of an patriot to see all criticism as a burning insult to the "honour of the nation") but there are attitudes, mentalities (as regards gay issues, gender roles and equality etc.) that really can be described as advanced. There is probably a solid majority against at least many of these issues, but even that majority, especially when educated, has had to tone down and moderate its stances. Here I think I have detected an objective difference between to the two societies. At least the argument surely is legitimate and not an ignorant prejudiced slur, or what would you say?

stockholm slender ütles ...

Ps. Some of my personal musings about Estonia can be found from the link below - I would not think that you'll find much reflexive, unthinking Nordic arrogance there:

http://stockholmslender.blogspot.com/2006/10/eesti-ajaloost.html

stockholm slender ütles ...

Ok, maybe this link works better... And more comments for the thread!
Eesti ajaloost

Kristjan ütles ...

I think the truth about racism and homophobia in Estonia is that not only is it prevalent, but we're also in denial about it.

Estonians are quite racist and homophobic. Let's face it.

After we have faced it, the improvement can begin. It's rather like curing a person from alcoholism, in that respect.

Mitte anonüümne ütles ...

Post number 100! (if click submit fast enough!)

Guistino is right there are racists everywhere and I wouldn't consider Estonia's dealings with its Russian community as racist. In many ways Estonia's society and government bends over backwards to make the best of a difficult situation. However, the attitude towards blacks and gays and other groups from around the world do make Estonians look remarkably backwards and out of tune with the Nordic world. Hopefully it is just a vocal minority, the only answer to that is that the non-racist majority of Estonians needs to speak up loud and clear and tell the world that those racists don't speak for them. Estonia is like a small community, if everyone who thought that skinheads in Raekojaplats was unacceptable would just let their opinion be known, skinheads would be to ashamed to be there.

Guistino, sorry your post went so off topic, but you provide an excellent blog, and I can't think of a better english language forum for this discussion. Hopefully, it will make Estonia, a country that I love dearly, a better place.

Kristjan ütles ...

I was, however, not aware that Russians are a different race than Estonians. I thought it was just a different nation. :-P

Kristjan ütles ...

...and I don't think Estonians are overly chauvinistic. By Jove, we have our faults, but Russia's propaganda against Estonia and Estonians is not justified.

plasma-jack ütles ...

we were talking about Estonia here, not Russia.
a certain part of the national discourse has changed, got more moderate, aware and inclusive in the Nordic countries - perhaps, I have just my narrow observations that might be wrong, Estonia and other former Soviet bloc countries are slightly lacking behind in this particular development, I mean so far, as this surely will change.

I couldn't agree more. Imho going to Finland and meeting with Finnish people here is one factor that helps to change the attitudes here. I see Finland as a kind of regional rolemodel for us in most areas and I'm certainly not the only one.