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Rant #27
(published February 15, 2001)
Finland, Finland Uber Alles
by Gordon Smith

Those of us who hold the memory of the Reagan Years close to our hearts as a time of prosperity, peace, mortal fear and moral decline often lament the subsequent trickling down of American greatness through the years to our present moment. As The Gipper turns 90, we owe it to him, as his nation, his people, to fundamentally re-examine the mis-steps that have lead to our present malaise and unease, our decadence and sadness. There are, of course, many factors, most of which are too boring, insipid and mind-numbingly obvious to bother mentioning here, except in passing: the rise of a new, virtual economy without precedent or frame of reference, the viral proliferation of multiculturalism, the ineffectual saturation of all things by flaccid information networks, media, screens, TV... But how can any of these little red herring compete with the glory that was the Cold War, replete with a Red Menace and billions of dollars of defense spending? The demise of the Soviets left America bereft of a focal point for its anger and its ideological demagoguery: perversely, the moral high-ground is not as assured in a unilateral victory as it is during the throes of a heated combat against "evil," for good itself falters when it cannot lean on the crutch of its own inverse. We have thus spent a decade groping blindly for a new evil, an enemy worthy of our time and effort. We have engaged across the globe hoping against hope that some third-world shit-hole of a nation would be able to sustain a war of any magnitude against us, against 'peace,' against 'democracy.' None have stood the test. None have sufficiently offended our sensibilities, ethnic cleansing or not. We even crippled Saddam, and then left him with a decade to recuperate in the hopes that his usefulness might once again be called upon in service of our greatness, to no avail (yet). The Chinese, the Cubans, Korea: threatening in the abstract, in the way that all shadows of the past are threatening—threatening in the way that all old Commies are, with a not-so-faint odor of the ridiculous clinging to them since they cannot shower often for fear of bathroom catastrophes... Our last best hope lay in Islam, in the promise of terrorism to foment a full rebellion. But despite the news, the casualty rates have remained too low, the perpetrators of such crimes too ugly and woefully unpersuasive to constitute a proper Enemy.

America needs a new enemy, one that we can fight with the same vociferous self-righteousness that we throw at the Nazis in film after film after film after jingoist film.

After extensive research, I believe the appropriate choice seems clear, and that choice is Finland.

Finland has all the trappings of a first-class Enemy of Freedom, as the Soviet Union did before it. Perhaps most striking is its fundamental geographic proximity to the former Soviet Union, both snugly tucked away in Europe, which has the advantage of both being far enough away and bearing with it the class, the dignity, the certain something that European nations have that make them such respectable enemies. Moreover, Finland and Russia are virtually indistinguishable to even the most highly trained American geographers, sharing a long border and similar climates. As with all land borders, once enough time has elapsed, the intermingling of bloodlines and cultural mores becomes inevitable, and this is certainly the case with the mildly Socialist Finns, who are perhaps more Communist than anyone ever really took the time to investigate thoroughly... Plus, as an added bonus, this proximity means that we will only have to recalibrate our nuclear arsenal ever-so-slightly in order to put Finland securely in our sights.

Furthermore, Finland's national ideological stance evinces all the heartwarming naiveté of old school Communism. The Finns, for example, are the only people ever to repay their war debts to the United States. That affront alone should galvanize all Americans to instantly loathe these Northern miscreants, since we all know instinctively that to repay a debt is to deny that money's value is far beyond its monetary value. Debt itself is the currency of power, and it is the force which cements all brotherhood between nations, since a creditor nation becomes like a father to its debtors, hoping for only the best for his progeny. The unimaginable temerity to return to a father who has sacrificed in the name of love to give beyond himself to his children and say to him "Father, I will now return to you all that you gave me, and we are now even"—! This is, of course, why the U.S. has both more respect for itself and its creditors and debtors than to expect payments or make them. To do so, as Finland did, is to engage in the crudest forms of exchange, where capital circulates as an insult.

And, much as the Soviets fought against our previous Enemy, the Germans, the Finns are ardently anti-Russian, having fought an almost unbelievable forty-two wars with the Russians and winning not a single one of them. (We, of course, fought but a single war with the Vodka-swilling steppe-dwellers but, notably, won it resoundingly.) And again, what reason would define as shameful, the Finns look upon as a source of national pride, as a mark of sisu, which is their term for an almost animal optimism, a pride in cleaving to a belief even though it leads to a laughable, foolish demise. Much as the smirking lemmings must feel as the waves rush to greet them. It is the stupid, aw-shucks, can-do hopefulness of the American heartland run amok, a Disneyland without the safety-brake of fantasy.

Most importantly, Finland is like the Soviet Union in its disquieting simultaneous similarity and dissimilarity to the United States. The Islamic threat was always too cartoonish, too radical to take seriously as an Enemy because of its irreducible differences: too much like an alien or a parasite that can be wiped out for kicks when it makes trouble but otherwise bears no relation to us, not enough like the much despised image in the mirror. The Red Menace was always that it might creep from within, that a Russian and American are fundamentally the same with only a slight bend in ideology, language and history between them. So, too, the Finn. Like the Russians, like the U.S., a basically Caucasian lot, but with a significant, indigenous ethnic minority, the Laplanders. Like Russia, like the U.S., they face a long winter. True, it is longer and harsher, darker and tending in Arctic fashion toward absolute darkness, but there is a compensatory, manic summer sun to balance the difference. And this hyperextension of the same into excess, into horrifying difference is very like our relation to the Soviets: we are a large nation, the Soviets were grotesquely larger; we are an idealistic nation, the Soviets were maniacally idealistic. And: we are a mostly White nation, the Finns are an almost translucently pale White nation (set against a blinding white snowscape...), we are a nation of hardy winters, the Finns are a nation of suicide-inducing winters.

While it is true that Finland currently lacks an appropriately charismatic and totalitarian leader to be sufficiently menacing to the American sensibility, this is easily corrected. Despots are easily manufactured. Once the scope of the Finnish threat is realized here, and our foreign policy is adjusted accordingly, surely an appropriate Finnish candidate, full of sisu, will ascend to greatness and raise his fist in a challenge to U.S. power. The Whitest Menace of the north will help restore us to greatness and pride, will give us a Colder War to carry us into the new millennium. So I urge you: write your Congressman! Open his eyes! Phone your Senator! Let her know that you won't stand for Finland thumbing its nose at the U.S. any longer! We'll show every Aki, Teemu and Mutti what's what! Write to the President and issue a unilateral call to action in the matter of this whole Finland mess!

And while you're at it, maybe let him know what 'Finland' is.

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