Are Finns White?

This issue came up in the comments to a post from earlier in the week. Before you answer that question with the obvious no, note that this was a real issue in American history.

John Svan was a Finnish immigrant to the United States. He came to this country sometime before 1882. But he was not considered white by the United States government. Why? He carried with him the blood of his “Mongolian” ancestors. This meant he could not become a citizen. Various laws were passed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, restricting US citizenship to those of the white and black races. These laws were intended to discriminate against Asians, but what about Finns. Were they white? The Finns were not helped in these discussions by their reputation for political radicalism, which also led people to question their whiteness. Finns were much more likely than most groups to join socialist or anarchist groups and played major roles in many labor struggles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

This is from the 1908 court decision deciding that, in fact, Finns are white.

John Svan was born in Finland and calls himself a Finn…According to the ethnologists, the Finns in very remote times were of Mongol origin; but the various groupings of the human race into families is arbitrary and, as respects any particular people, is not permanent but is subject to change and modification through the influences of climate, employment, intermarriage and other causes. There are indications that central and western Europe was at one time overrun by the Finns; some of their stock remained, but their racial characteristics were entirely lost in their remote descendants, who now are in no danger of being classed as Mongols. The Osmanlis, said to be of Mongol extraction, are not among the purest and best types of the Caucasian race. Changes are constantly going on and those occurring in the lapse of a few hundred years with any people may be very great.

The chief physical characteristics of the Mongolians are as follows: They are short of stature, with little hair on their body an face; they have yellow-brown skins, black eyes, black hair, short, flat noses, and oblique eyes. In actual experience we sometimes, though rarely, see natives of Finland whose eyes are slightly oblique. We sometimes see them sparse beards and sometimes with flat noses; but Finns with a yellow or brown or yellow-brown skin or with black eyes or black hair would be an unusual sight. They are almost universally of light skin, blue or gray eyes, and light hair. No people of foreign births applying in this section of the country for the full rights of citizenship are lighter-skinned than those born in Finland. In stature they are quite up to the average. Confessedly, Finland has often been overrun with Teutons and by other branches of the human family, who, with their descendants, have remained within her borders and are now called Finns. They are in the main indistinguishable in their physical characteristics from those of purer Finnish blood. Intermarriages have been frequent over a very long period of time. If the Finns were originally Mongols, modifying influences have continued until they are now among the whitest people in Europe. It would, therefore, require a most exhaustive tracing of family history to determine whether any particular individual born in Finland had or had not a remote Mongol ancestry. This, of course, cannot be done and was not intended. The question is not whether a person had or had not such ancestry, but whether he is now a “white person” within the meaning of that term as usually understood. This is the practical construction which has uniformly been placed upon the law….Under such law Finns have always been admitted to citizenship, and there is no occasion now to change the construction.

The applicant is without doubt a white person within the true intent and meaning of such law.

The objections, therefore, in my opinion should be overruled and it will be so ordered.

Thus, the Finns were now white.

I don’t actually know a whole lot about this case and in fact took this from a textbook which used it as an example of the weirdness of whiteness during these years.

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136 comments on this post.
  1. mark f:

    I don’t know what makes for more bizarre reading: the way these issues were hashed out in Latin America and the Caribbean, or the way the U.S. did it. I’d think a Finn would be about the least likely person to have “one drop” in his blood.

  2. Malaclypse:

    Before you answer that question with the obvious no, note that this was a real issue in American history.

    I think you mean “yes.”

  3. rea:

    Are Finns White?
    . . . Before you answer that question with the obvious no . . .

    Did you really mean, “no”?

  4. jlg:

    Do you have a cite for this case?

  5. Erik Loomis:

    Whatever, those Finns are dirty savages

  6. Erik Loomis:

    I believe it is John Svan v. United States

  7. NonyNony:

    I thought he meant “one“.

    Well, I thought that after thinking “WTF?” and reading the rest of the post anyway.

  8. mark f:

    I just figured it meant Erik’s Swedish.

  9. Amanda in the South Bay:

    Maybe someone with a little too much knowledge found out that Finnish is a Uralic language, and thought Uralic=Ural Mountains=vast horders of Asian barbarians or something.

  10. firefall:

    Of course he did – non-Indo-European language, and all that (same for those Basque bastards).

    Of course that means the Persians, Pakistanis and Indians are white, showing what a useful and relevant concept it is

  11. firefall:

    More pressingly, are the Irish white?

  12. Mrs Tilton:

    Not only that, Amanda. At the time the (now almost universally-rejected) “Uralo-Altaic” hypothesis would have been current, positing that the Uralic languages (Finnish and its cousins together with Hungarian and its cousins) formed a single family with the Turkic and Mongolian languages, apparently on no firmer evidence than a triad of shared characters (vowel harmony, agglutination, lack of grammatical gender). So, on that hypothesis, your denizen of Helsinki is, basically, Genghis Khan.

  13. Mrs Tilton:

    We are not. As our Scottish cousin Billy Connolly once put it, we are blue; we need two weeks in the sun before we’re white.

  14. Hogan:

    If you scrub us down enough.

  15. Njorl:

    “…the weirdness of whiteness …”

    That could be a blog name.

  16. NonyNony:

    I’m fairly certain that at least this Irish-American lad would be bright red after two weeks in the sun. At least if I forgot my SPF 40 sun block.

  17. actor212:

    As probably the only resident Finn here, I can assure you that, according to the National Genographic Project, I’m black and Jewish.

    No. Really. My lineage and that of most Finns I’ve studied pass through Israel (Finland ISRAEL!) from Kenya.

    Most Finns are nowhere near Mongolian. They never made it that far north that far west, according to the Project and indeed, Finns hold a closer genetic tie to the Celts and Anglos than to Mongols, or even other Scandahoovians, FinnicUgro lineage be damned.

    Granted, my lineage descends through the Swedish royal house, but hey! Nobody’s perfect.

  18. actor212:

    Nope.

    The language is from India, not Mongolia. We are…get this…the true Aryan race.

  19. CJColucci:

    As an Italo-Finnish American*, I resent that, and will let you sample both my dirty ssavagery and my skills at more — er — organized forms of violence.

    *In college, I took a seminar on the history of immigration, and my professor thought I was impossible. My parents divorced soon after, so he may have been right.

  20. herr doktor bimler:

    Gavin M. at Sadly,No! would sometimes allude to his Finnish ancestry and how his forebears were officially non-white.
    Send them all back to Bjarmia, I say.

  21. rea:

    Surely you’ve heard of the Black Irish?

  22. CBrinton:

    The court decision overruled some geography textbooks of the day:

    “The Mongolian or Yellow race occupies a large part of Asia, and includes the Eskimos of America, and the Lapps, Finns, Samoiedes, Magyars, and Turks. The leading nations belonging to this race are the Japanese and Chinese.
    Among the Mongolians are tribes of every grade of civilization, from the Eskimos, who are mere savages, to the progressive Japanese.”

    1907 edition of the _New Complete Geography_, by Matthew Fontaine Maury [author of the 1st edition], published by University Publishing Company, NY. p.22
    Available on Google Books

  23. Erik Loomis:

    I need to do something with this book. I love Google Books. Given its awesomeness, I’m also happy to allow Google to become our corporate overlords.

  24. Erik Loomis:

    Italian and Finnish? Jesus man, do you resort to knifing someone in the back or throwing bombs? So many choices for your violence.

  25. Alan Tomlinson:

    Many Norwegians, Swedes and Danes wonder not if the Finns are white, but if they are human.

    Cheers,

    Alan Tomlinson

  26. Murc:

    If you think is bemusing, you should check out Ben Franklins crazy-ass racial classification theories sometime.

    Franklin didn’t think the French, Welsh, Scottish, Swiss, Flemish, Russians (White Russians, even), Scandinavians, or Germans (except for Saxons) were white.

    For reals.

  27. Erik Loomis:

    When teaching this stuff, I like asking which of my students are Italian (which here will be a huge number) and then telling they aren’t white.

  28. Murc:

    Hah! I’ve encountered that teaching method (Rochester has a very large Italian-American community, we migrated here from coal country to work on the railroads) and I’ve found it, at least in my particular circumstances, to be less than effective.

    Around here at least, both myself and my fellows of italian descent were very likely to know ‘Oh, yeah, we know a lot of people think we’re not white. What of it?’ I’ve encountered people my own age who’ve been called wops by OTHER people my own age.

    Now, if you try it with the IRISH (I’m Irish on my Moms side and take after her; green eyes, pale skin, tendency to freckle) you’re more likely to get the ‘Wait, what? Of course I’m white. Look at me. Who the hell thinks I’m not white?’ reaction, I think. At least in my experience.

  29. DrDick:

    Not completely until this country was invaded by swarthy hordes of Southern Europeans and the unwashed masses of Eastern Europe in the Early 20th century. When the NYC police department decided to admit the Irish to there ranks in that period, Thomas Nast published an editorial cartoon with a gorilla in a police uniform in response.

  30. DrDick:

    “Whiteness” has always been a weird and slippery concept.

  31. Hogan:

    Thanks, wops and hunkies!

  32. DrDick:

    I use a similar method, but pick on the Irish given the large Irish population in Butte, MT.

  33. UserGoogol:

    Pretty much, yeah. The birth of linguistics happened at a time when Europeans were pretty racist, so they were quick to notice the relationship between linguistic families and ethnic groups and then abuse the hell out of it. That’s why Nazis are so fond of Indo-Iranian symbols. (Swastikas, the word Aryan, etc.)

  34. SamInMpls:

    Probationary whiteness was most definitely a thing. This comes up when you study US-Latin America history/politics First it strictly meant Anglos, then so-called Teutonic peoples were added, then the Scots-Irish and so on.

    The movie the Great White Hype hit this on the head when the Irish-American boxer sums up the absurd racism of his English trainer by noting that he is racist towards any “white” person not born within 10 square miles of his birthplace in England.

    Feudalism was a motherfucker.

  35. Mike Crichton:

    They used “Mongolian” to mean “East Asians in general” back then.

  36. kommrade reproductive vigor:

    I took Swedish and one day our teacher (for no reason that I can recall) pointed out that Finsk is the word for someone from Finland and a pimple.

    More proof (were proof needed) that the answer to “Can’t we all just get along?” is “No. Now shut up while I kick these different bastards for being different.”

  37. Anonymous:

    A Tea Party by any other name…

  38. Spokane Moderate:

    Crap. That were me.

  39. MikeJake:

    So….Mongolian blood made its way west. What western blood made it farthest to the east?

  40. DrDick:

    Probably Scandinavian through transarctic diffusion as one of the predominately European DNA haplotypes shows up as a minor variant all the way to the Pacific (and possibly into the Americas, though there is some debate about that).

  41. DrDick:

    Also lots of “Mongolian” (and Turkic) blood made its way west as a consquence of the expansion of various Asiatic groups into Europe at various points. If your ancestors are from Central Europe, as most of mine are (Bavaria), then you probably carry Asiatic genes. Bavaria and Bohemia were the KOA for every Asiatic horde ever to invade Europe.

  42. Jay C:

    What western blood made it farthest to the east?

    Well, depending on one’s definition of “western”, that would probably be “Turkish” – or, more precisely, “Turkic”: although “peoples whose descendants would later be classified as ‘Turkic’” is more on the mark.

    Chinese archeologists have excavated numerous burial mounds in what is now Western China, and uncovered a few mummies who look indubitably “white”, i.e., non-Asian. They think said populations roamed and lived fairly far east until they were pushed west by Han Chinese settlements about 2000 or so years ago. Even to this day, the “minorities” in China’s western provinces are only (AFAIK) part “Asian” by blood – and definitively don’t consider themselves any kind of “Chinese”

  43. Funster:

    Ha ha – look at those fools from the 20th century. Nothing like that in our day … well, except Massachusetts – can’t find the cite right now, but a lengthy court case whether two firefighters were “black enough” to qualify for affirmative action. Pictures of grandparents, witness testimony, and the answer at the trial court was “no” … forget the conclusion…

  44. Jon H:

    “When the NYC police department decided to admit the Irish to there ranks in that period, Thomas Nast published an editorial cartoon with a gorilla in a police uniform in response.”

    Probably because the Irish made up a large part of the gangs of Five Points and the Bowery in the 19th century.

  45. Jon H:

    If you allow migration in the age of sail, probably Portuguese.

  46. DrDick:

    One of which, the Dead Rabbits, formed the nucleus of what later became the Gambino Crime Family. Continuity is a wonderful thing.

  47. DrDick:

    The Turks are originally from Central Asia, right next to the Mongols. The homeland of the Indo-European peoples is somewhat southwest of there in the area above the Caspian Sea. That whole region was a sort of hybrid zone and the modern Uyghurs still carry the genes of the Kurgan Peoples you refer to.

  48. joel hanes:

    The Vikings went all the way down the Danube to its mouth.

  49. DrDick:

    Hahahahaha! And in Louisiana, even one ancestor of African ancestry still makes you legally colored. Those laws were used for over a century to deny basic rights and services to African Americans by whites. Somehow nothing comparable has ever been done to whites.

  50. bob_is_boring:

    As mentioned above by several clever commentors [sic], Hungarians (and props to Hogan for even knowing the only slightly derogative slur “Hunkies”) summer from largely the same “problems” [vis-a-vis whiteness] as the Finns.

    As a 1/4 Hungarian-American (1/2 if you figure that many Slovaks are closer to Hungarian than Czech, despite the language thing) I’m wondering if I’m eligible for some kind of retroactive minority scholarships or something.

    Maybe?

    Feh.

  51. dave:

    Ask a Pole.

  52. ajay:

    Depicting Irishmen as apes was a thing in the 19th century. IIRC Punch used to use “Mr G. O’Rilla” and “Mr O’Rangutang” as names for Irish nationalists.

  53. actor212:

    Yea, except not even that. Our lineage to traverse the Indian Ocean at any point.

    One might make the case for the Sami, but they’re technically not Finns, or rather Finns and Scandinavians in the same way First Nationers are American and Canadian

  54. actor212:

    Sami are not Finns, tho

  55. actor212:

    I’ll claim the title after I’ve had sex with my Malaysian hottie ;-)

  56. dave:

    For 99.99% of the time there have been homo sapiens on the planet, this was normal behaviour – war with the neighbours who aren’t really people at all [tempered by trade, something which always seems to have bypassed concerns about the ethical status of the other party].

    It’s not nice, but why pretend it’s odd?

  57. herr doktor bimler:

    You expect us Danes to recognise the differences?

  58. Dennis Brennan:

    Which leads me to add one Remark: That the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth. I could wish their Numbers were increased. And while we are, as I may call it, Scouring our Planet, by clearing America of Woods, and so making this Side of our Globe reflect a brighter Light to the Eyes of Inhabitants in Mars or Venus, why should we in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken its People? why increase the Sons of Africa, by Planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and Red? But perhaps I am partial to the Complexion of my Country, for such Kind of Partiality is natural to Mankind.

    Benjamin Franklin, “Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, &c.” (1751)

  59. ajay:

    Ask your relative, Moby.

  60. Njorl:

    Everyone who isn’t black (and some who are) has ancestors that passed through Israel, and probably Kenya too. A few Homo Sapiens might have left Africa via Spain, or the outer edge of the Arabian peninsula, but not many. Most walked up the East coast of Africa and crossed the Sinai.

  61. DrDick:

    There are also a lot of marvelously (from a pedagogic perspective) racist images in the American and British press from the 19th and early 20th century.

  62. Malaclypse:

    There was a Northern Exposure episode where a local tradition was, for one day a year, all the white residents were pummeled with snowballs by all the native residents. Joel objected, because he did not feel he was white, but Jewish.

  63. Hogan:

    I forget which British comedian used to say, “I wish we could all just get together, men and women, white and black, Catholic and Protestant, and just join hands and celebrate each other. [pause] Then we could have a real go at the Pakistanis.”

  64. Hogan:

    Even John Tenniel (of Alice fame) was all up in that.

  65. JohnR:

    He throws a bomb filled with knives, so it explodes behind everybody; geez Louise, this isn’t rocket science.
    This whole idea of ancestry is just loaded with fun for everybody – me, I’m a Euro-mutt, but mainly English, Irish and German, with some Scandinavian (no surprise there) thrown in for good measure. The reason that Irish-German is such a common match is that they tend to meet in bars and therefore most pairings are consummated before the goggles come off (and then it’s too late, at least for the Catholics). Actually, Irish-German is a great combination – although when they get drunk the German half wants to take over the world, the Irish half just wants to get in a punch-out and sleep it off in the gutter. It works out for the best that way, what with the path of least resistance and all.
    Anyway, this whole idea of “white vs. non-white” is pretty silly if you have Irish or Italian ancestry in the US. Remember Blazing Saddles – “All right, we’ll take the niggers and the chinks, but we don’t want the Irish!” Mel wasn’t too far off there…

  66. JohnR:

    Thanks. Now I have to clean the coffee off my monitor again. And my keyboard. And such of my desk that the paper piles don’t cover. Shame about that manuscript.

  67. actor212:

    This is why it was a bad idea for a certain assprof to mess with me.

    And I grew up in a Sicilian neighborhood, which makes me well versed in the arts of vendetta

  68. actor212:

    Maybe if you stopped invading everyone long enough to look…

  69. Eric Martin:

    I’m Italian, Swedish and Finnish.

    Figure that one out.

  70. Greco:

    “When the NYC police department decided to admit the Irish to there ranks in that period, Thomas Nast published an editorial cartoon with a gorilla in a police uniform in response.”

    That was Nasty.

    I’ll show myself out.

  71. JoyfulA:

    My mother the genealogist is grateful for Ben Franklin’s bigotry. He was alarmed by all the ruddy-complected, German-speaking Palatines who didn’t even walk right and would never blend in, so ship’s lists were established. All new German immigrants, bonded or not, had to write their names, ages, town of origin, relationship to others on the ship, etc., on a registry before they were allowed to leave the ship, and those lists are still intact.

  72. dave:

    The thing with ol’ Ben, of course, is that you never can tell when he’s being serious…

  73. joe from Lowell:

    I like to go down the Cape, sit at the cottage, and watch my cousins burst into flame one by one.

  74. joe from Lowell:

    Drawing the Irish with ape-like features had a long history in English newspapers.

  75. Halloween Jack:

    There’s a theory that Nast took on Boss Tweed in part because Tweed had the Irish vote.

  76. joe from Lowell:

    Yeeeeeah…no. Asking whether two people are of African-American ancestry is not really the same thing as asking whether an ethnic group is white.

  77. Halloween Jack:

    My guess is that the Finn-Mongol connection would have been via the Slavic peoples, who supposedly get the shape of their eyes via Genghis Khan.

  78. ajay:

    And while we are, as I may call it, Scouring our Planet, by clearing America of Woods, and so making this Side of our Globe reflect a brighter Light to the Eyes of Inhabitants in Mars or Venus, why should we in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken its People?

    I’m not a racist – I’m just worried about our planetary albedo.

  79. Halloween Jack:

    This discussion actually bears on my family history. One of my grandfathers was fairly vague on his family history; depending on who was talking to him and when they asked, his family was either pure German, or he had some Native American blood. He studiously avoided any in-depth discussion of the subject, and his grandchildren respected that, but after he died, some of the cousins went digging in family records, and guess what? His mother came to the U.S. already pregnant with him, from Danzig (now Gdansk), and no father in evidence; when she married my great-grandfather, he adopted my grandfather. Grandpa was also supposedly relatively swarthy in complexion, and my theory is that he was always afraid that he had that one drop of African blood in his ancestry, given his lifelong racism (not that that was uncommon in his era and social milieu). If he had had a dark-skinned ancestor, maybe even his own unknown father, it would have been more likely to have been a Romani, although I confess that that’s my own romantic conjecture. (A Polish or Prussian woman who’d been impregnated by a Romani man would probably have a lot of motivation to leave home and go to the New World.)

    The same one-drop-of-blood speculation also pops up in different places, from the plot of Showboat to early presidential politics, where the speculation of African ancestry in a candidate was used as a slander by their opponents, and later gleefully resurrected by Afrocentric historians. Abraham Lincoln was one example. (There’s also some speculation that he was a Melungeon, themselves the subject of racial discrimination in the Appalachians.)

  80. Altoid:

    How about Armenians? There was a similar case in 1909 about whether they were white too. That was because they were initially classified as Asians, coming from Asia Minor, and therefore not eligible for citizenship. In re Halladjian said they were white enough to be naturalized, mainly because they were Christians.

  81. ed:

    Pink, I calls ‘em, them western Euros.

  82. rea:

    “Never go up against a Sicilian when grades are on the line.”

  83. Echidne:

    I’m an actual Finn and always suspected this! Gonna make a claim on all Asian treasures now.

  84. actor212:

    ::blink::

    You too!?

    Wait til I tell Matt Damon we have company!

  85. actor212:

    You can perform the 1812 Overture on July Fourth that way.

  86. rea:

    Isn’t he Yugo/Thai?

  87. rea:

    Or, wait, that’s Jonny Damon.

  88. CJColucci:

    Aren’t we all African-American if you go back far enough?

  89. Ken:

    That reminds me of something from Terry Pratchett, one of the Discworld novels:

    Civilized, meaning that you know important things like what a pronoun is, or how to extract the square root of 25.4. This is in contrast to savage, meaning you only know useless things like how to prepare a nutritious gruel from the poisonous roots of the taro plant, how to safely eat the deadly liver of the ice bear, or how to pilot a canoe across a thousand miles of empty ocean. It is an odd thing that once people become civilized, everyone knows about the pronoun but no one knows about the bear liver.

  90. Gc:

    They already made a “mistake” when they let John Morton`s family in.

  91. Bill Murray:

    but Mongolian language was thought to be from India through Turkey

  92. herr doktor bimler:

    Yes, but what blood group are you?

  93. doodahman:

    The whole race category is a fraud. I’m Italian by genes, American by birth. I don’t feel like I have to share any “race” with Northern Europeans just because of pigmentation. I consider myself Italian, not white, or Mediterranean, not white. I have more in common with other Mediterraneans than I do with WASPs and their northern neighbors. I don’t want to be lumped in with a bunch of so called “white” yahoos just because people have been duped into thinking “race” is a real biological or sociological/anthropological basis for categorization. In other words, “I gotz ya white right heya”

  94. Steve H:

    UEFA, The European Football (Soccer) Association says that Armenia is in Europe. So Armenians must be white.

    Of course, UEFA also says that about Kazakhstan. And Israel.

  95. doodahman:

    We Italians didn’t get our Whitey Club cards until Sinatra.

  96. doodahman:

    Right on! See below.

  97. Harold:

    Real history is more fascinating than fantasies.

    Don’t forget the Huguenots, ancestors of many of our Founding Fathers. See “Huguenots: How Meditteranean Catholics became Anglo-Saxon Protestants” by Abraham Lavender.
    http://huguenot.netnation.com/books/lavender.htm

    Also, supposedly, scientists now tell us that Ashkenazi Jews have DNA that is virtually identical to that of Tuscan Italians, whether because the two groups intermixed freely during the time of the Roman Empire, when intermarriage was not as frowned by Jewish authorities on as it later became, or because both groups originally migrated from Anatolia or thereabouts.

  98. DrDick:

    Mostly as a result of the massive influx of African Americans into the North after WWII.

  99. DrDick:

    If you go back about 750,000 ago, all humans were Africans (specifically East and South Africans). As I tell my intro students, evolutionary theory does NOT say that we are descended from apes. It says we ARE apes, specifically African great apes.

  100. DrDick:

    My half German grandmother learned as an adult (actually about the time that my son was born) that her father, who died when she was 8, was a Louisiana Redbone rather than Scots-Irish as she had thought.

  101. SamInMpls:

    Odd?

    How so?

  102. DrDick:

    Don’t be bad mouthing my sister.

  103. cpinva:

    ya know, this is an issue i have given exactly zero thought to. i guess i just assumed, since they reside in a generally butt freezing climate, not only are they white, they’re probably damn near transparent.

  104. KS:

    Also, this: US v. Bhagat Singh Thind, 261 U.S. 204 (1923), deciding that (Asian) Indian is *not* white for the purposes of immigration.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Bhagat_Singh_Thind

    The guy argued that he was of Aryan stock (which is true), and the Supreme Court said basically “when the law says ‘white,’ it doesn’t mean ‘Aryan’ or ‘Caucasian.’ It means ‘f*** you, person who would not be traditionally categorized as white.’”

    That is all.

  105. dave:

    Yes, civilisation is about more than just survival-skills, thanks for noticing, Terry!

  106. dustbunny44:

    So “civilization” according to Pratchett consists of navigating the details of inter-human communication, while “savagery” consists of possessing skills for navigating survival outside of humanity. In either case, master your environment.

  107. Bob:

    I dunno man, all them Finnish names sound kinda Japanesey.

  108. s.e.:

    Semites are referred to officially in the US as white. They aren’t. My father was always annoyed he was not allowed to write Jewish for his ethnicity. This has been an issue more recently with Arab Americans. And Egyptians often identify as African.

    “Also, supposedly, scientists now tell us that Ashkenazi Jews have DNA that is virtually identical to that of Tuscan Italians.”

    No, not Identical. The connections comes from Tuscans direct links to the area of modern Turkey. Jews’ closest connections are logically enough, to Palestinians, who descend from (among others) Jews who never left Palestine.

    Atrios links to this as “Whiteness Is Still Weird” And he’s so white.

  109. JoyfulA:

    “Hunkies” derives from Austro-Hungarian Empire and refers to anyone from a large chunk of central and eastern Europe (from the southern Tirol in Italy into what is now Ukraine) with Austro-Hungarian papers when they emigrated to the U.S. before World War I.

    I have heard that “Honkey,” derogatorily any white person, is derived from Hunkie.

  110. Hogan:

    “Savagery” might also include not seeking out civilized environments to hang around in. “Civilization,” not so mmuch.

  111. ajay:

    He nicked that from Chesterton, “The Napoleon of Notting Hill”.

    “The Señor will forgive me,” said the President. “May I ask the Señor how, under ordinary circumstances, he catches a wild horse?”

    “I never catch a wild horse,” replied Barker, with dignity.

    “Precisely,” said the other; “and there ends your absorption of the talents. That is what I complain of your cosmopolitanism. When you say you want all peoples to unite, you really mean that you want all peoples to unite to learn the tricks of your people. If the Bedouin Arab does not know how to read, some English missionary or schoolmaster must be sent to teach him to read, but no one ever says, ‘This schoolmaster does not know how to ride on a camel; let us pay a Bedouin to teach him.’ You say your civilisation will include all talents. Will it? Do you really mean to say that at the moment when the Esquimaux has learnt to vote for a County Council, you will have learnt to spear a walrus? I recur to the example I gave. In Nicaragua we had a way of catching wild horses—by lassooing the fore feet—which was supposed to be the best in South America. If you are going to include all the talents, go and do it. If not, permit me to say what I have always said, that something went from the world when Nicaragua was civilised.”

  112. ajay:

    Aren’t we all African-American if you go back far enough?

    Er, no. We’re all African if you go back far enough.

  113. Antiquated Tory:

    If you look at the photos in Gangs of New York (the book), you will find a surprising number of gangsters, mostly Irish, who really did have gorilla-like faces. Looked just like the nastiest cartoon caricatures of Irish from the period. Turns out that this is an effect of childhood malnutrition.

  114. Halloween Jack:

    Sheesh, way to overthink things, people. There’s something to be said for mastering a few basic survival skills even if you tend to spend your evenings playing World of Warcraft instead of tanning a deerskin using the animal’s own brains.

  115. herr doktor bimler:

    a weird and slippery concept.

    You say that as if weirdness and slipperiness were bad things.

  116. Case study of Finns: The expansion of whiteness in America « Kasama:

    [...] Are Finns White? [ 115 ] September 1, 2011 | Erik Loomis http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2011/09/are-finns-white [...]

  117. Some articles I’ve been reading about Germany, who now seem to (pretty much officially) own us. « Thoughts from the saddle:

    [...]  Oh, and the Americans are mostly Germans too.  And, according to a US court in 1908, the Finns are really white people.  I mean, who’d have thought [...]

  118. [BLOG] Some Saturday links « A Bit More Detail:

    [...] Guns and Money reports on a race issue of a century ago: “Are Finns white?”. (Trans-Uralic barbarians, I [...]

  119. The Answer:

    Actually, Central Asia is the most likely point of origin for the Proto-Indo-Europeans who then split off and conquered Europe, Northern India and a gaggle of other places.

  120. Maija Hayrynen:

    Well, Finland is the most blonde and blue-eyed country on this Earth (45%), so if blondes are not white, then I guess I don’t know the meaning of white in English.

  121. Anonymous:

    Are you stupid:D ? I am Finnish man and my eyes is blue,and my hair is blond.do not say anything Finnish people,if you do not know us.Finland is the most (blue)starry-eyed land and whitest people in the world.
    I know that,because i am Finnish man:o)
    Word Mongoloid= its Swedish invent propaganda.

  122. Anonymous:

    I Agree.I am absolutely agree with you.Sweden,Finland,Denmark,Norway,Iceland.Whitest blue eyed people on the world.Greets from Sweden.

  123. I:

    Hey. Finnish guy?
    http://www.familytreedna.com/public/n1c1/default.aspx?section=results

    http://www.thegeneticatlas.com/N_Y-DNA.htm
    Look at these sites.
    And when a man mixed so much with white, a man can be change to white :) you know that basic

  124. I:

    the invent propaganda was true :) Finns were originally not white. how about tying to say finn is not Finn-ugralic language and our language yourself? DNA don’t lie because technological is not stupid

  125. Quintus:

    Bernard Manning

  126. Noted for July 11, 2013:

    [...] tenure, and the dangers of political tests | The 38 Essential Washington Restaurants | Erik Loomis: Are Finns White? | By Editor, [...]

  127. Robert Waldmann:

    I contest the good judge’s pre-history. I am quite confident based on I saw it in a book once, that ethnic Finns once lived all over Europe and were driven to the far North, the East and (maybe) up into the Pyrenees by the proto indo-Europeans who expanded from somewhere around the Danube. The Magyars, the Finn types driven East may have become Asian before returning and pilaging Europe for much of the 10th century then being defeated by Germans lead by Otto 1st and whimping out becoming settled farming Christians in Europe. I know of no cases of any such Magyars having much trouble entering the United States, but that might be due to inter marriage with Austrians (hence my name).

    I have found it a burden to be White, so I shall consider myself Asian from now on. Of course that doesn’t work. I grew up considering myself White, so White I am, and all the perfumes of Arabia won’t help.

  128. loller:

    what kind of idiots are you!?
    finns are the most whitest people in the world and
    did you know that finland has the worlds highest amount of natural blondes with blue eyes. finns are so white that they make white americans look like mexicans.

    fucking idiots! it’s clear that finns are WHITE!

    - from a white finn

  129. loller:

    and another fact that finns have the exact same genes as swedes,russians,estonians,latvians,norwegians,icelanders & danes

  130. Santa and the Finns - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money:

    [...] question his whiteness. After all, if it wasn’t for a totally bogus 1908 court decision, we wouldn’t consider the Finns white and thus whiteness would still be [...]

  131. Mondfledermaus:

    Samis are much closer to Finns than Finns are to Swedes ..

  132. Brian:

    When I was a kid, my grandfather used to tell us that there were three races of people where he grew up.

    Indians (re: Native Americans), White People, and Swedes.

  133. Anonymous:

    Finner, please

  134. Linden:

    My maternal grandfather is what the family called “PureFinn” and my mom had brown hair and eyes. That grandmother was of Swedish descent; her father’s family emigrated from Stockholm to Finland in the 1830′s when Finland was essentially ruled from Sweden. You also find short, darkhaired people in some of the coastal areas of Sweden. Some of my Swedish father’s people are short and some of them are brown-haired. Apparently there were orignally non-blond people in both Sweden and Finland, overlaid with the blonds, who were part of the migrations into Europe in the 500-1000AD era,

  135. Don:

    That’s just a bizarre thing to say. I’m Jewish and I’m as pale as my Scots-Irish friends. Your dad can consider himself whatever he wants, but don’t tell me what I am, asshole.

  136. Don:

    Also, since when are ethnicity and race mutually exclusive? I’m a Cuban Jew. So I’m also hispanic. Doesn’t mean I’m not white. I identify my way, you identify your way. No interpolating, please.

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