Perpetrators of racism (racists) give all sorts of reasons in an attempt to justify or explain their twisted perception or treatment of fellow human beings who happen to look different. Sometimes economic reasons are evoked. Some in Finland argue, for instance, that migrants from Africa and elsewhere are "welfare shoppers" who move to the country to tap welfare benefits and deplete state funds. Despite their concerns, many racists go around vandalizing public spaces with racist writings and graffiti -- forgetting that cleaning up the mess will be financially costly for the state and the city they seek to "protect" from "invaders".
The City of Helsinki has cleaned up a bus stop (see pictures) that was vandalized with racist writings and drawings.
In a 2011 blog post, I wrote about the ugly face of racism at a bus stop in east Helsinki. The bus stop, which is next to Edupoli -- an adult education centre in Hertoniemi, was vandalized with a scary, racist text and drawing of the swastika.
Driving past the bus stop in the spring of 2014 - about three years since the vandalism was first spotted - I noted that the bus stop had been condoned off and work was going on there. A few days later I stopped at the bus stop to see what was happening, and realized that the bus stop had been given a makeover. The vandalized glass at the back had been replaced and everything was looking nice, clean and welcoming to all.
In my mind, I wondered when driving off the bus stop how much the City of Helsinki spent cleaning up the mess left behind by a racist. Although unable to confirm how much was spent renewing the bus stop, I am confident the renovation was not free of charge. The city council must have allocated some money that could have been used for something else - if some disturbed individual hadn't vandalized that bus stop.
Mindful of the fact that racist vandalism is not uncommon around Helsinki, it is plausible to conclude that the authorities spend lots of money cleaning up and making the city welcoming to all persons, irrespective of race, color, religion or gender.
Personally, I think the actions of racist vandals cost the city money and gives it a bad name. I welcome Helsinki city's decision to do away with manifestations of racism at the bus stop in Hertoniemi. Although costly, cleaning up makes the city more welcoming and goes a long way to protect the image of Helsinki - World Design Capital 2012. The authorities should get rid of manifestations of racism in other parts of the city. Vandals on their part should do their city (our city) a favor -- stop messing up public spaces and forcing the city to use resources that could be put to better use.
If racists, who describe themselves these days as "patriots", truly love their country and care about its economic situation they won't vandalize public spaces and force city authorities to spend resources cleaning up racist writings and drawings in bus stops and other public spaces.
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