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It has been mentioned in some newspapers that there are 300,000 American Finns who are members of the I.W.W. and are ready to crush the American system of organized government. Something of this nature has also been presented before the Lusk Committee.
Among the Finnish Americans the most radical elements have attracted the most attention and for that reason the understanding is quite prevalent among Americans in general that the Finns in America are as a rule radicals, and even anarchists. This, however, is a great error. The radical Finns are quite active and make a lot of noise about themselves, but actually they form a comparatively small part of the Finnish Americans.
According to figures compiled as accurately as is possible, it has been estimated that there are 400,000 Finns in all in America, including those born in America, children and adults. The number of Finns living in Canada is probably 50,000. On the basis of these facts alone, it is absolutely impossible that there could be 300,000 Finnish I.W.W., even if every adult Finn in America were included as a member of that group. The children surely are considered to be outside of all factions.
Furthermore, the Finns in America have extensive religious associations in which the adult membership reaches about 60,000 persons. In addition to these there are about 25,000 Finnish members in other societies which are not socialistic. The Socialist Party has 227 local societies, with a total membership of 10,884 among the Finns in America. There are fewer local societies of the I.W.W., and their total membership is not more than 5,000, probably only 3,000.
These figures show not only the fact that the Finnish Reds in America who belong to the I.W.W., or support its ideas, cannot amount to 300,000, but also that the supporters of these ideas are a small minority among the Finnish Americans.
There are 29 newspapers printed in the Finnish language in America; of these eight are socialistic. Only one paper, the "Industrialisti", announces itself as the organ of the I.W.W. among the Finns. It must be admitted that the other Finnish Socialist newspapers also use language which is very agitative, but they have, however, announced themselves as being more or less hostile to the I.W.W.
The Finnish non-socialistic newspapers, which form the great majority, are all loyal papers and in no respect revolutionary.
The Finns in America are quite scattered. They long for association and if some one in the community happens to start a society, which may be socialistic or I.W.W., there will be many to join this sort of society who do not care about its aims, but who join it merely because they are alone and desire association with those who speak the same language.
Published in Finland Review 2(1920):1, p. 5-6.
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