Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Tampere, civil wars and health care
I wanted to write a bit more about Tampere because the history is so interesting. I have a special fondness for mill towns because I was allowed to tag along on some field trips my father organized for his historical geography class at UGA.
This is what makes Tampere Tampere: the Tammerkoski rapids. Tampere is situated between 2 lakes and the water from one lake falls 18 meters into the other lake. The water power supplied by the rapids caused Tampere to be the center of the industrial revolution in Finland. In 1820 a Scot, James Finlayson, founded a cotton mill in Tampere and that was the beginning of the industrial boom. Finlayson fabrics are important today in Finland although the Finlayson factory is now an entertainment center with restaurants and exhibition space.
Tampere supplied jobs for workers leaving the farms and became a center for the workers movement in Finland. When Finland gained independence from Russia in 1918 there was a violent civil war with the battle at Tampere being the largest conflict of the civil war. The civil war in Finland was between the Reds and the Whites. The Whites, led by Mannerheim and aided by Germany, eventually defeated the Reds. Like the Civil War in the U.S., the true horror of the war is realized in the concentration camps maintained by the Whites after their victory. Georgia has the shame of Andersonville and Finland has the sad history of the detention camps kept by the Whites after the civil war.
I don't think that many Americans know that Finland had a civil war. In the South, the Civil War is still fresh. I have been saddened by the attacks on the Congressional Black Caucus by the oddly named tea party movement and amused by statements like this one from Congressman Paul Broun, dubbed the kookiest man in Congress,
While debating health care on March 19, 2010, Broun drew a comparison to the Civil War which he referred to as the "Great War of Yankee Aggression", a name often associated with a defense of states' rights against a tyrannical federal government and the cultural preservation of the South. "If ObamaCare passes, that free insurance card that’s in people’s pockets is gonna be as worthless as a Confederate dollar after the War Between The States — the Great War of Yankee Aggression.
Those Confederate dollars are pretty valuable these days. Rep. Broun probably doesn't recall South Carolina's bid to balance the budget by selling their stash of confederate currency.
Yesterday President Obama signed the health care bill and I hope the United States took another step away from its history of racism.
And can you believe he is a doctor and he represents my home town!