Without a doubt, 2012 will be remembered as another bad year for cultural diversity in Finland. Finding the usual culprits isn’t difficult: ignorance and intolerance. It is surprising that a party like the Perussuomalaiset (PS), which grew from relative obscurity to become the third-largest political force in parliament in 2011, can wake up the worst in some Finns.
PS councilman Harri Turtianen of Kemi is one example of many of how intolerance has grown and become more acceptable in Finland.
Even if it is unfair to blame the PS for all of the country’s problems, that populist-conservative party, which is anti-EU, anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam, is a reflection of what is terribly wrong with this society today.
The PS cannot be taken seriously as a party because their solutions are more rhetoric than reality.
If the party were to ever run immigration and integration affairs in this country, it would be a recipe for disaster.
Finland’s noble values like social equality and justice would be other casualties. With such values under attack, we’d end up inviting jungle law to our society in the form of greater discrimination, prejudice and racism.
Immigrants wouldn’t be the only punching bag of the PS and its convoluted ideology, but minorities like gays, the Roma, Saami and others. The party’s rhetoric would be a serious blow to gender equality as well.
We don’t need right-wing populist hotheads in parties like the PS to lead us into the new century. We need proactive solutions, Finnish solutions, which hinge on democracy, respect and taking into account everyone’s opinion.
Comprehensive immigration reform is not the only challenge to Finland, but a fresh new look at what is the big picture of our society in the new century. In that big picture there are people of different backgrounds who embrace this country as their home.
We need to debate today how to make our society more inclusive.
We need good Finnish models to find workable and effective solutions instead of the usual rhetoric of parties like the PS.