Finland’s Hommaforum fuels much of the anti-immigration sentiment on the net

by , under All categories, Enrique

Enrique Tessieri

On Friday’s Pressiklubi hosted by Ruben Stiller there was an interesting talk on the rise of racism in Finland. Columnist Kaarina Hazard and Saska Saarikoski, the head of Helsingin Sanomat’s culture section, threw some hard questions at Matias Turkkila, head of Homma ry and PS MP Jussi Halla-aho’s campaign manager. 

When looking at the rerun, see how Turkkila looks and feels uncomfortable as he is slouches in the seat throughout the show. Even his hand movements express edginess.

Some consider Homma ry a place where stereotypes and suspicion of immigrants and refugees have a home.  For me it is like a sprinkler that waters much of the racism we find on different chat and websites in Finland.

Some of the posts on Migrant Tales have been debated, or discected,  on Hommaforum.

Scripta, Halla-aho’s blog like Hommaforum, operate as an army of faithful bloggers that would attack other sites if they did not like what they were reading.  One of of these was Migrant Tales’ in September 2008, which got over 800 hits from Scripta.

Turkkila claimed on the show that Homma ry represents 60% of the Finns’ opinion of immigration and immigrants.

While Turkkila is stretching it quite a bit with such a claim, the website is the humble servant of the hostile message to immigrants and refugees of politicians like Halla-aho.

One of the matters that surprised me most on the talk show was his explanation why Homma ry was born. According to Turkkila, the media always exaggerated and glorified immigrant but never bothered to report on the negative matters.

I have lived in Finland on and off for over thirty years and there has been very little of what Turkkila states of the Finnish media. If there have been human-interest stories on immigrants it has been more on what a great country Finland is to live in.  Rarely have they treated seriously the social problems and exclusion that some immigrants may suffer in this country.

If immigrants were “glorified” as Turkkila wants us to believe, why are so few taking part in the ongoing immigration debate in this country?

One of the biggest problems with websites like Hommaforum is that most of those giving their opinions of immigrants are Finns. It’s like a groups of only male chauvinists giving their unchallenged views on women.

  1. Seppo

    People “critical to immigration”, that is, critical to immigrants, somehow manage to control the debates online. They have the ability to mobilize very efficently. Whereever there’s a discussion about immigration, there’s at least one Homma-guy involved. This creates an atmosphere and feeling that racism is actually very common or even acceptable. Homma-people have taken over the internet! And sadly it seems to have an effect on the society..

    • Enrique

      Hi Seppo, but that is what they want you to feel: that they have taken over the net. Nothing like that has happened. Take for instance Migrant Tales… I was about the throw the towel back in August 2008 and then over 800 hits due to a Hommaforum attack. Thanks to them I did not abandon this blog. It has grown many fold since then. The more they hit the bigger we grow.

    • Enrique

      Thanks Martin-Éric a new pair of glasses and some rest would do me a lot of good.

  2. JusticeDemon

    There is a lot of material in that panel discussion that deserves more careful analysis, Ricky, but I wouldn’t try to read too much into Turkkila’s general discomfort and lack of television charisma.

    One hommaforum debating tactic that was ably identified by Saska Saarikoski is the habit of attempting to trivialise racially motivated misconduct (such as assaults on immigrant bus drivers – 27.10) by claiming that others “belonging to the same group” as the victim have similarly misbehaved (assaults by immigrant bus drivers on passengers – 27.39).

    We see this tactic deployed repeatedly by the rabid hommaforumites on Migrant Tales, even though nobody can rationally accept that an incident of racially motivated misconduct becomes any less serious due to the conduct of third parties in general, and that the attempt to portray it as such on the grounds that the said third parties “are also immigrants” is deeply racist in both content and intention. Indeed this is the very same pattern of thinking that connects the misconduct of Herschel Grynszpan with the events of Kristallnacht.

  3. Allan

    Justice Demon – it is Saska Saarikoski who is making the trivial racially motivated misconduct into a piece of news. If you read from the newspapers, the police statistics show that the attacks on bus drivers has actually dropped, and that a “racial motivation” was found in one case. Moreover, the statistics were done from data where the “busdriver” was the profession, not that any attack had happened during his work hours. As the police said, a racially motivated assault against a bus driver is a marginal of the marginal of the marginal.

    I think you are the only rabid one.

    • Enrique

      Kaarina Hazard put it very well, Allan, about what happaned to the immigrant bus driver. She said that here we have a person that has work, pays taxes and contributes to society (he is doing the opposite of things that groups like Hommaforum and some PS members are claiming) and he’s attacked. He is a single symbolic case of what we don’t want happening. But in the anti-immigration style, these kinds of things are played down.

    • Enrique

      Allan, could you tell us Sam Hardwick’s background?

  4. JusticeDemon

    Allan

    Now you are doing the same thing yet again.

    And the sad thing is, you don’t even understand your own racism.

    Do you condemn racially motivated violence or do you try to trivialise and excuse it?

    This tells us what kind of person you are.

  5. JusticeDemon

    Allan

    Why would I need a slightly dodgy translation of something that I’ve already read in the original?

    As philosophy this piece is really not worthy of comment. Can the author seriously be unware of the links between his chosen subject and Kant’s Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten and Kritik der praktischen Vernunft? Dignity is neither an axiom nor even a postulate. It is an analytic consequence of the idea of moral obligation that underlies all systems of law and that enables the very game of praise and blame that this author is so fond of playing.

    If this piece is not meant to be examined as serious philosophy, then what is it? Something that gives us insight into the psychology of the author? Well, he does mention masturbation twice.

    The main problem with insisting on purely teleological ideas of value is that you have to declare the ultimate objective (the aim of the game, or as Monty Python put it, the Meaning of Life). Halla-aho’s only contribution to this project is the passing remark that lisääntyminen on se kaikille lajeille ominainen primääritoiminta, johon kaikki muu tähtää.

    I think somebody needs to get out more.

  6. Allan

    Justice Demon – why do you invent racially motivated crimes? To make yourself more useful? All attacks against bus drivers are equally wrong. And the majority of those attacks are not racially motivated – if something, the attackers themselves are immigrant youths. So, there is no “upsurgence in racist attacks” that would need any special attention, the likes of Paloma Hänninen are only interested in making herself public as she is running for the vice chair of the Green league.

    • Enrique

      –And the majority of those attacks are not racially motivated…

      Allan now you are in denial mode. Certainly it is wrong and certainly we should not play down what has happened. That is what anti-immigration groups do: they justify hate crimes by turning the argument around. Nice try but it won’t work here.

  7. Allan

    “–And the majority of those attacks are not racially motivated…

    Allan now you are in denial mode.”

    You are in the denial mode that immigrant youth are attacking bus drivers?

    “One of the biggest problems with websites like Hommaforum is that most of those giving their opinions of immigrants are Finns.”

    Nothing stops you from going and educating the unwashed.

    • Enrique

      Allan, by denial mode I meant that you are playing down what happened to the immigrant bus driver. As I mentioned, he works, pays taxes and is a part of Finnish society. Maybe this type of a person is a threat to the anti-immigration groups because you want to show the negative side.

  8. JusticeDemon

    Allan

    You are doing it AGAIN: trying to trivialise a crime against humanity.

    We are still waiting for you to condemn this kind of offence instead of trying to claim that it does not occur or that it can somehow be offset and balanced against other offences involving different people.

  9. Allan

    Enrique, if in 2009 there was 78 cases of violence bus drivers, of these bus drivers 10 were immigrants, and in one case there was a racist motive, in 2010 there were 50 cases, again 10 were immigrant bus driers, and there was one racist motive, and 2011 there has been so far 18 cases of violence, no racist motive… So where exactly is the “denial”? You just make up this “racism” and that is a fact.

  10. Allan

    Justice Demon, all bus drivers are equal. There is no need to pay one any more special attention than the one two immigrant youth beat up into hospital. haven’t you seen condemn them as you live in denial that its the immigrants beating up the bus drivers.

  11. JusticeDemon

    Allan

    Why is it so difficult for you to admit that racially motivated assault is a serious crime against humanity?

    Why do you feel the need to try to trivialise this offence by talking about other offences committed by different people at other times? Why, in particular, do you fasten on offences committed by immigrants? Can’t you see that this is a fundamentally racist analysis?

    In what way can the conduct of any other immigrant at any time and in any place be relevant to the seriousness of a racially motivated assault against an immigrant bus driver?

    Your reasoning is the same as those who sought to justify Kristallnacht by referring to the actions of Herschel Grynszpan. This indicates a lack of moral compass.

    I could equivalently imagine the Canadian police choosing to ignore your complaint of assault and asking why we don’t consider your complaint in the context of the violent conduct of Finnish ice hockey players in the NAHL. Could you then begin to perceive the basic racism that underlies such reasoning? How smart are you?

  12. StiflersDad

    Why is it so difficult for you to admit that racially motivated assault is a serious crime against humanity?

    I think that you are avoiding Allan’s point on purpose. What he is trying to bring across, and it is a valid point, is that attacks by immigrant assailents on finnish buss drivers should be equally condemmed as racist crimes.

    The thing that irks many people, myself included, is that in many cases random acts of violence or aggressive conduct are assumed to be racially motivated without any specific proof. On the other hand, many crimes where there might be a racial element are ignored and played down as just “normal” criminal activity.

    All people can be racist, not just finns. Also, racism can be subjected from minorities against the majority as well (see for example Apartheid in South Africa). And by the way, all forms of assult are a crime against humanity.

  13. JusticeDemon

    StiflersDad

    Now YOU are doing the very same thing. You are raising unrelated cases involving different people in order to deflect attention from and trivialise a serious crime against humanity. You cannot see the fundamentally racist character of this strategy even though I spelled it out for you with the idea that racist attacks on Finns in Canada could be similarly deflected by referring to violent conduct by Finnish ice hockey players.

    How would you feel if a Canadian police officer’s first response to your complaint of assault was to talk about violent incidents involving Finns playing in the NAHL? Would you consider this to be a reasonable response? The logic of this response is: (1) the complainant is a Finn (2) can I find any examples of offences committed by Finns (or by northern Europeans, or by people with fair skin, or by “foreigners” in general, or by anyone that I can deem to belong to the same “group” as the complainant)? and (3) let’s talk about those offences instead.

    I think you would rightly condemn such behaviour as official misconduct, yet that is precisely how you are responding to stories about racially motivated assaults on immigrant transport staff in Finland.

    It’s interesting that PS advocates share the same mindset as people involved in many forms of polarised conflict. For example Finnish peacekeepers in places like Afghanistan are now likely to be in greater danger because of anti-Islamic sentiments expressed by Finnish politicians, even though those peacekeepers (I know quite a few of them) very probably oppose those very sentiments. Much as you try to argue that an immigrant bus driver is somehow less worthy of protection because of the behaviour of some other immigrant (though not because of the behaviour of some Finn – do you see the racism yet?), so a Finnish soldier abroad is less worthy of protection when captured by the Mujahideen because of the behaviour of other Finns posting islamophobic messages on hommaforum.

    This mindset is racist and wrong. On hearing a story about racially motivated assaults on transport staff, your very first response is to begin talking about other offences committed by people whom you arbitrarily assign to the same class as the victim. This is precisely the mindset that responds to news of Kristallnacht by talking about Herschel Grynszpan.

  14. Allan

    So JD – howcome it is you are taking the attention away from the attacks on bus drivers, many of them committed by immigrant youth, and focusing on an insignificant single case of alleged “racism”. Is this not taking the focus off the “real issue” as in foreigners committing a disproportionate amount of crime against the Finnish people? But as you are a racist, Finns are not humans to you, so you bring forth one case of “racism” to take focus off these other crimes.

  15. JusticeDemon

    Allan

    It doesn’t matter how many times you repeat that strategy. It’s still a mark of a racist mindset and you have been rumbled.

    Have you noticed that all serious economic crimes in Finland are committed by Finns? Not just a very high percentage, but all of them. Every single one.

  16. Sam Hardwick

    Hey everybody, I noticed some traffic coming from here so I stopped by. I wrote a brief critique of the Halla-aho post here.

    JusticeDemon: if you noticed any mistakes in the translation, I’d be happy to be able to correct them.

    Enrique: what do you mean by background? I’m half-Finnish, half-English, live in Helsinki, have done almost all my life. I translated the post because, as I said, it was getting some attention and I thought it could interesting for people who don’t understand Finnish to read.

    • Enrique

      Hello Sam and welcome to Migrant Tales. I think you will find a lot of people who will like to debate whatever you want to bring to the discussion table. Thank you for posting your critique. What is your view of Jussi Halla-aho?

  17. Allan

    “Have you noticed that all serious economic crimes in Finland are committed by Finns? Not just a very high percentage, but all of them. Every single one.”

    But we let the foreigners do all the jewellery store robberies, now if we were racists we’d keep them to ourselves too.

    • Enrique

      Alan, you have to be fair. Do you include those type of foreigners belonging to international crimes in the same groups as immigrants in Finland?

  18. Sam Hardwick

    What is your view of Jussi Halla-aho?

    He’s a passionate propagandist for causes he feels strongly about. He’s been pretty good with discussing media bias and poor argumentation, but as a propagandist, he’s no great lover of truth himself. I think he’s motivated on one hand by a fear that civilized life can’t coexist with some particular cultures or groups of people, but also by a desire (typical of linguists, by the way) to keep cultures separate and distinct. I don’t think there’s a lot of hatred there (except perhaps for his political opponents, at this point). He probably believes in “human biodiversity”, ie. that there are meaningful differences between genetic subgroups of humans, and that probably motivates some of his opinions, but obviously doesn’t want to discuss it anymore.

    If I have sympathy for him, it’s for his personal bravery and defence of civil freedoms. I’m personally grateful that he’s challenged liberty-curtailing speech laws, and he basically sacrificed his previous career in any kind of polite society out of honesty, which I find admirable (although in practice it worked out very well for him now that he’s an MP).

    • Enrique

      –If I have sympathy for him, it’s for his personal bravery and defence of civil freedoms. I’m personally grateful that he’s challenged liberty-curtailing speech laws, and he basically sacrificed his previous career in any kind of polite society out of honesty, which I find admirable (although in practice it worked out very well for him now that he’s an MP).

      So you think that in Finland we don’t have liberty of speech? I have been a journalist for 25 years and I don’t see anything noble or that Halla-aho is defending freedom of speech. If you want to defend freedom of speech, go to those countries were it is curtailed for real. I lived under a dictatorship for 1.5 years in Argentina and can tell you a few horror stories about what freedom of speech is.

      The freedom of speech that Halla-aho claims to be defending could be seen as the right to show pornography in the US. Pornography is accepted today but has it enhanced freedom of speech (probably to a certain extent) or has it helped us to become more passionate about the right to express ourselves. Is it reflected in today’s editorials?

      If your agenda is to destroy the media and play it down as an institution that has an important role in society (cehcks and balances) then I guess you would be in favor of altering the rules of the game when it comes to freedom of speech. When I think of Halla-aho, Hirvisaari and other in this group defending “our free speech” I think of the saying: “With freinds like these you don’t need enemies.”

      Halla-aho’s agenda is pretty simple: to save Finland from cultural diversity. Too bad if you are black or are gay, no? I personally believe the guy lives in a world that does not exist any longer. With the help of others, he has been able to spread urban myths about immigrants and fuel hatred towards one religious group. His defense of “freedom of speech” as you mention has polarized our society and caused suspicion to fall on the whole immigrant community in this country.

      Halla-aho has probably learned his lessons from right-wing popular parties in Europe. But look at it this way: he is a knee-jerk reaction to a monster he has created for his own political and ideological agenda. Finland will at the end of the day accept its cultural diversity.

      Sam, did you go to Montessori School in Herttoniemi in the late-1980s?

  19. Allan

    But Enrique, those are the kinds you want to classify as “immigrants” in Finland, according to you anyone has a right to come to Finland, and if his culture is to pilfer jewellery stores, we have no right to make rules against it. Come on now, stand for your own arguments.

  20. Arto

    Enrique, I was somewhat dissapointed with the style of writing you chose for this text. Your intentional typo in Halla-Ahos name is inferior, as is how you start the article by mocking Turkkila’s appearance in the discussion.

    I just saw the program and I think Turkkila managed pretty well. Especially if we take into account the fact that it was more or less a one against three situation.

    • Enrique

      Arto, even though typos may appear we never do them intentionally on Migrant Tales.

  21. Sam Hardwick

    Sam, did you go to Montessori School in Herttoniemi in the late-1980s?

    Wow, creepy, yes I did! Did you have a child at the same school?

    So you think that in Finland we don’t have liberty of speech?

    Well, like any freedom, it can be violated to a lesser or greater extent. Finland’s liberties aren’t as bad as, say, Cuba or China, but on the other hand in terms of freedom of speech we’re far from the level of, say, the United States. My feeling is that most Finns believe Finland to, as you say, “have liberty of speech”, but it’s not that simple – they just don’t pay attention to the ways that liberty is violated. Halla-aho’s case was one such example, the KRP maintaining DNS censorship lists was another, and there are many others from recent years. Liberties are almost always and almost everywhere under constant attack, and they disappear if you don’t defend them.

    If you want to defend freedom of speech, go to those countries were it is curtailed for real.

    Consider this comment and I think you’ll realize it’s somewhat unfair.

    The freedom of speech that Halla-aho claims to be defending could be seen as the right to show pornography in the US. Pornography is accepted today but has it enhanced freedom of speech (probably to a certain extent) or has it helped us to become more passionate about the right to express ourselves. Is it reflected in today’s editorials?

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. I don’t believe freedom of speech should be reserved for speech that is considered to be useful or valuable by some particular group of people.

    If your agenda is to destroy the media and play it down as an institution that has an important role in society (cehcks and balances) then I guess you would be in favor of altering the rules of the game when it comes to freedom of speech.

    Why would you think that? I have no desire to force anyone’s hand or mind in their ability to create or follow media. I simply don’t think anyone should be restricted by force from nonviolently expressing themselves.

    Too bad if you are black or are gay, no?

    I’m not convinced Halla-aho’s politics are particularly harmful to gay or black people. He is expressly nationalistic though, so you could say his politics are harmful to non-Finns who want to live in Finland who have in H-a’s opinion undesirable qualities.

    I personally believe the guy lives in a world that does not exist any longer.

    Maybe you mean he wants to return to a world that doesn’t exist any longer? I think he’s pretty realistic about the world as it is. But I guess time will tell. History has a habit of fluctuating between extremes, and even now only a small part of the world is comprised of societies that are even this open to outside influences.

    • Enrique

      Sam, my daughter went to the same school. You were in the same class as my daughter. Small world, no? I hope you’ve been keeping well.

      –I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. I don’t believe freedom of speech should be reserved for speech that is considered to be useful or valuable by some particular group of people.

      Do you think that creating friction between groups is a value in itself? There is a big difference between spreading hate and divisions in society versus serious debate. The message of some PS members like Halla-aho are in the same ball park as the BNP in England. If you think parties like the BNP and the Danish People’s Party add something to our democracy, then you have a right to that opinion. I personally don’t like demonizing groups in editorials.

      When you mention “be useful or valuable by some particular group of people” I see Hommaforum’s head Turkkila’s and Halla-aho painted all over it. If you ask both of them where their opposition to certain immigrants comes from, you will find it in an odd answer: Because we believe that the media has treated these groups and not addressed the negative side of immigration sufficiently. Certainly we can do that but does it have to include all the provocative and Islamophobic luggage in the message?

      –I’m not convinced Halla-aho’s politics are particularly harmful to gay or black people.

      That is your opinion. You should ask black and gays the same question to get a better answer. One of the matters that I consider quite odd is that those speaking in favor for what is best for a group are not even distantly related to that group.
      –I think he’s pretty realistic about the world as it is.

      Well that’s your opinion. But the fact remains: globalization, immigration and greater cultural diversity of our societies is a fact. Then again the Halla-ahos of Finland could be a knee-jerk reaction to the changing ethnic face of Finland, which you are a part. But at the end of the day people are accepted by society. This has been the story of many national groups that emigrated to the United States from Europe. There is no reason to believe that Finland is different in this respect.

  22. JusticeDemon

    Allan

    we let the foreigners do all the jewellery store robberies

    So presumably you made this chap an honorary foreigner for the day, owing to the gender-bending aspect of the case?

    • Enrique

      JusticeDemon, this is not the first time that Arto has tried this tactic on Migrant Tales. The whole “rich cultural history” of Finland brought to you by MEK? That is hilarious! I used to read in the 1970s a publication by them called “Look at Finland.” It was unreadable. When they wrote about Finland it felt like I was in some other country.

    • Enrique

      Good one, JusticeDemon, with the video clip. Brings back old memories of Finland of the 1980s.

  23. Sam Hardwick

    Sam, my daughter went to the same school. You were in the same class as my daughter. Small world, no? I hope you’ve been keeping well.

    Sure is! I’m well, and I hope the same is true of your daughter.

    Do you think that creating friction between groups is a value in itself? […] I personally don’t like demonizing groups in editorials.

    I think we have some kind of a misunderstanding here. I think people should be allowed to say things even if there isn’t a “value in itself” in what they say, or if you or I personally don’t like what they say.

    When you mention “be useful or valuable by some particular group of people” I see Hommaforum’s head Turkkila’s and Halla-aho painted all over it.

    Just to clarify, I said this in reference to speech. So even if you or someone else doesn’t believe that something I say is useful or valuable, I should still be allowed to say it.

    One of the matters that I consider quite odd is that those speaking in favor for what is best for a group are not even distantly related to that group.

    Generally speaking, I’d prefer politics not to involve itself too much in favouring any particular groups. I don’t think sexuality should be a political question, and I don’t really have many political opinions about it. The less control over individuals the state exerts, the less we need to worry about things like what H-a thinks about blacks or gays.

    But the fact remains: globalization, immigration and greater cultural diversity of our societies is a fact.

    True, but things aren’t so black-and-white. There are differences of degree – multiculturalism is much more a fact of life in London than it is in Helsinki – and societies change over time in all kinds of directions. Once Rome was a fairly closed republic, then it opened up as it expanded, then it collapsed and its territories became extremely multicultural, and centuries later you once again had extremely closed city-states in Italy. Nothing is inevitable, things keep changing in dynamic ways – and I don’t think it’s such a bad thing that there’s global diversity in this respect as well.

    • Enrique

      Sam, my daughter is fine. She’s studying at Helsinki University and will graduate in 2012-13. I’m very proud of her. Do they have an alumni association at the Montessori Play School for the class of 1989?

      I agree that eventually Helsinki will become more international. That has been happening all the time, especially after we became EU members in 1995.

      You made an interesting point: “I don’t think sexuality should be a political question…” Do you think that ethnicity or national background should receive the same type of attention?

      If you really studied who Halla-aho and his followers are, one of the conclusions you’d make is that they are based on myths about cultures. Many of these perceptions of cultures date deep in the last century. Halla-aho is a modern Suti Aitoniemi but with a PhD.

      I am certain that you can appreciate that there are too many stereotypes and labelling of people and they don’t really help anyone unless you have political ambitions. One of the good things about Finland is that one of its values is social equality. By hitting minorities, and in a provocative fashion on top of it, do you strengthened that type of society or undermine it?

  24. JusticeDemon

    Ricky

    The point is to compare the comparable. If Allan wishes to include offences committed by foreign tourists in Finland, then we also need to consider offences committed by Finns abroad. This can begin with relatively innocuous alcohol-related disorderly conduct in the near-abroad and then move on to more sinister reasons for travelling to far-flung parts of the world. I’m sure that Allan would be delighted to include such cases in support of his views.

    • Enrique

      You are right, JusticeDemon. There are plenty examples of how Finnish tourists behave abroad. There is a good saying by Gertrud Stein that Allan may know: “People live what they know.” He may come back and hit us with a we love what we know. But what we may follow are the Finnish Constituion, Equality Act, UN Declaration of Human Rights and many best practices when it comes to good relations between cultures.

  25. JusticeDemon

    This case looks like it may even set a new record. Hyvä Suomi!!

    Now Allan, shall we continue to discuss offences by tourists, or shall we confine ourselves to comparing the comparable in strictly domestic terms?

  26. Arto

    Enrique wrote: “JusticeDemon, this is not the first time that Arto has tried this tactic on Migrant Tales. ”

    Excuse me, what tactic are you talking about exactly – are you perhaps confusing me with somebody else? I have commented earlier only to your previous blog writing “Xenophobia and racism are the poverty of Finland today”.

    About the typo, check the ingress: “MP Jussi Halla-asho’s”. Since already the 2nd comment was about typos in people’s names and this did not get corrected, I assumed this was a conscious choice of you, especially as the article continues with a commentary of another person’s appearance instead of substance.

    • Enrique

      Arto, my apologies.I also corrected the other typo you pointed out.

  27. Arto

    Enrique wrote: “So you think that in Finland we don’t have liberty of speech? I have been a journalist for 25 years and I don’t see anything noble or that Halla-aho is defending freedom of speech.”

    Since you say so, I assume you find Halla-Aho’s judgement in court a righteous one. I completely disagree. The blog writing he got accused of was to show the double standards of political correctness in this country. Mocking islam just was not the point of the whole text and anyone who reads it completely should easily understand it. Well, Halla-Aho’s demonstration worked perfectly as the prosecutor took action – largely because of personal provocation by Halla-aho in his article, I believe.

    The judgement was simply ridiculous and showed that there indeed is work to do for freedom of speech even in Finland. This was a big surprise to me.

    Halla-aho’s case has true relevance from this perspective. There are a myriad of examples of misusing the liberty of speech (such as intruding people’s personal lives) but Halla-aho’s case is truly significant.

  28. Arto

    Enrique’s reply to Sam Hardwick:
    “–I’m not convinced Halla-aho’s politics are particularly harmful to gay or black people.
    That is your opinion. You should ask black and gays the same question to get a better answer.”

    I am not sure you would actually get a better answer. I suppose many of these people would assume that PS politics will potenetially harm them. But how many of them have actually found out about Halla-aho’s writings, for example? If you just read from newspapers (or Migrant Tales, perhaps 😉 about those writings, you may get a false idea. At least I was surprised when I first read Halla-aho’s writings, since the media had given a very different impression about them. For example, based on newspapers I thought Halla-aho is a bad, bad racist. When I read his writings, I found no evidence of that. If there is something below the visible surface, I don’t know about it. But I can only judge a man based on what he says and how he acts.

  29. Allan

    OK, so if “tourists” should not be counted in the figures, then you have no objection of getting rid of “tourists” – such as the roma beggars, dublin-case paperless asylum seekers and such peoples? After all, they are not “immigrants” now are they?

    “like-minded semi-evolved simians.”
    That describes just you or does it include others?

    And JD, you forgot about the backpacker who broke off the Moa-statues ear on Easter Island.

  30. JusticeDemon

    Allan

    Absolutely! Let’s introduce a system of exit visas for Finns immediately. This idea was seriously considered in the 1960s when Finland was haemorrhaging population to Sweden and other developed countries. It needs to be re-examined now in order to keep Finnish paedophiles out of Southeast Asia and the disorderly Finnish drunks out of Estonia.

    It’s a simple equation, Allan. If you want to include the offences of foreigners who are not immigrants in your fanciful comparison, then you have to include the offences of Finns when they are temporarily abroad. If closing the border to temporary population movement is your solution, then this must be similarly reciprocal. No more foreign holidays for Miina ja Manu unless they get disulphiram and cyproterone implants.

    At least we would then be spared those irritating travel agency advertisements that come on the box at this time of year. If I hear Billy Paul’s version of Your Song one more time in that context… 🙂

  31. Allan

    JD – Nothing prevents Thailand from deporting Finnish criminals back to Finland (after they have thrown them in a Bangkok Hilton for a decade first), nor Estonians packing the reindeer back on the ship.

    • Enrique

      If anyone wants to ever read some surreal stuff about what is racism but is not you should visit Uusi Suomi. Migrant Tales publishes sometimes on Uuusi Suomi. Here is one that I want to share with you by Mikko Kangasoja, who belongs to the Perussuomalaiset party. Many of the writings by PS never mind Muutos 2011 and others are outright difficult to follow especially when the write about racism because the core of their argument is denial. The headline of Kangasoja’s column is a pretty provocative one: “It’s not worth challenging racism.”

      Another thing that bothers me a lot about many of these types of writings is that it is usually a PS white Finn giving advice on what is right and wrong for immigrants. Kongasoja gets violent in the middle of the column: “Is it a racist act if an unemployed man (Finn, I guess) kicks an immigrant (mamu) who dresses well thanks to social welfare? Or is it an expression of injustice (against the person that kicked the immigrant)?”

      He then, I guess, states that he does not recommend kicking anyone because he could get in trouble.

      I wonder if there is a correct dress code if one lives off welfare?

      This column as well as many others are good examples of the what JusticeDemon calls the urban myths being spread by some in the PS.

      That is why I feel it very important to write and fight against the racism in Finland. I like to thank all of those who visit this blog for their support. Looking at the traffic and the fact that more know us in Finland these days, we have at least lived up to our main aim: Migrant Tales aims to be a voice for those whose views and situation are understood poorly and heard faintly by the media, politicians and public.

  32. Sam Hardwick

    Do they have an alumni association at the Montessori Play School for the class of 1989?

    Not that I know of. It would be interesting if there were, though. It’s good that your daughter has a solid graduation plan – the U of H seems to have a tendency to swallow people up for indeterminate periods of time.

    You made an interesting point: “I don’t think sexuality should be a political question…” Do you think that ethnicity or national background should receive the same type of attention?

    Ideally, I think these also should be non-issues from the point of view of politics. However, social democracy and its social security, services & public space appear to be impossible to reconcile with completely open borders, so unless the borders are completely closed, it’s apparently a practical necessity to discriminate quite heavily between people. For instance, the freedom of movement afforded to EU citizens would even be illegal (by EU treaties) to extend to the entire world).

    Note: this doesn’t mean that I want to force individual people not to discriminate. That would be impossible, but also in my opinion a moral evil.

    I am certain that you can appreciate that there are too many stereotypes and labelling of people and they don’t really help anyone unless you have political ambitions.

    I don’t think the number of stereotypes is so important; rather the quality. It’s an essential cognitive tool to have accurate preconceptions about all kinds of things in order to make sense of the world.

    One of the good things about Finland is that one of its values is social equality. By hitting minorities, and in a provocative fashion on top of it, do you strengthened that type of society or undermine it?

    I certainly agree that attacking minorities just for being minorities is potentially extremely damaging. But these things don’t exist in a vacuum. I don’t think H-a sees himself as attacking minorities, but rather as remedying what he considers to be mistakes made by politicians.

    • Enrique

      –I don’t think H-a sees himself as attacking minorities, but rather as remedying what he considers to be mistakes made by politicians.

      I think a lot of people will disagree with you, especially minorities. What are those “mistakes by politicians” that you are referring to?

  33. Allan

    “Another thing that bothers me a lot about many of these types of writings is that it is usually a PS white Finn giving advice on what is right and wrong for immigrants. ”

    Well it is his country, why should he not make the rules? The immigrants are not making the rules, if they were, they would be conquistadores.

    • Enrique

      –Well it is his country, why should he not make the rules?

      Allan, I am surprised that a man who can write English like you is pretty much in the dark about our rights and obligations. One of these is social equality for all. Please read our Constitution. That may help clear up what our values are.

  34. Allan

    Maybe you should read the constitution. Finland is for Finns, not for foreigners. Thats actually the “idea” of most countries if not all, they are there for their citizens. Last time foreigners made the rules was in 1917, you are almost a century too late.

    • Enrique

      –Maybe you should read the constitution. Finland is for Finns, not for foreigners.

      Finland is for all people who come to live here. These can be naturalized Finns, multicultural Finns and Finns in waiting. I think your view of what a Finn is and mine differs. And just because people live as legal residents in Finland doesn’t mean you own and conduct the upper hand of culture. Inclusion and pathways to incorporation are crucial. By stating Finland is for Finns I read it as you saying keep Finland white.

      One more clarification: A Finn is an identity that anyone who lives here can embrace. For some it is important and for others it isn’t. A Finn can be a naturalized citizen, or a “foreigner” who does not need citizenship papers to be a Finn but feels this country to be his home. As I mentioned, inclusion is key.

  35. Martin-Éric

    Allan,
    It has nothing to do with locals making the rules on their turf. What bothers us is Finns arrogantly claiming that they know better than immigrants what is best for immigrants.

    • Enrique

      I totally agree, Martin-Éric. This is an important point. Immigrants can seek advice from Finns but rarely can a Finn put himself in an immigrant’s shoes and tell him what is best. We have to discover our new home by ourselves and how we will fit in.

  36. Niko

    Martin-Éric – What bothers us is Finns arrogantly claiming that they know better than immigrants what is best for immigrants.

    Can you give any examples?

  37. Martin-Éric

    Some examples:

    This year marks the application of a new Integration Act, whose three-way models are being tested during one governmental cycle. The exact content of these three integration paths is determined by a national comity headed by the University of Jyväskylä. Please note that this is about integrating immigrants and yet, there is no organization representing the immigrants on that comity. Finns are deciding top-down, among themselves, what exactly immigrants need to successfully integrate.

    ETNO is currently soliciting immigrant organizations to apply for one of the few seats reserved for them on the ETNO regional and national boards. In practice, what we instead see are generic NGO’s like the Finnish Red Cross, Lutheran Church’s Foreign Aid, etc. applying and being accepted to fill those board seats, simply because part of their activities involve dealing with foreigners. When the absurdity of this was pointed out by representatives of immigrant organizations attending the information session on how to apply, the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ staff said in no uncertain terms that to them, this is the way things are supposed to be, and so will keep on being. Despite one immigrant representative pointing out to them that immigrants cannot see themselves, they stubbornly stick to their own agenda of inviting immigrant organizations and of mostly selecting Finnish NGO’s who have something to do with refugees instead.

  38. Allan

    Well M-E that is because these NGO’s are a part of the “immigration business” and are just making themselves a lucrative nest. If the immigrants themselves had a say many of these shelter jobs would disappear.

  39. Martin-Éric

    Allan, I somehow fail to see how Svenska kulturfonden (in the Jyväskylä workgroup) is a part of the immigration business. Care to elaborate? Also, I fail to see how your comment addresses the fact that Finns constantly try to tell immigrants what’s good for them.

  40. Allan

    Enrique – my point exactly. A “Finn” is someone who wants to belong, become part of the “kansa”. Not someone who wants to invade and change the country into some other country like a conquistador. And what is this “keep Finland white” – you have some serious hangups with skin color you know. You could be an albino, and you would not be a “Finn”, if you insisted on being a foreigner. As you remember from Arwidsson – and note Russians and Swedes are indistinguishable from Finns by skin color – the decision was still “to be Finns”. It is your own problem you have made for yourself when you decided not to be a Finn, nobody else made that decision for you.

  41. Allan

    M-E, I thought you were good in following the money. SFP is directly funded by “svenska kulturfonden”. SFP wants more minorities into the country to attract a wider voter base, thus it is in their interest also to dictate how the immigrants get integrated. And the cucumber farms in Narpes also need the slave labor.

  42. Martin-Éric

    Allan, it is the Finns who make those who try hard to become a Finn unwelcome, not the other way around. Also SFP does not want a wider voter base, nor do they have any understanding of immigration issues whatsoever and I know this for fact, because I work with them on minority language issues. You still haven’t addressed our point that immigrants donät have a place to get their voice heard, or proven wrong that fact that Finns constantly tell immigrants what’s good for them.

  43. Allan

    M-E, actually I do not count those “flowerhats” in the NGO’s as “the Finns”, rather than some wannabe-elite in ivory towers totally removed from “the Finns”. However you are right in that they act quite hypocritically. Noticed how these NGO people treat the foreigners as some sort of exotic children without opinions, as if they were?

    I think you must differentiate between the “government bureaucrats” and “people” – the bureaucrat attitude is the same towards all people – they know the best and the inbred elite in their ivory towers is quite annoying in that they also tell the natives what to do about the immigrants when the situation in daily life is totally different – but its ideology that counts rather than reality and facts.

    As you well knowin Finland its actually been nobodys voice is being heard, so the ones come last need to go back to the end of the line. I think it took SETA several decades to get anything changed in the LGBT issues, so the immigrants should establish some kind of NGO for themselves – keeping the clueless Finnish elite out of it – and trying at the same time not to annoy “the Finns”, I mean those people who vote for PS and are pissed off at these NGO peoples and their agenda. That immigrant parliament thing seemed like a good idea, but I noticed there were a number of ivory-tower-climbers there as well trying to “be the spokespersons” while “the Immigrants” were never asked.

    What comes to SFP, that is pretty peculiar as they had the Sami candidate on their list in Lappland? Also the Swedish-speaking % is dwindling and not all vote SFP just for the language cause so they must widen their voter base – at least that was in their latest programme when they were going for the municipal elections. Though there might be a stronger drift there between cityliberals vs. countryfolk.

  44. Sam Hardwick

    What are those “mistakes by politicians” that you are referring to?

    Well, I’m not sure I want to be in the position of trying to explain Halla-aho – after all, we can both read exactly what he’s written – but I meant that Halla-aho is opposed to political decisions like (temporary) asylum-granting and family unification practices. I don’t think he particularly wishes to attack minorities per so, although admittedly he talks a lot about problems some particular minorities get into or cause.

  45. Sam Hardwick

    some particular minorities get into or cause

    Allow me to correct myself: members of some particular members tend to, statistically, more than average get into or cause.

  46. JusticeDemon

    Sam

    I’m not sure that your correction helps much. I have yet to see any truly fair comparisons based on properly weighted statistical analysis and sound methodology. Mostly it’s stuff that is as methodologically sound as pointing out that foreigners must be statistically less honest employees because no Finnish citizen has ever been prosecuted for working in Finland without a work permit. Counterpoint: no foreigner has ever been convicted by the High Court of Impeachment, ergo foreigners are more reputable government ministers.

  47. Allan

    Statistically, most road accidents are done by people with a drivers licence. Therefore driving without a licence would make roads much safer, no?

  48. Sam Hardwick

    I think it’s something of a trivialization of the problems eg. Somali kids live with in Finland to say that there aren’t any statistically significant differences. If it’s really so unproblematic, who do social services, schools and the police pay special attention to so-called at-risk groups?

  49. JusticeDemon

    Sam

    My point is that there is much more to social policy planning than the minusta tuntuu anecdotal nonsense and unweighted gross comparisons of the incomparable that you will find in the blogosphere. It’s important to recognise that people have different problems in different circumstances that have nothing to do with national origin. A population group consisting predominantly of working class males aged between 18 and 40 years will not have a statistical profile that is comparable to society as a whole.

    My point about the total monopoly of Finnish citizens in the field of serious economic crime in Finland is designed to focus attention on the need to compare like with like. “Obviously” foreigners make better bank managers and Interbank should have considered this before appointing its most notorious Managing Director.

    • Enrique

      Here is another blogger on Uusi Suomi, Anne Leminen. She is a member of the Perusuomalaiset party. You can read her odd defence here: http://lempan.puheenvuoro.uusisuomi.fi/74038-sananvapautta-ja-rasismille-maaritelma

      One of the things that caught my eye was the term “forced multiculturalism.” Her only argument against “multiculturalism” is that it does not work. So? How does a culturally diverse society work? All societies are already culturally diverse in Europe. Some, like the columnist, lives in a sort of cultural pipedream where on one we have white PS Finns looking at a few non-white Finns. All you have to do is to close your eyes and the problem is solved: the non-white Finns have vanished. The way these people will disappear is by being against “multiculturalism” and/or “forced multiculturalism.” Our society has been saved.

      I know what I wrote is ridiculous but that’s how I interpret what this person’s reasoning is when she claims that there is no such thing as racism in Finland.

      If you know of any other writings on the subject that don’t make sense please post them on our blog. I personally would like to post some columnists or discussion groups that claim that Finns are natives like the Amerindians and immigrants the colonizers.

    • Enrique

      I could not agree more with JusticeDemon: “It’s important to recognise that people have different problems in different circumstances that have nothing to do with national origin.”

      If the opposite were the case, the police would have an easy job. All they’d have to do is work out the statistics and be at the exact place and time where the crime is committed and look for the suspects according to ethicity. It doesn’t work that way. And if I may add there is another important component in weighing statistics: prejudice and racial profiling.

  50. Sam Hardwick

    A population group consisting predominantly of working class males aged between 18 and 40 years will not have a statistical profile that is comparable to society as a whole.

    Agreed, there are often major oversights involving factors like this when reporting statistics, and esp. Halla-aho has tended to just use raw statistics (one of the reasons I described him as a propagandist).

    My point about the total monopoly of Finnish citizens in the field of serious economic crime in Finland is designed to focus attention on the need to compare like with like. “Obviously” foreigners make better bank managers and Interbank should have considered this before appointing its most notorious Managing Director.

    This, however, I think again comes close to sophistry. The pool of people with the opportunity to profitably engage in serious economic crime is extremely selected, unlike the pool of people with the opportunity to engage in violent crime, or the pool of people who can potentially be unemployed. It’s not a reasonable comparison.

    I understand your desire to protect people from unfair prejudice stemming from eg. crime or employment statistics, but the fact of the matter is that there really are group differentials in this regard (although they’re not as great as you’d think from just the raw numbers). I don’t think it helps your position to insist otherwise. Frankly, I would find it mindblowing if the statistical profile of recent arrivals from war-torn and culturally rather different Somalia, Iraq or Afghanistan was in no way distinctive.

    If the opposite were the case, the police would have an easy job. All they’d have to do is work out the statistics and be at the exact place and time where the crime is committed and look for the suspects according to ethicity.

    I don’t think this really makes sense either. Statistics don’t work that way. Not because there aren’t any significant differences, but because statistics simply don’t work that way.

  51. JusticeDemon

    Sam

    The limitations of html tags here will continue to irritate you, as will the lack of an edit feature. 🙂

    I didn’t offer that remark about economic crime as anything other than an illustration of the need to compare like with like (you clearly don’t need such assistance in seeing the obvious, but some of our more rabid contributors obviously do), but would you include the very elderly (over 70) in your pool of people with the opportunity to engage in violent crime? What else can you mean by the potential to be unemployed, other than being of working age? I think we have to appreciate that almost by definition first generation immigrants do not have a childhood in Finland and are also far more likely to leave Finland when they retire. This factor alone severely skews the statistical profile of this group compared to national averages.

    There very probably are some disparities between groups. We know, for example, that people from certain countries (e.g. China) have an extremely high employment rate in Finland. What I object to is the claim that this shows some fundamental genetic or cultural virtue in the group concerned. There are all sorts of factors at play here, including the proportion of single parent households in a national group and other things that are not immediately obvious.

  52. Sam Hardwick

    would you include the very elderly (over 70) in your pool of people with the opportunity to engage in violent crime?

    I don’t know, I guess it depends on health. I also wouldn’t include extremely ill people in hospitals.

    What else can you mean by the potential to be unemployed, other than being of working age?

    Admittedly it’s a somewhat strange wording. I guess I was thinking about (eg.) people who are too young, too old, too disabled or so wealthy that they’re able to support themselves without work. In short, people who would need and qualify for työmarkkinatuki in the absence of work.

    There very probably are some disparities between groups. We know, for example, that people from certain countries (e.g. China) have an extremely high employment rate in Finland.

    This and many similar aspects of the international economy and the diversity of mankind remain somewhat open questions (“what explains the differences of wealth, productivity, sociological statistics, accomplishments etc. between different parts of the world?”). Questions of this level of complexity always have some degree of unknowability, but for these questions most people appear to have no clue.

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