Am I a carrier of European right-wing populist rhetoric?

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

We all know that right-wing and far-right populism is on the rise in Europe. By the same token, many us without knowing it, may carry the same seeds of intolerance that these groups spread without ever knowing it. Certainly our democratic society must be able to debate a wide range of issues that affect us like immigration. We must, however, be able to distinguish what are inaccurate claims and facts.

There is no cause for alarm. Every illness has some cure, especially those that are based on fear-mongering, hatred and racism. 

The Council of Europe’s comprehensive report, Living together, is an excellent and long-overdue source to help distinguish between myths and facts about our European cultural diversity.

As with Migrant Tales’ most-popular blog entry, Are you a target of racism in Finland?,  which has got 19,583 visitors and 1,425 comments (June 18,2011), we now publish Are you a carrier of European right-wing populist rhetoric? which aims to show how much far-right, anti-immigration and anti-Islam rhetoric has affected our good judgement.

Like the Council of Europe report, Migrant Tales believes that Islam, or any religion even far-right populist group, should not be exempt from criticism.

But read carefully what the report states: “At the same time it is important to notice that distorted or inaccurate accounts of religious beliefs or practices, or assertions that those of particular groups or individuals are characteristic of a religion as a whole, are often expressions of prejudice and also help to spread it.”

But let’s go now to the test. Please answer yes or no to the following nine claims:

1. Immigrants cause an increase in crime

2. Immigrants bring diseases into the country

3. Immigrant workers take our jobs

4. Immigrant workers drive down our wages

5. Immigrants abuse the welfare state

6. Immigrants behave as if the place belonged to them

7. Immigrants build parallel societies

8. Immigrants’ children are lowering standards in our schools

9. Immigrant women live as a minority

If you answered YES to any two, the chances are that you are a carrier of European right-wing populist rhetoric.  If you answered YES to three or more, you are definitely a carrier.

Below are some answers to the above-listed claims that can help you get a realistic and factual view, according to the Council of Europe and Migrant Tales:

1. Immigrants cause an increase in crime. This is widely repeated by the media, officials and certain “security experts”, and accepted unquestioningly by a large proportion of the population, in terms such as: “migrants, especially illegal migrants, are criminals;” “migrants are less law-abiding than nationals;” “migrants are responsible for much of the crime that takes place”; “they come to our country to commit crimes” and “now that they are here, our towns and streets are less safe.”

Migrant Tales comment: The Council of Europe answers this claim above comprehensively. It follows: “European countries and are sometimes verbally abused in a racist way, harassed or even physically abused by law-enforcement officials. The fact that these groups are more often subjected to police stop and search operations increases the likelihood that they will end up in the criminal justice system.”

“Official statistics do show higher-than-average crime rates among certain minorities (notably Roma) and immigrants or people of recent migrant background. But these statistics should be treated with care. There is abundant evidence of prejudice and discrimination within the criminal justice systems of many (probably most) European countries. Someone identifiable as an immigrant or member of a minority is more likely to be stopped and searched by police, more likely to be arrested, and more likely to be charged with a criminal offence than a comparable member of the “native” population. Thus the popular conviction that these groups are more prone to crime is, to some extent, self-fulfilling. It does almost certainly have some basis in fact, but this does not mean that people commit crimes because of their ethnic origin or immigrant status.” (The bold print was added by Migrant Tales).

2. Immigrants bring diseases into the country, or “migrants are to blame for the return of certain diseases that were eradicated in Europe decades ago.” Proponents of these arguments claim that irregular or undocumented migrants and their children often have poorer health than the rest of population, and that certain infectious and transmissible diseases are more common in migrant communities than in the indigenous population.

Migrant Tales comment:  Since immigrants and refugees are “criminals,” why not make them more undesirable by claiming that they are carriers of deadly diseases? They are so backward and maladapted that they even bring diseases like tuberculosis that have been eradicated from our society a long time ago.

3. Immigrant workers take our jobs.  This view is extremely common in European societies, especially among workers in sectors where there are large numbers of immigrants. It is applied not only to immigrants stricto sensu but also to their children, the so-called second generation, who are still seen as being “not part of the nation” on account of their physical appearance, culture or family ties.

Migrant Tales comment: This is due to the lack of acceptance by the majority of minority groups like immigrants. It is an effective argument to ensure the control of the labor market by the majority and exclusion of immigrants.

4. Immigrant workers drive down our wages. Many people who accept that there is no proof that migrants and nationals are in direct competition for jobs nevertheless subscribe to the idea that through their presence, immigrants drive down wages. This view is especially widely held in the workplace and even in trade unions, at least among the rank-and-file members.

Migrant Tales comment: One gets the impression from the public debate that immigrants want to break the law, evade taxes and that they are more than happy to work for lower wages and rights. The root of these problems lie a lot with the employer. Why wouldn’t a person want to contribute to the society he or she is living in and pay taxes if he or she had the same rights as “native” workers?

5. Immigrants abuse the welfare state. Migrants and their families are accused of abusing the services provided by the welfare state in three ways. First, it is claimed that they make excessive, unfair use of public services and assistance, to which they are believed to have wider, more liberal and less tightly regulated access than other citizens. Second, they are alleged to have access to provision and services to which they are not legally entitled, and thus to be committing outright fraud, to the detriment of the indigenous population. Third, it is alleged that during their stay, which is assumed to be temporary and prompted chiefly by the desire to benefit from the European welfare state, they get more out of the economy than they put in.

Migrant Tales comment:  This appears to be one of the pet myths used by anti-immigration groups. They assume that not only social workers collude with immigrants in this type of fraud, but the state turns a blind eye to the matter as well. If I were a social worker one of the matters I’d try not to do is get fired. One way of getting the boot would be to break the law by granting immigrants special rights outside of the law. If such anti-immigration groups are really worried about this type of fraud, why are immigrants usually the targets of such criticism?

6. Immigrants behave as if the place belonged to them. This attitude is especially common among older people, who have the impression that newcomers do not respect them, that their familiar way of life is being eroded and that “immigrants’ culture and way of life are respected more than ours”.

Migrant Tales comment:  This type of claim reveals low self-esteem of one’s own culture.  Moreover, recent studies show the contrary.  These types of arguments are effective anti-immigration arguments used by populist parties.

7. Immigrants build parallel societies. Migrants are often described as a social and political group alien to the members of their host society. Attention is paid to cases where they behave like a closed and self-contained community, and much less to cases where they are open and seek friendly relations with members of other groups. Typical claims are “they like to keep themselves to themselves,” “they have no desire to integrate,” “they cannot speak our language” and “all they want is rights without duties”.

Migrant Tales comment: These are a good list of excuses. People usually emigrate in search of better opportunities or where “the grass is greener.” It would be illogical for a person to travel many thousands of kilometers, learn a new language and culture just to continue living the same way as he did back home. Immigrants adapt rapidly. How rapidly they adapt in their new home country usually determines how fast they can progress. A crucial aspect of adaption is acceptance by the host society.

8. Immigrants’ children are lowering standards in our schools.” Immigrants’ children are said to “perform poorly at school because their parents lack the skills and education to bring them up properly,”and are often blamed for their own difficulties: “they do not speak their host country’s language;” “they enrol at school in the middle of the school year;” and “they don’t know which culture they really belong to.”

Migrant Tales comment:  A recent study in Finland showed that there aren’t that big differences in some areas and that multicultural Finns, or so-called second-generation immigrants, enjoyed attending school more than their Finnish classmates. These arguments are pretty much similar to those made on #9.

9. Immigrant women live as a minority. Non-European immigrants are often regarded as “backward” in terms of civilisation in general and gender equality in particular. This prejudice is now directed mainly against Muslims and Arabs.

Migrant Tales comment: Anti-immigration groups use the same argument over and over again everywhere. They argue that since a group is so different from us, they can never be part of our society. Thus their racism and hatred is thereby justified.

  1. Method

    1. Immigrants cause an increase in crime

    Yes

    2. Immigrants bring diseases into the country

    Maybe, but so what. I don’t think the swine flu came with immigrants.

    3. Immigrant workers take our jobs

    No

    4. Immigrant workers drive down our wages

    Maybe, but so what.

    5. Immigrants abuse the welfare state

    Yes, but so what.

    6. Immigrants behave as if the place belonged to them

    No

    7. Immigrants build parallel societies

    Yes.

    8. Immigrants’ children are lowering standards in our schools

    Maybe, but so what. I don’t really undestand the goal oriented thinking.

    9. Immigrant women live as a minority

    What now?

    • Enrique

      Hi Method, why do you think that immigrants cause an increase in crimes? Is it because they are already “ciminally minded” or what?

  2. Method

    An addition:

    3. Immigrant workers take our jobs

    No

    Answer to that probably depends how you define taking someone’s job. If they are replacing workers, because they work half free, then the answer is “Yes”. Again, there’s still the “so what” , factor. Immigrants aren’t the problem, it’s a problem of the system. You can’t blame a person who’s taking advantage of a flaw in the system. Or you can, but that doesen’t really solve anything.

  3. Method

    I really don’t know why, but the answer to your question can’t be anything else really, if you look at the statistics. If you answer no, then you’ll be lying. As to “why”, there are many theories and I think the one I can agree with is the demographics. If immigrants are mostly young males, they’ll do more crimes.

    Of course it’s a generalization. There are different types of immigrants. But the key question is, what is the pull of society? Society can pull criminals, society can pull non-criminals. Whenever there’s a vacuum, it’ll be filled.

    I mean there are examples of Finnish criminals moving to Sweden @ 60’s and 70’s.

  4. Niko

    1. Immigrants cause an increase in crime
    – Yes, some nationalities are causing more crimes than others. Official statics can be found quite easily.

    2. Immigrants bring diseases into the country
    – No

    3. Immigrant workers take our jobs
    – No

    4. Immigrant workers drive down our wages
    – I guess in some fields, but overall no.

    5. Immigrants abuse the welfare state
    – Some of them yes, but not all of them

    6. Immigrants behave as if the place belonged to them
    – No

    7. Immigrants build parallel societies
    – Well, yes? Isn’t his what multiculturalism is all about?

    8. Immigrants’ children are lowering standards in our schools
    – Yes

    9. Immigrant women live as a minority
    – Depending of the culture background

    So, I guess I’m “right-wing populist rhetoric” carrier. Meh, it is still better than left-wing popularism.

    • Enrique

      Niko, it means that you disagree with some of the points by the Council of Europe.

  5. Nil illegitimus te carborundum

    1. Immigrants cause an increase in crime
    Well, I do not know the statistics, but if they are.. why?
    Perhaps because they are struggling financially here, unable to get jobs?
    I don’t think it is easy to be a criminal in Finland. It is too squeeky clean and there is
    too much big brother-dom.

    2. Immigrants bring diseases into the country
    No. Disease travels on the winds, on insects, travelling tourism etc.. there are many reasons why
    diseases come to any one country.

    3. Immigrant workers take our jobs
    No. Infact this is laughable. A Finn should try being an immigrant trying to get a job here.
    The odds are stacked against an immigrant. Why would a Finn employ an immigrant when there are ten or more Finns stood in the queue too and the rest of the workforce will complain about it!

    4. Immigrant workers drive down our wages
    No. Cash in hand work here is minimal, if existent imho. Also the unions set rates, not immigrants.

    5. Immigrants abuse the welfare state
    Perhaps, but I would believe that many, many more Finns do so regularly.

    6. Immigrants behave as if the place belonged to them
    No. How can they do so then when they do not feel welcomed? This is Finnish insecurity at its best.

    7. Immigrants build parallel societies
    Yes and No. They build a quiet existence away from negativity. They have no other choice. Finns use exclusion as their quiet way of racism. So it would seem immigrants cannot win on this one.

    8. Immigrants’ children are lowering standards in our schools
    No. I do not see how this could happen. Granted, there is a need for additional help and schooling for foreign kids, (something my kids did not get and they had an awful schooling here) but even still, the multiculturalism can only add benefit to the minds of the other young children around them… and hopefully OPEN them!

    9. Immigrant women live as a minority
    This is possible, depending on the cultural and religious background. I am a woman but I do not live as a minority.

  6. m2c

    Hi,

    let’s start with that I’m a racist and xenophobe, at least if I use the criteria of two times a “Yes” (I just wonder where you get that number from). I may even be a hopeless case of a xenophobe (3 times “Yes”)

    Your response to claim 7 (parallel societies) is rather strange. Over time I noticed that people who like football sit at the same table in the cafetaria. Same for people who like golf, or for people working in the same team. So non-Finnish postdocs at the university sit at the same table (with most likely their finnish colleagues). Blaming the parallel societies on the host country (“a crucial aspect of adaption is acceptance by the host society”) is ofcourse blatant nonsense.

    I take issue with your comment on Claim 6. There it states that discrimination is in part due to the fact that the hosts are afraid that their way of life is being dilluted. Your comment ” they must have a low self esteem of their own culture”. My comment: arrogant and insulting. For the same token you can say that “guests” who want to keep some of their own culture have low self-esteem.

    Whatever you try to achieve with this blog entry, the approach is not helpful, if not counterproductive, to the discussion. To me a bit like “native bashing”

    cheers

    • Enrique

      Hi m2c and welcome to our blog. What is so arrogant about the comment? Certainly immigrants and residents are not “guests.” Do you plan to always put them in line and remind them that they should shutup or leave? That’s the thinking of conservative and far-right groups who still think that poor are poor because they like to be. We live in a dynamic society called Finland where everyone has a voice.

  7. Hoslo Jiwa

    The answer to all the questions are yes and no there are yes for some of the cases and no for some of the cases of individuals but generalistic questionaires like your own are based on generalisation and are not really important. If you think that a rise in nationalism is on an increase then think again. What we have is a more opinionated world were dissent of politics is driving people to vote for candidates which dont seem to represent them. not because they are racist its because nobody is listening anymore and the politics we have in todays world has become routine and stabilised with each political party representing the same policies. There seems to be a growing demand in our society to try and shock our system into place, I do not believe there are more racists incidents then the 1970s. If we look at Finland I dont buy the idea that our Finns have suddenly become racists by voting Perus Suomalainen I think they have got tired on saying yes to the EU all the time and one party stood for saying no. Council of Europe is the Council of Europe paper pushing bureaucrats who have very little else to do then statistics far away from reality and far away from accountability. Its nice you try and paint a pretty picture on immigration but the facts on the ground are not so lovey dovey as you put it in your article. There is simple formulae when the population are growing and pushed into economic circles which interdepend on each other you will get clashes for resources. Discrimination occurs when economic woes are prevalent and it occurs everytime in every country! What can you do? Ride it through its not something new but each time somebody thinks it is.
    Hoslo

    • Enrique

      Hi Hoslo Jiwa and welcome to Migrant Tales. Thank you for joining us. What you say about racism in Finland is partly right. It has always existed and now, due to the economic downturn, it has raised its head as it did back in the early 1990s, remember? The issue is simple: racism and prejudice have no place in our society. Why? Because we become the biggest losers.

  8. Allan

    Enrique, I know you are unable to comprehend the truth, but lets let facts talk for themselves:

    1. Immigrants cause an increase in crime.
    Ennen Romanian EU-jäsenyyttä rikoslakirikoksista epäiltyjen romanialaisten määrä vaihteli vuosittain 250 – 350 välillä lukuun ottamatta vuotta 2006, jolloin epäiltyjen määrä puolittui 160:een. Romanian ensimmäisenä EU-jäsenyysvuonna 2007 määrä ylitti 1 000 epäillyn rajan ja vuonna 2009 kirjattiin yli 2 600 rikoslakirikosta.”
    http://www.poliisi.fi/poliisi/krp/home.nsf/pages/DD246162688C7D9CC22578A2003E4724

    2. Immigrants bring diseases into the country, or “migrants are to blame for the return of certain diseases that were eradicated in Europe decades ago.”
    “Continuing rises in tuberculosis notifications in the UK are attributable to cases in foreign-born immigrants.”
    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099%2811%2970069-X/abstract

    3. Immigrant workers take our jobs
    4. Immigrant workers drive down our wages

    “Tens of thousands of foreign IT workers are being sent to work for their companies’ subsidiaries in Britain, sparking fears that British workers are being denied job opportunities. ”
    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/support_services/article6975922.ece

    5. Immigrants abuse the welfare state
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-11347134

    6. Immigrants behave as if the place belonged to them
    7. Immigrants build parallel societies
    9. Immigrant women live as a minority

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1386558/Tower-Hamlets-Taliban-Death-threats-women-gays-attacked-streets.html

    8. Immigrants’ children are lowering standards in our schools
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-458825/Schools-stretched-breaking-point-immigrant-children.html

  9. m2c

    Dear Enrique

    First, to set the record straight, I’m an immigrant to Finland. Have been for the last 15+ years

    Unless I fully misunderstood your comments on 6 and 7, you blamed the Finns for a considerable part of the discrimination. Whether or not I disagree with this, the way you express your opinion (“reveals low self-esteem”) is fully inappropriate.
    The other comment I made was regarding the “two times yes is a far-right populist” criteria. You have to give arguments for the value two or three, rather than just giving some number.

    I do not understand your reaction to me disagreeing with you. Rather then argueing content you label me as a conservative far-right individual who believes that being poor is a choice, and wants to line-up the foreigners. Last time I’ve seen the latter happen was in a documentary about concentration camps in WW II. Comparing me with an SS’er is utterly insulting

    • Enrique

      m2c: it doesn’t matter if you are an immigrant or not. Sometimes immigrants can have more reticent attitudes towards immigrants than natives.

      If you claim that the host society has nothing to do with an immigrants adaption, that in my opinion shows you understand very little how adaption and integration works. Adaption is a two-way street. Both sides have to make the effort.

      There are studies that show a correlation between prejudice and low self-esteem. Here is one on Science Daily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110223151945.htm
      The article states: “When people are feeling bad about themselves, they’re more likely to show bias against people who are different.” I think this is perfectly logical.

      Did I call you “SS”? I don’t think so. I am now disagreeing with you and you are swimming into these arguments.

  10. Martin-Éric

    It would be a good idea for someone to realize that there is no need for parallel societies in a country that doesn’t bend backwards to make people feel unwelcome. Countries that, by definition, are welcoming and that offer a comprehensive integration support mechanism to enable people to learn the language rapidly and get on with their lives don’t ever experience this sort of ghettoization.

  11. Seppo

    – “offer a comprehensive integration support mechanism to enable people to learn the language rapidly”

    Hard to disagree, but where do you actually have this? And how does it work? I know there are big problems in Finnish language teaching, I’m just interested to hear what would be a better way to organize it.

    When it comes to immigration, the thing is that countries like UK and France and Spain get an unbelievable advantage in that many, if not even most, immigrants already speak the language when entering the country, at least a bit. That’s a whole different starting point comparing to Finland. The fact that Finnish is not an international language is just a disadvantage we have to learn to live with, somehow.

  12. Seppo

    1. Immigrants cause an increase in crime

    Yes. There are many understandable reasons as to ‘why’, like the age structure of the immigrant groups, but as a yes or no question, yes.

    2. Immigrants bring diseases into the country

    No.

    3. Immigrant workers take our jobs

    No. Sometimes I wish they could.

    4. Immigrant workers drive down our wages

    In the building sector, maybe. Mostly temporary Estonians. Not a huge problem. Otherwise no.

    5. Immigrants abuse the welfare state

    No. Not more than the Finns do.

    6. Immigrants behave as if the place belonged to them

    No.

    7. Immigrants build parallel societies

    Yes, sometimes. Here we also need to ask why and one of the answers is the exclusion from the native’s side. Still, yes.

    8. Immigrants’ children are lowering standards in our schools

    Yes, but only in some speficic cases like when the amount of newly arrived pupils gets really high and most of these come from families where the parents don’t have any education and a low sosio-economic status. Unfortunately we seem to have a few of these cases emerging in Helsinki. But mostly no.

    9. Immigrant women live as a minority

    Actually I don’t know what it means to “live as a minority”. Outside of the society? Some do, most don’t.

  13. Martin-Éric

    The Finnish integration act only applies to refugees and to people who are registered as job seekers; foreign labor and housewives are not included in this and even the new act that came into force this year hasn’t improved this. Anyhow, there’s simply not enough resources to teach everyone and there’s long waiting lists. Plus, even though these are supposed to be labor trainings, the content is not adapted to someone’s field of expertise, and in many cases, there put students of various abilities in the same groups e.g. illiterate refugees with academicians.

    As for foreign students, they are allowed to take an optional Finnish class at their college or university, but it seldom fits their schedule and, in any case, it’s not envisaged that a foreign graduate would seek employment in Finland after they complete their studies in English, because they are only brought here to maintain a high student headcount so that the college or university doesn’t lose the state’s financing.

  14. Seppo

    Good points.

    – “foreign labor and housewives are not included in this”

    This is probably one of the biggest problems. Like you mentioned, they’ve already done something about it and at least realised that this is a problem. Hope it will improve in the future.

    – “the content is not adapted to someone’s field of expertise, and in many cases, there put students of various abilities in the same groups e.g. illiterate refugees with academicians.”

    This obviously makes sense, but there’s a big but. Finland, especially the smaller towns, just does not get that many immigrants that special courses could be arranged for engineers, lawyers, carpenters, sociologists etc. I’ve understood that the special courses targeted at nurses and medical doctors have been very succesful and definetely this is something we should develop more – but of course you need more than two or three lawyers to organize a course. Actually, a lot more I think.

    – “As for foreign students..”

    I think the Finnish classes should be mandatory in the Master’s programmes. At least one basic course. That would be a clear and strong enough message that if you are planning to find a job in Finland, it’s good to know Finnish. Today this is not emphasised enough.

    You are right about the universities’ point of view. But the state thinks differently, I believe. They would like to see the foreign students staying in the country more often than now. There have been talks about changing the criteria according to which the universities get funding. Actually even now it’s not the head count that counts but the number of graduates. Here the foreign students have been even a better investment since unlike their Finnish counterparts, they almost always graduate in the end. But there are plans to introduce a criteria that has to do with the students’ employment – the better your students get employed, the more money you get. In a way it makes sense. Only that some fields of the humanities and social sciences might suffer heavily from this. It would turn the universities more and more just into factories where you produce good workers instead of producing science.

    All and all, I’m not sure what’s the point of the programmes targeted to foreign students. It is so difficult for them to get employed after studies that it makes me feelt that these programmes don’t make any sense in the end.

  15. Martin-Éric

    Well, the new Integration Act’s so-called “experimental legislation” in fact targets housewives and immigrant children as a group at risk and there’s indeed been plenty of initiatives to improve the immigrant youth of comprehensive school and high school age’s mastery of Finnish, but the number of initiatives targeting housewives is ridiculously small and mostly focused on really marginal groups such as Somalian mothers. These initiatives also completely evade the possibility that there could be househusbands, even though it’s in fact a rather common case for a Finnish woman to have children wth a foreign man and for the Finnish mother to resume her job right after giving birth while the foreign dad stays at home to raise the kids.

    My position about English-language university programs is that its foreign participants should have mandatory Finnish classes leading to an exam for European level B.2 Finnish proficency certification. They should also invent a virkasuomi certification whose teaching language is English rather than Swedish and make it a part of each faculty’s normal curiculum for foreign students. In faculties whose traditional employment paths go towards the public sector or towards customer service positions, there should also be an optional Swedish class up to level B.1 and a rudimentary virkaruotsi whose teaching language is English.

  16. Allan

    Actually 2 is wrong, its not only “immigrants” its “people who travel” bring in diseases. Modern epidemics travel by airplane. What come to immigrants, it depends where the immigrant is from, and what kind of healtcare levels have been available to them. But it is blatantly stupid to deny the facts.

  17. Seppo

    – “My position about English-language university programs is that…”

    I agree. Although I think that in “faculties whose traditional employment paths go towards the public sector or towards customer service positions” there should not be any programmes especially for foreign students – their chances to be employed in the public sector in a position equivalent to their education are just minimal. Not only because of the language requirments but because of the diminishing number of public sector jobs and the big competion for those jobs. The public sector is still quite popular among Finnish graduates.

    To me, the English language programmes make sense only in two ways. 1) programmes for IT and other engineers who are needed and who can find jobs without Finnish 2) programmes as a way to give quality tuition free education to people who otherwise would not have a chance to get it. This second point especially concerning students from poor countries who can then take their knowlege back home and the studies offered to them can be seen as a kind of development aid.

    For someone else it is cool and nice to have foreign students hanging out at the campus and this justifies the special programmes. I think it is less cool and nice for these students themselves when they realise what kind of employment possibilities they actually have.

  18. vincebel

    Ive been reading this blog for quite some times and i think the biggest problem of all the posts is generalization.
    This survey again is totally useless (sorry its my opinion).
    Talking about immigrants is talking about the rest of the world basically.
    For all the answers we can answer yes, no, maybe, depending on the background, the religion, the culture, the ethnicity, the life history of the immigrant.

    Its quite difficult to compare a familly of 4 from New Zealand with the dad being a IT guy and the wife doing a PHD in genetics and a group of 7 brothers and sisters aged 5-22 from Somalia who are orphans, didnt go to school, have experienced war and violence and dont even speak English.

    in one case the answers will be No. On the other case the answers will be yes or maybe. Its sad but its the facts.

    I guess the guy from New Zealand (its a example) would also have answered yes in most cases since he has been living here for the past 25 years and speak fluently Finish.

    OFF_SUBJECT: even if there is some racism in Finland , there is racism all over the world since the Big Bang. And i thing this blog is only showing the worst of Finland and is quite negative sometimes. I got massively depressed by reading this blog and started to develop an anti Finish attitude.
    No jobs for foreigners? well no jobs for nobody nowhere in Europe. its a worldwide crisis.

    Foreigners are treated badly? i dont think so. there is the integration program, people are usually friendly and nice; sometime rude and narrow minded but what? its a different culture thats all.

    Im from Belgium and i can not rent an apartment in the dutch part cos im from the french part. and thats legal…see? Finland not that bas after all.

    20% voted for the true finns? 80% didnt. And i m sure (i dont know) most of the voters come from the same farm area in the middleof nowwhere and are easily brainwashed due to the lack of education. (Teuvo hakkarainen for example). Im confident in the future of Finland since the young people are used to see foreigners now in streets or schools, they like to travel and see new cultures, etc.

    Im sure you are a very good guy Enrique but sometimes i feel like you are doing the true finns job by spreading an anti finish attitude.

    Stay positive

    Vincent

  19. Seppo

    Partly agreeing with Vincent, I am too very disappointed about the fact the most posts in Migrant Tales are very negative. In this sense the point of view is very similar to Scripta and blogs like that – discussing negative things in our society that have to do with immigrants or Finns’ attitudes towards them.

    It would be nice to find a blog that would clearly focus on the positive aspects of immigration, that would discuss these issues in an overall positive tone.

  20. Seppo

    Yea but the posts always begin with racism this and right-wing populism that.. As if these are the only issues related to immigration. They are big issues, of course, but very negative by nature.

    There is the option of focusing on positive things, too. Even though that doesn’t seem to be in fashion at the moment, on neither side.

  21. Martin-Éric

    I dunno, these days, I tend to mostly get called to lecture on the solutions, rather than on the problems. Maybe the fact that I count people from both ends of the spectrumamong my friends has something to do with it. Your mileage may vary.

  22. Allan

    most of the voters come from the same farm area in the middleof nowwhere and are easily brainwashed due to the lack of education. (Teuvo hakkarainen for example).

    Most of the foreigners moving to Finland apparently as well?

  23. Method

    Seppo

    What I’ve found most interesting about this blog is the actual views of what Enrique calls the multicultural Finns. The rest is repetitive and some are like a negative mirror image of some anti-immigration blogs.

    But there is value in these blogs, I think I can pretty much understand Enrique and his position. And because of him I can also understand views of other multicultural people. That’s something you don’t see alot. I wish people just wrote what they think and how they see things from their own perspective and not cover it all up in some heat seeking rhetoric that really doesen’t fool anyone.

    It’s not a flame war or about who writes the best propaganda.

    • Enrique

      Hi Method, I hope at least that Migrant Tales offers a forum to debate this issue with a wide group. Are you a multicultural Finn? If you are, welcome to this very fascinating group that I would like to write a lot more. Do you think that if people like Jussi Halla-aho and others knew of this group, would they Write the stuff they do about immigrants and why Finland must remain white at all costs?

  24. Allan

    This blog is excellent propaganda material for the PS campaign in showing why immigration is a bad thing for the society. If Enrique would not exist, they would have to invent him. 🙂

    • Enrique

      “Propaganda” material? Even if you don’t like us this blog is one good place where you can debate in earners with immigrants about their situation. If you’d go to Scripta or Hommaforum it would be like reinforcing your prejudices and never putting them to the real test. That is one reason I don’t mind debating with you here: how do my views stand up to people who totally disagree with me? That makes us stronger and strengthens our argument and permits us to face those who are pushing our stereotypes and “speaking to themselves.” but what I am telling you is nothing novel. It is how democracy works and what makes it stronger.

  25. vincebel

    my point was that i still dont understand how this guy was elected MP (no political education, barely no education at all, very few contacts with immigrants, the way he spoke about them, etc…), and also who voted for this guy. Its like 2 or 3 villages voted for him.
    So i guess the level of political understanding of those people is not that high.

    Second is that most of the voters voted for the anti immigration which was not at all the main topic of the true finns. I think most of the voters didnt really understand the program OR understood what they wanted to understand.

    Who are the typical right wing voters for you?

    – unemployed people who blame foreigners for taking their jobs. Jobs that they dont want to do like cleaning, nursing, …So they have to blame themselves first

    – unemployed people who blame foreigners for abusing the social system. Yeah maybe they are right sometimes but a lot of finns also abuse the system.

    – brainwashed young and older people who still remember the war against Russia and are against Sweden, Russia and everythin else. Moreover the spread this brainwashe ideology to their kids.

    – Racist people who dont want to meet oters cultures, but still eat pizza, kebab, drink russian vodka, wear chinese clothes, and watch american tv shows.

    – buisness owners who dont want to follow EU-regulations cos its more expensive (even if the dont realise that the get subsidies from EU)

    Anyway its a long debate cos everybody is wrong or right depending on the topic. Talking to a right wing guy is a bit the same as talking to a very religious guy. (my opinion). They think they are right and everybody else is wrong and refuse to admit that they might be wrong anyway.

    I have to admit that i agree with some few points of the right wing parties (Finland, Belgium, Europe). but that doesnt make me a racist at all (african grand mother, french mother, hungarian father, belgian citizenship, born in Africa…) but i think its important to respect the cultures of the neigbours and the host country.

    In Rome do as the Romans do

    Why do you think that the vast majority of the right wing parties are targetted to a small part of the minority? Of course the problem is not from this minority but the system. We need a better integration, explaining the host country culture and laws maybe better.

    Well anyway. we could talk days and days about this topic so ill stop now but i think the biggest problem is the demographic explosion on earth and there is basically no room for everybody soon (which means no job, no house, no money, wars for ressources, etc) and of course the first victims will be the non-native in any given country.

    • Enrique

      Hi Vincebel, what is probably the most important matter is that we can debate these matters you mentioned. That is one of the values that Migrant Tales can give: dialogue between immigrants and Finns. Blogs like Scripta and Hommaforum only speak to themselves. Because they do they are in danger of becoming redundant and losing touch with reality never mind the issues.

  26. vincebel

    I will just add something.

    If after al the help (integration system, language course, practice place, social help, etc) there is still a problem with the immigrant adapting in Finland, then the problem comes from him and only him.

    Its not because we move to a new country that everybody will welcome us. we have to do the effort to adapt, meet people, learn the culture etc…

  27. Martin-Éric

    All those issues (integration system, language course, etc.) failing to help the immigrant integrate could equally be interpreted as this country simply not wanting that immigrant here in the first place.

  28. Seppo

    Language courses can help a lot. On the other hand, some of the ‘success stories’ of quick integration have taken place without any special involvement by the state bureaucracy.

    One example. I listened to Petr Potchenikov, the once head of the Finnish Association of Russian-speaking Organizations, telling his story. He said he always kindly refused any language courses, trainings etc that he was offered. In his own words, he didn’t want to be ‘minkaan toimenpiteiden kohteena’. He choose to learn the language and culture on his own – and his Finnish is just fluent.

    Now he is a special case. I guess what I’m trying to say is that no matter how much ‘help’ the society provides, in the end it is all about the individual and his capabilities and motivation to integrate. When Finns moved to America and Sweden they hardly took part in any language courses or trainings. Even though some had problems, the great majority of those people integrated well.

    The other side of the coin is of course the surrounding society which has to be able to accept the immigrant.

    • Enrique

      Zeppo, the person you mentioned is the type of immigrants that Finland needs. As they say, whatever gets you through the night. Certainly if Finland had more immigrants and more foreign companies, language wouldn’t be such an issue. In the US there are millions that never learn to speak English well but enough to get by.

  29. Martin-Éric

    I’ve also learned Finnish entirely on my own, eventually got citizenship, later passed the top-level Finnish language certification just to qualify for government jobs and also learned some Swedish in my spare time. Previously, I was the type to hold several jobs simultaneously, on top of my dayjob. Still, I keep on ending up unemployed here all while receiving offers from just about anywhere else. At some point, I cannot help but conclude that this country either has an extremely thin job market or is simply not interested in keeping me here. As it happens, I know for fact that I’m not the only immigrant with such an experience.

    • Enrique

      Hi Martin-Eric, what you mentioned is one common problem that immigrants face in Finland. All you have to do is check the official unemployment figures or speak to other immigrnts about the situation. What you mentioned strikes the nerve of the problem. What it boils down to at the end of the day is (a) squandering of labor resources and (b) still the inability by some employers to accept that Finland (and their workplace) is culturally diverse. In other words, there is, as you mentioned, the fact that the labor market is thin but equally important is that we want to hire Finns first, second and immigrants possibly third. The way I dealt with that problem before was to move for a year or two abroad. That helped me get a change ofnscenery and, most importantly, helped me get work experience.

  30. vincebel

    iknow what you mean. I left Belgium 3 years ago and I still receive some job offers from there. Here, nothing.
    As you said, the problem is that there is no job here (especially where i live). In my field there is no jobs here while there are hundreds in my home country.
    But im not here to work in my field. I chose family first. So i do a job that i dont really like but my son is happy and its the most important. 😉
    and living or surviving in another country is a great experience anyway…

    • Enrique

      Hi Vincebel, there are many of us that have moved to Finland for such noble reasons as you mentioned. Your wife and especially your son must be proud of you. I used to leave Finland every ten years to get a change of scenery and more work experience. Maybe that could work for you and be an interesting experience for your wife, child and yourself.

  31. Allan

    still the inability by some employers to accept that Finland (and their workplace) is culturally diverse
    Or foreigners to figure out they are in Finland and accept the fact. Last thing as an employer I would do is hire some whining foreigner wishing to be “culturally diverse”.

    • Enrique

      Allan, you have just showed us that you belong that group that would hire a foreigner as a last resource that would be difficult even then. But don’t because you are not supposedly ready for such a change at your workplace. The problem is see here is a paternalistic striker growing on a bunch of minor issues.

  32. vincebel

    Yeah its true about the thin labor market but still I think its normal if two persons are competent for the same job, and both speaking fluently the language with the same experience that finns should be hired first. Its a shame for the foreigners but i dont see any discrimination. If the foreigner would be hired it would be positive discrimination.

    I see a discrimination when a position is vacant for months and foreigners are not hired even if they possess the skills for the job.

    Concerning the integration program, it helped me to learn the language faster than i would do it alone, and with the practice places i now found a job (just a one year contract but still its better than nothing in the beginning). And i was needed for this job, so thats why ive been hired, because there was nobody else.

    Even if I already have a master degree in evolutionnary biology (extremely useless in Finland), im thinking of going back to study nursing, which is needed. And my first degree will always be useful anyway for a possible job later, or just to explain to my son some facts of life.

    The point of this is like we are in a new country (3 years here for me) and we have to adapt to the job market, the culture, the language, etc…Its not the country that has to adapt to us. Most of the foreigners who complain should try to understand that. Of course we might feel that we are not wanted or not needed. MAybe its true. So lets prove them that they need us 😉 as a dad, a new friend with different life experiences, a new co worker with a different approach. More than in our home country, we have to show to the rest of the population that we exist, still with respect of the hosst country.

    But if we have nothing to show, to express or to share, so that might be difficult.

    And remember that there are some a…holes in FInland but in eveyr country as well. We just have to not focus on them and focus on the good ones (who are the majority)

    Have all a nice day.

  33. Allan

    Because they do they are in danger of becoming redundant and losing touch with reality never mind the issues.

    I think you have lost it since 2007. Nothing stops you from writing on Hommaforum. The only problem you face is that you need to be able to base your arguments on real facts and not your imagination there. And we all know what it does to your ego when you are, as always, proven to be wrong.

  34. Allan

    Allan, you have just showed us that you belong that group that would hire a foreigner as a last resource that would be difficult even then.

    No, the thing is you would hire somone based on their skin color and diversity factor. I would hire someone if he would have the skillset to “fit in ” and have the attitude to “fit in” the company.

  35. Martin-Éric

    No, you said that if a foreigner and a Finn are equally qualified, hire the Finn, which IS discrimination against immigrants. The only non-discriminatory answer someone can give is, when equally qualified people show up, use your gut feelings and hire the one YOU would want on your team. What you instead say is, it doesn’t matter who shows up for the interview, just as long as the Finn gets the job.

  36. Allan

    Do you think that if people like Jussi Halla-aho and others knew of this group, would they Write the stuff they do about immigrants and why Finland must remain white at all costs?
    I think you inspire them. 😆

  37. Allan

    No, what I said is, that if Vincebel, Enrique and Martin-Eric showed up in the interview, I’d probably hire Vincebel, as the last people I would hire was either the “whining foreigner” or the one “wishing to be culturally diverse”.

  38. Martin-Éric

    You seem to have missed a part where I’ve already bent backwards to fit in but whatever. You also seem to have missed the part where I don’t give a damn about being unemployed, since it’s so important to always hire the Finn, but whatever. You’just the culturally challenged wanker of this crowd anyway.

  39. vincebel

    so hire me ;). even if Allan is a bit though in his words i partially agree with him. Cultural diversity is not needed in a job. Only the skills matter. So if a foreigner has more skills needed than the finn he SHOULD be hired first.

    But in the everyday life cultural diversity is important to open peoples mind and exchange differents points of view of the world, but still with respect and understanding the host country culture.

    This is the same with two people from the same country as well. Two guys from (example) Nepal might not agree on the religion, culture, chinese influence of their home country.

    Like I said everybody is different and its normal that not everybody agrees with each other.

    But again for a job only the skills matter. And with equal skills then the rest might be taken into account (like language, adaptation to the group, communication skills). Because of those others skills, its unfortunately easy to not hire a foreigner then its difficult to see if it was discriminatory or not.

    It might sound like discriminatory if i say that Finland should give priorities to finnish people (at equal skills) but its normal anyway. And im a foreigner too.

    In the evryday life i dont complain about the job market but i sometimes complain about the narrow-mindness of some finns toward different cultures. Then its of course discriminatory to not hire someone because of his cultural baackground, if he fully possess the skills for the job.

  40. Martin-Éric

    The thing is that this narrow-mindedness transfers onto things like hiring practices too. Nevertheless, I don’t care all that much if I end up unemployed as a result. However, the Finns do and yet, they cannot have it both ways. They cannot systematically hire the Finn over the foreigner and yet magically expect foreigners to NOT end up collecting KELA benefits as a result.

  41. Jenkki

    And adding to Martin-Éric’s succinct statement….

    Hiring an immigrant does not mean that the employer has to celebrate his/her national holiday….It just means that she/he has to do his/her job well regardless if the Finnish may sound less than native, and the writing is expressed a bit differently.

  42. Martin-Éric

    On “expressed a bit differently”:
    I’ve been repeatedly told that my command of Finnish is above average even for a Finn, however, I tend to choose sophisticated words that the average Finn would not use. For instance, my ex-wife, proofreading one document I had to send out, commented how everything I wrote there is correct Finnish, except that there were several words I used that she would have never thought of using, even though they were more accurate that the skimpler way of saying things that she would have used.
    On multiculturalism:
    I really don’t expect any employer to bend backwards to accommodate me. I however expect to be treated with the respect that any professional deserves and to be evaluated impartially, rather than according to some imaginary standard of how “we do things here” and how they allegedly “do things where you come from,” nothing more, nothing less.

  43. Jenkki

    I agree.

    Periodically, I receive “lectures” starting with the following 2 words….”eeen Feenlaahhnndd…” 🙂

  44. Martin-Éric

    The thing is that there is no such thing as a Finnish way to do things. I dont’ have enough fingers left to count the number of times where some random Finn told me “I don’t know how you do things where you come from, but here in Finland we…” only to have me prove them wrong by finding a dozen of examples of Finns doing things the same way as me and to then hear that “Really?! Well, at least _I_ don’t do it that way and I expect you to do things according to the house rules.”

  45. Jenkki

    An immigrant is immediately put through the “scrutiny machine”…and let’s not go into the fact that we are such an interdependent world nowadays, everything comes from somewhere else, from food, clothes, fashion and music, to business practices, IT applications, management techniques, etc..,

  46. JusticeDemon

    Martin-Éric

    That’s called Management by Perkele. You would understand its value if you had done your stint at Santahamina. For example, it has ensured that Finland is ideally prepared to fight the last war all over again (qv. Maginot Line).

  47. Martin-Éric

    Management by Perkele has repeatedly been blamed for this country’s lack of initiative taking. Besides, management by perkele is an epic failure because, outside of the militaries, nobody has to endure shit from anyone; they are quite free to respond in kind and, especially with women and with the younger generation, they indeed respond in kind.

  48. Method

    Enrique

    “Hi Method, I hope at least that Migrant Tales offers a forum to debate this issue with a wide group. Are you a multicultural Finn? ”

    No I’m not. That’s the thing. It’s something that isn’t really obvious to me, so to understand that, I need views, thoughts and so. It’s the problem with perspectives. I know mine, mine is obvious to me. It’s not obvious to you, like yours is not to me. I wasn’t born in Argentina. I haven’t lived in the USA. I haven’t seen the things you have seen or understood the things you have. I recognize that. But at the same time, you haven’t seen the things I have. It’s that what makes us different, nothing else.

    Like I said, the best part of this blog to me is where you describe things or comment to someone elses views, not where you condemn things and try to cognize an enemy to fight with. I’m not really into that and if I were more insecure about who I am, I’d probably feel threatened by the way you force people in to categories.

    As for Halla-aho. I really think you’re underestimating him by overestimating his intentions. He’s been ridiculed and bullied around as long as he has been writing. You think that don’t have any effect to his tone? If I’d be the target of such personal hate mongerin, I wouldn’t be nearly as calm as he is. His “blog” is very reactive, it’s a reaction that you get, when there’s no open room for discussion, and I think he’s earned credit for that. He’s not by any means a hero, but he’s not a coward. He’s given up alot and become a persona non grata and taken all the hate and anger that comes with that. I know it’d be easy to discredit that, but as far as I see it, it’s a fact.

    Even if you don’t agree with him, you have to deal with him. Every other blog of yours recently has contained his name. It’s ok. Study him, try to see the man behind it and everything that made him. As neutral as possible. I mean, everyone’s digging dirt on him, so it’s not hard to find, even easier to believe. What about the rest there is?

    • Enrique

      Method, you make a valid point especially on my criticism of some parts of the PS. But you have to look at it from this perspective: these groups are with their views insulting not only immigrants but those that emigrated from this land, they are telling people like my mother that she made a mistake by marrying my Argentinean father, and they are denying my identity as wellof others to live and have Finland as our home.Despite our tough stance, I would agree that there must be dialogue, which there is a lot of on Migrant Tales. We are ready to debate with anyone their views no matter how surprising they may sound to us.

  49. Mary Mekko

    Enrique, why IS it so important to you that Finland has more and more immigration? Aren’t you happy with Finland just as a place where Finns live? Are you biased against Finns, although you are part Finnish?

    Could it not be interpreted that those who prefer foreigners around them are self-hating Finns, who long for a different way of life, but who refuse to move out of finland to find it?

    In all fairness, I have to admit that when I went to Ireland, on several trips since the 1980’s, staying with relatives and moving around the North and South a lot, I DID find it unsettling that it’s mostly Irish, who look so much like me. Yes, I fit in physically with my hair, eyes, skin and appearance, BUT I didn’t mentally fit in, having been raised in USA. I began to long for a more diverse bunch of people around me in the small towns, not to have everyone spot me as a foreigner due to my clothes, behavior or speech.

    BUT should I say they have to bring in the foreigners (which they since have done) to please me and other Irish who wanted some nonIrish around?

    Why didn’t I just leave?

    Well, I did. I went to Germany and felt fine there, much better than in my parents’ homeland.

    Nowadays, a longing to see Ireland again is just about zero. If I long to get back to Europe, it’s to see friends in Germany, Austria and Scandanavia.

    East Bloc countries interest me, too, to see how they have developed since throwing out the Russians and those long years of horrible occupation. What a transformation since the 1980’s, as I saw it then in Hungary, DDR, Poland and even Russia!

    My point, Enrique: it seems that you are not happy with Finland if it’s just Finns. In that case, may I suggest, perhaps you just won’t every be happy there, no matter how many foreigners are jammed in by the leftist government? Why not come back to California and glory in our multikulti chaos, or at least, try to live in it and not get too irritated at the crime, welfare abuse, harassment of women by the Latinos, crowding, disease and so on.

    I think you left here for a reason: multikulti is too hard to live with.

    Don’t wish it on Finland.

Leave a Reply