Can an immigration policy of country take us on the right societal path if it hinges on suspicion of other groups? With the April 2011 elections nearing, some are asking if a big election victory for the anti-immigration True Finns will take us down the same questionable path as Denmark, which has the tightest immigration controls in the European Union.
Does Finland have the potential of turning into a Denmark? Wandering down such a path would be a perilous mistake because basing an immigration policy solely to exclude one group would lay down the foundations for failure.
In many respects the rise of xenophobia in Finland is self-inflicted. While great improvements have been made in teaching and accepting cultural diversity at schools, racist views of other cultures and ethnic groups still prevail because they were/are actively promoted.
This picture (apologies for the racist content) which was used before in books to teach children to claims: The Negro washes his face but it does not whiten at all.
There are many sad examples of how racist ideas have entered the minds of Finns from the backdoor. Here is an excerpt from a book on “European races”* published in 1929 by Professor Rolf Nordenstreng:
You cannot expect exceptional children from a Gypsy horse thief and a light-minded Negro wife; but I have heard that French fur traders, who were excellent men that took as wives the Indian chiefs’ daughters, bred splendid children…*
Unfortunately, too many in Finland and Europe still see other cultures with the help of antiquated and racist concepts taught not too long ago. If we do not study today directly Nordenstreng or one of the eugenics master minds of Nazi racial policy, Eugen Fischer, their ludicrous claims of “different races” still live deep inside some of us.
Education, therefore, has to and must play a key role in how we model new Finns irrespective of their background to be the defenders of our values. If we do not face racism and grab it by the horns, our xenophobia will always be self-inflicted and destructive.
* Rolf Nordenstreng: “Euroopan ihmisrodut ja kansat.” Kustannusosakeyhtiö Kirja. Helsinki 1929. p. 48. The original Finnish text reads: Mustalainen hevosvarkaan ja heikkomielisen neekerivaimon lapsista ei voi odottaa juuri erinomiaisia; mutta olen kuullut sanottavan, että ranskalaiset turkismetsästäjät, jotka olivat oivia poikia ja ottivat vaimoikseen intiaanipäälliköiden tyttäriä, saivat mainioita jälkeläisiä.