If there is a party pooper in this year’s centenary celebrations it’ll be ourselves: the politicians, the urban tales, prejudices, racism and suspicion that has raised its head with ease in Finland as of late.
The names and the parties of these killjoys are well known to us: President Sauli Niinistö, the Jussi Halla-aho crowd of the Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, ministers like Paula Risikko, Center Party Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, white Social Democrats and socialists, Migri (Finnish Immigration Service), bigoted groups like Suomi Ensin, Suomen Sisu and a long list of others.
Like the United States under Donald Trump and post-Brexit Europe, Finland too has seen the rise of a hostile political force called populism. Like a cancer, it spreads scapegoating migrants and minorities. Populism always fails and ends in disaster because it offers simple unworkable solutions to complex problems. It’s like offering a terminally ill cancer patient aspirin to relieve the pain.
One of the official logos of Finland’s centenary celebrations.
What happens when a government and country starts to believe in its own prejudices? For one, it causes unneeded suffering on people.
Take for instance one of the government’s favorite justification for tightening immigration policy: pull factors like social welfare. But is that the real reason why asylum seekers come to Europe?
Studies have shown that it’s not the main cause. Many asylum seekers come from countries where there is no social welfare and therefore don’t have a clear idea what it is. If social welfare was the main pull factor, why do some migrants go to the United Kingdom, where there is lower social welfare than France which is more generous?
Want to know what real factors bring a fraction, yes a fraction, of asylum seekers to Europe. Check this video out by Migration Matters.
One of the most ignorant and populist claims parroted by some politicians is that asylum seekers should be taken care of in camps near their home countries. Interior Minister Risikko, who should know better, reinforced this misconception when she visited a Suomi Ensi gathering last week.
But let’s set the record straight.
Since migration is a south-south phenomenon, most asylum seekers do remain in refugee camps near their countries. Finland took in during 2015 and 2016 about 38,000 asylum seekers. Countries like Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, Chad, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo below accepted 11,799,200 refugees.
The percentage of 38,000 out of 11,799,200 is only 0.322%! So why is Finland crying and why are people like Minister Risikko agreeing with racist bigots that refugees should be taken care of near their countries?
Shameful and purposeful ignorance.
As far as I am concerned, the hardline policies of the government and the anti-immigration atmosphere have ruined my taste for Finland’s centenary.
I won’t be celebrating in 2017 but actively challenging those who are destroying this country and those rights enshrined in our constitutions and in our laws.
* The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We, therefore, prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings. The direct translation of “Perussuomalaiset” is “basic” or “fundamental Finn.”