It’s the cultural diversity, stupid!

by , under Enrique

Would it be fair to say that the biggest challenge facing Finland during this century is accepting its cultural diversity and deconstructing our white national identity in order to make our society more inclusive? Will this happen easily? 

The central issue being debated in Finland today about immigrants boils down to one question: How much cultural diversity are we willing to accept?

There aren’t any political parties in this country, except for the Perussuomalaiset (PS) and its extremist Suomen Sisu faction, which are openly against white  Finns marrying people of different ethnicities.  Even so, it’s clear that this attitude is quite widespread in our society.

If we’d like to see an even bigger picture of how this works in practice, we could take Cuba’s Fidel Castro example of how he got rid of  his political dissidents by allowing them to flee en masse to neighboring Miami.

Less dissidents, more perceived unity.

Finland has seen over 1.2 million emigrants move mainly to the Americas and Sweden between 1860 and 1999.  Just like Castro, Finland benefited in the same way. Apart from the socialists and communists that fled Finland after the Civil War of 1918, Finland was able to forge unchallenged a social construct like the “noble” white Finn.

It didn’t matter that hundreds of thousands of Finns had moved to other parts of the world and intermarried with other ethnicities. The way Finnish language evolved in Finnish immigrant communities, and how our view of our changing identity changed as a result, interested only a few.

Paradoxically, we wanted our Finnish expats to retain their Finnish culture and identity at all costs. Today, however, we want our immigrants and newcomers to do totally the opposite: Be like us (white Finnish) we tell them. Learn our culture, speak our language adopt our way of life.

Kuvankaappaus 2013-4-11 kello 8.24.30

 

The Finnish Lutheran Church has started to take a strong stand against racism like this story about multicultural families reveals about the discrimination their children face in our society. If there are people who are on the frontline of our ever-growing cultural diversity, they are these exemplary mothers.

Any person who thinks that immigrants don’t want to adapt and succeed in their new homeland know very little about immigration. An unsettling question arises: How can you integrate into a society that doesn’t accept you?

It’s clear that white Finland will not cede much of the high ground to cultural diversity. Expect then the following: lip service about two-way integration but what is really happening is one-way integration (assimilation) in most cases. Wherever two-way integration occurs, it usually happens on a short leash.

A good example of the latter is the following statement I heard from a politician in private. “There is room for immigrants in this country” but “building mosques is out of the question.”

Since it was easy to assimilate “foreigners” in the last century into Finns, it’s a bit more complicated in this century. It was easier in the previous century. All you needed was language, be white, adopt a Finnish surname and substitute your “foreign” background for ardent nationalism.

You’ll need much more than a surname change and a few nationalistic sound bites to be accepted as a Finn with equal rights in this century.

 

 

  1. Joonas

    Sorry if it is there, but I didn’t notice the link to “Vihamielinen äidinmaa” so here it is: http://www.kirkkojakaupunki.fi/artikkelit/vihamielinen-aidinmaa-osa-2

    Especially Laura Temmes’s story made me angry. If some guy would have burned a kid’s face with a cigarette when I was around, I would have probably punch him. Disgusting! I really can’t understand older people who bully KIDS and specially who hurt them physically.

    But I didn’t quite understand why these were such a bad things:

    “En ilahdu kehusta, jonka mukaan pyhäkoulussa laulavalla esikoisellani Samuelilla on ”selvästi rytmi veressä”. Lasteni isä on tummaihoinen, ei rumpali.

    En toivoisi kuulevani, että pojastani kasvaa varmasti ”oikea naistenmies, selvästi isäänsä tullut”. Ei jokainen tumma mies ole gigolo!”

    My sister got same kind of compliments when she was in a dancing school and it didn’t have anything to do with her race. And even I got (among the many other males) this same “oikea naistenmies”- comment when I was a kid.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      Thank you Joonas for providing the link. I placed it in the caption but this will help more readers to access the story.

      It’s a good matter that these types of horrible stories, like the kid who got burned with a cigarette, get published. Moreover, we must show positive examples of those Finns who are championing for greater acceptance and respect. This includes immigrants as well.

      But most racists are cowards. When exposed to usually run and hide.

      Once I was in the center of Helsinki with my daughter or son in my arms. A young man passed me and said under his breath the m-word. I got so pissed off that I followed him ten meters and stopped him.

      “What did you say?” I asked.

      “Nothing.” he said in a cowardly fashion.

    • Farang

      That is a perfect example of made up racism. Inventing racism where there actually isn’t any.

      Even MT is full of examples:

      Saying something to a finn is OK, but saying the exactly same thing to a foreigner is suddenly racism.

    • Mark

      I don’t expect you to understand the subtleties here. In fact, what is guaranteed is that if it has any subjectivity in it at all, you go into denial!

      So, basically you deny that there are any stereotypes about dark-skinned people and rhythm? You deny any sexual stereotypes about black men? They don’t exist in Farang’s world?

      Like I said, racism is not always so blunt as out and out white supremacism. Racism isn’t even about ‘not liking’ blacks. It is about subtle categorising of people based on race or ethnicity. This categorisation undermines a person’s freedom to live as an individual and to be seen as an individual. This is a basic right. Racism is not the only prejudice people have, by any means, but racism has far more serious consequences when taken as a whole than discrimination because you are short.

      Saying something to a finn is OK, but saying the exactly same thing to a foreigner is suddenly racism.

      The issue is not who it was said to but why! At the very least, we should be making an effort to recognise and render obselete racial stereotypes. Refusing to do that also raises questions about why? It is like when whites (I’m talking about you and I, Farang) have to deal with racism, it’s a case of being dragged along kicking and screaming towards a more fair way of treating people.

    • Mark

      Joonas

      But I didn’t quite understand why these were such a bad things:

      They are not as bad, but for immigrants, they reinforce the sense of ‘otherness’ and being seen through your race and not your idividuality. It is very difficult to say if these ‘compliments’ would have been made if the person they refer to was not dark-skinned, but it is clear that blacks are stereotyped such that ‘rhythm’ is seen as a black thing, and that black men are seen as sexual ‘predators’. The point is, if someone said my daughter had ‘good rhythm’, and she was dark-skinned, then perhaps its polite to also point out it has nothing to do with skin colour too. We have to be brave to acknowledge the stereotypes as much as working to avoid them.

    • Farang

      Mark

      So, basically you deny that there are any stereotypes about dark-skinned people and rhythm? You deny any sexual stereotypes about black men? They don’t exist in Farang’s world?

      No, I’m not denying that. But in Finland when someone says “rytmi veressä” it has nothing to do with race or background. Even if there are some stereotypes about black people and rhythm, it doesn’t mean that everytime a comment about rhythm is made to black person, it would have anything to do with any stereotype.

      The point is, if someone said my daughter had ‘good rhythm’, and she was dark-skinned, then perhaps its polite to also point out it has nothing to do with skin colour too.

      And here you are, demanding different treatment for dark-skinned people.

      If your daughter were dancing and someone would see it and say she has good rhythm, it doesn’t require much intelligence to understand the comment was made purely because of the dancing, not because of skin colour.

    • Mark

      Farang

      And here you are, demanding different treatment for dark-skinned people.

      Yes, respectful and sensitive treatment. Something you are incapable of.

    • Farang

      And the above is a perfect example of how an immigrant may THINK that he has experienced racism, while the truth is he just experienced a normal situation in Finland.

      That’s why we need to be cautious whenever an immigrant claims he has experienced racism.

    • Mark

      Farang

      That’s why we need to be cautious whenever an immigrant claims he has experienced racism.

      First things first, after having denied there was any racism in Finland, you have a duty to deal with the more serious cases mentioned.

      Second, you only seek to make insensitivety to issues of race the norm…that is not ‘being cautious’, that is being insensitive. The fact that a person might not mean anything bad with a comment like that doesn’t make it insensitive in light of racial stereotypes. Now if you want to tell me that this person is not AWARE at all about any racial stereotypes about blacks, I would say that is incredibly unlikely. And so the comments should be made in a sensitive way.

      I mean, when you go to a funeral and you stand next to the grieving widow, you don’t say ‘I bet your dying to get this over with!’

      That’s the level of insensitivety we are talking about! Now be a champ and acknowledge it.

  2. Joonas

    Joonas

    They are not as bad, but for immigrants, they reinforce the sense of ‘otherness’ and being seen through your race and not your idividuality. It is very difficult to say if these ‘compliments’ would have been made if the person they refer to was not dark-skinned, but it is clear that blacks are stereotyped such that ‘rhythm’ is seen as a black thing, and that black men are seen as sexual ‘predators’. The point is, if someone said my daughter had ‘good rhythm’, and she was dark-skinned, then perhaps its polite to also point out it has nothing to do with skin colour too. We have to be brave to acknowledge the stereotypes as much as working to avoid them.

    I do get your point, but it still feels little bit oversensitive getting upset about those two comments. I do not believe the person who made the comments was referring to their ethnicity, but of course I can’t be certain about it. Both of those comments can be viewed as compliments, but it can be seen as racism if the person want to see it like that. I think it would make things only worse if the comment was “Samuelilla on selvästi rytmi veressä, mutta tällä en viitaa hänen etniseen taustaansa vaan pelkästään laulutaitoihin” 😛

    I think other stories were good and showed what kind of (real) racism some people have faced in Finland. I know you don’t agree with me, but I think Aino Spence overreacted little bit. Otherwise her story was interesting and showed what kind of things kids with different ethnic background might worry.

    • Mark

      Joonas

      I do get your point, but it still feels little bit oversensitive getting upset about those two comments.

      But that’s also to do with being a parent. A parent is very sensitive about the treatment their children get, and such comments can seem more painful as a result. The other thing we don’t know is how many of these fairly ‘tame’ comments this parent has already heard. This isn’t about blame though, it’s about sensitivity. It would be useful to see racism not just as active hatred, but also in its very mildest forms as a basic insensitivity, to the issues of race.

      But thanks for your comments. I trust your basic integrity on this issue, unlike with those far right political jokers, Farang and Klay!

  3. Farang

    Mark

    And here you are, demanding different treatment for dark-skinned people.

    Yes, respectful and sensitive treatment. Something you are incapable of.

    You dodged the issue of treating them DIFFERENTLY. That is racism.

    Second, you only seek to make insensitivety to issues of race the norm…that is not ‘being cautious’, that is being insensitive. The fact that a person might not mean anything bad with a comment like that doesn’t make it insensitive in light of racial stereotypes. Now if you want to tell me that this person is not AWARE at all about any racial stereotypes about blacks, I would say that is incredibly unlikely. And so the comments should be made in a sensitive way.

    Even if there are stereotypes, it doesn’t mean that they need to be taken in account. If one gives black man a complement of being able to jump high for example in basket ball game, do you really expect that it should be said like this:

    “Wow, you really can jump high, not because you are black but because you just jump high” ???

    • Mark

      Farang

      You dodged the issue of treating them DIFFERENTLY. That is racism.

      What’s to dodge? You think it’s okay to reinforce racial stereotypes actually to the face of immigrants and blacks. I think that people should show some sensitivity to racial issues. If you want to call that people behaving differently, then I have to agree.

  4. Farang

    Mark

    What’s to dodge? You think it’s okay to reinforce racial stereotypes actually to the face of immigrants and blacks. I think that people should show some sensitivity to racial issues. If you want to call that people behaving differently, then I have to agree.

    Rhythm is not a racial issue. Do I need to repeat? Rhythm is not a racial issue.

    • Mark

      Farang

      Rhythm is not a racial issue. Do I need to repeat? Rhythm is not a racial issue.

      Stop patronising me Farang. I’m well aware it’s not a racial issue. The question on the table is whether you or I should be sensitive to racial stereotyping and how. Not only that, but what are people who are the victims of those stereotypes supposed to think when those stereotypes are apparently reinforced with no seeming awareness of the fact that it IS a stereotype?

      Your example about a black man jumping was pretty corny and unrealistic, but it is possible to be sensitive to the issue of stereotypes and still draw attention to rhythm of sporting ability.

      The thing that worries me about you is that you are completely insensitive to the racial issues. Your approach seems to be to ignore them. No wonder you refuse to see any possibility of racism in Finland.

      And you still haven’t said anything about the other examples of concrete racism mentioned in the article, which flatly contradicts your statement earlier today that “racism doesn’t exist in Finland”. No, focus on the grey areas and play with the subjectivity of it all, meanwhile calling immigrants liars, untrustworthy, and priests who report on racism as ‘self-serving career climbers’.

  5. Farang

    Mark

    And you still haven’t said anything about the other examples of concrete racism mentioned in the article, which flatly contradicts your statement earlier today that “racism doesn’t exist in Finland”.

    Those were disgusting incidents. I was only commenting on this one idiotic issue about rhythm, meaning I agree with the others.

    But we need to remember that those are individual cases by individual racists. It still doesn’t mean that Finland as a country has a racism problem.

    • Mark

      Farang

      But we need to remember that those are individual cases by individual racists.

      Yes….and? I have said many times on Migrant Tales that asking whether Finland is a racist country is the wrong question. And here you are basically bending over backwards to put the words in my mouth. I don’t think it’s a useful question. The real question is ‘is there racism in Finland’, to which the obvious answer is yes, despite your pathetic denials to the contrary. The next question is what to do about it…at which point you start flapping around the periphery in search of the most subjective examples of ‘alleged’ racism you can find to prove what? That racism is at times subjective? Well, blow me down with a feather…what would we do without the genius of Farang to keep us on the very straight and narrow?!

      Why are you always bogged down with the ‘right’ answers to the wrong questions, Farang?

    • Farang

      Correct question would be: Is there racism in the world?

      – Yes there is and Finland is no exception.

      There is no more racism in Finland that anywhere else in the world. Therefore it’s quite stupid to even ask if there is racism in Finland.

      We can’t remove racism. If some individual is a racist, that is very difficult to change. Like criminals, some people are just born evil. They don’t stop being criminals just because someone tells them to.

    • Mark

      Farang

      There is no more racism in Finland that anywhere else in the world. Therefore it’s quite stupid to even ask if there is racism in Finland.

      Are you not embarrassed by the fact that every time you open your gob, you reveal just how stupid and uneducated you are?

      Finland has only recently had any significant influx of dark-skinned foreigners. Other countries in Europe have had significant levels of immigration since the 1950s. The UK went from 3000 new arrivals a year in 1953 to nearly 50,000 by 1956 and 136,000 by 1961. Clearly countries like the UK have had nearly sixty years to adjust to a multicultural society. And yet we are still fighting for equality and tolerance, and it is only in the last decade that the UK has actually tackled institutional racism in the police, for example.

      The idea that all countries are somehow ‘equal’ in how they experience and deal with racism is childish and naive beyond belief. There is no excuse for your level of ignorance Farang. You are simply being lazy and dishonest in presenting your ideas without thinking for a second whether there is any truth in them. Rather, you fall back on a one-dimension agenda of ‘deny racism in Finland’ and even when you are forced to admit it, you still try to find a way out of actually dealing with it.

      We can’t remove racism.

      Yes, we can. We can make it socially unacceptable. That is the path other countries have gone down and it has helped enormously.

      If some individual is a racist, that is very difficult to change.

      But change they must! And society has and does change. Otherwise, Finland would still be split into whites and reds and many of us would be trying to slit each other’s throats. Times change. People change. You should change!

  6. Farang

    Mark

    I mean, when you go to a funeral and you stand next to the grieving widow, you don’t say ‘I bet your dying to get this over with!’

    So, when you are caught of giving suggestiong to treat people differently based on their ethnic background or skin colour, you give this kind of example which has nothing to do with either of them.

    In that funeral example you would show the same sensitivity regardless of widows skin colour or background.

  7. Farang

    Mark

    But change they must! And society has and does change. Otherwise, Finland would still be split into whites and reds and many of us would be trying to slit each other’s throats. Times change. People change. You should change!

    You can’t force someone to not be a racist. It is everyones human right to be a racist if they want to.

    Do you really want a totalitarian state where people are told what they can think?

    Why should I change? There is nothing in me that should be changed.

    • Mark

      Why do you always always always go to the extreme? There are alternatives to ‘forcing’ people to not be a racist. And no, it is not a ‘right’ to be a racist where that racism results in actions against minorities. But of course, you hold to the notion that people have beliefs but are completely inconsistent in that they NEVER act on them.

      Do you really want a totalitarian state where people are told what they can think?

      No. Do you really want a totalitarian state in which no-one can talk about racism without having their character assassinated?

      Why should I change? There is nothing in me that should be changed.

      What are you, a corpse?

  8. Farang

    Why should I change?

    And let me ask you another question. As you claim that Halla-aho is a racist, how could you make him not be a racist anymore?

    • Mark

      You should change because you want your children to grow up in a peaceful and tolerant world. Or maybe you have some notion that Europe will one day be ‘lily white’ again?

      I very much doubt that J-Ha will change his views drastically. The issue is therefore how to marginalise him so that he doesn’t have free reign to brainwash impressionable people with his fake academic credentials and his extremist cultural supremacism.

    • Farang

      You still failed to answer: HOW should I change? What does changing ME have to do with “peaceful and tolerant world”?

      And what comes to Halla-aho, it seems that you have fascist ideas you want to enforce. You want to discriminate people based on their opinions.

    • Mark

      Farang

      You still failed to answer: HOW should I change? What does changing ME have to do with “peaceful and tolerant world”?

      This is not a conversation I’m going to have with you. You could start by opening your eyes to the very real harm that comes with racism in Finland and rather than denying it at every turn, you could reach out to the people affected. Instead, you bitch about people who talk about racism, defend people who practice racism and pretend that racism doesn’t exist in Finland. You are a waste of my time.

      You want to discriminate people based on their opinions.

      Yes, I do. But that isn’t fascist, Farang. Being able and free to discriminate on the basis of political views is part of the democratic process. Our key discrimination comes through our ability to vote and to campaign on a platform. As a private citizen, I exercise my right to criticise the political platform that J-Ha stands on. That’s hardly fascism. Likewise, calling on other people to take away his political power and marginalise him is not the act of a fascist.

      Controlling art, scapegoating immigrants and minorities, building a sense of ‘ultra-nationalism’, these are the tactics of a fascist. We need look no further than PS and Suomen Sisu for that kind of behaviour.

    • Farang

      Mark

      This is not a conversation I’m going to have with you. You could start by opening your eyes to the very real harm that comes with racism in Finland and rather than denying it at every turn, you could reach out to the people affected.

      This is exactly what I have done. I haven intervened when I have seen situations where someone has been racistly attacked. I have told you this many times before, why do you ignore it?

      As an ordinary citizen I can’t do anything to stop racism somewhere where I am not present. I can only act in places where I am present.

      As a private citizen, I exercise my right to criticise the political platform that J-Ha stands on.

      Yes, but you need to accept that other people can do exactly the opposite. They are free to promote people like Halla-aho and get more voters for him and people like him.

      Controlling art

      Now you are mistaken. Nobody is trying to control art. Everyone is free to do whatever art with their own expense. Is is only sensible to remove all public funding from art which is crap.

    • Mark

      Farang

      This is exactly what I have done. I haven intervened when I have seen situations where someone has been racistly attacked. I have told you this many times before, why do you ignore it?

      Because you are too busy telling us that there is NO racism in Finland. You wrote this only yesterday:

      There is effectively no racism in Finland

      Except the racism that you, hero that you are, personally deal with, eh?!

      Yes, but you need to accept that other people can do exactly the opposite.

      And what makes you think that I don’t? The only issue here is that people obey the law on hate speech, which is supposed to protect citizens.

      Is is only sensible to remove all public funding from art which is crap.

      What is crap? All art or just the art that you think shouldn’t be funded? Actually, Jussi specifically wants the government to support strictly ‘nationalist’ art! Only the fascists ever tried to do that. While many would recognise the value of traditional art, modern art is itself an artistic expression with as much value as traditional art. The idea of the fascist PS and Suomen Sisu is to turn government funding of art into a propoganda tool for their political views on ‘traditionalism’. It is you who are mistaken. Again.

    • Farang

      Actually, Jussi specifically wants the government to support strictly ‘nationalist’ art!

      Well, that is one thing that I don’t agree with Halla-aho.

      What comes to racism, here is a very good example of racism:

      http://www.hs.fi/ulkomaat/Facebook-kuva+nosti+kiivaan+keskustelun+Ranskan+homovihasta/a1365653444815

      What Helsingin Sanomat does is purely racist. They use that story to somehow claim that there is some problem in Europe against gays, while the truth is that this is a problem caused by multiculturalism.

      And this is one proof that multiculturalism will never work. It is not working in any of the European countries and it never will. Some cultures just are not compatible with each other, therefore there will always be conflicts.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –What comes to racism, here is a very good example of racism:

      Farang, homophobia isn’t racism it’s homophobia, intolerance and other terrible things.

      Racism has to do with ethnic and/or racial background. In simple English it means that you are being discriminated because of your ethnic background. Certainly racism can be a component if the victim was assaulted because of his ethnic and gay background.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –And this is one proof that multiculturalism will never work.

      Then we’re doomed. How are you going to live in cultural diversity? Are you suggesting some “final solutionW to kick out everyone who is different?

    • Mark

      Nonsense! Yawn, yawn, yawn.

      Go and live in London for ten years! Idiot!

    • Farang

      Mark

      Nonsense! Yawn, yawn, yawn.
      Go and live in London for ten years! Idiot!

      Funny that you mention London as it is one of the biggest problem centers, with enormous amount of violence, unrest and unsafety caused by multiculturalism. This is already admitted by the leaders of the country.

    • Mark

      Rubbish. Stop reading political propoganda and mistaking it for some kind of ‘truth’.

      Like I said, go and live there for a decade. You’ll see that this is not an issue of multiculturalism at all. It is a political issue, and more and more so. Cameron was trying to stop his party leaking votes to the UKIP and even the BNP and so shifted his party’s policy rhetoric further to the right!

      In fact, he specifically attacks ‘state multiculturalism’, meaning that somehow because the state is not actively pushing ‘nationalism’ (this lack of nationalism is partly what you calls ‘state multiculturalism’), it therefore leaves a vacuum into which radicals and extremists flood. This entirely ignores geopolitical problems, i.e. British involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan, which have far more to do with radicalisation in Britain than a lack of ‘national identity’. Likewise, he has said that with the “doctrine of state multiculturalism, different cultures have been encouraged to live separate lives.” This is total political hogwash. There has been no ‘state policy’ of ‘separate lives’. The simple fact is that the government have allowed in refugees and asylum seekers and not properly funded services to help them properly integrate. I know, because it was organisations like mine and others working in the third sector in London that used to make up the shortfall, providing voluntary-based and free services to recently arrived immigrants!

      Also, Cameron specifically attacked Muslims in his speech about multiculturalism for not doing enough to tackle extremists and said absolutely nothing about the rise in popularity of the UKIP or BNP. While I agree that ALL extremism should be opposed, I find it strange that the Prime Minister would choose to be so selective in his criticism! But then he’s a Tory. And this is a political strategy, not a genuine attempt to fix problems. It’s about votes.

      It was left to Labour MP Gavin Shuker to ask if it was wise for Mr Cameron to make the speech on the same day the English Defence League were staging a major protest in his constituency.

      I do agree with Cameron on his approach to extremist Islamic groups and I think this applies to the fascists too, that we should not “engage with [these] organisations”.

      The unrest in London is not caused by multiculturulism, you idiot. Go and live there. It would be very educational for you!

    • Farang

      The simple fact is that the government have allowed in refugees and asylum seekers and not properly funded services to help them properly integrate.

      So, here we have a good example why we shouldn’t allow refugees and asylum seekers in before the integration problems have been solved.

      Why should we repeat the same mistake in Finland?

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –Why should we repeat the same mistake in Finland?

      It has been done many times over. The election victory of the PS in 2011 is a good example of how unprepared Finland is and how it will commit now as in the future big mistakes when it comes to living in a culturally diverse society.

      Cultural diversity is a fact. No matter how much you kick and bitch about it, it is here and will remain. Learn to live with it.

    • Mark

      Farang

      So, here we have a good example why we shouldn’t allow refugees and asylum seekers in before the integration problems have been solved.

      And what do you think are the problems?

    • Farang

      Problems are that we can’t get the immigrants to be part of society.

      1. if they don’t learn the language, it’ll be difficult to get a job -> how could we get them to participate?

      2. when they learn the language, there are still some prejudice and employers tend to not hire them if there are also finnish applicants

      3. it’s easier for immigrants to just stay with other people with same ethnic background, therefore it creates a situation where finnish and immigrants are just living separated

      4. our welfare system is so good that actually immigrants are getting quite good benefits so that they manage to get good living even without going to work. Taking in account the difficulties I mentioned above, why should they bother to put up with that shit in order to get a job, when they can manage to live even without a job.

      So as a summary: As you know, I have always been in favour of one way integration, meaning that it should be the immigrant who takes all the responsibility of his/her integration. Now that I finally gave some thought about this, I noticed that it can’t happen without the participation of finns aswell.

      But how can we get finns to put effort in this?

      In my personal life, basically all immigrants that I am in contact with, are those who came here to work, not as refugees or asylum seekers. Therefore the problems are not present among these people. It’s even quite normal that I communicate with them in english and they are also able to use english in work.

      So, why is it that so many employers demand the finnish language skills even while the person would be totally capable of working using english?

      Attitude might be the key element here…

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –So as a summary: As you know, I have always been in favour of one way integration, meaning that it should be the immigrant who takes all the responsibility of his/her integration.

      This is antiquated and anti-constitutional. It runs against our values as a society.

      Here’s the interesting question: How do you make one-way integration work? Could you give us some constructive examples of how this would happen. Try to generalize as less as possible.

    • Mark

      Farang

      It makes a change to see you actually giving some thought to this topic…and no surprise to see you start to concede some important points about integration must inevitably be ‘two-way’.

      1. if they don’t learn the language, it’ll be difficult to get a job -> how could we get them to participate?

      2. when they learn the language, there are still some prejudice and employers tend to not hire them if there are also finnish applicants

      Finnish language courses are a joke! Why in this day and age there is not a more comprehensive and flexible package for learning Finnish, I don’t know. There are no excuses really. I know that the Education Ministry has a new project on the go, due to come online soon, and that it is hoped to be a resource for local language planners and teachers. But let’s see if people have to pay to access it, for one thing. And second, it appears to merely shift many of the classroom resources ‘online’, which is not really helping. While there are several language courses available for beginners, from intermediate level onwards, there is an absolute dearth of decent materials to work with. The assumption is that you do not have to address the L1 of any of the immigrants, while there is a reluctance to make use of English as people’s most common L2 as an intermediate. So you get Finnish language teaching books written entirely in Finnish. A joke! The work is for some people, completely inaccessible.

      It is common knowledge that the language employers expect is in very many cases, way to high compared to the language demands in the job itself. In other words, language is used as an excuse to hide obvious prejudice. That is something that needs tackling by tackling the attitudes of prejudice in the populace head on.

      3. it’s easier for immigrants to just stay with other people with same ethnic background, therefore it creates a situation where finnish and immigrants are just living separated

      Segregation can happen for several reasons that are not anything to do with immigrants themselves. Hostility from the host nation, white flight, and services being concentrated in specific geographical and administrative areas in order to maximise value for money for the taxpayer. So while there is a responsibility on the immigrant to reach out and take part in the community, beyond other ‘internationals’, this issue is once again like the issue of employment and langauge, an a matter of ‘two-way’ integration. Likewise, if people are treated as if their home culture was worthless and the only thing that mattered in Finland was ‘being Finnish’, this is effectively a very extreme form of cultural hostility. With such hostility, I would expect ‘integration’ to be largely a failure and segregation to be the norm.

      4. our welfare system is so good that actually immigrants are getting quite good benefits so that they manage to get good living even without going to work. Taking in account the difficulties I mentioned above, why should they bother to put up with that shit in order to get a job, when they can manage to live even without a job.

      You didn’t offer any kind of solution here. Second, you also didn’t make the connection with points 1 and 2 already made, that if Finns do not give foreigners jobs for whatever reason, then it’s all too easy to blame foreigners for ‘sucking on the welfare teat!’ It is a complete myth to say that people are happy to live on welfare. Apart from a small minority, this is never the case. People want work because it is essential to their dignity. Of course, if you make strenuous efforts to remove all dignity that comes with being an immigrant in Finland, then perhaps we would increase the likelihood of this kind of dependent behaviour.

      The issue though is also one of poverty, and this applies equally to natives and immigrants. Reducing benefits increases poverty. Poverty is a trap: the more severe it is, the more difficult it is to get out of it. That is a lesson that’s been hammered home to all political administrations for many decades now. If the very poor benefit system worked as a means of protecting against poverty, it would have been discovered already by now and minimum subsistence guarantees would not exist. In those countries where guarantees are very difficult, problems of a deprived underclass, with its high crime, poor environment, poor prospects and social disease abound.

      Your solution takes us in the wrong direction, Farang. Not only that, but it strips people’s dignity away, increases their inesecurity and for what, if the jobs are simply not available. You must focus on growing the economy so that jobs are available, not focus on stripping the benefit system of it’s ‘supportive’ capacity, because that is just digging a dirty great big social pit and allowing people to fall into it.

    • Farang

      It could work only if all the immigrants were active enough to overcome all the problems by themselves.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –It could work only if all the immigrants were active enough to overcome all the problems by themselves.

      The issue is that we are already living in a culturally diverse society and in a globalized world. Those are facts we have to live with. When you say that multiculturalism doesn’t work, what do you mean? I only see a complaint but no solutions.

      So the question should be to find proactive solutions on how to live and grow together.

      The whole discourse by anti-immigration groups is full of rhetoric as you know. It assumes that immigrants are as a group imperfect, a problem, and that so-called natives are perfect and have no problems. The whole aim of their message is simple no matter where they come from: You are so different from us and therefore you cannot live here. It’s the same message used by anti-immigration groups today and in the past.

      How can a group integrate and be part of society if people loathe you?

      Do you see the fallacy in the argument?

  9. Farang

    Enrique

    When you say that multiculturalism doesn’t work, what do you mean? I only see a complaint but no solutions.

    Let’s say we have two different cultures, which differ so much that other culture has elements which are not acceptable in the other culture. Now, if these two cultures would be mixed together, it would mean that other culture or both would need to change. And unless they want to change, they can’t be compatible and will generate problems.

    Now, who is allowed to say some group that they are forced to change their culture?

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –Let’s say we have two different cultures, which differ so much that other culture has elements which are not acceptable in the other culture.

      How do you think people in our society get along even if there are differences? Acceptance, respect, equal opportunities…are just a few ways of doing it.

      Concepts like kulturkampf and leibensraum was used by the Nazi regime to justify their persecution of Jews and other groups. It has no validity like many Nazi pseudoscience promoted at the time. In the first place, there is no such thing as one culture. Cultures are complex and fragmented; people have free will. Those views are long dead and have been refuted over and over again by science.

      If you want to read about this, check out Margaret Mead and her national character studies.

      If you create a racist society you are going to have a lot of “us” and “them.” However, if we promote tolerance,acceptance and respect it is then a different story. The best way to integrate people is by offering them opportunities.

    • Farang

      How do you think people in our society get along even if there are differences? Acceptance, respect, equal opportunities…are just a few ways of doing it.

      Yes, but those are not the problem.

      Problems are those situations where some issue is common and normal in culture a, but is considered illegal in culture b.

      Those problems can’t be solved by acceptance. Those situation will be solven only if other culture changes.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –Problems are those situations where some issue is common and normal in culture a, but is considered illegal in culture b.

      Give me an example, please.

      –Those problems can’t be solved by acceptance. Those situation will be solven only if other culture changes.

      Apart from being an immigrant all my life, I have studied Finnish immigration to Argentina. I started in 1977. The same things you speak of can be seen with the Finns of Argentina. I could argue that they “didn’t want to integrate” because they lived in an isolated colony. Finns that went there were happy that they didn’t integrate because this allowed them to be Finnish. Sounds familiar?

      Why didn’t Finns integrate and become Catholics? Why were they so slow in learning how to speak Spanish? Why did some never learn to speak Spanish?

      Any group that thinks it has the high ground to dictate what others should do is going to run into problems. See European history for a start. It’s full of tragic examples of the latter like what happened in the former Yugoslavia recently. These so-called “problems” won’t be solved by intolerance. What you’ll foster is violence and strife, which have their roots in intolerance.

      So if the problems (are they that?) cannot be solved by acceptance, what are you suggesting? Something unconstitutional like one-way integration and forcing people to throw away their identity?

      The hundreds of thousands of Finns would be mighty pissed off at you for suggesting. No first-generation immigrant group has ever assimilated (one-way integration) like you suggest. That’s pure fantasy. It never happened and never will.

    • Mark

      Farang

      Now, who is allowed to say some group that they are forced to change their culture?

      I don’t think an extra time slot at the local swimming bath is really classed in the ‘forced to change their culture’ category of historical totalitarianism, Farang.

      The last time we asked you about this, you came up with a load of nonsense about marrying more than one woman (though in the West, having more than one lover appears to be a very common practice!), pork alternatives on menus and swimming pools times.

      The truth is that when push comes to shove, Finns are not in the least bit threatened, unless you want to cling to the idea that you can travel to work on the bus or metro and have the ‘cultural luxury’ of only seeing white people or obvious Scandanavians/slavs. In which case, let’s call this for what it is, racism!

  10. Farang

    Mark

    The last time we asked you about this, you came up with a load of nonsense about marrying more than one woman (though in the West, having more than one lover appears to be a very common practice!),

    Don’t you see that your argument is equivalent with saying “Let’s make stealing legal, because there are lots of people stealing anyway”.

    I wouldn’t mind if there was possibility to have many wives, as long as women would have the same right to have many husbands.

    But key is here: In muslim culture only a man can have many wives, not other way around. That is incompatible as in Finland we have same rights for both sexes.

    This means that when muslims come to Finland, they need to change, or we need to change. Either way, one part need to change their culture in order for multiculture to work. Therefore in multicultural environment, no culture can be what it really is, therefore multiculture is actually restricting culture and destroying it eventually.

    • Farang

      So, as time passes, this new culture which is mixed from all the others, will become a norm. But meanwhile, during the change, people will naturally oppose the change, therefore causing conflicts.

      We should be honest and instead of calling it multiculture, we should call it melting the cultures together as something new.

      There are lots of things in muslim culture that I would be happy to take and replace something in Finnish culture. Like the Finnish style of consuming alcohol. That is not good for anyone, there’s something to learn from muslims.

    • Mark

      Farang

      We should be honest and instead of calling it multiculture, we should call it melting the cultures together as something new.

      I actually agree in part with this. Much of what we seek to label ‘multiculture’ is just ‘culture’. Many of the issues about people seeing something differently already exist within what we know as culture. The difference is the skin-colour of the people who might be looking for better advocacy or recognition of their cultural needs.

      There are lots of things in muslim culture that I would be happy to take and replace something in Finnish culture. Like the Finnish style of consuming alcohol. That is not good for anyone, there’s something to learn from muslims.

      Indeed that is true. At the same time, it is a myth to think that Muslims in the West are mostly teetotal.

    • Mark

      Farang

      Don’t you see that your argument is equivalent with saying “Let’s make stealing legal, because there are lots of people stealing anyway”.

      I did not make that argument at all. I merely pointed out the moral hypocracy in thinking that ‘marriage’ or even monogomous relationships are a consistent cultural norm, even in Finland. While monogomy is viewed positively, it is by no means universally practiced. As for as I know, no-one is advocating for multiple marriages in Finland for Muslims or Mormons or anyone else. However, if they did advocate for that, this is their democratic right, and I hardly see how exercising democracy in this way undermines Finnish culture.

      This means that when muslims come to Finland, they need to change, or we need to change.

      Only 1-3% of Muslims practice polygyny Farang. As it is, the issue in Finland in regard to being gay and being married is a matter where a lot of Finns are being asked to change their attitudes or at least, to allow other people to practice their own view of ‘marriage’ and be recognised as ‘equal’ citizens. The idea that Finnish society has not faced these kinds of cultural questions or pressures for change until the Muslims came along is of course, totally false.

      Either way, one part need to change their culture in order for multiculture to work. Therefore in multicultural environment, no culture can be what it really is therefore multiculture is actually restricting culture and destroying it eventually.

      First, your notion of ‘change’ needs to be unpacked. If gays are allowed to marry with full rights, for example, this isn’t asking the whole population to become gay. So the ‘change’ we are talking about is allowing consenting adults to practice their own sexual preference and to enjoy loving relationships that are recognised equally with heterosexual relationships. For anyone who isn’t gay, the changes are minimal, the direct impact almost non-existent. In other words, ‘change’ can mean as little as allowing other people who are different simply to have equal rights.

      Second, in a multicultural environment, effort is made to recognise the different needs of different ethnic populations and to cater as best one can within economic constraints for those different needs. As this is ALREADY a key principle throughout public services today, there is no fundamental change in perspective or practice. A recognition of different people having different needs is just an absolute fundamental these days! The idea that catering for diversity in a population means no-one gets anything is just completely baseless. The outcome in reality is that people get more, and they get it in a way that is more tailored and effective as a result.

      Third, multiculture represents also a situation in which cultures intermarry, where younger generations are subject to a different and mixed set of values and where intergenerational tension and conflict can arise. It is exactly the same thing that happened during the 1960s, when young people wanted to mould society in a new, more open, more tolerant, more experimental way. The older generations thought the world was going to rot. These ‘social challenges’ are to a great extent the norm, Farang. Your view that somehow there is this endless peace and tranquility on the cultural landscape that is suddenly ruptured by the situation of multicultural forces is plainly false.

    • Farang

      Mark

      First, your notion of ‘change’ needs to be unpacked. If gays are allowed to marry with full rights, for example, this isn’t asking the whole population to become gay.

      Yes.

      I didn’t say that all changes are bad. Some changes might be good.

    • Mark

      Farang

      I didn’t say that all changes are bad. Some changes might be good.

      Fair enough. But more importantly, I object to the idea that the ‘norm’ is a situation of ‘no change’. Complaining about the challenges or potential social and cultural changes that come with a multicultural society is like objecting to society at all; there are always cultural and social pressures WITHIN any SINGLE culture.

      I’m not saying that multicultural societies are ‘tension free’. I’m saying that these challenges are not especially different to other ‘cultural challenges’ that take place within cultures as opposed to between cultures.

      It is the choice of PS to think about these social forces as acting between cultures, and thereby to create a schism, whereas in reality, these challenges already take place within any culture and so the ‘between’ element exaggerates the sense of ‘difference’ and the sense of challenge or threat from change.

    • Farang

      Fair enough. But more importantly, I object to the idea that the ‘norm’ is a situation of ‘no change’.

      But as I said, even with the change the changed situation will eventually become a new ‘norm’ 🙂

      And as we have seen, people tend to oppose a change, even when they have no idea how the change would even affect their life 🙂 And that’s what causes conflicts.

      We have seen this even among Finns, with absolutely no impact from immigrants. Like gay marriage. Lots of people oppose that even while it would make absolutely no difference in their own lifes.

    • Mark

      Farang

      We have seen this even among Finns

      Yes, that kind of was my point. 🙂

      But there are other examples too of social issues that have challenged and sometimes divided Finns and politicians…

      disability issues (accessability and rights)
      drinking habits (repeated efforts to ‘change’ Finnish drinking habits)
      food habits (Finland had the highest rate of heart disease in the world in the 1980s)
      drug use (cannabis legalisation)
      gender equality (still ongoing)
      political accountability (regional autonomy has been both a prize and a burden, leading to many conflicts and political difficulties)
      mental health (women were sectioned for PMS symptoms as late as the 1950s; even today, depression is only just beginning to be properly dealt with, and stigmatisation remains high)
      industrialisation (switched from egrarian society to industrialised society quite late by European standards – massive social upheavals in Finland)

      Multiculture is typically an issue of culture. It is about ‘enabling’ policies that tackle the potential precursors or causes of poverty and depravation. The ingredients for these are there for all to see in immigrant populations, exacerbated by discrimination or difficulties in integration. Yet without a doubt, Finland can and would benefit from increased labour input, i.e. more workers. The issue is to properly prepare and smooth the process of transition for immigrants.

      Integration is not and should not be a process of ‘washing’ the immigrant so that they are ‘clean’ enough to live in Finnish society. That approach is abhorrent. Integration is a process of transition, of providing an enabling environment that allows people to develop new skills and make use of existing skills. The key thing is to provide opportunity – to learn the language, to train if necessary, to understand the working culture in Finland, to access people who have already made the transition successfully.

      The state is not used to holding people’s hand through this kind of process, but really, providing flexible and effective language training is the absolute key to this. Time and again we come back to language as being the key that opens the door. And yet language teaching of Finnish appears like a closed shop to foreigners.

      Finns writing courses for foreigners written entirely in Finnish, where the level of comprehension needed to participate is already so high that you actually don’t need the course. You’ve either got total immersion at a level that is inaccessible, or you have very basic level studies and materials that are unfortunately built on ‘classic’ Finnish and are fairly useless for everyday communications.

      The thing that is missing is putting the immigrant at the centre of an enabling environment, rather than simply putting him at the centre of the responsibility, i.e. this ‘integration plan’ that they are required to sign off on. It is all about what the immigrant must do and very little about what can be done for the immigrant, short of putting a roof over their head and food on the table.

      For the kids, they can make progress through school, but for adults, there are some serious obstacles.

      If I was the Finnish government, I would construct a very comprehensive learning software program, with great flexibility and functionality, load it onto cheap Android tablets and give them away to immigrants when they enter the country. They would be loaded with information and resources, written in the major languages of those immigrating and Finnish/Swedish and English. The software could prepare from the very bottom up. It would have the plan built into the software, a diary and even a feeback and recording mechanism so that progress could be charted. There should at no point be a gap where the immigrant is left wondering ‘what the hell now’!

      Software could be updated over the air, to keep up to date and to add new functionality. It could be ‘plugged into’ in a modular way by local authorities or learning institutions to feed further resources and materials to their local immigrant population. It would be net enabled with free access (with limited bandwidth if necessary). It could act as a ‘digital passport’ to speed up administrative integration and processing. It could also be a portal for cultural news for foreigners, both about things going on in Finland and about their own immigrant communities in Finland.

      Now that is a Finnish-style solution! Modern, integrated and high-tech. 🙂

    • Mark

      Indeed, the tablet device could be a conduit for all sorts of useful information. If the worker already has training, then information on that sector could be made directly available to the device, showing the process of registration or re-training. It is a common complaint for educated professionals outside the EU that the registration process is complicated and information lacking.

      Rather than force the immigrant to go in search of information, through many channels – information could be targeted directly to the immigrant, partly based on their current status and professional training.

    • Mark

      If tablets are lost or broken, then immigrants should pay for the replacement, on a payment plan if necessary. A small IT department could look after the maintenance and repair of tablets, updating of software and also, importantly, be a point of call for feedback from immigrants themselves about what information they have or don’t have.

      The key thing that holds all this software together is a ‘map’ of the integration process. This mind map would be a schema of all the many different dimensions of the integration process, from labour exchange, police authorities, health authorities to educational authorities. It would have built in dictionaries, browsers that have built in translation capacities (already Android has much of this).

      Forms could be uploaded to devices by different authorities, when they need to obtain information.

      Welcome to Finland, welcome to the 21st Century, and welcome to integration the effective way!

      Finland really could lead the world. If various authorities and charities in the third world can work to provide a tablet to aid development goals, then why couldn’t Finland do it to aid integration goals?

Leave a Reply