National Coalition Party MP Pia Kauma has proven with her victimization of migrant mothers and migrants that prejudices have deep roots. No matter how much you expose an outright lie, your evidence will have little impact because some people are set in their prejudices and beliefs.
Kauma continues to be adamant: She will not apologize for what she said but instead continues to rely on gossip. What is most surprising is that she’s sat eight years on an Espoo municipal committee that sets guidelines for social aid.
The conservative MP says she’s received countless messages of support, even from social workers, about how migrants are given preferential treatment by the social-welfare system. If this is true, the social workers are breaking the law by telling Kauma about their clients since they must abide by a non-disclosure agreement they’ve signed.
Sakari Timonen, one of Finland’s best anti-racism bloggers, writes about the latter (in Finnish) here.
Pekka Myrskylä, a retired manager who worked for Statistics Finland, spoke to Migrant Tales about the latest debate on migrant mothers and baby carriages.
Read Pekka Myrskylä’s blog entry here.
Myrskylä has written a lot about migrants in Finland. In one of his posts published this spring, Myrskylä showed that contrary to popular belief, about 60% of migrants live below the poverty line in this country.
Since they have lower-paying jobs than white Finns, their level of social welfare is lower as well.Instead of relying on gossip and attacking migrant mothers, why doesn’t Kauma get the facts and debate the social problems that arise from living in poverty?
”Why aren’t we debating about how [white] Finns buy alcohol with social aid?” said Myrskylä. ”We instead prefer to talk about migrant mothers and baby carriages.”
Myrskylä said that one of the biggest problems in the ongoing debate on our ever-growing cultural diversity is the lack of information. Statistics Finland doesn’t gather systematic information about the educational level of migrants.
”Since we don’t have such information, there is a general perception that migrants have low educational levels,” he said. ”Some do but many who come from the United States, Russia and Estonia have an educational background.”
UPDATED (14.9): Myrskylä said that one third of the 51,000 people (15-29 years) who don’t have a profession, are unemployed, aren’t enrolled in school and aren’t on maternity leave speak Finnish as a second language. The chances of a migrant being marginalized in Finland is greater than that of a white Finn.
He said that the way migrants are talked about in the media and public in Finland resembles the way Finns were seen in Sweden in the 1970s. Back then, Finns had a questionable reputation and were commonly the source of media and public scorn. Matters started to improve dramatically when the Finnish embassy in Stockholm contacted the editors of the country’s main dailies and held meetings with them on a regular basis.
The late Max Jakobson and Risto Laakkonen played a crucial role in changing the perceptions that the Swedish media had about Finns.
Migrants and diplomatic representatives in Finland should do the same as the Finnish embassy did in Sweden.
MP Kauma is the latest and clearest example that such action is needed now.