A study by the Ombudsman of Minorities in Finland reveals that over two thirds of Finnish Roma that were surveyed said they had experienced discrimination in the past year, according to a Migrant Tales story published Sunday. While these types of studies are needed and are highly important, they continue to remind us of a disturbing fact: racism is still alive and kicking in this country.
Read full story here.
While the bad news is that racism is a social issue in this country, the good news is that it is being challenged by migrants and minorities like the Roma.
One of the most important matters to keep in mind when looking at a social ill like racism is that it’s messy and expensive business.
Apart from squandering human resources and opportunities, racism and bigotry usually serve people with low self-esteem, lazy journalists, unjust power structures, greedy and opportunistic politicians from populist parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* that have built their political careers by spreading hatred and prejudices of other groups.
Even if some parties like the PS claim to be “patriotic” because they want us to believe that they are serving the country’s best interests by spreading intolerance, they are actually the biggest menace to our society. Maintaining high unemployment by victimizing certain groups costs tax-payers an arm and a leg.
One of the many examples of the hatred and suspicion that politicians spread about migrants is Mäntyharju PS councilwoman Tanja Hartonen-Pulkka, who writes that Finland will no longer be Finland because at this rate white Finns will be a minority in their country.
Economist Paul Krugman wrote recently in a New York Times opinion piece how inequality was a drag and how it was a drag on economic growth He writes:
Specifically, if you look systematically at the international evidence on inequality, redistribution, and growth — which is what researchers at the I.M.F. did — you find that lower levels of inequality are associated with faster, not slower, growth.
Thus if racism fosters economic and social inequality, we should take effective steps to challenge it. We shouldn’t be reading about surveys like the one by the Ombudsman for Minorities, but hopefully in the future how such cases have plummeted.
One reason why we are still very much in denial about intolerance is because those who have power still do too little to tackle the problem for a simple reason: It doesn’t affect them directly. Thus racism and social exclusion could be seen as a stalemate where those are hostile to you still haven’t figured out how to banish you altogether.
Certainly one of the biggest fallacies about integration, or two-way adaption, is that it actually happens on a wide scale. Certainly this type of discourse serves the interests of the majority culture.
A good example of the latter was a retired teacher I spoke to about two years ago. The person, who claimed to be an expert on “multiculturalism,” complained to me about the Muslim religion. I asked: “What are you offering in return for their religion? Our hatred and suspicion?
Our society has still a long way to go before it begins to respect cultural and ethnic diversity. In this task, migrants and minorities must do much more these days to represent themselves and challenge the very structures that encourage assimilation and only speak of integration as an ideal.
Finland has the means but do we have the will?
* 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.