Saving one life, one refugee from Syria, IS important

by , under Enrique

Arguing that accepting a few hundred refugees from Syria is not important because it is a drop in the bucket, is an outrageous statement made by Jussi Halla-aho, Vesa-Matti Saarakkala and others. The other point they are trying to drive home, that these people will be a burden on Finland, exposes their loathing and ignorance.

How many refugees can you name in history that fled to other countries and became model members of their new home countries? One of these was Albert Einstein, who fled Nazi Germany, a racist regime that rose to power by scapegoating minorities like Jews.

The argument, that refugees are a burden, is an insult to all the refugees of the world. Only an extreme egoist, who lacks feelings for the suffering of others, can make such a point.

These types of intolerant arguments are the same as those made constantly by anti-immigration and far-right politicians to drive home their point.

If you dissect their arguments, they are nothing more than typical anti-immigration sound bites spread with the help of the Finnish media, which gives them inflated respectability and importance.

Using such arguments to influence refugee and immigration policy, we could similarly ask why did Raoul Wallenberg or Oscar Schindler save tens of thousands of Jews if millions were murdered in Nazi concentration camps?

Stating that saving lives is futile because there are so many and makes no difference is similar to a racist trying to convince you that it is useless to oppose intolerance because nothing can be done.

If you accept that ludicrous argument, you have lost the war.

Saving one person is valuable and important.

If you disagree, why not ask the victims fleeing war and death.

  1. PS voter

    I think that it is a bit dishonest to use Albert Einstein as an example of a refugee who became model member in their new home country. He was well educated, already world known scientist, who had invented the theory of relativity almost 30 years before moving to US and received Nobel price for photoelectric effect many years before. He did all that many years before moving to US.

    And there probably won’t be any Nobel price winners among the refugees who come here from Syria. And I think it is quite unlikely that any of those refugees will receive Nobel price once they have moved to Finland.

    However, if we return to the question that should we take any refugees here, I think we should first answer honestly the question Dr. Jussi Halla-aho asked:

    If we can help more people nearer the homes of refugees, with the same money that would be spend for receiving refugees here, wouldn’t it be better to help more people there instead of taking less people here?

    I would like to add at least another question. If we nevertheless decide to take some refugees, how should they be selected as there are maybe 10000 times more people who would like to come than we can take? Should we have some kind of lottery? Should we select persons who because of their religion have the highest risks of persecution? Should we take persons who because of their education or religion have better likelihood of integrating here?

    And I would like to add that it is understandable that the plight of other people makes people want to help them. But we should still not forget to look the bigger picture. Far too often the helping has caused just more and much more difficult problems in the long term like Sir David Attenborough quite recently warned (Attenborough criticises food aid, York Press, 18th September 2013):

    “Sir David Attenborough has dismissed sending food aid to countries enduring famine as “barmy” as he urged for more debate about population control, it has been reported.”

    • Mark

      PS voter

      I think that it is a bit dishonest to use Albert Einstein as an example of a refugee who became model member in their new home country. He was well educated, already world known scientist. And there probably won’t be any Nobel price winners among the refugees who come here from Syria. And I think it is quite unlikely that any of those refugees will receive Nobel price once they have moved to Finland.

      So, bringing your usual level of obnoxious prejudice to our blog once more!

      Rigoberta Menchú Tum was the daughter of a ‘terrorist’ Guatemalan activist in the Guerilla Army of the Poor. After a very meagre primary school education, Rigoberta followed in the footsteps of her father in exposing the human rights abuses of the Guatemalan armed forces during the civil war (1960-1996). At the age of 21, Rigoberta escaped to Mexico as a refugee following the murder of her brother and mother, where, together with a Venezuelan anthropologist, she wrote and published (1983) her biography “Me llamo Rigoberta Menchu y asi me nacio la conciencia” (My Name is Rigoberta Menchu and this is how my Conscience was Born). She returned in 1988 as a representative of the opposition in exile, only to be imprisoned, before being released following an international outcry. In 2006, after ten years of petitioning Spain, Rigoberta was successful in convincing the Spanish authorities to call for the extradition and trial of former army generals on charges of genocide and torture. In recent years, she has been working within the pharmaceutical field to bring cheap generic medicines within the reach of the poor. She was a presidential candidate in 2007 and 2011 in Guatemala. More of her biography can be read here.

      In 1992, she received the Nobel Peace Prize!

      Rigoberta

      PS voter – take your hatred and ignorance somewhere else!

    • Klay_immigrant

      Mark that’s 1 person in how many total refugees worldwide? There’s a bigger chance I’ll win the lottery or be hit by lightening. Shows how deluded you are to make a point using odds like that.

    • Mark

      Klay

      You want to write human beings off, go ahead. That’s your intellectual and moral poverty, NOT THEIRS. But let’s be clear here, PS Voter made the point that he thought there would be NO Nobel Prize winners from a refugee population and the plain fact is that there are several very good examples.

      There is nothing deluded in pointing out that human nature is capable of overcoming incredible difficulties and disadvantages. What is deluded is deciding that because you have come from difficult circumstances that you should be written off as dross!

    • Klay_immigrant

      -“PS Voter made the point that he thought there would be NO Nobel Prize winners from a refugee population and the plain fact is that there are several very good examples.”

      Actually he said it would be ‘quite unlikely’ which you should know is different to saying no chance. Here’s an English lesson for you, impossible and improbable mean two different things. Are you sure you’re a native Englishman with that lack of comprehension of your own apparent mother tongue?

    • Mark

      Klay

      ‘Quite unlikely’ was used strongly enough to even suggest that linking refugees and Nobel prizes was even dishonest. Now how could it possibly be dishonest unless you assume that it is false to make the link?

      Another point, if you are going to defend this comment on the basis that PS Voter left the door open to ‘very small probabilities’, then clearly you have forgotten the most obvious fact – Nobel Prizes are extremely rare – it was only ever going to be ‘very small probabilities’!

      Anything useful to say on this topic? Thought not!

  2. Yossie

    Mark

    you still didn’t answer this question:

    If we can help more people nearer the homes of refugees, with the same money that would be spend for receiving refugees here, wouldn’t it be better to help more people there instead of taking less people here?

    • Mark

      Yossie

      you still didn’t answer this question:

      Nope, because arguing the details of this kind of question is a waste of time in these comments. But – let’s say for the sake of argument that you bozzos have actually turned over a new leaf, let’s start with trying to establish some basic facts:

      1) what evidence is there that we can help people more closer to the ‘home’ of refugees? I’ve heard how it costs 100€ instead of a 1000€ and as far as I’m concerned, those figures are pulled out of people’s arses! For example, is this money spent on maintaining refugee camps? These are among the absolute hell-holes of earth for people to live in, and the idea that simply perpetuating these camps is somehow solving the problem is just utterly lazy, both morally and politically. Second, in many cases, neighbouring countries simply do not have the resources in the way of land, housing, education etc to cope with large influxes of refugees, as with Lebanon – money is not a solution to these problems (not enough teachers, doctors, police and other resources to be able to properly integrate such large numbers). Third, many refugees themselves do not want to live on in camps – they want to start and seek a new life in safe countries away from the destabalised regions, which of course makes sense. The danger with being in a neighbouring country is that they never even achieve ‘refugee’ status – they are merely regarded as ‘displaced’, with the view that perhaps their home country will one day wake up peaceful and prosperous. Such uncertainty after having already uprooted oneself and one’s family from one’s work and community is very difficult to live with, so many would rather seek a more secure and stable future, on which they can actually build.

      2) I’ve said it time and again that you cannot say you will gut the Overseas development aid budget and then claim that you have resources to help refugees closer to home. If you adopt a ‘closer to home’ policy, then you should also advocate increasing the ODA budget. This is not PS policy, so it’s all hot air talking about helping people if you are actually taking money away from projects that could help. Second, budget aid that maintains the current situation of poverty is money down the drain – the don’t want to simply ‘fix’ the problem of hunger or poor health or education, you need to promote actual growth and development of public institutions in these countries, the rule of law, honest political representation, justice etc. These are the factors that most operate to insulate developing countries from war and the effects of population displacement and social/internal conflicts. But, it is exactly those programs that try to transmit that expertise to foreign governments and systems that is under threat from ODA cuts.

      3) Why would you not want to see immigrants arriving here? Our own population dynamics means that within 20 years, the population will significantly decrease, with a larger older population also to care for, which will undermine the quality of life for all citizens. It takes about 20 years for a refugee family to fully integrate, either for 1st generation immigrants or fully adult 2 generation immigrants. So NOW is the time to be saying YES to immigrants of ALL kinds, including refugees. Simply demanding immigrants of high education is counter-productive in two ways – it will not help in fulfilling the demand for semi-skilled labour, where the biggest shortages are likely, and secondly, it’s an effective brain-drain on the developing world which only undermines that development and increases migratory pressures.

      Now, Yossie, impress me by actually showing you’ve actually processed even one of these points enough to make a useful contribution to this debate? Forgive my cynicism, but it has certainly been warranted in the past! Who knows though, if you’ve turned over a new leaf, perhaps I’ll find it useful to discuss with you.

    • Mark

      Requirements for a tolerant and happy Finnish society:

      (1) discrimination-free workplace and public institutions (2) strong legislation to outlaw discrimination or materials that promote discrimination (3) public information made available through schools, workplaces, the media and public services about the dangers of prejudice, antagonistic nationalism and stereotypical thinking (4) clear programs geared to helping people who recognise a degree of distrust of foreigners or even racism in themselves to explore active contacts with foreigners, so as to overcome these prejudices (5) effective and ongoing language programmes for immigrants

    • Klay_immigrant

      Funny with all that Mark said not once did he say what immigrants should do to succeed. Not even basic responsibilities that everyone has to do like follow the law.

      That means either of two things. First that in his mind immigrants are angels and have and never will do anything wrong or secondly that immigrants can do whatever they like lawful or not and Finland has to accept that under any circumstance.

      Which one is it Mark? If it’s neither then why not write what an immigrant’s responsibility and duty is to their new country they are living in along side what in your opinion Finland has to do to integrate them?

    • Mark

      Klay

      Funny with all that Mark said not once did he say what immigrants should do to succeed. Not even basic responsibilities that everyone has to do like follow the law.

      Straw man. Also, you don’t have to tell immigrants what to do to succeed – they are like you and me, seeking opportunities to succeed. But hey, patronise immigrants all you want, Klay, it just shows your racist superior attitude for what it is, ridiculous and out of touch with other immigrants!

      Funny with all that Mark said not once did he say what immigrants should do to succeed. Not even basic responsibilities that everyone has to do like follow the law.

      And Klay’s first response is to make a racist comment – surprise surprise! Once again linking immigrants and crime, above all other considerations, including in discussions about human rights and tolerance –

      “Oh, don’t forget they’re all criminals – don’t forget to mention the LAW!”

      That means either of two things. First that in his mind immigrants are angels and have and never will do anything wrong or secondly that immigrants can do whatever they like lawful or not and Finland has to accept that under any circumstance.

      So it can mean ONLY two things and nothing else, and the two things you offer are monstrous caricatures of the original points. Yep, I can see you are rubbing your two brain cells together quite vigorously today, Klay!

      And once again you mention ‘the LAW’. Been reading too many Judge Dredd comics? lolol.

      Actually, Klay, these points about a tolerant society barely mentioned immigrants directly, except in two places, but the implications about shared responsibilities between natives and immigrants are really quite obvious in these points, were it not for the fact that you are just looking for a fight.

      First, a discrimination-free workplace would remove severe obstacles to immigrants finding work and it also implies they have a responsibility to find work. Immigrants want to work, but they face greater hurdles than others. Simply telling immigrants as a group to ‘go get a job’, is insulting and racist.

      Second, outlawing materials that advocate clear discrimination or defamation of groups applies equally to immigrants and native populations – while these public standards maintain a ‘clean’ public space for ALL OF US, not just immigrants. The responsibility is on ALL citizens, native and immigrant.

      Third, educating about the dangers of prejudice, nationalism and stereotypical thinking again applies to all populations, but let’s be clear, prejudice by the majority in Finland has the potential for greater damage. But once again, the responsibility and need to overcome stereotypical thinking is quite clearly a shared responsibility.

      Fourth, suggesting that natives could actually find avenues to develop contacts with foreigners is something that implies that foreigners too would reach out to natives – the obligations are on both groups.

      Fifth, an effective language programme also implies that immigrants do the hard work of actually learning the new language, so clearly the responsibility IS on them too.

      So Klay, why do you want to fight so desperately about this topic that you need to blind yourself to the most obvious common ground between us?

    • Mark

      Another point Klay, in relation to Point 4 – the project Vieraasta Veljeksi is exactly the kind of encounter/cultural activity I am talking about:

      Support for immigrant men

      The objective of Vieraasta Veljeksi – support for immigrant men activities is to enforce the integration of immigrants by creating new forms of intercommunication and co-operation between immigrant men and native Finnish men, also integrating the incumbent population to our changed society. So far, activities to support immigrants with focus on men have been very scarce in Finland. Vieraasta Veljeksi has met this shortcoming by building an operational model in which two-way integration is put into practice with the help of support person activities, learning groups, leisure activities and advocacy work.

      While there is always a danger that such attempts to help immigrants integrate can be far too ethno-centric, it appears that the people running this understand that that approach is not a workable solution and instead talk about two-way integration and about helping Finns adapt to their changing society.

    • JusticeDemon

      And oh my, are they desperately in need of an editor for their English language publicity materials 🙂

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