Ten fallacies of the PS’ anti-immigration arguments

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

When I was a kid growing up in California we used to say phony baloney when a fellow classmate exaggerated or lied. If we look at the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party’s mindset and claims on immigration, I would certainly be one of the first to let out a vociferous cry: “Phony baloney!”

Here are ten common phony why-we-should-not-trust-the-anti-immigrant arguments by the PS:

1. The people voted for us because they want tighter immigration laws.

Counterargument: Eighty-one percent of Finns voted for traditional parties. Anti-immigration PS candidates like Jussi Halla-aho and others got a fraction of the total votes. When the PS states that it is the “will of the voters” to punish immigrants they are really pushing it. A minority (19.1%) voted for them. They speak, however, as if the majority of Finns have the same opinions as the PS.

2. Tighter immigration laws will solve the problem.

Counterargument: Talk of tighter immigration laws is a red herring used by the PS to hide their contempt for groups like the Somalis. When they bash one group it ends up spilling over on all the rest of us. It poisons the air.  Tightening family reunification rules are one underhanded attempt to make life as difficult as possible for certain immigrant groups living in Finland. A 150 years ago when Finns emigrated to the United States, they brought their families and friends. Building social networks is vital for immigrants.

3. Our integration program is a failure.

Counterargument: Is it a failure or do too few have access to Finnish-language courses? A Mipex survey (www.mipex.eu) showed that Finland’s integration program was the fourth best after Sweden, Portugal and Canada. Anti-immigration groups are unimaginative. They use the same arguments in every country they churn public opinion. Some of their favorite adjectives before the word immigrant or immigration include: uncontrolled, mass, unadapted, illiterate, barbaric etc.  They are, however, making the following argument: Since this group of people are so different from us they can never live in our country. Our hatred and racism is therefore justified.

4. Islam is a religion of violence.

Counterargument: As mentioned, anti-immigration groups are intellectually lazy. One of the things they like to do is over-generalize about groups. Even though they claim that they have individuality and freewill, people from other groups supposedly don’t, according to them. They just walk around and receive orders from their culture like zombies. They even stay that way for generations!

5. I can insult any ethnic group I please. I would never speak this way to my people. I am exercising my right to freedom of speech.

Counterargument: Since when was insulting and acting rudely exemplary behavior never mind protecting freedom of speech? Anti-immigration groups hide their racism with this argument. What they are not telling you is that if they were ever in power, they’d be the first ones to silence you by force or with the help of social- media lynch mobs that roam the net today.

6. We are against multiculturalism.

Counterargument: What does multiculturalism mean to the PS? Does it mean that they are against our cultural diversity? If they are what do they plan to replace it with? All you hear is whining but no concrete proposals. Why? Because they have none to offer or because their proposal(s) if ever known to the public would frighten sensible people.

7. We must stop the growth of cultural diversity. There is no racism in Finland.

Counterargument: Here is the mother of all arguments used by some anti-immigration MPs like Jussi Halla-aho. They are not only denying who we are but encouraging hostility towards people who are immigrants or multicultural Finns. They read people like Alfred Rosenberg and David Duke because they are the antithesis of cultural diversity.  Since Finland isn’t culturally diverse there can’t be any racism, right?

8. We are not racists!

Counterargument: Just like anti-immigration groups don’t recognize that Finland is already culturally diverse, they similarly deny that they are racists. Behind their destructive ideology you will find a person who is challenged on many fronts, especially living in a culturally diverse society.

9. Racism is patriotism.

Counterargument: Racism and insulting behavior towards immigrants and minorities has nothing to do with patriotism never mind showing our respect to our fallen veterans. Their racism, which is dressed up with the help of quaint words and arguments, is nothing more than nationalism. For some, patriotism means a sense of community and acceptance. Nationalism, on the other hand, is a hostile ethnocentric view of the world.

10. We are natives and immigrants the colonizers.

Counterargument: Believe it or not, this is one argument used by some Finns in 2011 Finland. What they don’t know is that every time they speak of themselves as a tribe they are flirting with racism. Finns are not a tribe!

  1. Arto

    I welcome a more analytical approach from you than the simple “racist” labelling. But while some arguments in your list are valid and used by PS, by some others you are really putting words to PS party’s mouths.

    Just before your blog text, I read a writing by Jussi Halla-aho about the situation of Sweden – a good forecast about what could happen in Finland if we follow the Swedish example:
    http://www.halla-aho.com/scripta/ruotsalaisia_madonlukuja.html

    I am sorry, but I constantly find Halla-aho’s argumentation much more convincing than yours, and I certainly find no signs of intellectual laziness in majority of his writings.

  2. Seppo

    Thanks for a good post. I mostly agree with everything.

    Would be nice to discuss a few points you made:

    – “For some, patriotism means a sense of community and acceptance. Nationalism, on the other hand, is a hostile ethnocentric view of the world.”

    Finns rarely use the terms patriootti or patriotismi. For me being a patriootti means love for your country (state). Being a nationalisti would then mean love for your nation. Since Finland is a nation-state (or is it?) doesn’t this mean basically the same thing, love for Finland both as a country and a nation?

    To me, nationalism is historically a positive thing. Thanks to nationalism, we have Finland and Finns. Like many other phenomena, like religions and political ideologies, it can be a very negative force when it is taken to the extremes. Would we be better off without nations? Some people think yes, I think no.

    From here we come to the second question.

    – “Finns are not a tribe!”

    What are Finns then? What is the Finnish nation made of? What makes a person a Finn?

    My short answer is this: own subjective feeling. You are a Finn if you feel like a Finn. Different things make people feel Finnish – they identify with the state, or with the people, or with the land, or with the language(s), or with the culture, or with everything. There is no need for exclusive criteria.

    People who feel they are Finns constitute the Finnish nation.

    • Enrique

      –Being a nationalisti would then mean love for your nation. Since Finland is a nation-state (or is it?) doesn’t this mean basically the same thing, love for Finland both as a country and a nation?

      Seppo, you will find different definitions but in English there is a clear difference for some. Some believe that patriotism and nationalism are the same thing. If I had to distinguish the two, I’d define patriotism as a sort of belonging/community while nationalism is something that you use to be hostile to others.

      Finns are not a tribe like the Saami. They are a national group.

  3. Arto

    Good points, Seppo.

    A question for Enrique: Do you have an opinion about the current Swedish immigration policy? Do you feel it is an example that we should follow? Or should we do something differently?

  4. Arto

    Enrique: If you have a look how Suomen Sisu defines their nationalism, there is nothing about being hostile to others. Quite the opposite: they say that all nations, races and cultures are valuable.

  5. Arto

    “Finns are not a tribe like the Saami. They are a national group.”

    For long, the Finnish were a trible organizing group of people, not so much state-founding type of people.

    I don’t understand what is your point in this claim.

  6. Seppo

    – “I’d define patriotism as a sort of belonging/community while nationalism is something that you use to be hostile to others.”

    I still think this is a bit problematic definition. In the American movies a true patriot is a person willing to die for his country. That is, willing to kill other people for his country.

    Like you said, Finns are a national group, a nation. We have nations because we have (had)nationalism. To me everyone who believes that nations do exist and that it is mostly a good thing that they exist is a nationalist. That’s how I am a nationalist too, without any extreme opinions or even less any hostility towards other nations and members of those other nations.

    I do admit that in the every day use the word ‘nationalist’ refers to the extreme nationalists. Maybe that’s why we could use the word ‘patriot’ for “positive nationalism”, feeling belonging to your nation and feeling community with the other members of your nation.

  7. Mark

    Enrique

    1) It’s very difficult to separate nationalism and patriotism because in the public’s mind, their definitions blur, while for some polical historians, nationalism was a kind of sabre-rattling politics based on the idea that a nation should have a single ethnic or cultural identity. In that sense, nationalism has been accused of ignoring language and cultural diversity within a ‘nation state’. Likewise, nationalism is sometimes equated with ethnocentrism, which can be seen as a vague sense of the superiority of one’s own culture (a very common sentiment). So, while the academic definitions are interesting in terms of recognising the limits of cultural or national identities, I don’t think they mean much to the man in the stree.

    2) Arto – Halla-aho doesn’t really provide a very detailed argumentation. That kind of argumentation looks objectively at both sides of an argument, presenting equally the evidence of both sides. On the contrary, Halla-aho cherry picks his arguments. He discusses costs, growing numbers, and then also depicts immigrants as having worse teeth, worse health, being more criminal etc.

    He mentions that immigrants are more highly subsidised, but doesn’t mention that is because many of them are in the lowest paid jobs, which have to be subsidised. He mentions that Sweden hasn’t created any new jobs although it’s immigration population increased by 600 000 between 94 and 04, and yet does not mention that more people are now retired (already at 18%), or that only 59% of the population is currently at working age, one of the lowest of the OECD countries.

    He talks constantly of job shortages and mentions nothing of the increases in retirees, which will increase the number of vacancies but push up the ‘non-employed’ figures. As it is, Sweden’s unemployment rate is about average for the EU, at 9%, which he doesn’t point out, in spite of having one of the most multicultural societies, which he does point out.

    He talks about Swedes using the words ‘segregation’ to talk about the demographic spread of immigrants in cities, when really who he means is right-wing politicians and their supporters – of course they are using these words, they are divisive and build political support based on cultural self-defence.

    Later, he talks about Sweden suffering greatly during the early 90s recession, but still receiving lots of immigrants, and again, doesn’t mention that today’s unemployment rate is no worse than most other EU countries. Cherry picking his facts. He prefers to use phrases like ‘record levels of immigration’. That’s hardly suprising considering Sweden was, like Finland, much more ethnographically homogenous.

    Likewise, he blames immigrants for the fact they are put into ‘enclaves’, asking why they don’t move to find work, as if that is easy when you are poor and don’t speak Swedish well enough to get a job anyway. If authorities concentrate immigrant housing and resources in particular areas, they save taxpayer money, Halla-aho does not mention this. Nope, he blames them for the lack of jobs, accusing them of punishing the good deeds of the welfare state by living in these enclaves just so they can accuse the government of isolating them. That’s not proper political or social analysis, Arto, that’s paranoia.

    Nope, he talks about Muslim culture taking over, about Al Jazeera, as if that in itself represented a kind of extremism, even though it’s manned by many ex-BBC journalists. And again, he talks about crime. He talks about immigrant youths committing crime and makes no connection with the high unemployment rate in Södertälje or the fact that it has been one of the most deprived areas of Sweden for decades. Great, we’ll send more immigrants there and blame them for the deprivation!

    He talks about peole from Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia as being ‘from the Middle Ages!’, because of their iliteracy or their world view (i.e. not Western). No talk about how to develop literacy programs. Nope, let’s point the finger at the kids who cannot read and call them names. Is that the developed argumentation you were speaking of Arto?

    And what else? Cherry picking cultural events, like one father attacking his daughter for not agreeing to an arranged marriage, but then when he talks about other Muslims that have adapted to Swedens culture of personal freedom, it’s Sweden that gets the credit, not Muslims.

    He talks about political Islam but has nothing to say about the fact that the Stockholm bombing of last year was widely and strongly condemned by Islamic leaders and organisations.

    He attacks those that defend multicultarism as belonging to ‘academics circles’, as if this alone were a measure of their worth, while all the while living happily in Finland off the idea that somehow he is a worthy academic himself. Hypocrite. But then PS always had ‘academic elitism’ as one of the bats with which to hit out at their more educated critics. He presents ‘positive discrimination’ as emphasising inequality, where Swedes are discriminated against, but has absolutely nothing to say about immigrants being discriminated against. He’s not supporting equality, he’s supporting Swede-first, Finn-first, and that is something quite different. Likewise, he does not mention that in Nordic welfare states, equity and equality are equally important, where people are treated based on their level of need, thus justifying a different treatment to those who do not have the same level of need. If immigrants are discriminated against in the labour market, something needs to be done to get them into work.

    But he’s not really interested in solutions. I didn’t see him once properly discuss a solution, even though he seems to have gone to a lot of trouble to collect information from his far-right colleagues in Sweden.

    He sees tolerance only under the guise of ‘compromise’. Well, I can see he’s really explored the options there? Nope, he’s happy to dismiss any kind of multiculturalism only in the terms of ‘failure’ or ‘ghettos’ or everything ‘gone to hell’. He even says the Welfare state is at threat. I can tell you now, as someone who works in the health field in Finland, the greatest pressures on the welfare state are nothing to do with immigrants, but rather on rising medical costs, costs of elderly care, costs of unemployment, and none of those in regard specifically to those same services for immigrants. It’s just not true that immigration is threatening the Nordic welfare state. The current Swedish welfare state operates perfectly well while 25% of it’s population are of ethnic origin. Are we to think that it is ONLY because of the efforts of native Swedes? The guy is an idiot.

    How can he then go on to talk about an acceptable or economically viable level of immigration when all he has said up to that point about immigrants was extremely negative? His acceptance that 2% could be increased sounds very hollow after such a hatchet job of analysing the effects of immigration in Sweden. You just cannot take the man seriously. It’s the politics of fear, it’s not real analysis, Arto. It’s a list of moans, backed up by selective choice of facts that reflect the biggest problems of immigrant communities. If we took the same approach to talking about Finnish society, we would end up as equally depressed as he did.

  8. Mark

    – “If we took the same approach to talking about Finnish society, we would end up as equally depressed as he did.”

    That is, if we spoke about native Finns in this way, we would be depressed. If we took all those areas where mostly natives live, and talk about the nearly 95% crime commited by Finns; if we look at every murder and every rape where a Finn was involved with some twisted motive based on who knows what world-view; if we talked about all the unemployed Finns, some who have been unemployed for years, and who in spite of several ‘activation’ programmes, fail to find work, if we talk about the Finnish kids who barely manage to learn Swedish or English and talk about them as backward; if we talk about every success of Finnish society and find some reason to give all the credit to some foreign source, where the idea might have originally been formed; if we talk about the Finnish veterans coming back from the war and getting given houses and jobs, and how that was unfair because why would being involved in a dangerous situation qualify them for special treatment; if we took the school shootings of recent years and talked about how all Finnish kids and adults are obsessed with guns and that Finns have more guns than Americans; if we talk about bombings in shopping centres by young native Finns; if we talk about the annual ritual of committing suicide by throwing yourself into a lake drunk at midsummer; if we talk about the very high levels of alcoholism and suicide among Finnish men; if we talk about old pensioner Finns clogging up the dental services in Finland after being given free dental treatment;

    …we would be depressed about the state of Finns and Finnish society and wondering why the world had not shunned us completely.

    Can’t you see Arto, that this kind of approach to social analysis is simply emotional ranting dressed up as analysis?

    • Enrique

      I think it is important when looking at the writings of Halla-aho we look at the bigger picture. What is the big picture? He is against cultural diversity, believes that groups like Muslims and blacks are “harmful” to Finland. On top of that he is a populist who gets satisfaction from alarming people. All the baloney he has written is starting to bite back hard. He is also a populist of sorts. With him it would be impossible to build any comprehensive immigration policy never mind advance social equality in Finland. He was born in the wrong decade.

  9. Method

    Mark, that’s a very nice analysis on Halla-aho’s texts if I ever saw one. You should mail him that, or present it at hommaforum. If I have understood correctly, that kind of analysis is what he has always asked in return, even challenged people to do it. But somehow, everyone’s at their own corners. I don’t think it’s alot of use if a person capable for analysis as yourself only posts it in places like this blog, no one who should read it will. There’s no dialogue, and I for one would like to see it happen instead of the separate camps patting each other on the back and talking out of their asses.

    The boldest thing anyone could do is to go and have a conversation instead of the fake enemy-friend situation. I don’t really see Halla-aho as such an evil person he is set up to be. I’m seeing a nerd who can play with words and is pretty good at describing things and in abstract thought. He’s only a human, he sees like he sees, because there’s no one to point otherwise. At the bottom of things, he’s concerned about his children’s future, like we all are – including Enrique.

    I might be wrong though, but that’s easy to uncover; False argument can always be argued down, truth can only be silenced. That’s how he rose from a blogger to a people’s representative. Everybody, including the media tried to silence him up instead of arguing his points. As you can clearly see, it was a bad strategy for them.

    • Enrique

      Method, why do you think there are so few immigrants debating on Hommaforum? Why do we have a better mix of people on Migrant Tales? Because we don’t go around sending social network lynch mobs against people who think differently like those that visit Halla-aho’s Scripta. These net lynch mobs sent by Scripta and others are a good example of the type of hard ball they play in Finland.

      Halla-aho’s problem is that most of his arguments are on whine-mode – nothing constructive is brought to the table. Mark pointed this out very well in his thread. Halla-aho has an issue with Muslims and appears to be obsessed by them. Thanks to Muslims and immigrants he was able to start his questionable political career.

      If you look at history, Method, immigrants do get accepted finally. This may happen to their children or grandchildren but they do get accepted at the end of the day. Then all those that made life impossible for their grandparents and great grandparents who were immigrants will be exposed as a stark reminder of the barbaric behavior of some Finns towards newcomers.Somalis and Muslims will form part of that group that will be accepted by the Finns.

  10. Singaporean_in_Finland

    The way Halla-aho and his ilk speak about Muslims and African people in particular is the exact same way the Nazis spoke about Jews. On the internet Neo-Nazis from Finland and other European countries are asking for another Holocaust on Muslims.

    Last week our Jewish speaker of Parliament Ben Zyskowicz was physically attacked in the street and called a racial slur. This is not normal behaviour in a civilized society!! Since the rise of PS, it looks like open season for racists, anti-semites, gay haters, and xenophobes. Is this really the road you people want to follow? Towards a new “Final Solution”?

    • Enrique

      Thank you Hmmm for the link. A good question but I am certain a lot of factors were at play. The election victory was like the icing on the cake.

  11. Mark

    Hmm

    – “Once we get this year’s stats on hate crimes (autumn 2012) maybe we’ll see if the election results really had an effect or if it’s just a trend that started years earlier. This article suggest so:”

    And up from some 600 in 2005. Campaigning by PS has been going on for some years, going back to Toni Halme’s infamous rants about immigrants and his 17,000 personal following back in 2003. Maybe if we look at the stats from that year to now we might see a more telling trend. It’s so hilariously funny that the anti-immigrationists who voted for Tony and complained about foreigners being benefit scroungers were mostly unemployed themselves. But hypocracy is par for the course for anit-immigrationists on the whole.

  12. Niko

    – Somalis and Muslims will form part of that group that will be accepted by the Finns.

    Like they are accepted in other European countries and USA as well? 😛 It is pretty much the same all around the western world.

    • Enrique

      –Like they are accepted in other European countries and USA as well? 😛 It is pretty much the same all around the western world.

      The Finns were also considered trouble-makers in the United States because lots of them were in unions. If you were Finnish it meant in many cases that you would not get a job. You were a Red = troublemaker. And when it comes to one of the most disenfranchised groups in the United States (blacks), they too had to wait for a couple of hundred years to be accepted but they were in the end. See how a woman called Rosa Parks changed history.

      Those Somalis and Muslims that live two generations in the future are Finns with Somalian and Muslim backgrounds.

      So what some Finns are vehemently against is not these people per say but accepting others as Finns. Finnish identity is not the exclusive property of any group.

      Read history.

  13. Mark

    Method

    – “If I have understood correctly, that kind of analysis is what he has always asked in return, even challenged people to do it.”

    I have met several people in my life who have used intellectual tools to impress or bully those around them who do not have those tools. I even saw the same kind of boasts – “ask me any question”. But anyhow, I digress.

    – “But somehow, everyone’s at their own corners.”

    Yes, quite true. In my experience I have never seen anyone actually publicly change their mind in a forum debate, and only very rarely have I seen someone accept that an assumption they made was giving them a false view of the situation. In the ‘true’ world of academia, one HAS to be prepared to accept those ‘humiliations’ as part of one’s learning. Some routes are simply dead ends in terms of getting to the bottom of a question. Academia should release people from the phobia of being wrong. But, even in Academia, the ‘culture of competence’ means that people will rarely change their stance or paradigm, and if they do, then it is too easily perceived as a weakness and not a strength. What I’m saying is that I doubt that arguing with Allah-aho (wink) will really change his mind about anything, although it might present a different perspective to some of his readers. In many instances, the facts he offers are correct, but it is the perspective on the subject and the interpretation of unique facts that are open to question. I imagine that he would trot out fact after fact after fact without actually debating the framework in which those facts are interpreted. So although at an abstract level one could quite easily demonstrate that his theoretical underpinnings are somewhat ropey, on the face of it, his supporters would see the endless procession of facts as somehow winning the day.

    An alternative approach would be to trot out similar facts that substitute Finnish nationality in the same kind of ‘reporting’, like I did above, but that could easily give the wrong impression too, and be interpreted as an attack on Finns. In other words, facts about immigrant problems would be taken as justification of anti-immigration sentiment, while similar attacks on Finns would be interpreted and criticised purely as racism against Finns; the argument behind it would be ignored and the statements taken literally. At least, that is what I would anticipate.

    I think that Halla-aho has invested too much in these arguments to give very much ground, if any. My experience of people on the extremes (and academically, he would be seen as an extremist because of how he constructs his arguments) is that they don’t give ground.

    Also, he appears to be arguing for certain ‘big categories’ of analysis that have been discredited, i.e. ethnicity is does not cause or explain behaviour, it is rather the sum total of many individual behaviours. The same with language, there is no English language outside of the users that use it, simple because we use it with such variety that recording it all is impossible and even if we did, wait for one minute and it would have changed. The same is true of ethnic identities. Just because you and I both know the language doesn’t mean that I can predict what’s going to come out of your mouth next. Halla-aho talks about ethnicities as if they were somehow predictive of behaviour. That is absolutely a false start.

    Halla-aho is basically a man of faith, not of academia. His faith says that immigrants from certain countries offer nothing, cost everything and therefore immigration from those countries cannot be justified. While at the time the ‘sacred text’ says that Finland should not become ‘multicultural’. I doubt very much that he will ever give up his faith.

    – “There’s no dialogue, and I for one would like to see it happen…”

    Well, I really understand your sentiment here. I’ve thought the same many times in the fields in which I have studied where schisms have developed.

    – “I don’t really see Halla-aho as such an evil person he is set up to be. I’m seeing a nerd who can play with words and is pretty good at describing things and in abstract thought.”

    I agree. Halla-aho is almost certainly not evil, but that is not to say that evil might not come of his words. I doubt very much that he would take responsibility for any racist attacks. He would see that as stemming from cultural self-defence or somehow revenge for the behaviour of immigrants, I’m sure. He would not see his own words or argumentation as creating a situation where violence is more likely to be chosen as a response to problems of difference. In that sense, holding him to account for his words is of course difficult, even if in the big picture it’s as plain as the nose on your face.

    – “False argument can always be argued down, truth can only be silenced. That’s how he rose from a blogger to a people’s representative.”

    In all our argumentations, there is usually some truth. That’s why it’s so hard to argue about immigration. The question is what has been left out. In the immigration debate, individual facts are offered as evidence to justify much broader conclusions, for example about the net benefit or cost of immigration, or about the value or lack of value of ethnic identities. The truth from my viewpoint is that the vast majority of arguments offered against immigrants if turned back on Finns in Finnish society would lead us to a very divided society. In fact, it would almost certainly end being a society with less freedom of expression and less compassion. I know compassion is seen as a soft-touch liberal notion, but actually, it’s a fundamental pillar of modern society which we all benefit from in many ways.

  14. Niko

    I have read history, Enrique. Also I have also read what is happening in modern days. I must admit that minorities have come a long way in USA, but I still wouldn’t say that they are “accepted”. They might have the same rights as the majority, but there is still discrimination in job interviews, social life etc. Most likely this will be same thing with the two generation Muslims living in Finland. And no, I don’t think this is a good thing, but I think it sounds little bit too optimistic of you thinking that they will be accepted as white Finns.

    • Enrique

      Niko, at the end of the day they will be accepted. The whole battleground of the immigration debate rests on keeping Finland white and avoiding at all costs of becoming culturally diverse. I think, however, it is time for some to smell the coffee: Finland has been culturally diverse longer than most people would want to believe. Accepting that fact is one important step in the right direction. We would be building bridges instead of destroying them with hate.

  15. Mark

    Niko

    So, we accept immigrants into Finland. Then, when they are here we reject them, isolate them, discriminate against them and generally talk down about them whenever we have the opportunity. Then we complain about the fact they are not getting along in Finnish society and that actually, they think their ‘old world’ culture was better. Then we say, we are not having any more like you, because you don’t succeed here and really WE don’t like you. Oh, and by the way, we’re not racist. You are just not Finns and you never will be. And it’s our country, so there. Piss off. Oh, and we have the moral high ground too, because your lot are just savages anyway.

    I’ve said before, this approach to immigration is rather like the bloke who burns the dinner on purpose so that he never has to cook again.

    PS. Niko – nice to see you saying that you would not like to see 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants still being discriminated against in Finland. thumbs up!

  16. Niko

    Mark & Enrique

    Well, actually I would like not to see even 1st generation immigration be discriminated, but you can’t change peoples mind so fast. That’s why I said it sounds pretty optimistic if you think 2nd generation are “accepted”. Finland has gypsies which have been more than a hundred(?) year in Finland, but they are still not accepted.

  17. Allan

    Niko, the “mustalaiset” have been in Finland some 500 years, and were more or less integrated into the agrarian society in the sense their lifestyle and culture was a part of daily life. The 2nd world war (as many were living in Karelia) and the “escape from the countryside” of the 60’s and 70’s really destroyed most of the “travelling” lifestyle, and finding the place in the modern society has not been easy. Partially some of the segreagtion is self-imposed, and the Romanies have been very “culturally conservative”, keeping that long as a racially distinct group, to the extent that as teaching their language to outsiders has been forbidden and there hasn’t been that many teachers or linguists rise from the ranks, the language is in danger of extinction.

  18. laimach

    Terve Niko,
    Yes, we hope all imigrants are seen as humans with equal rights in every country as well as in the “western world” you talk about. Just the same as Finns are accepted today since they came from the east !!!
    Have a good day.

  19. laimach

    I find it irrelevant to speak about people in terms of colors!
    They mean anyway different things in different countries. For example in China Black is
    the color of purity and white just the opposite.

  20. Hmmm

    “Campaigning by PS has been going on for some years, going back to …”

    It’s the chicken and the egg problem. Instead of seeing the rise of racism as a consequence of the rise of PS, I see the rise of racism and PS as consequences with common background factors. The point is that there is some more fundamental reason than PS. Blaming PS is just as convenient as blaming the immigrants.

    • Enrique

      Hmmm, I agree but wouldn’t you say that the fumes of the problem were ignited by some PS MPs like Jussi Halla-aho?

  21. Niko

    laimach

    I can tell you that I have NEVER met any Chinese who likes black people (and I was living there for some time). Finland’s racism sounds childish compare what it is in China, but I do still like China and Chinese people.

    I do admit that I have some prejudice toward some group of people, but it is not because of the skin colour or sexual orientation. If I see a man dressing to all black clothes, wearing white make up in his face, having 10 piercings in his face and having black lip stick, I’m little bit “reserved”. Or if I see 130kg women in a bus, I might not want to sit next to her.

  22. Mark

    Hmmm

    – “It’s the chicken and the egg problem. Instead of seeing the rise of racism as a consequence of the rise of PS, I see the rise of racism and PS as consequences with common background factors.”

    I don’t see my view as so different to yours. I wouldn’t want to imply that PS is responsible for racism per se, but rather that they inflame the situation and normalise emotional reactions to perceived grievance that really should be processed more deeply.

    I see the immigration debate a lot like other political debates – superficial, merely ‘trading in punches’ using facts and arguments nicked from the media and politicians. You hear the same PS arguments regurgutated time and again in the debates, where people ‘feel’ like they are talking about immigration and actually they have very little hands-on experience of immigration, it’s challenges or its successes. Nope, cold statistics take the place of real stories, unless those stories are of oppression or to reinforce a sense of the depravity of the immigrants native culture.

    I also know that behind the political rhetoric is the real job of policy development and also balancing resources across government departments. The jobs not easy. Everyone wants more. Everyone’s case always has merit. But budgets are tight and usually getting tighter all the time. Sometimes the costs of a proper evaluation are more than the marginal profits; or, the benefits cannot clearly be demonstrated, and so in this ‘evidence-based’ culture, useful programs are sidelined because they cannot demonstrate their value in terms that satisfy people more used to working with profit and loss accounts in a manufacturing process.

    Much of the information that we would need to properly evaluate immigration we do not have. Some for the simple reason that ethnicity is not recorded in official statistics (it’s illegal). Some because there is no budget and no political will to do large scale political studies. Those studies that are carried out are funded by political parties or media outlets that already have a particular political bias, and so their objectivety is questionable, or where the are independent, their remit is so limited that the facts they produce were always going to be used to present a distorted picture, as happened in Denmark recently, much to the annoyance of its authors.

    Oh, in answer the chicken and egg query – the answer is really very simple: The chicken always comes first, because the mother always comes before the baby, never the other way around. In this case, discrimination always comes first, because you never see an immigrant saying to the native – go on, discriminate against me, please! 🙂

  23. Hmmm

    Mark: good points. I take that the last part was written tongue in cheek…

    Enrique: I don’t think the fumes were ignited by them, but they sure are contributing factors. If something positive needs to be said about the situation, the discussion has at least gone public. Only a few years ago nobody would touch the subject with a long stick. Now politicians are forced to voice out their opinions on the matter. That would not have happened if it wasn’t for the provocative and popular blogs. I don’t believe that Halla-aho and others would have gotten so popular in the first place if the matter would have been open for public discussion earlier. Instead all we got was the official “kultamuna” jargon from the officials. Now if only the quality of the public discussion would go up…

  24. Niko

    laimach, as I said previous comment: I was living, ia. in China and I have been travelling quite a lot. What makes you think that I have never been out of Finland?

  25. Mark

    Hmmm

    – “I take that the last part was written tongue in cheek…”?

    It certainly was. Made me smile, though 😀

  26. laimach

    Moi Niko,
    If you lived in China “GREAT FOR YOU” ! Than you understand what is a real Millenary Culture!!
    Not the pseudo tribal history some fervent contributors of this blog want to imagine.

    Best wishes !!

  27. Seppo

    – “Much of the information that we would need to properly evaluate immigration we do not have. Some for the simple reason that ethnicity is not recorded in official statistics (it’s illegal).”

    Interesting point, Mark.

    A question for everyone: should we start registering ethnicity in Finland?

    I think not. I don’t think ethnicity is such a social category that the state should institutionalize and promote. It would easily end up becoming a factor that divides us rather than unites. It could also become a label that sticks – if you’re father was an ethnic X, then you are registered as X, even though you feel more like Y. No, I don’t think we need this in Finland. I would not feel comfortable being officially an ethnic anything. I want to be able to deside myself what I am and what I am not. Ethnic identity is not even something that we all have, even less something that we all should have.

    We have information with which we can evaluate immigration. The most useful is probably place of birth. We have the exact number of people who are born abroad (=immigrants) and also the countries where they are born. With this info we can make most necessary evalutions I think.

    Or what kind of evaluations did you have in mind, Mark?

  28. JusticeDemon

    Seppo

    On the other hand, with dna testing we can now show where our ancestors came from. It seems to me that Hakkarainen, Hirvisaari et al should go get tested and come clean about where their roots are. If these roots are elsewhere, then perhaps they should correct the error of their ancestors and go back to where they belong.

    We can do much the same thing in the sphere of culture. What is left of modern Finnish life if we eliminate all of the foreign influence since 1917?

  29. Method

    “In my experience I have never seen anyone actually publicly change their mind in a forum debate, and only very rarely have I seen someone accept that an assumption they made was giving them a false view of the situation. ”

    These things don’t happen in public. They happen when there’s no one around. I have changed my mind many times, of course there have always been other factors at work too; I think it’s in my personality to disagree if no one else is doing it at all. It needs to be done, because without opposition, there’s no real advancement or possibility for at least some form of clarity.

    “In the ‘true’ world of academia, one HAS to be prepared to accept those ‘humiliations’ as part of one’s learning. Some routes are simply dead ends in terms of getting to the bottom of a question. Academia should release people from the phobia of being wrong. But, even in Academia, the ‘culture of competence’ means that people will rarely change their stance or paradigm, and if they do, then it is too easily perceived as a weakness and not a strength. ”

    Well said. It’s an issue of ego, and it’s venomous if the intention is to solve and clarify things. It’s often misplaced.

    “What I’m saying is that I doubt that arguing with Allah-aho (wink) will really change his mind about anything, although it might present a different perspective to some of his readers.”

    I’m not sure about that. I’ve kind of seen it happen before.

    “An alternative approach would be to trot out similar facts that substitute Finnish nationality in the same kind of ‘reporting’, like I did above, but that could easily give the wrong impression too, and be interpreted as an attack on Finns. In other words, facts about immigrant problems would be taken as justification of anti-immigration sentiment, while similar attacks on Finns would be interpreted and criticised purely as racism against Finns; the argument behind it would be ignored and the statements taken literally. At least, that is what I would anticipate.”

    How I see it is, the pro-immigration sentiment contain elements just as faulty, and that sentiment alone was the mainstream media sentiment, and against that there was an empty place which H-a filled. It’s a matter of personality it seems. Some people only see possibilities, some threats. I think neither one of those people are fit to asses the situation rationally, and both of them need each other. First ones need the latter to not fuck everything up, latter the first ones to move forward. I think that’s how societies work. Society with no contrast or conflict is stagnating and possibly on it’s deathbed.

    “I think that Halla-aho has invested too much in these arguments to give very much ground, if any. My experience of people on the extremes (and academically, he would be seen as an extremist because of how he constructs his arguments) is that they don’t give ground.”

    Well, that’s again on context. Extremes get redefined as times change. That’s a funny thing, when you stereotype a liberal, I get a person who’s up for anything, because he feels it’s part of how the world works. Instead you get people clinging and being sensitive about changes they don’t like. I mean who said world always changes for better from subjective point of view?

    “Halla-aho is basically a man of faith, not of academia. His faith says that immigrants from certain countries offer nothing, cost everything and therefore immigration from those countries cannot be justified. While at the time the ‘sacred text’ says that Finland should not become ‘multicultural’. I doubt very much that he will ever give up his faith.”

    Well, the offering part is tricky yes, but the costs can be sorted out, if there’s a will for that. From a standpoint where Finland and it’s future is something of interest, it of course would be wise to gain more than lose. I do not bother myself with that. Finland, as a nation is something that exists for me (and others), it should protect me and guarantee me (and others) a reasonable life, as a citizen. It’s not a corporation, or daycare. If it doesen’t do that, it can go for all I care. Point is, at it’s best it’s a machine, and one shouldn’t get emotional over machines. Nations come and go. To me it’s more about the people: my family and my friends.

    “I agree. Halla-aho is almost certainly not evil, but that is not to say that evil might not come of his words. I doubt very much that he would take responsibility for any racist attacks. He would see that as stemming from cultural self-defence or somehow revenge for the behaviour of immigrants, I’m sure. ”

    Actually he has answered this. I listened to him and Jani Toivola discussing things. I have to agree with him, everyones words can be used wrongly. You think someone fe. green party member should take responsibility of the anarchist group bomb in Helsinki? I mean it might be something they said? Crazy people do crazy things, and fearing that crazy people might do something because you said something is giving in to them. People are not cattle or children. They are responsible of their actions, they alone.

    “In all our argumentations, there is usually some truth. That’s why it’s so hard to argue about immigration. The question is what has been left out. In the immigration debate, individual facts are offered as evidence to justify much broader conclusions, for example about the net benefit or cost of immigration, or about the value or lack of value of ethnic identities. The truth from my viewpoint is that the vast majority of arguments offered against immigrants if turned back on Finns in Finnish society would lead us to a very divided society. ”

    Agreed, and it’s important to point that out.

    “In fact, it would almost certainly end being a society with less freedom of expression and less compassion. I know compassion is seen as a soft-touch liberal notion, but actually, it’s a fundamental pillar of modern society which we all benefit from in many ways.”

    I think people either have compassion or don’t. Some more, some less. Mistreating, insulting, judging and challenging them, will make them lose whatever compassion they have. That’s a one thing that unites all people, and in understanding that, there’s a key to solve things. But I don’t really see anyone reaching for that key. It’s all just finger pointing, lies, and trying to make the other side look bad, stupid and wrong.

  30. Mark

    Method

    – “These things don’t happen in public. They happen when there’s no one around. I have changed my mind many times, of course there have always been other factors at work too.”

    That might be true. But psychologists have found that the more you argue for a position, the more entrenched your opinion becomes. Not to say people don’t change there mind, but it gets harder. Allah-oho (wink) has a very public profile, so there is much more potential loss of face in ‘crossing the floor’. But Winston Churchill did it and had a great political career afterwards, so it does happen.

    – I think it’s in my personality to disagree if no one else is doing it at all. It needs to be done, because without opposition, there’s no real advancement or possibility for at least some form of clarity.

    If your objective is to play Devil’s Advocate to open up a debate, i see no harm in it. But let’s not forget that when it comes to immigration, we are talking about people and matters that can seriously affect their wellbeing and prospects.

    – “How I see it is, the pro-immigration sentiment contain elements just as faulty, and that sentiment alone was the mainstream media sentiment, and against that there was an empty place which H-a filled.”

    I understand what you are saying, but there was much more to the silence of the political parties that reflects political history. Parties did discuss immigration, behind closed doors. But politicians across Europe made a strategic decision not to openly engage what was perceived as the Far Right, so as not to give it ligitimacy. Many were warning as much as 20 years ago that that was a mistake, but it’s an understandable one. As it is, the Far Right has evolved more a more populist platform in recent decades, which has increased their appeal, but they still have the more extreme strands that have fed their ranks in the ‘lean years’. This push and pull between the centre ground and the extremes has been a feature of politics and affects all parties.

    – “It’s a matter of personality it seems. Some people only see possibilities, some threats.”

    I think that’s a good point. When I reflect on that, it makes me realise that there must be some level of detachment from the issue if it’s coming down to a personality trait as to what approach one takes to the subject.

    – “I think neither one of those people are fit to asses the situation rationally, and both of them need each other”

    I’m not convinced that putting everything into those boxes [optimist vs. pessimist] is an adequate approach to this subject. In truth, people won’t fall neatly into the boxes and also, there leaves little room for deciding whether the optimism/pessimist is from the facts about immigration or from the personality of the person discussing it. If we assume it’s personality, that’s a potential disaster; if we assume it’s from the facts, we miss the very good point that you make about personality. I think these are just good things to be aware of while debating, but that the meat of the debate should focus very squarely on human rights and whether or not our approach is undermining them.

    – “First ones need the latter to not fuck everything up, latter the first ones to move forward. I think that’s how societies work.”

    I don’t see how an optimist is destined for fuck things up or that pessimists cannot move forward. Again, i like your point, but you just try to extract too much from it, me thinks.

    – “Society with no contrast or conflict is stagnating and possibly on it’s deathbed.”

    I think you are talking hyper-realities here. Show me a society without contrast or conflict? One thing that might be useful for you to put into your mix is ‘power’. Who has power and what they are doing with it has a lot to do whether we might see a society stagnating.

    – “From a standpoint where Finland and it’s future is something of interest, it of course would be wise to gain more than lose….[Finland as a nation] is not a corporation, or daycare.’

    You make some more good points. There is of course much more to a nation than its economic structures or it’s welfare. Important things to add are the insitutions of governance. Sounds bording, but these are societal structures that embody our values, provide us with various freedoms and restrictions and generally ensure that it doesn’t all fall into chaos.

    – “To me it’s more about the people: my family and my friends.”

    I can understand this. It’s difficult to extend ‘care’ beyond family and friends. Not to be too ageist, but I think it is something we do more as we get older. The experience of having kids and understanding other nameless adults not just as competitors (job market, mating game) is the basis for a much deeper appreciation of our shared values and the values of our relatively co-operative society.

    – “Actually he has answered this [about inciting racist attack]. I listened to him and Jani Toivola discussing things. I have to agree with him, everyones words can be used wrongly.”

    In principle I also agree. I’m very much against certain elements of self-censorship. But there are responsibilities to ‘free speech’ all the same. It’s not a cart blanche to rip into minorities. There are other contradictions here wrth noting. Allah-oho does not like the mixing of religion and state that is a big part of some Muslim culture, as it has been for Christian culture until the recent past (though undermined somewhat in America these days). If we take him at his word, then he should not be discussing issues relating to the Muslim faith – such as Mohammed’s child marriage – in the political arena. That’s not to say these things shouldn’t be discussed, e.g. the rights of children or women in regard to religion, but they should not be discussed in the political domain unless there is a specific piece of legislation on the table that is requesting a change in the law in regard to religious freedoms. Anything less is very much mixing religion and state. I’m not so naive as to think that religion plays no part in politics, but as a representative of a political party, there clearly need to be different responsibilities in regard to ‘free speech’. And generally, of course, there are. But that ‘silence’ is interpreted as putting ones head in the sand. Not true. And not anywhere near as simple.

    – “I think people either have compassion or don’t. Some more, some less. Mistreating, insulting, judging and challenging them, will make them lose whatever compassion they have.”

    I imagine you are talking about people concerned about immigration, but I see it applying equally to immigrants and the defamation of their culture and standing in Finnish society.

    – “But I don’t really see anyone reaching for that key. It’s all just finger pointing, lies, and trying to make the other side look bad, stupid and wrong.”

    I like your focus on solutions. 🙂 Thanks for debating, Method. Maybe we can talk some about solutions?

  31. Mark

    Seppo

    – “The most useful is probably place of birth. We have the exact number of people who are born abroad (=immigrants) and also the countries where they are born. With this info we can make most necessary evalutions I think.”

    We also can record mother tongue, which is sometimes used to assess services affecting minorities. Should we record ethnicity? It doesn’t seem necessary yet.

    Many studies done in Finland look at issues affecting minorities, including the effects of circumcision etc., so it’s not all about making them look good.

    A useful study would be a proper economic and social evaluation. And by that, I don’t mean something that is just going to look at welfare costs, with no relevant comparisons. For example, if immigrants form part of the poorest communities, then they should be compared to the Finnish poor, not with average Finns, which is currently the case. That way, you avoid distorted conclusions that overlook that poverty might disproportionately affect immigrants.

    Take for example crime, which is perceived to affect immigrant communities more. Poverty does affect crime, even if we don’t fully understand how. If the level of poverty per population is less for native Finns, then one might also expect a lower crime rate per population, which is what we see.

    Poverty needs to be seen in various dimensions, including education, work skills, and also political representation. I’d like to see studies that look at the impacts of immigration over several time frames. I’d like to see the costs of immigration compared again, not to the average Finn, but to disadvantaged Finns (people with disabilities, or the long-term unemployed, or the rural poor etc.). In other words, compare like with like.

    I would like the focus to be on what makes some immigrants successful, and by that, I don’t mean simply by immigrant group, because there are individuals within all groups who succeed very well in Finnish society. As language resources are a huge obstacle, I would like to see a much more coherant approach to supporting language acquisition beyond the period of the immigration plan. A seperate study looking at the issue of language resources and how the spread of responsibilities between local and national governments affect them. It’s a basic fact that courses are over-subscribed, don’t go on long enough, and are not free beyond basic intermediate. Classroom learning is not flexible learning. A new online learning resource is expected in 2013, with funding coming from the European Social Fund. I would have thought that something as important as this would have direct and adequate funding from central government.

    I would like more coherant studies that look at the effects of training on job prospects and comparisons with employment prospects with similarly skilled Finns. Also, I would like to see more assessment of the important of language fluency to various jobs and employment sectors, to properly evaluate what the expected employment rates should be. That could serve as a basis for employer guidelines and also positive discrimination.

    And on and on. In fairness to researchers working in the field, i don’t have a good grasp of what’s already been done, but this knowledge doesn’t appear to be in the public domain, so I’m assuming that some of it just hasn’t been collected.

  32. Method

    -“That might be true. But psychologists have found that the more you argue for a position, the more entrenched your opinion becomes. Not to say people don’t change there mind, but it gets harder. Allah-oho (wink) has a very public profile, so there is much more potential loss of face in ‘crossing the floor’. But Winston Churchill did it and had a great political career afterwards, so it does happen.”

    Yes. I have heard that too. That’s not really effective if you’re aim is to think things through.

    -“If your objective is to play Devil’s Advocate to open up a debate, i see no harm in it. But let’s not forget that when it comes to immigration, we are talking about people and matters that can seriously affect their wellbeing and prospects.”

    I don’t have any illusion about my views making difference on a large scale.

    “I understand what you are saying, but there was much more to the silence of the political parties that reflects political history. Parties did discuss immigration, behind closed doors. But politicians across Europe made a strategic decision not to openly engage what was perceived as the Far Right, so as not to give it ligitimacy. Many were warning as much as 20 years ago that that was a mistake, but it’s an understandable one. As it is, the Far Right has evolved more a more populist platform in recent decades, which has increased their appeal, but they still have the more extreme strands that have fed their ranks in the ‘lean years’. This push and pull between the centre ground and the extremes has been a feature of politics and affects all parties.”

    But is he really far right, or does it seem like it, because in the field he’s playing he can be considered being far right. If he’s the far right, the problem’s aren’t very big. I don’t think he is, since everybody’s acting like there’s a problem. If you google “kansallinen vastarinta”, you can find out how I see “far right”. And these people don’t vote. They are beyond voting, in that 30% of people.

    -“I’m not convinced that putting everything into those boxes [optimist vs. pessimist] is an adequate approach to this subject. In truth, people won’t fall neatly into the boxes and also, there leaves little room for deciding whether the optimism/pessimist is from the facts about immigration or from the personality of the person discussing it. If we assume it’s personality, that’s a potential disaster; if we assume it’s from the facts, we miss the very good point that you make about personality. I think these are just good things to be aware of while debating, but that the meat of the debate should focus very squarely on human rights and whether or not our approach is undermining them.”

    It’s an overly simplified dicotomy. But it serves it’s purpose, to demo how the connection of things. Human rights themself don’t seem to be out of such interpretations. Some people see human rights where they only are privileges and some see the minimum. And then there are people who don’t like who’s saying it, and disagree based on that.

    -“I don’t see how an optimist is destined for fuck things up or that pessimists cannot move forward. Again, i like your point, but you just try to extract too much from it, me thinks.”

    I can see that. Should have left that out of it.

    “I think you are talking hyper-realities here. Show me a society without contrast or conflict? One thing that might be useful for you to put into your mix is ‘power’. Who has power and what they are doing with it has a lot to do whether we might see a society stagnating.”

    Societies never are at the extremes, but relate to them.

    “I can understand this. It’s difficult to extend ‘care’ beyond family and friends. Not to be too ageist, but I think it is something we do more as we get older. The experience of having kids and understanding other nameless adults not just as competitors (job market, mating game) is the basis for a much deeper appreciation of our shared values and the values of our relatively co-operative society.”

    That doesen’t mean it isn’t distorted. It’s just a different perspective, not objective reality. I mean if there’d be a thing that would threat any of these base things that I care about, I’d propably see things differently. As for now, there really isn’t any actual threats I can think of. I still want to see my kids inherit something more from me, I don’t want to leave a wreckage behind. I don’t want to be an observer and say there’s nothing I could do. I don’t want them to hear explanations from me. I want them to be proud of me and proud of themselves and have respect for others.

    -“If we take him at his word, then he should not be discussing issues relating to the Muslim faith – such as Mohammed’s child marriage – in the political arena. ”

    I don’t think his point was directed to Islam. It was directed at the authorities. A bait for Mika Illman to see, if all religions and ethnic groups share the same value in the eyes of state. And Kalske answered: “No”. Comparing Christianity to Islam seems like comparing a tire to a bicycle. As I see it, Islam is much more evolved. It’s beyond religion compared to Christianity. That’s a point often missed.

    -“I imagine you are talking about people concerned about immigration, but I see it applying equally to immigrants and the defamation of their culture and standing in Finnish society.”

    You imagined wrong. It applies to minorities too. Like I said, it’s universal, and helps at understanding why people go to extremes. They are often also pushed there. No one really wants to be there.

    -“I like your focus on solutions. 🙂 Thanks for debating, Method. Maybe we can talk some about solutions?”

    I have a strong faith in that every problem can be solved, my faith hasn’t failed me personally yet. Yes. Let’s talk solution.

    You make a point above:

    -“For example, if immigrants form part of the poorest communities, then they should be compared to the Finnish poor, not with average Finns, which is currently the case. That way, you avoid distorted conclusions that overlook that poverty might disproportionately affect immigrants. ”

    This is exactly what I’ve been thinking about this recent “affirmative action” discussion. To me the key problem is the ever rising tension between ethnic groups. The poor people are being turned on each other. I don’t really see the wisdom in it, since a poor minority will always lose to the poor majority in an confrontational situation. It segregates and promotes racism. There should only be poor people and affirmative actions should be directed towards them. For that we need studies you mentioned. The worst way to categorize people is the color of their skin, but it happens, because it’s so easy to understand. It awes me how come we need these categories on a macro- level, when we have the tools to create much more accurate categories.

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