The Finnish media should stop picturing immigrants on social rollators

by , under Enrique

One of the problems when we challenge intolerance is to find its many hiding places and sources. Intolerance has many ways of surviving. One of these is microaggression that appears innocent on the surface but reinforces your exclusion, inferiority  and to walk about in your new homeland with a social rollator as a marked human being.

A social rollator will appear before you if you accept your low standing in society. Not allowing people to attain their potential because of prejudice and discrimination is a form of social exploitation.

Picturing and spreading stereotypes of immigrants as “helpless” is wrong. I personally raise my hat to Muslims, Africans and visible immigrants who move to Finland. It takes a lot of guts to live in a country where too many are openly hostile to you.

If our white media in Finland were to be believed, you’d think that immigration is not only a problem but that the biggest groups are Muslims, Somalis and Africans. Why are these groups monopolizing our attention in the media and in the speeches of some politicians when they only comprise a small fraction of total immigrants?

Finland’s immigrant population in 2012 accounted for a a mere 3.4% (183,133 persons) of the total country’s population, according to the Population Registration Center (Väestörekisterikeskus). Of these 183,133 non-Finns, the majority were Europeans and non-Muslims. Somalis, for example, only account for 0.26% of the country’s total population.

What about religious affiliation? Surprise: The overwhelming majority (77.3%) of people in Finland are Lutherans compared with 1.47% classified as “other” religions.

Kuvankaappaus 2013-5-10 kello 14.39.48

 

Here’s a “standard” story published by the Finnish media on immigration. While the story is about the rise of racism in Europe, Suomenmaa uses Muslim women and a child to drive home the point. The majority of immigrants living in Finland are white Europeans with Africans and Muslims acquiring for a fraction of the foreign population.

If those groups that receive so much attention in the public are a tiny minority, why do they receive so much attention by the media, politicians and general public?

The answer is clear: It shows a heavy dose of ignorance and prejudice.

I’ve learned the hard way: The next time I publish an opinion piece in the Finnish media, I will ask the editors not to put a picture of a Muslim woman, black African or Asians working for a cleaning company.

Kuvankaappaus 2013-5-10 kello 14.41.39

 

When we speak of immigrants, the Finnish media too often uses Muslims and black Africans to picture this phenomenon like on this Savon Sanomat story above. In the picture we see a black man learning to crochet from a white Finn, which again could suggest that only black immigrants are fit to do menial work.

Spreading stereotypes about immigrants is just as bad – if not worse – than a racist who comes out of the closet.  At least some of us know that what the racist is saying is wrong.

Too few of us, however, don’t see how the media reinforces the same social illness in an acceptable manner.

  1. Brave

    Hi MT,
    Why that Finns think we foreigners are equal in our talents and we all should good for menial work?

    Nothing is wrong for this kind of work if a person cant do more than this… because however every one should work…
    BUT

    Myself wont accept this, because i know me and my talents…system in Finland pushed me all the time to this way but am working very hard on my life… even system treat me racist and abused me so badly with slavery system… But am hard worker and know how to save myself… even now i am working like a slave for system and cant do anything but i try so hard to win and i know i am a winner, because now nothing cant cheat me… by the way i need more time … because being under racist attack for 5 years … oh east to tell but not easy to understand.
    Me an dmy talents under racist attack… this is what i got in Finalnd
    BUt as i told they cant do this to me any more… even i been alone all the time but i won all the time…
    I am a winner. YES.
    Have a beautiful day Enrique

    • Mark

      You are not alone in having been ‘vulnerable’ in the job market and therefore having being exploited for cheap labour. I know of people that have done work for NO pay, just to get experience. This is true of the ‘media’ field in Finland, where before you could expect to do a ‘paid’ apprenticeship, but nowadays, you must expect to do an ‘unpaid’ stint in your first YEARS in the industry. How that is possible, other than for the already established and wealthy individuals within the MEDIA family, I don’t know. It is society returning to the ‘family’ system. Anyhow, that is another topic.

      It is very important to know and to believe in your talents, regardless of your circumstances, as this eventually will make a difference. Stick to that…don’t deviate!

      Racists succeed by pretending to speak for the WHOLE of society. The reality is that they don’t. But the degree to which we are prepared to believe them is the degree to which their propoganda is successful.

      This is nothing to do with the reality of racism at an individual level – the misfortune to run into a racist in one’s everyday life. This is to do with the fickle and sensitive perception of the ‘atmosphere’ within society. The negatives have a habit of adding up, when the positives are always struggling for attention. But that was always the case when it comes to rising above adversity – you have to give more than you receive!

      Good luck, Dana. Nothing of real value is ever lost!

  2. PS voter

    As “social rollator” seems to be some kind of neologism, you should try to explain what it is. At least I couldn’t understand what it is. Is it a certain tone in news, is it social welfare or what?

    Instead of complaining that there are wrong kind of pictures in news, could you offer some constructive criticism and tell what kind of pictures you would like to see? Or would you prefer not to see any pictures? And do you yet again think that news media should try to give give a altered version of reality, in order to advance some political idea?

    In that news about increase of racism in Europe (Takkula huolestui rasismista), you complained about using picture of (black) Muslims. But you self have often emphasized that visible minorities/immigrants have more problems with racism than non-visible or less visible minorities/immigrants. And even some statistics say that persons with Somalian background are more often victims of racism compared to many other immigrant groups. And I think you agree with me on the points that I mentioned. Why is then using a picture of (black) Muslims, perhaps Somalians, that wrong?

    You also asked why some immigrant groups monopolize “our attention in the media and in the speeches of some politicians”. I think that this can be explained at least partly, because certain ethnic groups tend to have much more problems in integrating to this society compared to others. For example, unemployment levels are quite high, there are different conflicts because of religion etc.

    The last point I would like to make is nit picking, but you misquoted the statistics. 1.08 percent was not the size of other religions, but the size of population who are members of Orthodox Church. The size of other religions is 1.47 percent. However, it is worth to remember that in the group of persons who don’t officially belong to any religious group (20,14 percent) contain religious persons, who just aren’t in the official registry members of any religion.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      PS Voter, “a social rollator” is an aide one uses to survive. Pensioners use a rollator to walk about; some immigrants use social rollators to survive in this society. People should be given the opportunity to stand on their feet without a social rollator.

      That was my point.

      –I think that this can be explained at least partly, because certain ethnic groups tend to have much more problems in integrating to this society.

      Do you know such immigrants?

      –For example, unemployment levels are quite high, there are different conflicts because of religion etc.

      It’s funny how we blame the immigrant for not adapting. This may be true in some cases but we rarely if ever look at the majority population, which may have an issue with accepting cultural diversity.

      –The last point I would like to make is nit picking, but you misquoted the statistics. 1.08 percent was not the size of other religions, but the size of population who are members of Orthodox Church.

      You’re right and thank you for pointing that out. “Other” religious groups account for 1.47%. The percentage is still small.

  3. PS voter

    PS Voter, “a social rollator” is an aide one uses to survive. Pensioners use a rollator to walk about; some immigrants use social rollators to survive in this society. People should be given the opportunity to stand on their feet without a social rollator.

    Could you give some more concrete examples? I am still not completely sure what you mean.

    –I think that this can be explained at least partly, because certain ethnic groups tend to have much more problems in integrating to this society.

    Do you know such immigrants?

    Yes. I have even lived with my best friend, who happens to from such immigrant group, for many years. He has been relatively successful, and quite successful among his ethnic group. But I have also seen many quite sad cases how religion and foreign cultural habits that simple don’t work in this society (those habits might not work even in the societies from where they come from), have caused a lot of problems.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      PS Voter, it’s quite astonishing how some in Europe still don’t get what immigration is all about taking into account that millions of Europeans migrated to the New World and to other regions.

      Why do you think people move from one country to the next? Because they seek opportunity, a new and better life. Is that shameful? If you think it is you should ask why over 1.2 million Finns emigrated mostly to North America and to Sweden. There’s no shame in that. On the contrary, it’s something to be proud of.

      When the Finns moved to the Americas they also built their associations and did everything possible to conserve their language and culture. In Argentina, where they founded a colony in the subtropical jungle, some never learned to speak Spanish. They had problems in adapting. Did you know that Finns had a bad name in the United States because they were involved in strikes and active politically.

      Immigration is about opportunity. Some adapt faster and better than others.

      Explain to me what the PS and other anti-immigration groups want to do about “multiculturalism” if they believe it’s a failure. What is the solution or fix in your opinion?

  4. PS voter

    PS Voter, it’s quite astonishing how some in Europe still don’t get what immigration is all about taking into account that millions of Europeans migrated to the New World and to other regions.

    I am not sure how this is related to my message.

    Because they seek opportunity, a new and better life. Is that shameful? If you think it is you should ask why over 1.2 million Finns emigrated mostly to North America and to Sweden. There’s no shame in that. On the contrary, it’s something to be proud of.

    At least in North America, what immigrants did to native people, was quite shameful. And even when it is not shameful, we may have good reasons to stop it. For example, free mass immigration is incompatible with a good social security system. I prefer to have social security system and having human rights in Finland over to free movement.

    Did you know that Finns had a bad name in the United States because they were involved in strikes and active politically.

    Yes, I knew that.

    Explain to me what the PS and other anti-immigration groups want to do about “multiculturalism” if they believe it’s a failure. What is the solution or fix in your opinion?

    Less immigration and more integration. The level of immigration should be kept so low that economy, social security don’t suffer, prices of homes don’t skyrocket, crime rates don’t increase heavily, slums aren’t created and human rights or other western values aren’t threatened. I think that would be a good start.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –Less immigration and more integration. The level of immigration should be kept so low that economy, social security don’t suffer, prices of homes don’t skyrocket, crime rates don’t increase heavily, slums aren’t created and human rights or other western values aren’t threatened. I think that would be a good start.

      In my opinion, you are exaggerating. There are studies that show that immigrants use less social security than natives; most of the crime committed in Finland is by white Finns, not immigrants. What western values are you speaking of? Sure, those that infringe on human rights shouldn’t be safeguarded. I do not consider, however, plans to ban veils and other clothing as “protecting human rights.” It’s more of an infringement than anything else.

      So, in a nutshell, you think that Europeans can emigrate to the four corners of the Earth, wipe out indigenous populations, promote such practices through a pseudo-science called eugenics, and then state after that that we want people we feel comfortable with to emigrate to Europe. It doesn’t work that way, PS Voter. Globalization and the fact that more people are on the move than ever before these days, coupled by our aging population, means that your hope of minimum immigration won’t ever materialize.

      If that’s the case, how do you find proactive solutions that permit our society to become a healthy culturally diverse society.

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