Who is allowed to debate a social ill like racism and exclusion in Finland?

by , under Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

After being the editor of Migrant Tales for about five years, I get the message: Finns with international backgrounds, immigrants never mind Muslims are not allowed to take part in the ongoing debate on Finland’s ever-growing cultural diversity.We are not allowed to raise a finger nor an objection.  The reason that we are doing exactly that on Migrant Tales explains why we are no longer such a faint voice.

Even if our growth has been quite breathtaking and spectacular especially in the past year, we are still a hand-on-heart operation run on our pure passion for social justice and against  racism.  We believe that everyone who lives in this country should be treated with respect and have equal opportunities.

Contrary to what our critics claim, and there are many of them, Finland is our home-sweet-home. Our aim on Migrant Tales is to defend our Constitution and the values that make us  a successful Nordic welfare state. Values like social equality (tasa-arvo) and mutual acceptance are defended tooth and nail.

If there are threats to our society, they do not come from abroad but are found within our borders. Some of these groups even in parliament want to turn the hands of time back to the 1930s but in a 2010s context. Apart from a few changes, like substituting Muslims for Jews as the greatest menace to our society, it is the same beast in different clothing.

Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja was quoted as saying on HBL that nearly half of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party MPs belong to the far right.

Who is allowed to debate social ills like racism in Finland?

Everyone. And we encourage more immigrants, Finns with international backgrounds, visible minorities and Finns to take part in the debate.

Nothing can nor will intimidate us from raising our voices.

  1. Rocker

    ”Migrant Tales is a blog that debates some of the salient issues facing the immigrant and minority community in Finland. It aims to be a voice for those whose views and situation are understood poorly and heard faintly by the media, politicians and public.”

    I think this aim is not fulfilled. When looking at the recent topics I would say it’s more a blog for:

    -generating bad publicity for PS by repetitive topics on them
    -bitter people, discussing current majority topics that are 15-20 to 50 years back in time and mostly negative
    -avoiding bad topics like overrepresentation in immigrant criminality, immigrant unemployment and South-American pedophile suspects in Tampere
    -bloggers who want to avoid/deny statistical facts
    -bloggers who deny their own statements
    -bloggers who defend other blogger’s most absurd statments
    -discussing same thing over and over again, ex police complaint on 3 topics

    With these Migrant Tales represents another group with a negative face for immigrants in Finland. There are many examples of those above to be confirmed.

    • Migrant Tales

      Are you upset, Rocker? You sound like it.

      -generating bad publicity for PS by repetitive topics on them

      Remember the saying? What goes around comes around? The PS are a classic case.

      -bitter people, discussing current majority topics that are 15-20 to 50 years back in time and mostly negative

      A word of advice: don’t use adjectives and adverbs because it gives your argument a flat tire. Use strong nouns and verbs.

      -avoiding bad topics like overrepresentation in immigrant criminality, immigrant unemployment and South-American pedophile suspects in Tampere

      The problem and the big difference between your line of argument and mine is that I don’t like to generalize about groups. If a person is guilty of something he should pay the price. Isn’t that a fair argument? Your arguments show a generous helping of colorblind racism.

      -bloggers who want to avoid/deny statistical facts

      Learn first how to use “statistical facts.”

      -bloggers who deny their own statements
      Like yours?

      -bloggers who defend other blogger’s most absurd statments

      Ditto.

      -discussing same thing over and over again, ex police complaint on 3 topics

      No need to read them. This is a free country.

      With these Migrant Tales represents another group with a negative face for immigrants in Finland. There are many examples of those above to be confirmed.

      Oh no! We are now the “negative face” of Finland. Good one. Look, I have been here for five years, seen over 20,000 comments written close to 1,000 blog entries and you are trying to scare me with words? Grow up!

  2. Mark

    Rocker

    -generating bad publicity for PS by repetitive topics on them.

    Rocker …. come on, FFS. You know full well that PS are a party that target immigrations and ethnicity as a political tool. You also know that the way they have to fight off bad publicity because of racists and nazis in their camp is their own problem and no-one else’s.

    -bitter people, discussing current majority topics that are 15-20 to 50 years back in time and mostly negative

    Bollocks. I’m not bitter at all. And the topics being discussed are relevant to today, even if it is logging the changes that have taken place between the past and the present. Or is that just fucking smart for you?

    -avoiding bad topics like overrepresentation in immigrant criminality, immigrant unemployment and South-American pedophile suspects in Tampere

    The topic is not avoided at all. In fact, the topic comes up again and again in the comments section and it’s dealt with in great detail, the inaccuracies, the lack of credible sources, and the complete neglect of proper statistical weighting as an absolute prerequisite to credible interpretation of those statistics. Not only that, but that statistics are thrown up again and again as an argument against a ‘group’ of people shows how little individual rights are respected and protected by those representing the anti-immigration movement.

    -bloggers who want to avoid/deny statistical facts

    Most of you muppets haven’t a clue about how to properly treat statistics. You constantly quote statistics out of context, with no weighting.

    -bloggers who deny their own statements

    Boring……

    -bloggers who defend other blogger’s most absurd statments

    Boo hoo!!!

    -discussing same thing over and over again, ex police complaint on 3 topics

    Enrique’s choice as to what he wants to talk about. If you really don’t like it, you don’t have to come back. It’s his blog. Most people who blog on things like this will return to an issue in subsequent posts, either to add more thoughts or to detail developments. That’s blogging mate!

    With these Migrant Tales represents another group with a negative face for immigrants in Finland. There are many examples of those above to be confirmed.

    Well, that should make you happy then, if it shows us in a negative light, because it’s quite clear you do not like immigrants, especially immigrants that can express their thoughts!

  3. justicedemon

    The problem of gaining a seat at the round table of public debate in Finland was uppermost in the minds of politically active foreigners in Finland back in the 1970s and 1980s. Central and local government has become increasingly willing to hear the views of concerned parties since that time, though the corporatist format in which those views are often heard can still stifle legitimate points of view and obstruct worthwhile ideas and innovations.

    Positive measures to curb abuses of licensed migrant labour, for example, were already sorely needed in the late 1970s, but these have only been introduced with any degree of enthusiasm since the mainstream labour market organisations began to understand the problems of migrant workers and the distorting economic impact of abusive labour practices. The campaign materials produced by immigrants in the late 1980s now have an oddly prophetic flavour, as it took the corporatist monolith nearly two decades to recognise that these were real problems and that the recommended solutions were in everyone’s best interests. The outcome has been a long series of opportunities for politically active foreigners to say “we told you so” and “it’s about time”.

    The problem with allowing minorities to be heard is that you often wind up listening to them and agreeing that their proposals are good not just for minorities, but for everyone. Racism and social exclusion are significant obstacles to social and economic efficiency. Modern societies will succeed to the extent that they eliminate these obstacles and resist the efforts of sectional interests to profit from them at the expense of society as a whole. A cultural predisposition to hear all points of view is one effective instrument of this resistance.

    • Migrant Tales

      JusticeDemon, good points. So, when speaking of inclusion and challenging social ills like racism and exclusion, it is a much CHEAPER solution to the tax payer. This, I believe, is the point and what should be told to the politicians and everyone else concerned.

  4. Rocker

    Migrant Tales

    ”The problem and the big difference between your line of argument and mine is that I don’t like to generalize about groups.”

    Yo said like this in one article

    ”Hovioikeus on todennut Jussi Halla-ahon liioittelijaksi. Liioittelu onkin leimaa antavin retoriikkatapa kaikille perussuomalaisille.”

    Was it somebody else who wrote this article?

    Sure, I do not need to read them and neither should you if you think that you want to give something positive.

  5. eyeopener

    Rocker.

    Do I understand your childishness as a kind of “cloack” for defending the same issues that can be found in the “piss-wall” website-environments in Finland?

    Grow up and discuss properly.

    Thank you!!

  6. eihannu

    Enrique “The problem and the big difference between your line of argument and mine is that I don’t like to generalize about groups. ”

    BUAHAHA. Should i search your posts about “what is wrong in finland” and where you tell how finns are facist and racist 😀

    and your lies and “blackpainting” like “nazi-spirited” what you got from one opinion. http://dl.dropbox.com/u/60636503/SMDno-2009-404.pdf proof and end of discussion.
    Or your “phobia” where you use soviet way to paint everyone who oppose you as mentally ill.

    And your unwillingless to fix lies from your blog including chainsaw and group even if police tells those arent true and urge that spreading rumours has to stop.

    • Migrant Tales

      –BUAHAHA. Should i search your posts about “what is wrong in finland” and where you tell how finns are facist and racist

      That’s why I use the word some before Finn. Get it?

      And yes, SOME PS MPs are in the far right like the NAZI-SPIRITED Suomen Sisu association. I don’t like fascism. Do you?

  7. Rocker

    eyeopener

    problems with the spelling? cloaak, cloock or cloak?

    You scare yourself Migrant Tales, I do not see any reason why anybody should be afraid of your statements. For sure not a real Rocker should be scared of you.

    With all good ethics of language eyeopenor and D4R should be removed from this site.

  8. eyeopener

    Hi Rocker.

    No not really, Happen to have a slang dictionary?? Very much used i SF movies. But you are probably more “down-to-earth” 🙂 A real rocker?? Who ao What’s that. I kpow many but not one like you!! Hells Angels’ or Banderos’ type??

    Let’s be frank, Better you withdraw from MT and D4R and I will stay.

    You -unfortunately- do not know how a good discussion is executed. We in MT don’t need “garbage-can” attitudes!!

  9. Peter of Finland

    “With all good ethics of language eyeopenor and D4R should be removed from this site.”

    Rocker: If you are suggesting that eyeopener and D4R should be excluded from this forum due to their command of the English language, you would also be excluded due to the same criteria. 😆

    All: Migrant Tales welcomes ALL who genuinely wish to discuss the “salient issues facing the immigrant and minority community in Finland.” You do not have to be a native English language speaker nor does Migrant Tales require users to provide proof of language competency in order to contribute.

    • Migrant Tales

      –All: Migrant Tales welcomes ALL who genuinely wish to discuss the “salient issues facing the immigrant and minority community in Finland.” You do not have to be a native English language speaker nor does Migrant Tales require users to provide proof of language competency in order to contribute.

      Peter of Finland, well said!

  10. eyeopener

    Hi Peter.

    I don’t take offenses like Rocker’s as serious. Let him show his command (IELTS of TOEFL) !!
    Would be interesting to see. I am very well aware of me not being a native speaker. However my score on IELTS is 9.5. Something wrong with that?? Rock and roll 🙂

    Indeed. genuinely wishing to discuss is the proper attitude. However, sometimes I like to get into the heads of some of the participants using their language, attitudes etc. When you do that and express yourself in their way there seems to be a problem.

    Where “copy-and-paste!” seems to be an acceptable way of communication, the opponent refuses you to do that. Childish!!.

    It seems that my attitude has lead to a complaint to the police. So be it. We will see what will be the continuation of this complaint.

    Thanks for taking a stand!!

  11. Rocker

    Peter of Finland

    I have not called half a nation numbskulls nor have I incited death on Soini.

    May be Enrique’s case will not have so heavy impact in court after a few cases on him have found him guilty for hate speech and incitement to death.

    • Migrant Tales

      –I have not called half a nation numbskulls nor have I incited death on Soini.

      Rocker, are you offended? How do you think some immigrants feel with the same language you use to blaspheme and victimize them? Check out the language of Risto “James” Hirvisaari or your fav, Jussi Halla-aho. What kind of language do they use? Half a million is a drop in the bucket compared with the billions these characters insult wholesale. Give me a break!

  12. Rocker

    Migrant Tales

    There is not enough ”man” in any of you to insult me.

    It takes less than five minutes to learn the offensive words that are used by eyeopenor and D4R.

    • Migrant Tales

      –There is not enough ”man” in any of you to insult me.

      I don’t need to. You do that yourself.

  13. eyeopener

    Hi Focker.

    You are a quick learner as we are quick experiences. How does it feel to get ” a kick in the teeth”. I don’t need the be “a man” to kick your ash.

    Big boy. Trying to make yourself a picture.

    Look in the mirror and you see a…….Focker!!

  14. Sasu

    Ei ole mitään järkeä alkaa väitellä siitä onko rasismia vai ei. Rocker näyttää kuulua siihen valittetavan suureen ryhmään ihmisiä jotka joko eivät usko rasismin olemaksa oloon tai haluavat väitellä siitä.

    Minun kantani Rocker tyypin ihmiä kohtaan on jättää huomiotta. Näiden ihmisten kieltäytyminen uskomasta on jo itsestään rasismin osoitus. Värillisten etenkin mustien rasismin kokemuksien kieltäminen olettaa että valkoiset tietävät paremmin. Kuka meistä olisi valmis sanomaan naiselle, että miehet tietävät onko sexsismiä koska miehet eivät ole tunteelisia. Rotu asiassa asia on ihan sama.

    Muuten Rocker, Voisitko kertoa jonkun konreettisen ratkaisun maahanmuutto ongelmaan vai kiellätkö sinä myös maahanmuutto ongelman. Ainoo sääntö on, että massa karkoitus ei ole vaihto ehto.

    Muutkin voivat vastata kysymykseen

  15. Rocker

    Sasu

    Don’t try to make conclusions of my comments I never said.

    You could answer your own question first.

    Denmark wanted to tighten deportation laws, since as one minister said ”muslims are worse than climate change” because of their high criminal rate. And it was against all odds not the DPP. 97-7 accepted the strict law which is not nearly the same as i Finland though Enrique indicated so. No racism since muslims can be all races.

    ”Andy, about Denmark…The problem with Denmark aren’t the immigrants per say but the Danes in general and the Danish People’s Party in particular. What a mad house. I know that some PS MPs like Jussi Halla-aho have in high esteem the DPP model. I think it is shameful, racist and a sham.” Again, it is muslims they want to get rid of, not immigrants in general. Halla-aho hasn’t been convicted of racism despite that you seem to want to believe so.

    Regarding the gratitude issue, the parliament thought immigrants should show gratitude but Sasu not and may be Enrique neither.

    Sasu’s eastern european countries theory was incorrect.

    • Migrant Tales

      –Denmark wanted to tighten deportation laws, since as one minister said ”muslims are worse than climate change” because of their high criminal rate.

      Rocker are you a parrot? This minister must be maybe Søren Pind, maybe? Why do you live in the past. The DPP and the minority government got the boot in the last election.

      You say that immigrants should show gratitude. What about some gratitude towards immigrants?

      Rocker, you must love the Nuiva Manifesto.

  16. Plague Champion

    Um, as a member of a different minority, I do think that you guys are doing rather important work bringing awareness to issues relating to your particular group. The problem on this site however is, as I see it, that often, especially in the comments, your tone is WAY too condescending towards your opponents, and many of you become too emotional in your responses. Both undermine your message. I do agree that “eyeopener” should be removed from the site or at least his posts should be moderated (read: heavily edited), but not because of the reasons given, but because rather than doing what his name suggests, he’s acting as an eye shutter with his emotionally driven, spiteful commentary ridden with bad English. Bad English in and out of itself isn’t that terrible, but is calling other people names, cursing and being generally spiteful something you want others to see of the pro-immigration group? You should leave that to the people who oppose you, unless you want to be dragged down to their level.

    As an example of this, I found myself reading the posts of that gloaming (sp?) person with the quotes of his choosing rather than yours, since he kept his composure, didn’t start making personal attacks and never seemingly “raised his voice”, and kept to the issue being debated. Every time I tried to read the posts of people debating with him, they were full of “you’re stupid”-level personal attacks and a plethora of other things which I view as negative. I found myself *agreeing* with him, in part because he could deliver his message so much better. Fact is, EVEN if you had all the facts on your side, you can easily lose your audience with bad behavior. And it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve had to go through that particular argument. You need to keep your composure regardless of how trite and boring it seems to you. You can easily lose support with trash talk.

    Just my two cents.

    • Migrant Tales

      Hi Plague Champion and welcome to Migrant Tales.

      It depends what your perspective is. Are we condescending, as you point out, or not depends from where you are looking at the debate and your stance. Is defending our society’s values and speaking out against racism being condescending to those that are clearly breaking the law and promoting a social ill in our society depends, again, on perspective. Are you white and part of the system or are you of another ethnicity that is not. Are you the social punching bag or not.

      This is a serious topic (social exclusion and racism) and because of it raises a lot of passions. Even so, it is my opinion that we should have zero tolerance in our society for many of the the ills we see in society. Debating whether racism is ok or not with the help of red herrings is exactly the same as if debating whether we should substitute our present form of government for fascism. There is no debate, no moving of the goalposts.

      One of the things that you hear is a lot of is malarkey and in generous quantities. How do you react? People do it in different ways. Some use the same method that a racist would use to justify his world view. People may feel offended but they rarely if ever stop to think that is their behavior juxtaposed.

      Language is nothing but a tool. I am very happy and even proud of people who have the guts to speak out. That is the whole idea of this blog, right? The opportunity to speak out with the help of a semi-famous quote: “I’d rather not know how to write and have something to say than know how to write and have nothing to say.”

  17. Klay_Immigrant

    -“The topic is not avoided at all. In fact, the topic comes up again and again in the comments section and it’s dealt with in great detail, the inaccuracies, the lack of credible sources, and the complete neglect of proper statistical weighting as an absolute prerequisite to credible interpretation of those statistics. Not only that, but that statistics are thrown up again and again as an argument against a ‘group’ of people shows how little individual rights are respected and protected by those representing the anti-immigration movement.”

    Always makes me laugh when people think that statistical weighting of crime data for figures such as rape (where in some countries over 95% is committed by people with foreign background) can change the fact they are disproportionately overrepresented. What planet are you people on? How delusion can one be? And when you delve even deeper to take into account the continent or religious background of these people then the conclusion is even more stark.

    I know from previous experiences that JusticeStupid is gonna start commenting that 100% of serious economic crimes are committed by Finns therefore immigrants are the only ones that can be trusted. The main difference and flaw that has been overlooked and blows this argument out of the water is how many immigrants are in a position to commit a serious economic crime whether financially, by education or by contacts? Very few and even fewer in proportion to Finns, whereas literally any male can go out tonight and rape someone or at least try to. What makes this comparison even more bizarre and silly is that Finland consistently tops rankings for least corruption and bribe taking so the chances are if an equal number of Finns and immigrants were able to commit serious economic crimes any reasonable prediction would be that Finns would be more trustworthy.

    • Migrant Tales

      Klay, my comment to Plague Champion answers in part your comment.

  18. eyeopener

    Hi Plague Champion.

    Your name looks like irony, doesn’t it. But besides that your point is that I should be expelled from MT, isn’t it. Who are you to say so?? Do you champion yourself as the moral centre of MT??

    What’s your language level?? Native speaker?? Would like to learn something!

    If you have a problem with my contributions why do you read them. I am quite sure that you have no idea about my motives. Better to ask them first. Than, my dear friend, you can continue commenting me.

  19. Mary Mekko

    The question of “Who is allowed to debate…” is clear. Everyone in a free country can debate it. Why do you find this not true, Enrique, when you as a Jewish minority and foreign-born immigrant can run this blog without interference from the Internet police?

    If Finland does come to the point where no one can speak his mind in any direction on these topics, that would be a sad day for Finland indeed.

    I say, let everyone speak. If Finns feel pushed around by immigrants, let them speak. Let them be specific, so we can know what the true concerns are. Don’t denigrate them. Show respect to the native Finns even if your foreign arrogance feels the need to “teach the Finns”. Let the Finns teach you something… that freedom has to cut both ways!

  20. Santeri

    I am a proud voter of the Finns (PS) party. I am massively critical of the state of EU democracy, highly against the bail-out packages that are transferring the losses of banks to EU taxpayers while Greece is going to go bankrupt regardless. I also think Finnish politics have been way to blind to public opinion and having a questionable concensus. For example, over the years 70 % of Finns have opposed mandatory Swedish teaching in schools in favor of a free-to-choose language like Russian, German or Spanish. Yet, no other party than the PS has took it as an agenda. That’s just a tiny example, but you get the point. The current government has Left Alliance and the right-wing National Coalition Party. They don’t have that many differences now, and that’s what’s wrong in Finnish politics.

    Yes, I also think that the current development aid of over 1 billion Euros, of which 1/3 is debt money, is too much in this financial situation. I have nothing against food aid, but development aid is a bit more complicated on how efficient it is. I have nothing against workforce migration, but I do not think Finland will have a big labour shortage anyway with this rate of China phenomenon. You see, the baby-boom generation of 1946 for example retired 3 years ago already.

    I do question the Finnish highest social securities for refugees in Europe (according to Yle TV1 MOT investigative journalism) as I question other welfare traps for any Finns. I am also hoping that we will not follow the path of failed immigrant integration like France with massive riots time from time. Does that make me a racist? I don’t think so, I don’t even think the term ‘race’ can be applied to human beings.

    What you are doing here, my friend, is that you say you will not quit this blog until the PS party has been reduced to a minor party. Well, the whole PS party is not about immigration. That would be a silly claim. Jussi Halla-aho and a few others are, but with just immigration issues you wouldn’t get 560 000 votes. There are a lot more important issues such as those I mentioned in the first chapter.

    Don’t hate a party for a single thing in some of their policies or for a few MPs . Be open, have you ever looked at what PS members of the parliament have talked about in the parliament speeches? A lot not about immigration, I can assure you. They’ve taken good stances (IMO) to important matters relevant to any of us.

    Kind regards

    • Migrant Tales

      Hi Santeri and welcome to Migrant Tales. Thank you for bringing your thoughts to our blog even though I do not agree with them.

      Mark made a lot of valid points. You state: “Well, the whole PS party is not about immigration. That would be a silly claim.”

      “Mark states: And yet almost everything you discussed is about ‘foreigners’ and finding reasons not to share things with them, money, expertese, opportunities, even when this clearly benefits Finns too.”

      We have mentioned it on a number of occasions that the PS is a mixed bag of ideologies. There are all types but it generally can be broken up into two camps: former Rural Party, SMP (Timo Soini and others) and the far right Suomen Sisu wing led by Jussi Halla-aho and others.

      To put it is plain English: The PS is a populist right-wing party that is anti-EU, anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam.

      Do I think that such a party will steer us into a successful century? No.

      But let me throw the ball in your court. What do you think Finland should do to make every person who lives here a welcomed member of this society? Do you think the Nuiva Manifesto is the answer?

      If you think multiculturalism (our immigration policy lets in too many non-EU citizens) is bad, what do you suggest.

  21. Rocker

    Migrant Tales

    ”The absolute leader here is none other than Pia Kjærsgaard and the Danish People’s Party and those who supported her. But then came July 22 and Anders Breivik appeared… Every thing changed on that tragic date in Norway, even the hate speech of parties like the DPP.”

    My past is fresh in comparison to your 20 year ancien history. Besides your past is a lie or else incorrect.

    Why do you say DPP are so strong if they were kicked out (election) 2 months after the Norway shooting? The new deportation law was a parliament decision. 93 % of DANISH PARLIAMENT ARE FAR RIGHT.

    ”What is interesting about Denmark is how a far-right party like the DPP can hijack the political situation of a county for 10 years and get support.”

    ”While not being a part of the cabinet, the Danish People’s Party maintained a close cooperation with the 2001–2011 government parties on most issues. ”

    They have not been in the government but they hi-jack the political situation goes beyond my comprehension. Can you explain?

  22. Mark

    Klay

    Always makes me laugh when people think that statistical weighting of crime data for figures such as rape (where in some countries over 95% is committed by people with foreign background) can change the fact they are disproportionately overrepresented. What planet are you people on? How delusion can one be? And when you delve even deeper to take into account the continent or religious background of these people then the conclusion is even more stark.

    Klay, statistical weighting comes into play for some figures, such as violent crime, where people like to quote statistics based on crimes per 1000 of population. Other statistics are misrepresented in other ways. Your complaint about the issue of rape and statistical weighting is a straw man.

    Frankly, I find your approach to this be deluded. First, you go hunting abroad for the absolute worst of your statistics (in some countries, over 95%…). What is the idea of that? You do not even provide a source, so how can that be evaluated? Clearly you are trying to smear particular groups of people by hunting for statistics.

    Second, in Finland, it is well known that the reporting threshold for rape is much higher when it involves a native Finn because those rapes are perpetrated mostly by men known to the victim. Rape involving foreigners is usually when they have known each other for a very short time. In that situation, the reporting threshold for foreigners is nearly 50% and only 25% when it’s a Finn. Tukinainen rape crisis centre report that 6% of their callers report the perpetrator was a foreigner, significantly lower than that based on police figures.

    Third, it is true that attitudes to women are different in different cultures. This is an issue that needs addressing and is addressed in literature given to immigrants when they come to Finland, where the equal status of women is described. What is required is change and education. And before you sneer at the word education, it is necessary. You know, that same process of change and education that FINALLY made rape illegal inside a marriage in Finland, when was it, oh yes, way back in…1997.

    Also, the rape laws in Finland are still the subject of much criticism from human rights and women’s organisations. Many serious rapes are reduced to the level of ‘coercive sexual contact’, even when they have involved significant violence or even imprisonment. The point of introducing that law was to increase the number of prosecutions where the sexual partner was not fully willing, but rather than increase the threshold for rape prosecution, the law was used to water down sentencing for prosecutions of more serious rapes.

    You see, Klay, that’s called putting things in perspective! If you are interested in defending rape victims, then you would address all the issues. On the contrary, you simply want something to throw at foreigners to justify your racism.

  23. Mark

    Klay

    I know from previous experiences that JusticeStupid is gonna start commenting that 100% of serious economic crimes are committed by Finns therefore immigrants are the only ones that can be trusted.

    Glad to see that you actually pay attention.

    The main difference and flaw that has been overlooked and blows this argument out of the wateris how many immigrants are in a position to commit a serious economic crime whether financially, by education or by contacts?

    You make me laugh, Klay. You seek to blow the argument out of the water and fail to see that the whole point JD has been making was that of course it can be blown out of the water, it’s based on faulty assumptions, the same faulty assumptions that lead to considering crime statistics with absolutely no requirement for demographic and other weighting.

    What makes this comparison even more bizarre and silly is that Finland consistently tops rankings for least corruption and bribe taking.

    Do you know what are generally considered to be reasons for this? Well, one of them is compassion, which underlies the entire administrative, legalistic and social security system. Think about that for a second Klay, considering that you are trying to feed off the glory of this success. How much compassion are you showing towards people? On top of that you important ethical principles like trust, transparency, responsibility, accountability, responsiveness and participation.

    How does Klay rate on these values, especially in regard to his treatment of foreigners, based on his postings here?

    compassion = none
    trust = none
    transparency = none (What IS your agenda?)
    responsibility = none (has none, takes none)
    accountability = none
    responsiveness = none (never offers solutions that are respectful of people’s human rights)
    participation = none (doesn’t seek engagement or dialogue, and certainly doesn’t consider that immigrants should be allowed to participate fully in society)

    But, hey, I could be wrong. Maybe you are not all bad, bitter, and twisted about immigration.

  24. Klay_Immigrant

    Mark for your information I’m a immigrant, a visible one that has had no problems in Finland even though I don’t live or work in the capital area or speak fluent Finnish yet. My parents were immigrants too. So I have a better idea than most the challenges it brings. With a certain mindset one will never run into problems even with people unfamiliar with immigrants. What I see with a lot of foreigners is the making of their own downfall and blaming everyone apart from themselves. Assume all you want Mark but I’m a success not because I’m special in any way but because I’m able to think from the host’s country prospective and adapt. If I’m not willing or able to adapt I wouldn’t stay, simple as that.

    I’m an annoyance to people like Enrique and yourself because unlike a white Finn you can’t simply brush me off like them with labels such as racist or xenophobic or claim that they are not in a position to comment. So what do you guys come up with? Uncle Tom. Great so much for a productive debate you guys claim you want.

    • Migrant Tales

      –I’m an annoyance to people like Enrique and yourself because unlike a white Finn you can’t simply brush me off like them with labels such as racist or xenophobic or claim that they are not in a position to comment.

      Sure we can. It shows that the person you really are goes beyond skin color. It’s about character not about being whiter than whites. White, as you know, is a subjective classification that means many things to many people. Being “white” in Sudan is different from being white in Iceland.

  25. Mark

    Santeri

    I think you make interesting points, many valid points and you would be somebody we could discuss the issues without resorting to the kind of hate politics that motivates many others to come here and criticize Migrant Tales.

    What i found interesting though is that although you said there were other reasons for voting for PS, the issues that you mentioned were significant all do to with perceptions of foreigners, minorities or related to relationships to the world beyond Finland’s borders.

    highly against the bail-out packages that are transferring the losses of banks to EU taxpayers while Greece is going to go bankrupt regardless.

    Relationship of Finland to the EU. Finland needs the EU to succeed. EU taxpayers DO have to foot the bill, because there is no-one else to foot the bill. Maybe next time we will have better regulation of banking institutions, including those that helped Greece cook their books.

    Over the years 70 % of Finns have opposed mandatory Swedish teaching in schools in favor of a free-to-choose language like Russian, German or Spanish.

    The position of Swedish as a taught minority language is to protect the rights of that minority. Many countries are looking at ways to achieve exactly that, and would give their right arm to have the same status that the minority Swedish speakers have in Finland.

    You spend a few years learning Swedish at school, like you would the subject History, and then you can forget about it if you want, just like History. In the same way as with History, you probably won’t use it much when you’ve finished, but the knowledge will help in making you a rounded individual who understands the world we live in. The same applies for Swedish – you will better appreciate and understand the position of Swedish-speaking Finns in Finland.

    Yes, I also think that the current development aid of over 1 billion Euros, of which 1/3 is debt money, is too much in this financial situation.

    And yet Finland still pays less than most Western countries as a share of their GDP. Likewise, the arguments made most often against immigration is to promote development abroad. Indeed, Finland has much expertise to share. A lot of that budget goes to helping pay the salaries of Finnish experts. The development work also goes a long way to promoting Finnish expertise abroad.

    I have nothing against food aid, but development aid is a bit more complicated on how efficient it is.

    Well, it’s of benefit to develop the educational, juditical, health, welfare and governance systems of other countries. Some benefits will take decades to fully bear fruit, if that is what you mean by ‘efficiency’.

    I do not think Finland will have a big labour shortage anyway with this rate of China phenomenon.

    Finnish experts (both economists and welfare experts) disagree with you. They think that the aging population effects will begin to be felt in 2020 and continue right up until 2050 or so. Finland is already saving money for this. It will be a problem.

    I do question the Finnish highest social securities for refugees in Europe

    Why? Finland should be proud that it treats refugees with dignity and supports their integration with additional and necessary allowances.

    as I question other welfare traps for any Finns.

    It’s only a welfare trap if starting salaries are too low or the only work they can get is part-time work. Likewise, the same expectations do not apply to immigrants that apply to others on welfare support. Immigrants do need some time to adjust and acquire another (alien) language and working skills appropriate to the Finnish work place. The most important thing is that there is a willingness to give immigrants opportunities to work by employers.

    I am also hoping that we will not follow the path of failed immigrant integration like France with massive riots time from time.

    And I think many immigrants feel the same.

    Does that make me a racist? I don’t think so, I don’t even think the term ‘race’ can be applied to human beings.

    The second part of this leaves me more worried than anything else you’ve written. While ‘race’ doesn’t exist in the strict sense, in public perception it absolutely does exist, and it would be very foolish to close our eyes to that. In fact, blindly closing your eyes to seeing racism is itself a form of racism. It’s a way of protecting your privilege. It also lacks compassion, one of the things that is supposed to make Western countries so much more ‘successful’ and places of sanctuary for refugees and immigrants.

    Well, the whole PS party is not about immigration. That would be a silly claim.

    And yet almost everything you discussed is about ‘foreigners’ and finding reasons not to share things with them, money, expertese, opportunities, even when this clearly benefits Finns too.

    They’ve taken good stances (IMO) to important matters relevant to any of us.

    I think this sums it up. PS are a special-interest-group kind of party. They are not a party for ALL Finns. Just to protect or advance the privileges and rights of the few and to undermine the rights of minorities.

  26. Mark

    Klay

    Mark for your information I’m a immigrant, a visible one that has had no problems in Finland even though I don’t live or work in the capital area or speak fluent Finnish yet.

    Yes, I know. I had not forgotten. I cannot say very much about you situation, you haven’t really revealed much of your story. but I can say that it is quite normal for someone who is racist against foreigners in their own country to keep this up even when they move to another country. In fact, as long as the racism is jointly towards the same group (much racism towards Africans in Asia, for example), then it isn’t too great a problem. This is easier and maintains the integrity of the self-image. On the back of this your ‘everyone can succeed if they try hard enough’ mantra will go down well with those who claim it is not about race but those lazy feckers from Equator. By being a diligent immigrant, which will get over the small problem that you ARE now the immigrant. Whether your personal opportunities are easier than those coming from very difficult and unstable regions of the world, I don’t know. Not all immigrants are the same, that is for sure, we all have different needs.

    My parents were immigrants too. So I have a better idea than most the challenges it brings. With a certain mindset one will never run into problems even with people unfamiliar with immigrants.

    Well, perhaps you would actually make an effort to help immigrants in some way rather than smear them? Have you been involved in immigrant groups since arriving in Finland?

    What I see with a lot of foreigners is the making of their own downfall and blaming everyone apart from themselves.

    My guess is that this is a huge oversimplification of the situations of the people you have known or know about. Likewise, blame really is NOT the issue – the issue is what are the obstacles to productive integration, on the Finnish side and the immigrant side and then to address those issues as best we can.

    The closest you come to an approach is to say you must have the right attitude (if only it was just a matter of attitude) and that immigrants blame it on everything except themselves when it goes wrong (which we know is sometimes going to be right sometimes wrong). Klay, that is two fairly narrow perspectives on a topic that has hundreds of valid perspectives. Your views are simply too superficial to take seriously in regard to immigration debates, despite your status as an immigrant.

    Assume all you want Mark but I’m a success not because I’m special in any way but because I’m able to think from the host’s country prospective and adapt. If I’m not willing or able to adapt I wouldn’t stay, simple as that.

    People have different skills Klay. I think you are lucky that you were born with this ‘adaptability’. Some people have other kinds of strengths that do not lend themselves so easily to upping sticks and moving country.

    I’m an annoyance to people like Enrique and yourself because unlike a white Finn you can’t simply brush me off like them with labels such as racist or xenophobic or claim that they are not in a position to comment.

    I do decide my opposition to someone’s views on the basis of the ‘group’ they belong to Klay. And the idea that you cannot possibly be a racist because you are not an ethnic European is frankly naive, the same kind of naivety that we constantly get accused of, in spite of repeatedly stating that racism (and most kinds of prejudice) is a phenomenon that can affect regardless of their own race.

  27. Mark

    typo: I do NOT decide my opposition to someone’s views on the basis of the ‘group’ they belong to…yawn, I guess I’ll never live that one down, eh! 😀

  28. Yossie

    Mark

    [quoteblock]
    The position of Swedish as a taught minority language is to protect the rights of that minority. Many countries are looking at ways to achieve exactly that, and would give their right arm to have the same status that the minority Swedish speakers have in Finland.

    You spend a few years learning Swedish at school, like you would the subject History, and then you can forget about it if you want, just like History. In the same way as with History, you probably won’t use it much when you’ve finished, but the knowledge will help in making you a rounded individual who understands the world we live in. The same applies for Swedish – you will better appreciate and understand the position of Swedish-speaking Finns in Finland.
    [/quoteblock]

    Exactly how is the mandatory swedish part of the rights of minority? Last I checked we dont have to study somali or russian either? Why dont all americans study spanish? Are those minorities being denied of their rights because majority isnt forced to study their language?

    Does only swedish make you a rounded individual? Cant you learn any other language instead? If the only reason to teach is to make finnish speaking finns to “understand” swedish speakers position then.. dont bother because it doesnt. It just makes people angry.

    Finnish industry has said they are concerned that finns are not speaking enough of different languages. It is time to let people chose what language they want to study and stop this experiment from 70s.

  29. Peter of Finland

    “I also think Finnish politics have been way to blind to public opinion and having a questionable concensus.

    Santeri You are free to vote any way you choose. That’s the beauty of a functioning democracy. Personally I cannot support the more liberally minded members of PS because they are bedfellows with people such as Jussi Halla-aho who hold radically different views to your good self. (I mean this seriously, you appear like a rather nice guy!) Unfortunately no matter how many potentially good and valid point the PS raise, their facist element will always spoil any potentially useful contribution the party can make. As the saying goes, one bad apple spoils the bunch.

    It is my personal opinion that Timo Soini has questionable ethics in housing such Finland’s far-right within the party he leads.

    Myself, I am not in favour of abolishing the mandatory teaching of Swedish (at least in municipalities in the west and the capital region), but that is for personal reasons. However, I fully understand your point and can seek that it might be more beneficial to teach Russian in some municipalities in the east. Nontheless, one should note that certain PS members wish to abolish compulsory Swedish as part of their vision of a “truly Finnish fatherland.” It is disgusting that in the twenty first century, certain people (i.e., the Suomen Sisu thugs) hold on to a doctrine that caused the extermination of millions of people in Europe. That is, National Socialism.

    As for the EU, I am in favour of it in principal, but I also agree that the system of bailouts is fundamentally flawed. The management of the single European currency has been poor at best. There has been a rush to include as many EU states as possible, but in my opinion many of those that have joined (here Greece is a prime example) do not sufficiently fulfill the criteria that was set in place in order to join. There should be some system put in place that if a the government of an EU state fails to employ the correct set of practices, the other member states can directly intervene before any bailout is necessary.

    Nonetheless, the EU now finds itself in a rather tricky situation with regard to Greece. I do not have the answer how to solve the crisis that is at root the fault of all parties entering into the single currency.

    “I am also hoping that we will not follow the path of failed immigrant integration like France with massive riots time from time. Does that make me a racist? I don’t think so, I don’t even think the term ‘race’ can be applied to human beings.”

    You are correct Santeri, not wanting to see the problems that have been see in France doesn’t make you racist. In fact, the lack of migrant incorporation in France was based upon a rather racist assumption that immigrants are something “unFrench”! If you support and encourage migrant integration (not assimilation), then we are on the same page.

    Our economy needs a rather large influx of migrants if the post-baby boomer generations are to receive today’s levels of benefits in thier old age. As Finland does not have a history of mass immigration seen in France, for example, we can avoid the problems that have resulted from the policies that have marginalized newcomers in other states and develop a truly open and inclusive society that remains true to the nordic welfare state model upon which our system was founded.

    Finally Santeri, thank you for being honest and open in your debate. Migrant Tales needs more people like you and less Trolls. 🙂

  30. Hassan

    Peter of Finland

    ”Rocker: If you are suggesting that eyeopener and D4R should be excluded from this forum due to their command of the English language, you would also be excluded due to the same criteria. 😆

    All: Migrant Tales welcomes ALL who genuinely wish to discuss the “salient issues facing the immigrant and minority community in Finland.” You do not have to be a native English language speaker nor does Migrant Tales require users to provide proof of language competency in order to contribute.”

    Migrant Tales

    ”We have had close to a hundred people who will not get approval to come to this blog because of the damage they have caused to my public reputation.”

    Why not D4R and eyeopenor with their idiots numbsculls, death threaths etc?

  31. eyeopener

    Hatessan.

    “Why not D4R and eyeopenor with their idiots numbsculls, death threaths etc?” That’s where your language comes in.

    It is YOU who should be expelled from TM for just this reason.

    Your dignity is somewhere in the lower parts of your pants, if you have one!!

    If you can’t play the game, stay out H.!!

    Smack, smack……. Hatessan, you get yourself a new pair of pants. Check the zipper!!

  32. Mark

    Yossie

    Exactly how is the mandatory swedish part of the rights of minority?

    Yossie, maybe you flunked your history as well as your Swedish! You know full well that Swedish-speakers constitute 6% of the total population of Finland and they also form the majority in many of the southern and western towns and villages. Swedish is a very significant part of Finland’s history, and it also happens to be one of Finland’s two official languages. Your suggestion to ditch Swedish would effectively disenfranchise a very significant part of the Finnish population.

    You do realise that by learning a second language it also makes the job of learning a third language like Russian, or German or English even easier?!

    And yes, it does make you a more rounded individual to step outside of your own bubble and genuinely learn more about others, about other languages, about different cultural threads. But more importantly, it puts you in touch with Finland’s history. Or would you effectively like to rewrite that history? Who are the ones who are REALLY trying to significantly change Finland?

    If we applied your thinking about minorities to politics, we would say, well PS at one point recently only had 6% of the vote and it’s still less than 20%, how can that carry any validity? Over 80% of Finns have voted for other parties, so let’s ban the PS and remove all their rights to stand in elections etc. Why should a minority in politics be able to dictate what the majority can do? See, maybe now you begin to understand how an advanced democracy rules, and not that majority mob rule that you imagine will bring a golden age back to Finland.

  33. Yossie

    Mark

    Do not insult me if you dont like what I have to say. I know the history very well and I was quite decent back then in swedish.

    Let me put this more clearly. The context I was talking about was the mandatory swedish language education in all schools put in force in 1970s. I do not talk about its status as second language in state functions.

    While Finland has two official language, it doesnt mean everyone have to talk both of them. Because the fact is: we dont. Trying to make so artificially has failed.

    [blockquote]
    You do realise that by learning a second language it also makes the job of learning a third language like Russian, or German or English even easier?!
    [/blockquote]

    And why does it need to be swedish? Cant people learn the language they like? For your information, I do have learned a third language. Swedish was no help at all.

    [blockquote]
    And yes, it does make you a more rounded individual to step outside of your own bubble and genuinely learn more about others, about other languages, about different cultural threads.
    [/blockquote]

    And as such I do say we should have second language to study, but you should be able to decide that yourself (out of the options the school offers unfortunately… cant have all :S )

    [blockquote]
    But more importantly, it puts you in touch with Finland’s history. Or would you effectively like to rewrite that history? Who are the ones who are REALLY trying to significantly change Finland?
    [/blockquote]

    Exactly how? Feel the pain of a poor finnish farmer in swedish reign when swedish was the only language of administration and it was forced on him? Apart from that nothing else. History is studied in history lessons.

    How am I exactly trying to change history?

    How about you Mark, do you think it would be a great idea to make all britons study welsh? I mean its part of your history and all. Make you more in touch with it! Sure there would be more useful languages, maybe languages you would more rather study but hey: its might make it easier for you to learn those languages!

  34. Peter of Finland

    “How about you Mark, do you think it would be a great idea to make all britons study welsh?”

    Yossie, the UK is a multi-national state. Big difference. Your question does not apply in the same regard as to a country molded around the idea of the nation-state such as Finland. The UK developed out of an imperialist project. If you want to read about this history, I can recommend a few excellent texts.

    In Wales (a nation within the ‘union’ that makes up the United Kingdom) ALL must study the Welsh language regardless of their background. Immigrant children from, for example, Finland or Somalia study Welsh alongside ‘native’ children with Welsh (or equally English or Scottish) roots.

    I suggest you learn a little before making such arguments. Diolch yn fawr iawn.

  35. Mark

    Yossie

    Do not insult me if you dont like what I have to say. I know the history very well and I was quite decent back then in swedish.

    Don’t ask me stupid questions then. If you want to ignore Finland’s history, that’s your problem, but I will not be the ONLY one who thinks to remind you of it.

    The context I was talking about was the mandatory swedish language education in all schools put in force in 1970s.

    Which was precisely the point that I replied to.

    I do not talk about its status as second language in state functions.

    The two are someone intrinsically linked, don’t you think?

    I do have learned a third language. Swedish was no help at all.

    It is unlikely that you would be consciously aware of how it has helped; it is not simply about recognising words with similar etymologies, but the flexibility it builds in the brain to understand that language can operate in different ways. Research has more than backed this up for decades.

    And as such I do say we should have second language to study, but you should be able to decide that yourself (out of the options the school offers unfortunately… cant have all :S )

    Okay, well that’s a good argument as far as it goes, which in my view is not far enough. I.e. small question of respecting the major historical minority group in Finland.

    Feel the pain of a poor finnish farmer in swedish reign when swedish was the only language of administration and it was forced on him? Apart from that nothing else. History is studied in history lessons.

    It’s a slippery slope Yossie. Lose the language teaching, lose the official language status, lose the language.

    How about you Mark, do you think it would be a great idea to make all britons study welsh?

    As a proud Welshman, I would have to say YES, let the Sais learn it. 😀

    I greatly admire that Swedish still has the status in Finland that it does. If Welsh had anything like that status, I would be very proud and amazed at the ‘inclusive’ nature of our democracy in Briton, though given the divergence among the Celts, the Scots Gaelic would equally have to find a status, as would to some extent Cornish. A bit complicated. But the situation works as it is now in Wales, with 20% daily speakers, including my dad, and the rest either occasional or never. We have our own National Assembly and a degree of autonomy from Westminster. I think that feeds into our sense of nationhood in the way that the Welsh want and it will probably stay like this.

    • Migrant Tales

      Mark, what is wrong with some Finns? We know perfectly well that if we did away with Swedish in our schools that would only fuel more xenophobia and racism in Finland. That is why it is important that minorities’ group and individual rights are protected by the state. I doubt, as well, that many of these people who demand Sweden to become an elective at school would study other languages, especially Russian as claimed by some. Finland’s Russian issue is a serious one that will take generations to heal and correct.

      The other matter is how suddenly “giving” other something has become a negative thing. One of the greatest joys in life is to help and give to others without expecting nothing in return.

      In the United States, the biggest racists were and are constantly complaining why groups like blacks get welfare. It have nothing to do with economics. It’s nothing more than spiteful behavior and low-esteem.

  36. Yossie

    Mark

    “The two are someone intrinsically linked, don’t you think?”

    They are not linked at all. You dont need to have ALL finns to study the language to offer services in swedish.

    “It is unlikely that you would be consciously aware of how it has helped; it is not simply about recognising words with similar etymologies, but the flexibility it builds in the brain to understand that language can operate in different ways. Research has more than backed this up for decades.”

    Yet this does not explain why should I not have a right to decide what language should be my 2nd one. Studying one language because you one to learn a different one makes no sense. Or should people study chinese before if they want to study japanese?

    “Okay, well that’s a good argument as far as it goes, which in my view is not far enough. I.e. small question of respecting the major historical minority group in Finland.”

    Respect for a group can never be a reason to make everyone study a language! It does the total opposite when its forced on people and they never have use for it.

    “It’s a slippery slope Yossie. Lose the language teaching, lose the official language status, lose the language. ”

    And how on earth the language manage to live to the 70s where they started to teach it in all schools?

  37. Yossie

    Enrique

    “We know perfectly well that if we did away with Swedish in our schools that would only fuel more xenophobia and racism in Finland.”

    And you are basing this on what? Absolutely nothing. That would certainly not happen. You just shoot in the dark with your favorite ammunitions of “xenophobia and racism”.

    On the contorary, it would help the swedish speaking minority when it wouldnt feel like they are forcing their language on us when most of us have no use for it.

    “I doubt, as well, that many of these people who demand Sweden to become an elective at school would study other languages, especially Russian as claimed by some. Finland’s Russian issue is a serious one that will take generations to heal and correct. ”

    They might if they are given the option to do so. Not everyone of course. I do expect many would still study swedish as it is a rather simple language to learn. However, it would give an option for those that wish to study other language to do so.

    I live very close to a russian border and the advantages of having studied russian are painfully obvious in here. I tell you, people would be learning it no questions asked.

    If you could choose your second language, it would have several advantages:

    -Finns would have more diverse language capabilites (you dont everyone to offer services in swedish)
    -Would actually create a better learning enviroment in swedish classes since it would had been your own chose rather than something forced down your throat.

    • Migrant Tales

      –On the contorary, it would help the swedish speaking minority when it wouldnt feel like they are forcing their language on us when most of us have no use for it.

      Who are demanding these things about the Swedish language? Get it? It’s a red herring that hides something more sinister: doing away with diversity and fueling nationalism and ethnocentrism. Hint: No other party does it so well as the PS.

  38. Mark

    Yossie

    And you are basing this on what? Absolutely nothing.

    Seeing as you brought up the topic of Welsh in the UK, I can at least shed some light on the situation and importance of language. During the 1970s, there was a lot of antipathy in Wales towards the English. Some was historical, some due to the rise of nationalism in the shape of Plaid Cymry, and some due to poverty and lack of investment in Wales. But the fact that Welsh did not have an official status was also a great sore point, especially in West and North Wales, from which I come from.

    After the establishment of the Welsh assembly, we have slowly turned this situation around, beginning with the Welsh Language Act of 1993, which allowed for Welsh to be an official language in the public sector alongside English.

    And one one year ago, in February 2011, Welsh was finally recognised as an Official Language inside Wales, alongside English. Finally….And remember, in some parts of Wales, only a small minority speak Welsh daily or even weekly, while in other areas it is over 90%. Much like Finland and Swedish.

    These advances and developments have gone a long way towards diffusing tensions. Remember, the famous saying in the UK in the seventies was a distortion of the famous Coal Fire adverts: ‘Come home to a real fire – buy a cottage in Wales!’

    Your suggestion that this would not lead to tensions between the different language groups is probably naive Yossie. Likewise, you speak as a member of the majority, and again we come back to the issue of protecting the rights of minorities within advanced democracies. If you apply the same thinking to politics, then you would say that over 80% of voters reject the PS, so they should be disbanded and their right to stand in elections should be revoked, because, hey, they are only a minority, and they cannot be allowed to dictate to the majority.

    On the contorary, it would help the swedish speaking minority when it wouldnt feel like they are forcing their language on us when most of us have no use for it.

    You sound like someone selling slavery to slaves.

    If you could choose your second language, it would have several advantages:

    There are many people in Finland nowadays that would put English down as a ‘second language’ that was stronger than Swedish. It’s not about having a ‘second language’, it’s about spending some time learning Swedish during school. One thing I would perhaps consider is removing the requirement to pass exams in Swedish to enter higher education. It could be that Swedish studied for at least 3 years of study was a requirement and then the choice to switch to another language. This would give plenty of time to study other languages.

    Not everyone of course. I do expect many would still study swedish as it is a rather simple language to learn.

    If it’s a simple language to learn, what is the problem exactly, Yossie?

  39. Yossie

    Enrique

    “It’s a red herring that hides something more sinister: doing away with diversity and fueling nationalism and ethnocentrism.”

    How the hell having options to language you can study is doing away with diversity and fueling nationalism and ethnocentrism? Seriously… Is it not the swedish speakers that want to limit the languages finns are studying to the national ones? They are the ones against the more diversed language base!

    • Migrant Tales

      Yossie, if you do not respect such an important minority as the Swedish-speaking Finns, it is doubtful that you would care about others. Learning a language usually requires a positive attitude towards that group.

      The fact that the PS are gung ho about this makes the whole debate suspect and reveals a wider issue in our society, or a red herring.

      After the PS succeeded at riding Swedish as a mandatory language from school, which group would be the next victim? What do you think? Somalis (they already are), visible immigrants, homosexuals…

      A party that has xenophobic issues is not very credible when it comes to making language or immigration policy.

  40. Mark

    Yossie

    On the contorary, it would help the swedish speaking minority when it wouldnt feel like they are forcing their language on us when most of us have no use for it.

    I’m not a Finn, so I’m not really in a position to argue for or against this, though obviously with my Welsh background, the topic is interesting for me. I do have some sympathy with learning a language that you think you won’t need. I have never used my Welsh since I became an adult. It’s something of a withered limb nowadays, too.

    However, the thing that concerns me about this debate is the context in which it takes place. The context of PS taking this up as an issue are several fold:

    1) They know it’s one of those grievances that generates a lot of support.
    2) In the process of taking it on as a political agenda, they are promoting Finnish and Finnishness.

    It is this promotion of ‘Finnishness’ that is most worrying about this. It’s almost an assumption that Swedish is something that stands outside of Finnishness, when in reality, the country that is nowadays Finland has been populated by Swedish speakers and Finnish speakers, and the mixing of those people’s has been so profound that although separations in terms of language communities still exist, the idea that some of them are not Finns would be a huge disinfranchisement. Swedish speakers in Finland are equally Finnish. To remove the status of their first language and create a new ‘mono-linguistic/mono-cultural’ definition of what it means to be a Finn would be an absolute travesty of modern politics. Talk about becoming INSULAR!

    The simple fact is that nowadays NATIONAL IDENTITY is only one part of our identity, and that we identify with others through very many avenues, including parenthood, work, gender, age, and personal interests. National identity is not even prominent for many people. The Finnish national identity is already strong. Finland’s traditions are in many ways unique and celebrated, and they will go on being so. Globalisation simply reminds us that we have more in common with other nations rather than less. And in a world that strives towards peace, that is an important element, provided that the rich are not allowed to stand in the way of the development of poorer nations.

  41. Mark

    Yossie

    How the hell having options to language you can study is doing away with diversity and fueling nationalism and ethnocentrism?

    The option you talk about is already there, to study other languages as part of your education. You are not ‘adding’ anything.

    But removing an element of compulsory Swedish would result in far less language diversity in Finland, no question about hat I would have thought. Given a choice, many kids would simply choose not to study any other language. That sadly has been the case in England and we are notorious for our lack of language skills.

  42. Yossie

    “Your suggestion that this would not lead to tensions between the different language groups is probably naive Yossie.”

    You think there is no tension at all now? Many people get the feeling they are beeing forced to study a language they have no use what so ever. That does cause tension already.

    “you speak as a member of the majority”

    And you speak as someone who doesnt have to suffer for the situation.

    “It could be that Swedish studied for at least 3 years”

    It would still be time and money wasted. To properly learn a language, you need to invest a good deal of time and energy on it. It makes most sense to concentrate your efforts on languages you want to study.

    “If it’s a simple language to learn, what is the problem exactly, Yossie?”

    Because it was NOT my choice! Get it? Why do you want to limit my freedom of choice? It does not fall into your right as a minority to force others to learn your language!

    • Migrant Tales

      –Because it was NOT my choice! Get it? Why do you want to limit my freedom of choice? It does not fall into your right as a minority to force others to learn your language!

      Why is this such a big issue for you? In the same way I could mention why do I have to learn biology, Finnish, math, geography, civics etc.

      I know my answer is a bit generalized but you get what I mean. Finland is officially a bilingual country. I am very happy about that.

  43. Yossie

    Mark

    “The option you talk about is already there, to study other languages as part of your education. You are not ‘adding’ anything.”

    When you finish your high school with 85/75 courses you do not have too much space to add additional languages. All the credit for those that can but I did concentrate more in Mathematics and Physics. Adding one more language and studying 3 at the same time was no go.

    “But removing an element of compulsory Swedish would result in far less language diversity in Finland, no question about hat I would have thought. Given a choice, many kids would simply choose not to study any other language.”

    If you already forgot: I said we should teach 2 languages, but they should be voluntary which ones you take.

    The fact is people are learning less and less different languages as it is now. People only have time and energy for swedish and english. Dont expect majority to learn 3 languages. To make situation more diverse, option to chose other language than swedish is natural. Do not try to fool people thinking everyone learning swedish is diversity!

    It is all about motivation. If anything, language studies need that. Else you just forget in a heartbeat. I have learned 3rd language later in life. Much harder that swedish ever will be. However I´m roughly as good in it as I am in swedish. Why? MOTIVATION!

  44. Yossie

    Enrique

    “Why is this such a big issue for you? In the same way I could mention why do I have to learn biology, Finnish, math, geography, civics etc. ”

    Because it has been waste of time for me when I could had learned something more useful. The other subjects you mentioned are there because, like mark so nicely put, are making you a rounded individual who understands the world we live in. However swedish is just one language. It does not make you any better compared to some other languages. As such people should have right to which one they want to study.

    Also it is bad for Finland when people’s language skills are limit to only swedish and english. This issue has been raised by the industry already.

    “I know my answer is a bit generalized but you get what I mean. Finland is officially a bilingual country. I am very happy about that.”

    Country is, not the people. It doesnt mean everyone has to speak both languages.

    • Migrant Tales

      Hi Göran, what is that we are claiming. There are a lot of claims begin made on this topic.

      Welcome to Migrant Tales.

  45. khr

    MT:

    Learning a language usually requires a positive attitude towards that group.

    While generally true, when people start studying from their own interests, can a positive attitude really be forced? The issue with the language education is that some would prefer studying some other language instead of Swedish, but they are denied the choice. I doubt the situation results in positive attitude towards Swedish speakers in those people.

    Mark:

    But removing an element of compulsory Swedish would result in far less language diversity in Finland, no question about hat I would have thought. Given a choice, many kids would simply choose not to study any other language.

    The way I have understood the suggestion, would be a choice of two languages to study, not an option of studying only one foreign language. That would result in more diverse language skills instead of the current Finnish+Swedish+English combination almost everyone learns in the school now.

    My guess would be that Swedish would be the second most common choice after English in most parts of the country, if the choice of languages was freed.

  46. Mark

    The way I have understood the suggestion, would be a choice of two languages to study, not an option of studying only one foreign language. That would result in more diverse language skills instead of the current Finnish+Swedish+English combination almost everyone learns in the school now.

    I still think there is merit in doing 3 years of Swedish from 7-10 and then allowing a choice from then on.

    My guess would be that Swedish would be the second most common choice after English in most parts of the country, if the choice of languages was freed.

    Could be. But I still think you two are underplaying the potential conflicts that would arise if you try to reduce the status of Swedish in Finland. From what I understand, the thinking behind the setting up of two languages was not that Finland had two official languages but that Finland was constituted by two distinct national identities that each had their own languages. The compromise was therefore to allow for both languages to have equal status. The fact that Swedish Finns have come to be seen more and more as a ‘minority’ in Finland has undermined the ‘two nationalities’ foundation. Indeed, the more Swedish Finns are treated like a minority, the more I would expect for nationalist tensions to rise. I grew up with exactly this kind of tension in Wales. Frankly I think you would be mad to try to return to this kind of situation.

  47. khr

    I still think there is merit in doing 3 years of Swedish from 7-10 and then allowing a choice from then on.

    There are certainly good reasons to study Swedish. Personally I started Swedish as my first foreign language, and can recommend the same for the children today. However, I would not want to prevent those who want to choose otherwise. I don’t think it’s a real option that studying something else is available only as the third language. Not everyone is that language oriented, so it can be a trouble for those whose strengths lie elsewhere.

    There was two competing viewpoints, two peoples with their respective languages, and one people with two languages. The latter prevailed, but the first never disappeared entirely.
    Swedish speakers have always been in minority, but the language was in dominant position for historical reasons.

    You are probably right that the more Swedish speakers get seen as minority, the more there’s tension between the language groups. However, I do not think the mandatory languages do anything to ease that, quite the contrary. (I’d prefer free choice, with an addendum that the national languages must always be available, even if the study group size would not warrant that in case of other languages. That way you don’t force choices, but still acknowledge the special status of Swedish and Finnish).

  48. Mark

    Göran

    My Swedish is crap. How is your Welsh? We can all play that game. I’m considering the topic as part of the political policy of PS, which seeks to politicise nationalist and ethnic differences for political gain. As such, I think the topic should not be considered in a ‘political’ context. The thing that worries me most about the debate is how many of those that argue against Swedish seem to have very little understanding about protecting the rights of minorities in a majority led democratic country.

    But, hey, I’m sure you are going to say something really smart to me now, are you? 😀

  49. khr

    The language issue was not invented by PS, but they adopted it. It fits well the nationalistic agenda, and since no other party talks about it, it’s a way to gather votes from those for whom it’s important.

  50. Yossie

    Mark

    For the last time, it has nothing to do with rights of minorites. Swedes dont learn finnish in Sweden do they? They still have considerable finnish speaking minority. Why arent you promoting their rights too then? Spanish speakers in US are threathened too! See how ridicilous that would be?

    I´m really suprised all the usual people here are against optional swedish. You of all people should be praising internationalism, multiculturalism and what not. Yet diversifying finns language skills are no go for you? I´m suprised.

  51. Prometo

    I thought I would chip in with the topic of compulsory swedish in finnish schools. I think that Finland should follow the model of Sweden, a multicultural, multiethnic state, where it has one national, official language, Swedish, and various official minority languages, ie Finnish, Meänkieli, Saami and a couple others. Swedish is the language of national discourse in Sweden, amongst various races and ethnicities. In Finland, we have 3 languages, Finnish for native speakers, Swedish which acts as a buffer between Finnish speakers and the rest of the world, and English, a completely foreign language that Finns have made their own to communicate with outsiders in a disengenuous way. Those that speak the minority languages are allowed to go schools and receive some government support in that language, but it does not force all Swedes to learn Yiddish, as an example. Mark was mentioning the concept of 2 national identities with two separate languages, but one country, how in the past there was this compromise. But that model does not fit 21st century Finland and as shown by this thread and others, is causing tension. In the Finland of 2012, I believe that less then 5 percent of mainland speakers are bilingual “Swedish speaking Finns”, and they are all entirely fluent in Finnish. I am not mentioning Åland because it is a semi-foreign area where a Finnish citizen has to wait 5 years to apply for right of abode. As more and more immigrants move into Finland that speak dozens of different languages move into Finland, there needs to be a language that is understood to include all of Finland’s residents. That language is naturally Finnish and this plays out in the real world. A bilingual “Swedish speaking Finn” orders his Big Mac meal at a McDonald’s from a Finnish employee of Somali ethnic descent in the Finnish language. In the Helsinki region, there is a Finland that’s emerging where non-ethnic Finnish people have Finnish as their native language. What is preventing the development of Finland becoming a welcoming, multicultural language united Finnish is the balkanization of Swedish and the fact that children are divided by their parents ‘äidinkieli’. If kids are taught the Finnish language with that very name instead of a subject called ‘äidinkieli ja kultturi’, the language will stop belong to a certain ethnic group and belong to a country, as is the case in the Western world. In my previous home country children were children, from whatever part of the world they were from, they were taught English and their was no distinction made between whose parents spoke Chinese, Filipino, Spanish or whatever language in the home. It is a bit bizarre and xenophobic to place children in “native English speaking classes” and classes for “English language and culture”. I believe in other (western) European countries and in north America that approach would be deemed discriminatory. Here, that seems to determine’s a child’s destination for the rest of their academic careers. Migrant Tales, I believe the removal of compulsory Swedish along with the removal of special classes will be an improvement towards a more international, multicultural Finnish speaking Finland. Swedish speaking Finnish citizens, whom are a very small minority of the country, should have the right to send their children to Swedish speaking schools and have their own Swedish speaking societies, as is the case with Finnish speakers in Sweden. They should not have the right though to demand that the rest of the nation adopt or learn Swedish to service them, whom make up less then 5 percent of the population. Mark, I don’t know if you know this, but virtually all “Swedish speaking Finns”, especially those that live in the mainland, are completely, fluently bilingual in Finnish. Finnish speakers and Swedish speakers communicate with one another in Finnish. I’ve attended a Swedish speaking university in Finland in an English language degree program and have heard more Finnish spoken in the halls of the building then Swedish. Most of the students had one Finnish speaking and one Swedish speaking parent, and were placed since childbirth in Swedish speaking institutions, all the while feeling more comfortable conversing with one another in Finnish, not Swedish. To sum this all up, compulsory/official Swedish is, to the native Finnish speaking establishment’s delight, keeping Finland racist and closed, keeping it firmly in the 19th, and not 21st century.

    • Migrant Tales

      Hi Prometo, thank you for a very comprehensive comment on the topic.

      –It is a bit bizarre and xenophobic to place children in “native English speaking classes” and classes for “English language and culture”.

      True, but there is a different ethnic reality in the United States compared with Finland. In the former, a constant flow of immigrants replenishes the country. As you know, the U.S. does not have anywhere mentioned that English is the official language of the country. Even so, think about how disenfranchised Spanish-speakers are in states like California.

      Even if the second and third generation speak English with their own accent to express their ethnic identity.

      The matter that worries me a lot, Prometo, is how intolerant some Finns are. It’s a good matter that we have other ethnic groups in Finland and that we are officially a bilingual country.

      Do you really think that doing away with mandatory Swedish we will undermine xenophobia in Finland? Again, the fact that an anti-immigration, anti-EU and especially anti-Muslim party like the PS is asking for this makes it all the more suspect.

  52. Göran

    ”Mark, I don’t know if you know this, but virtually all “Swedish speaking Finns”, especially those that live in the mainland, are completely, fluently bilingual in Finnish.”

    Thick lie.

  53. Göran

    ”In the Finland of 2012, I believe that less then 5 percent of mainland speakers are bilingual “Swedish speaking Finns”, and they are all entirely fluent in Finnish”

    Ever heard of Pampas? The biggest Swedish speaking minority on Finnish mainland. Their Finnish tend to be less ”fluent” or non-existing- Idols 2011-2012 gave a good example, people/singers/idols from Vasa had their Swedish texts translated to Finnish.

    ”As more and more immigrants move into Finland that speak dozens of different languages move into Finland, there needs to be a language that is understood to include all of Finland’s residents” Why would not people in the east of Finland learn Russian instead of Swedish? Alternative to Swedish @school?

    ”I believe in other (western) European countries and in north America that approach would be deemed discriminatory.” Risk for that they get like in Germany where 1 million muslims don’t speak German?

  54. Peter of Finland

    Göran: Jag är ledsen men jag kan bara tala lite svenska. Jag försöker att förbättra dock.

    I hope that one day my fluency in Swedish will match that of the other languages I speak. Speaking Swedish gives one access to information and opportunities across the nordic countries. This is a wonderful benefit in a global knowledge-based economy!

    Mark: Hoffech chi siarad Cymraeg? If so, I know a few native speakers in here and will happily put you in touch with them.

  55. Prometo

    Hi Enrique, I must say that I completely disagree with your comment. As you guessed, my previous home country was the US. You mention “Even if the second and third generation speak English with their own accent to express their ethnic identity”. There are many people in the US whom have roots in Latin America that speak American English like native speakers, in fact they are indistinguishable from native American English speakers They are also entirely fluent in Spanish. Their “ethnic identity” is complex and not easily made to fit into artificial, government labels. It is lamentable that in states of the southwest (CA, AZ, NM, TX), where Spanish speakers make up over 30 percent of the population, there rights as Spanish speakers are disenfranchised and they have no government representations That being said, many latin american immigrants in other parts of the US, at least in the past, have encouraged and stressed the importance of mastering fluent English so that they could be on an equal footing with native American English speakers. Immigrants in general in western countries encourage that their children master and dominate the local language at times even if it means having weaker ability in the old language of the previous home county. This is a simple reality that as I said, exists all over the West.

    Finland is a world away from that. I did not say in my previous comment to remove all Swedish speakers from the country. When a minority that makes up less then 5 percent of the population is giving rights that trump other groups, I think there is something wrong with the picture. It was recently reported in YLE that within the next few years speakers of other languages will http://www.yle.fi/uutiset/news/2012/03/foreign_language_speakers_catching_up_to_finnish_swedes_3340916.html soon outnumber those that speak Swedish as their native language. Believe it or not, these speakers would prefer that their children dominate Finnish as their first or mother tongue to be on an equal footing with the national language of the country. I have met families from the Congo, and from the ex-USSR that, despite the strenuous efforts of this inward, backward society, refuse to speak any other language (Lingala, French, Russian, Armenian) but Finnish in the home. Why? Because they want their children to be fully functioning in the Finnish language as native Finnish speakers. Enrique, you have been here for so many years and the politically correct side of society has seemed to pull the wool over your eyes quite effectively. Bilingual “Swedish speaking Finns” are just as racist, bigoted and close-minded as this great enemy you decry, Finnish speaking Finns. There is also a general patronizing (ylimielinen)attitude that pervades this sub-culture. What keeps Finland closed to the outside world is the very concept that that the Finnish language and therefore culture (äidinkieli ja kulttuuri) is sealed shut from the outside world and therefore no matter how many decades a foreign resident lives in Finland they are just as foreign as their compatriots whom have never stepped foot in the country. The Finnish language is actually quite suffocated due to these archaic and strange rules. American English has been enriched by speakers of other languages, with words like chutzpah, guacamole, etc. The same should exist in Finnish. If the removal of Swedish lead to a less closed off, more isolated Finland, then it would have been done long ago. Official Swedish serves a purpose to keep the outside world at bay and as far away from the “true” Finnish language and culture, which can only be utilized by ethnic Finns themselves. Removal of official/forced Swedish would usher Finland into the reality that at least partially already exists in the capital region, a multicultural, multi-ethnic polity that communicates with one another in the Finnish language, not English, Swedish, Russian, German, Lingala or any other language for that matter. As is the case with Sweden in Swedish, Norway with Norwegian, Germany with German, etc. Your belief about other ‘ethnic groups’ does not gel in the 21st century. Many people pick up and drop languages based on where and who they are. Just because a certain reality doesn’t exist in today’s Finland does not mean that it cannot exist in the future. Hebrew was a dead language

    Göran, in Pampas, these very rural areas have a population of 170 thousand people, and half are native Finnish speakers and the other half Swedish. So the 5.4 million people whom live in Finland should learn Swedish for these 85 thousand that live in Pampas? Why can’t the 85 thousand learn Finnish for the 5.4 million that inhabit Finland? That is the case de facto, where Finnish is the language spoken between Finnish and Swedish speakers at all times. I have seen this myself hundreds of times, Finnish speakers walking into Swedish speaking speaking institutions and being serviced in Finnish. When I do the same, the response is in English, even if I speak clear, grammattically correct Finnish. If I say that en osaa englantia’, I am looked at as if I am a third world refugee and in a very patronizing way speak to me in Finnish in a slow, drawn out way while speaking flawless Finnish to the previous person.

    To sum up, this official/forced Swedish is all a sham. A shield to prevent the development of an OFFICIAL UNILINGUAL, Finnish speaking, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic Finland.

    • Migrant Tales

      –There are many people in the US whom have roots in Latin America that speak American English like native speakers, in fact they are indistinguishable from native American English speakers They are also entirely fluent in Spanish.

      I disagree but it depends on your socioeconomic status. In Los Angeles, sounding too “white USAmerican” was discouraged in some circles. The idea is to speak English in a way that identifies you with a group. This could be done by peppering your speech with non-English words. For example: My hermana is a nice persona. Finnglish is another example. The question is do these people speak this way because they CAN’T speak English or because it is a way to stand out and express their identity? What would happen if among a group of blacks, say blue collar, you would speak like a white USAmerican? I would suspect that you’d be shunned at and ridiculed. So, speaking a language, if you are multilingual, means knowing how to sound appropriate for the socioeconomic group.

      Here is an example: I was at a party and spoke and a Latina woman I knew told me to stop speaking like a white USAmerican. “Don’t forget your roots,” she said.

      Moreover, I challenge your claim that second and third generation USAmericans are perfectly fluent in their parents’ or grandparents’ mother tongue (whatever that means). Like culture adapts constantly, language adapts as well to the circumstances. Speaking “mixed” is an example of that adaption.

      Blacks have their way of expressing their identity in language as well.

      Gärän are you stating that because there are only two official languages in Finland, Swedish and Finnish, this undermines cultural diversity? Sorry, I am having a difficult time following your argument.

  56. Göran

    Prometo Migrant Tales

    I don’t know anything about under-nor overmining cultural diversity.

    Swedish or a language should NOT be used as a political tool as it is today.

    Swedish should be an alternative language for Finnish along with Swedish, that wouldn’t mean that Swedish disappears but instead it gets more qualified speakers. What can you get out of a language you are not motivated to learn or you have literally no need (eastern Finland).

    The need for Russian language in Finland is huge. Many Russians (biggest immigrant group) live in Finland, many Russians travel here only 3-4 hours from St. Petersburg +boarder control, Russia is along with Sweden the biggest trade partners for Finland.

    ”Göran, in Pampas, these very rural areas have a population of 170 thousand people, and half are native Finnish speakers and the other half Swedish. So the 5.4 million people whom live in Finland should learn Swedish for these 85 thousand that live in Pampas? Why can’t the 85 thousand learn Finnish for the 5.4 million that inhabit Finland?”

    Ask and answer yourself Prometo, don’t know what you mean. Your perception on Swedish speaking Finns is not up to date, perhaps you need to travel in Finland.

    ”Mark, I don’t know if you know this, but virtually all “Swedish speaking Finns”, especially those that live in the mainland, are completely, fluently bilingual in Finnish. Finnish speakers and Swedish speakers communicate with one another in Finnish.”

    I thought of this once again and this is not even true in Uusimaa, not to mention Pohjanmaa.

    • Migrant Tales

      Göran, I totally and wholeheartedly agree with you: Swedish or a language should NOT be used as a political tool as it is today.

      The challenge is for common people to figure out the red herrings. But there’s a big question mark: It’s an anti-EU, anti-immigration and anti-Islam party like the PS that is making these demands. They have a long hate agenda. If they were able to get their way with the Swedish-language question, which group will be the next enemy?

      That is why the PS is a menace to our society and especially its hard-core extremists.

  57. Mark

    Peter

    Hoffech chi siarad Cymraeg?

    Rydw yn siarad Cymgreag tamed bach dyddiau hyn. I don’t even know how to spell the words I know…lol, The things i remember are kids stuff – ydych chi mynd i chwarea, y mynd i gweli – nos ta, yskin? bach. 🙂

    To sum up, this official/forced Swedish is all a sham. A shield to prevent the development of an OFFICIAL UNILINGUAL, Finnish speaking, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic Finland.

    Something tells me that this is not the only opinion of Swedish speakers on this matter. I would be interested in hearing about both sides of the argument.

    American English has been enriched by speakers of other languages, with words like chutzpah, guacamole, etc. The same should exist in Finnish.

    and

    Official Swedish serves a purpose to keep the outside world at bay and as far away from the “true” Finnish language and culture, which can only be utilized by ethnic Finns themselves.

    This sounds too far fetched for me. First, Finnish has many loan words, especially around the capital, taken from Swedish, Russian and English. Second, I think that the outside world is not ‘at bay’ in Finland. The youth of today are quite internationalised and being influenced by cultures well beyond Finland’s shores. In all areas of life, business, work, play, entertainment, politics etc., it is quite obvious to see that Finland has extensive contacts with the world, more so nowadays following hte 90s recession, and a switch to global markets in business.

    Finnish language can generally speaking by used by anyone who is determined enough to learn it. There are no guards at the gate, so to speak. And this idea of linking ‘Finnish culture’ to the language seems a mistake to me. There is the culture of Swedish speakers in Finland and it can be equally referred to as Finnish culture. It is only when we think of culture in mono- terms that we start to say that only THIS or THAT can fit into the box, and not multiple threads and strands of culture.

    In other words, I think your ideas do not match the dynamic, fluidic and ever changing processes of cultural reproduction and performance.

    So the 5.4 million people whom live in Finland should learn Swedish for these 85 thousand that live in Pampas?

    This kind of misrepresents the situation when you put it like this. The ‘learning’ is done only during the school years, and the thinking is that it prepares people for work also in government sector. With the Finnish government contributing nearly 50% to GDP (if I remember correctly), then being able to provide services in both languages remains a key constitutional commitment. In the UK, French was compulsory, even though many people never travelled to France and never used their French. However, France was our closest neighbour and therefore there is a lot of co-operation that takes place. Learning the basics of the language of one’s neighbour is in some way a respectful gesture that builds goodwill. In this case, this is a gesture towards a signficant portion of Finland’s demographic, with roots going back nearly a thousand years in Finland. You cannot compare this group to recent arrivals. Seriously.

    I do not see Swedish as an obstacle in any way to accepting an element of multicultural or multiethnic communities within Finland. It’s not the first thing that comes to mind when considering the obstacles to tolerance and acceptance. If anything, as has been said before, rejection of multiculturalism is typically said in the same breath as rejection of Swedish, as if that too were somehow an ancient relic of other ‘invasions’ of Finland.

    Your position on this is unusual, in many respects, and interesting. But the feeling I get about it is that you are fitting a very tight political theory to something that just relates to far far more than political arguments, i.e. to language and culture.

  58. Göran

    I do not know what should be done or should have been done already 20 years ago. May be flush down both Swedish and Finnish and start with Estonian or Norwegian.

  59. Mark

    MT

    The question is do these people speak this way because they CAN’T speak English or because it is a way to stand out and express their identity?

    More likely to be codeswitching than a pidgin.

    I think people like to be seen to be part of a multilingual community, where things are shared, including languages. It can be a great source of ‘richness’ – yep, that thing that the anti-immigrationists wet their nappies over, but which is generally speaking quite normal in a multilingual community. 😀 Maybe it’s not surprise that many of those that oppose this ‘enriching’ also oppose the use of two languages in our communities. Sounds like they feel left out!

    • Migrant Tales

      Well put, Mark: Maybe it’s not surprise that many of those that oppose this ‘enriching’ also oppose the use of two languages in our communities.

      The term “enriching” by this this group is a classic.

  60. Prometo

    -“I disagree but it depends on your socioeconomic status. In Los Angeles, sounding too “white USAmerican” was discouraged in some circles. The idea is to speak English in a way that identifies you with a group. This could be done by peppering your speech with non-English words. For example: My hermana is a nice persona. Finnglish is another example. The question is do these people speak this way because they CAN’T speak English or because it is a way to stand out and express their identity? What would happen if among a group of blacks, say blue collar, you would speak like a white USAmerican? I would suspect that you’d be shunned at and ridiculed. So, speaking a language, if you are multilingual, means knowing how to sound appropriate for the socioeconomic group. “-

    Maybe this is the case in Los Angeles, but I wouldn’t say that’s the case nationwide. Marco Rubio, the Cuban-American senator from Florida, is one example of the millions of US citizens of Latin American descent who are entirely fluent in both languages. In English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEdyViVg1i4In Spanish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9hTWdwFCxs His English is indistinguishable from monolingual native American English speakers as is his Cuban Spanish. I think that if a group chooses to speak a given language in a gramatically incorrect way to emphasize their “ethnic identity”, because their “ethnic identity” deems them not able to speak correctly, then that “ethnic identity” should be forgotten or changed. Sorry. That thinking is of the past. If I was speaking to this same “latina” woman, I would tell her that when I speak a language I try to speak as gramatically correctly as possible despite and in spite of “my roots”, no matter how “acting white” that seemed. Where is your thinking coming from Enrique?

    Spanish is a unique case in the US due to its historic presence and the geographic proximity of hundreds of millions of Spanish speakers. Speakers of other languages naturally forget the immigrant language after the second or third generation as they emphasize learning English to have an equal footing and to have a succesful life in the new society. Finland is the first country where I have been in that proclaims in a “positive” spirit that the Finnish language only belongs to ethnic Finns in Finland and no other. Görän goes along with this nonsense as well by suggesting that Estonian be given official status in Uusimaa and Russian in eastern Finland. Is it so hard, awful and bigoted to state that Finnish be made the only official language of Finland as is the case with Swedish in Sweden. And that those historical linguistic minorities such as Saami and Swedish speakers be able to attend schools and have societies in their languages but not demand service from all of Finland’s resident’s where there numbers do not merit such funding? Are the thousands of immigrants whom are moving to Finland and choosing to adopt the Finnish language as their home language bad, wrong or hate-filled? Or are those in power saying that the Finnish language only belongs to ethnic Finns and no others and you can never be in an “äidinkieli ja kulttuuri” class because your parents are from Estonia or the Congo and therefore you will never be Finnish even if that was the only language spoken in the home.

    Despite the strenuous efforts of the entire establishment, which includes this English (foreign) language blog, bilingual, patronizing “Swedish speaking Finns”, and some native Finnish speakers in Finland, many immigrants from all over the world are pushing themselves to learn the Finnish language, adopt it as their home language, and gradually change the artificial, unfair status quo that exists to reflect a multicultural, multiethnic ethnic country that communicates with one another in the Finnish language.

    Mark wrote
    “Finnish language can generally speaking by used by anyone who is determined enough to learn it. There are no guards at the gate, so to speak. And this idea of linking ‘Finnish culture’ to the language seems a mistake to me. There is the culture of Swedish speakers in Finland and it can be equally referred to as Finnish culture. It is only when we think of culture in mono- terms that we start to say that only THIS or THAT can fit into the box, and not multiple threads and strands of culture.

    This kind of misrepresents the situation when you put it like this. The ‘learning’ is done only during the school years, and the thinking is that it prepares people for work also in government sector. With the Finnish government contributing nearly 50% to GDP (if I remember correctly), then being able to provide services in both languages remains a key constitutional commitment. In the UK, French was compulsory, even though many people never travelled to France and never used their French. However, France was our closest neighbour and therefore there is a lot of co-operation that takes place. Learning the basics of the language of one’s neighbour is in some way a respectful gesture that builds goodwill. In this case, this is a gesture towards a signficant portion of Finland’s demographic, with roots going back nearly a thousand years in Finland. You cannot compare this group to recent arrivals. Seriously. ”

    Swedish speakers in Finland are a sub-culture, like the Welsh in Wales, or Catalan speakers in Spain. I wouldn’t say that the Welsh culture belongs to a pan-British culture, as the bilingual “Swedish speaking Finns” are doing in Finland. Britain is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic state that communicates with one another in the English language. I simply wish the same for Finland with Finnish. Welsh, Scottish Gaelic or Manx speakers are not demanding that the remaining British populace master their respective languages or that the UK government in London produce all documents and legislation in that language. Your logic with French in Britain vis-a-vis Swedish in Finland can be used against you. Russian, as an example, could be argued as a more important language to learn then Swedish in all of Finland. Russia has the largest land mass in the world, it shares an over 1000 kilometer land border with Finland, Finland was part of Russia for over 100 years from 1812-1917, Russian is an official United Nations language with over 200 million speakers and Russia is Finland’s largest trading partner, then Germany, with Sweden and China following 3rd and 4th respectively. Russian speaker’s English skills are also much weaker then Swedish speakers English language skills, which is all the more reason to learn the language. There should be NO forced language instruction in the school besides Finnish. Pupils should have the choice to study Swedish, Russian, Chinese or whatever. When “recent arrivals” move to Finland and become Finnish citizens and choose to speak Finnish, their rights are undermined in favor of bilingual “Swedish speaking Finns”. Significant demographics? Were talking about a population that makes up less then 5 percent of the population on the mainland, who themselves are almost entirely bilingual in Finnish. Please spare me Mark, I’ve lived here long enough to know whats really going on.

  61. Mark

    Prometo

    I wouldn’t say that the Welsh culture belongs to a pan-British culture, as the bilingual “Swedish speaking Finns” are doing in Finland. Britain is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic state that communicates with one another in the English language.

    Well, despite all for the fluff and bluff, yes, Welsh does belong in part to the pan-British culture. The point is that the overlaps and interchange are so extensive that you just simply cannot seperate them into boxes. Yes, we can talk about peopel living in Wales, and peopel living in England, and find people speaking Welsh, watching welsh-language programming, socialising in Welsh, etc., and compare that to an English-speaking equivalent and imagine that they are different nations. They are. But the overlap is vast, and Welsh and English speakers identify equally with being British. English is the lingua franca.

    Welsh, Scottish Gaelic or Manx speakers are not demanding that the remaining British populace master their respective languages or that the UK government in London produce all documents and legislation in that language.

    Well, put like this, it is true, but you cover up a huge similarity. In Wales, less than 20% of speakers nationally speak Welsh daily. That ‘average’ then breaks down into some areas of Wales where Welsh is the mother tongue, to other areas where English is the mother tongue. However, nowadays, everyone learns both Welsh and English regardless of where you live or how useful you think your second language is. The situation is absolutely similar to Finland. The broader identity (which connects us with the other nations of Great Britain) is English-speaking, with Welsh being the minority language. However, everyone in Wales learns it. People identify with Britain as an English-speaking nation.

    It’s not exactly the same situation as with Swedish, but quite close in some respects.

    And now, in Wales, all government documents are produced in both Welsh and English.

    Your logic with French in Britain vis-a-vis Swedish in Finland can be used against you. Russian, as an example, could be argued as a more important language to learn then Swedish in all of Finland.

    It is only one argument. Likewise, one might say that of course Finland has more in common with Sweden as a Nordic Welfare State than it does with Russia. However, on the borders with Russia, it’s of course understandable that Russian is more useful.

    There should be NO forced language instruction in the school besides Finnish.

    That sounds neurotic to me. In the same way there should be NO forced subjects like maths, reading, history, geography etc. Of course education is ‘forcing’ kids to learn things. lololol. Putting it like you do makes it sound like something completely different to what it is. And if you really think that education is ‘free’, then you are very naive. Education until the late teens onwards is almost entirely indoctrination simply because students have not yet learned the skills to critically analysis the information they are being told is ‘true’ information about the world. It is entirely assimilation and brainwashing. But it is what it is and it’s useful.

    When “recent arrivals” move to Finland and become Finnish citizens and choose to speak Finnish, their rights are undermined in favor of bilingual “Swedish speaking Finns”.

    Rubbish. Rights in Finland are universal and not dependent on what language you speak.

    I am really quite surprised that a person with Swedish as their mother tongue is advocating abolishing the compulsory teaching of that language, and all that would mean for the reduced national status of swedish-speakers and swedish-speaking culture within Finland. Is Swedish really your mother tongue?

  62. Yossie

    Mark

    “In the same way there should be NO forced subjects like maths, reading, history, geography etc”

    With the exception that the things you listed are studied practically in all countries, swedish however isnt. As such, you can enforce 2 languages to be studied but since swedish is no better than any other language, people should had the right to choose.

  63. Göran

    PROMETO

    ”Swedish speakers in Finland are a sub-culture, like the Welsh in Wales, or Catalan speakers in Spain. ”

    Catalonia’s self autonomy has nothing to do with the Swedish in Finland. May be you should try to find out how things are in Finland before you make your USELESS comparisons with the rest of the world.

    WATCH IDOLS FROM KATSOMO so you get a realistic view of Swedish speaking people in Finland

  64. Mark

    Yossie

    With the exception that the things you listed are studied practically in all countries, swedish however isnt.

    Yossie, your logic is weak, man. Tell me a European country where an alternative language is not taught in schools?

    As such, you can enforce 2 languages to be studied but since swedish is no better than any other language, people should had the right to choose.

    You see, this is where you trample all over culture with your big Jack Boots, this time its Finnish culture.

  65. Yossie

    Mark

    “Yossie, your logic is weak, man. Tell me a European country where an alternative language is not taught in schools?”

    Are you purposely trying to misunderstand me? The point was SWEDISH isnt tauch everywhere like those other subjects. We should have 2 alternative languages, but why should our alternative language be swedish automatically? Why cant we choose ourselves?

    “You see, this is where you trample all over culture with your big Jack Boots, this time its Finnish culture.”

    Seriously, swedish became mandatory in 70s because of polical games by RKP! Huge majority of finns have never been nor ever will be bilingual. Mandatory swedish education defenately is not a cultural thing.

    You are really making a huge deal out of it. In current world, its in the best interest of Finland to give its young ones the change to choose which languages they prefer to study.

  66. Mark

    Yossie

    Are you purposely trying to misunderstand me? The point was SWEDISH isnt tauch everywhere like those other subjects.

    Are you trying to deliberately misunderstand me? 😀

    Why would Swedish be taught in France, or Spain or anywhere? However, that in itself is not an argument against compulsory teaching of a language, especially if those countries also have compulsory language teaching programs.

    Okay, I found some data for you from a report entitled Foreign Language Teaching
    in Schools in Europe (2001). As of 1999, all European countries have the learning of a second language as compulsory subject. In 11 European countries, there is NO choice of the SECOND language that is a compulsory subject, while in 4 European countries, there is no choice even over what the THIRD language learned is to be.

    This study I found also points out that where there is completely free choice, the choices are still usually English, French, and German, which are only 3 of the possible 40 European languages, which shows that choice does not guarantee diversity, only those languages that are seen as strategically beneficial, i.e. in business, industry and in the professions.

    See, I’m not trying to make a mug of you! 😀

  67. Mark

    Yossie

    You are really making a huge deal out of it. In current world, its in the best interest of Finland to give its young ones the change to choose which languages they prefer to study.

    I’m not making a huge deal of it. I have opinions that go both ways in this argument. It’s not straightforward in my book. However, the reasons you give have to be balanced by the thoughts of the Swedish-speaking Finns, which at the moment you seem to give absolutely no credence or value. That in itself undermines your position before you’ve even made your argument. You cannot make decisions in the public sector without giving a single thought to the people most affected by those decisions, for all that you talk about majorities. That is just asking for trouble. Not only that, it’s just NOT how its done, especially when it comes to constitutional matters.

  68. Yossie

    Mark

    “This study I found also points out that where there is completely free choice, the choices are still usually English, French, and German, which are only 3 of the possible 40 European languages”

    Why you limit yourself just to european languages? :p its unfortunate that the harsh reality is that you cant have hundres or even 40 language as options in this case.

    Anyways, it would still be far better than the situation we have at the moment where only english and swedish are studied. Other languages are way way behind and its has been getting worse lately.

    “However, the reasons you give have to be balanced by the thoughts of the Swedish-speaking Finns, which at the moment you seem to give absolutely no credence or value.”

    I dont, because it is none of their business!

    “You cannot make decisions in the public sector without giving a single thought to the people most affected by those decisions”

    First off all, like I said, its none of their business. Why? It does NOT affect them! We are talking about offering an option for people to choose what language they want to study. As such many people will be still studying swedish, there still will be way enough people to offer all the current services for swedish speakers. You dont need every single finn to speak swedish for that.

    “Not only that, it’s just NOT how its done, especially when it comes to constitutional matters.”

    It actually is NOT a constitutional matter…

  69. Mark

    It actually is NOT a constitutional matter…

    That’s probably a matter of debate. The constitution says that:

    The right of everyone to use his or her own language, either Finnish or Swedish, before courts of law and other authorities, and to receive official documents in that language, shall be guaranteed by an Act. The public authorities shall provide for the cultural and societal needs of the Finnish-speaking and Swedish-speaking populations of the country on an equal basis.

    Maybe it’s possible to meet these demands with only a small number of Swedish speakers, but there is every possibility that if it was not compulsory, you would end up with large pockets of Finland where there were no Swedish-speakers, and then the constitutional commitment could not be guaranteed. Notice that word there…it’s pretty strongly worded in the Constitution, so I think you wrong about this point.

    First off all, like I said, its none of their business. Why? It does NOT affect them! We are talking about offering an option for people to choose what language they want to study.

    You are likely wrong about this too. As soon as the language capacity begins to diminish and in some places disappear, it would have an affect. Their language and their language group would not have the same status as it does now, which is EQUAL status. How can that not be a very significant change for Swedish-speakers in Finland?

  70. Acid

    The mandatory teaching of Swedish definitely is not consitutional (it did not exist before 1972-1977.) It’s sad to see so much bigotry against the Russian minority and people considering Russian language inferior to Swedish. Finland was a part of the Russian Empire as an autonomous principality and Russian was an official language back then. We share a common history, they gave us autonomy and independence and we have quite a big minority.

    Russian tourists and new financial cooperation makes the Russian language the most useful language by far. It is spoken by 130 million people in our neighbouring country. Simply, mandatory Swedish has to be opened to choices like Russia. Not everybody (especially not math-natural sciences orientated boys) is able to study 4 languges at the same time with good results. Motivation and freedom of choice is the key!

    • Migrant Tales

      Hi Acid and welcome to Migrant Tales. What you say is true but the question is the following: Why did Swedish remain while Russian was banned? It was Czar Alexander II that finally gave Finnish-speaking Finns language rights and even our own currency during the 1860s. What is it due to. This is the interesting question.

  71. Yossie

    Mark

    “Maybe it’s possible to meet these demands with only a small number of Swedish speakers, but there is every possibility that if it was not compulsory, you would end up with large pockets of Finland where there were no Swedish-speakers, and then the constitutional commitment could not be guaranteed. Notice that word there…it’s pretty strongly worded in the Constitution, so I think you wrong about this point.”

    and they will still hire people do the job just like they are now… You honestly think we run out of swedish speakers? You dont need to teach 80% of people to talk bad swedish so that 15% who actually can talk it well, can serve those 5% who need it. (Using my trusted Stetson-Harrison method for numbers, I´m sure you get my point)

    “You are likely wrong about this too. As soon as the language capacity begins to diminish and in some places disappear, it would have an affect. Their language and their language group would not have the same status as it does now, which is EQUAL status. How can that not be a very significant change for Swedish-speakers in Finland?”

    How did the language ever managed to survive when they started the mandotory studies in 70s? Livelihood of the language is defenately not in the hands of those native finns who use couple of years to study it school, basically cant talk it properly and never use it in their life.

    Their language status would still be the same it is in the constitution. Its just that not all people will study it.

    Its quite funny actually, do you think everyone will stop studying it if it was optional? Reading your writing, it make me think so. Why is that?

  72. Mark

    Yossie

    You honestly think we run out of swedish speakers? You dont need to teach 80% of people to talk bad swedish so that 15% who actually can talk it well, can serve those 5% who need it. (Using my trusted Stetson-Harrison method for numbers, I´m sure you get my point)

    You are being totally unrealistic. So you think you can pursuade those that speak Swedish to move to other parts of Finland to meet the Constitutional commitment? No way, man.

    Livelihood of the language is defenately not in the hands of those native finns who use couple of years to study it school, basically cant talk it properly and never use it in their life.

    Probably not. But those workers who go on to get public sector jobs and have to show a proficiency in the language, they are the ones to maintain the constitutional commitment.

    Their language status would still be the same it is in the constitution. Its just that not all people will study it.

    Nope. I don’t buy it.

    Its quite funny actually, do you think everyone will stop studying it if it was optional? Reading your writing, it make me think so. Why is that?

    Read what I said more carefully. I said large parts of Finland would likely not have enough people who could speak Swedish to meet the Constitutional commitments. That is not ‘everyone will stop studying it’.

    The mandatory teaching of Swedish definitely is not consitutional (it did not exist before 1972-1977.)

    Again, that is not an argument. It has been true that the number of Swedish speakers was going down, and so it might well have been that the change in the law WAS to preserve the Constitutional commitment. I don’t know enough of how it came about, but I would not be surprised.

    It’s sad to see so much bigotry against the Russian minority and people considering Russian language inferior to Swedish.

    I take it you are not talking about what is written on this blog. No-one has said Russian is inferior to Swedish.

    Motivation and freedom of choice is the key!

    Well, if 11 other European countries insist on the compulsory learning of a pre-chosen 2nd language, I’m sure Finland with it’s excellent reputation can cope.

    Also, the requirement to learn Swedish applies only during school years. There is absolutely nothing to stop people ceasing their Swedish studies and carrying on Russian studies after school if they think this will benefit them more. I have studied Welsh, French, Russian and Spanish at different times of my education, and I still had room to start with Finnish. In fact, I have very little use or memory of my other language studies these days, but then it really is ‘use it or lose it’.

  73. Yossie

    Mark

    “You are being totally unrealistic. So you think you can pursuade those that speak Swedish to move to other parts of Finland to meet the Constitutional commitment? No way, man.”

    So you are saying no one has ever moved to another city for a job? Really?

    “Read what I said more carefully. I said large parts of Finland would likely not have enough people who could speak Swedish to meet the Constitutional commitments. That is not ‘everyone will stop studying it’.”

    How many people you think would still study swedish and how many people would still be needed to serve swedish speakers? Are you saying its not enough to have something like 30% of people studying it? No? Minority of 5% needs much more people to serve them than their actual numbers?

    “I have studied Welsh, French, Russian and Spanish at different times of my education, and I still had room to start with Finnish.”

    Good for you. However not everyone are capable of mastering tons of different languages. Also not everyone wants to waste tons of time for something they have no interest and have no use if they could actually choose that language they actually wanted to study.

    “Again, that is not an argument. It has been true that the number of Swedish speakers was going down, and so it might well have been that the change in the law WAS to preserve the Constitutional commitment. I don’t know enough of how it came about, but I would not be surprised. ”

    So you make a claim about something while you yourself admit you have no clue. Let me tell you how it went: Goverment wanted to make a reformation to education system and create a common elementary school system replacing the old complicated one. However RKP saw this as an opprtunity for some political gambling and threathened to leave the ruling coalition and refused all changes if not their demands for mandatory swedish would be accepted. In the end KESK and RKP made the deal which was totally against all the professional opinions and assesments made for the language studies for the new system.

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