Xenophobia and racism are the poverty of Finland today

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

Some claim that ever-growing poverty and social inequality in Finland were the reasons why the Perussuomalaiset scored such a big election victory in April. We read in the media about ever-growing bread lines and how it has become more difficult for some people to make it through the month economically.  Even so, does this justify growing xenophobia and racism in our society?

Some cast their only vote in April in the belief that our most pressing problems would be solved by voting for an anti-immigration candidate of the PS.

Voting for such a candidate, however,  is like calling a pyromaniac to turn off a raging fire. You need qualified firemen to deal with that kind of threat in the same way that Finland needs today leaders and politicians who have political experience and a strong background in economics, globalization and sociology.

Poverty is unacceptable in any society. In some parts of the world it means living off $1 a day, or even less. It means making hard decisions: I will not eat today in order to feed my children.

I remember a documentary I saw in university a long time ago about a poor family in the US Appalachia Mountains. “IN the same way that some rich folks may be proud of being rich,” the young father said standing next to his wife, “I’m also proud of being poor.”

The couple didn’t apparently have enough money to buy milk so they fed their baby gravy from a bottle.

I am certain that when Finnish politicians and policy-makers speak of poverty they don’t mean living off $1 a day or having to feed your baby gravy (läskisoosi).

Poverty means different things in affluent countries like Finland and in the developing world. Poverty teaches some of us two important lessons:  our insignificance in society and that nothing is permanent. If there is some wisdom we can learn, probably it is treating people nicely even during bad times because we never know when we’ll need their help.

The rise of racism and right-wing populism in Finland and Europe are proof that these lessons are not even being acknowledged by some. Moreover, the arrogance of some politicians is like adding salt to the open wound of Finland’s polarized society.

The more we boast our racism and suspicion of minorities in public and in private, the more our society will continue to slip into a more devastating type of poverty. We will not throw extra weight overboard to slow our downward spiral but instead our most inalienable values like social equality for all.

Xenophobia and racism are the real poverty facing Finland today.

    • Enrique

      Hi Carmen and welcome to Migrant Tales. It’s pretty scary what is going on in Finland after April 17. However, it is also a good wake-up call to do something. For many Finns it was a shock. Trying to solve our most pressing problems with xenophobia and racism will not do the job. That is why the PS will have difficulties in establishing themselves as a “normal” Finnish party.

  1. Arto

    What is your claim about growing xenophobia and racism based on? I did not find any evidence/reference about this in the article. Critical attitude towards certain kind of immigration or PS success in elections are not necessarily a signs of neither of these. Are there statistics available somewhere perhaps?

    • Enrique

      Hi Arto and welcome to Migrant Tales. Thank you for your question: “What is your claim about growing xenophobia and racism based on?”

      There are statistics and the election of a number of PS Suomen Sisu MPs is enough proof. It’s interesting that those who claim that racism is a minor problem in Finland are normally white and native Finns.

  2. Arto

    I was curious enough to read a good deal of Suomen Sisu web page and found no evidence about rasism there at all. Same is true for Jussi Halla-Ahos famous blog writings – no rasism. This all was against my expectations, of course – the expectations that were based on the impression given by the mainstream media. You should read the full stories, not only the single lines that have been deliberately removed from their context in the mainstream media.

    In their principles Suomen Sisu states that all peoples, races and cultures are valuable as such.

    • Enrique

      –I was curious enough to read a good deal of Suomen Sisu web page and found no evidence about rasism there at all.

      I doubt that they are going to admit something like that. Just like Suomen Sisu would ever admit that they are a “Nazi-spirited” association, according to KRP and Supo. You can even ask David Duke, the former leader of the Klu Klux Klan and he will tell you that he is not a racist but fighting for the rights of white people.

      However, you are most welcome to discuss this on Migrant Tales.

      According to you, there isn’t a racism problem in Finland. Fine. That’s your opinion.

  3. Arto

    “According to you, there isn’t a racism problem in Finland. Fine. That’s your opinion.”

    No, that is not what I said. But I questioned whether rasism has really increased in our country.

  4. Saija

    It is just a point of view from where are you looking at.

    You can find racism everywhere. I am finnish, studying in Lisbon, Portugal. I am normal well behaving person and dressed well. I carry my responsibilities. I have been spitted to feets, slapped and shouted just because I am blond. My spouse is brazilian. He has been slapped on his head, called negro more than being called as his name. My chilean flatmate was beated by portuguese police 2 days ago, just because he is immigrant. Police shouted ” go to your home countries f…kers”. And Portugal is the country who is so poor now, but the worst poorness is not in economy, it is in their souls.

    I am sure there is racism in Finland. I am sure there is racism in UK. It is everywhere. People just want to have something to discuss about, chew, enjoy. If it is racism in Finland, fine.

    There will always be people, who are thinking that being different is wrong. There are also people who think that being different people think that it is wrong. So many different people, so many different toughts. So many different ways of acting, saying.

    There is no one truth. I think that who thinks his truth is the only one, is way lost in his mind.

    Even I have been treated badly, I will not hate or act badly towards portuguese people. I don`t want to dismiss their feelings, experiences. I don`t want to become like them, I will not want to carry this hidden hate.

    Enrique, what is your hidden hate or is this pure professional act?

    • Enrique

      Hi Saija and welcome to Migrant Tales. Thank you for sharing your views with us.

      –Enrique, what is your hidden hate or is this pure professional act?

      How could I write if I hated? It’s very difficult to write anything coherent if you hate. On the contrary: one writes out of compassion for something because that permits him to write.

      I am sorry to hear what happened to you in Portugal and it shows that Europe still has a lot to deal with when it comes to accepting others.

      But let’s go back to your question: Why does this blog exist? It exists because there is a need to address prejudice and the violence it causes. It’s as simple as that.

  5. Mark

    Arto

    Quite a number of officials and researchers in the last twenty years have said that Finland is adopting more racist or negative attitudes to foreigners. While many think negative attitudes do not constitute racism, they certainly do not constitute acceptance. Signficantly, many researchers writing about racism have said that the lack of a significant anti-immigration political base as a beacon for those attitudes is a reflection that Finns are more tolerant than for example the French, Danes or Germans, where political groups promoting anti-immigration policies or attitudes have gained a strong foothold. Of course, that view has to be revisited now in Finland, and that alone marks a definite watershed in the debate in Finland about foreigners.

    Another significant problem with research is that it’s notoriously difficult to research. You can look at attitudes, and several EU Barometer surveys have highlighted that about 10% of Finns admit to having in their view very racist opinions. There is a very big proportion on top that have racist attitudes but don’t consider them to be racist. The difficulty there is one of education – and the existence of stubborn resistence to that kind of education is itself a marker of the extent of denial.

    Beyond attitudes, you can look at statistics like assaults. But these can be misleading. If a number of signficant assaults take place in an area, the immigrants may choose to socialise less in public. Statistics may then go down, and the conclusion may be that racism is reduced, whereas the opposite is true, immigrants have become so frightened by specific incidents, that they are choosing to avoid social situations.

    While assaults are an important barometer, proving a racist element in the assault is not easy. Moreover, more common than assaults are insults and threats handed out on the street by passers by. I myself have been subject to these in Helsinki, and I’m a white immigrant! But people don’t report these, so statistics are only compiled when typically some conscientious Master’s student does a survey.

    The UN called on all EU countries recently to do more against the rise of racism in Europe and Finland’s representative said to the EU council that “the recent increase of racism in Finland is a worrying phenomenon”.

    It’s generally agreed that employment is the biggest and most worrying area of discrimination. It’s hard to prove, but over 50% of immigrants have reported problems over work-based discrimination, either in getting a job or in advancing once in a job. There is always the problem of subjectivety. One survey of employers in central Finland cited that managers will often decide against employing an immigrant because they felt they wouldn’t fit in, while accepting that they were adequately qualified. This a double-edged sword, because if you cannot get work, then the accusation is that immigrants don’t want to work, they only want to live off benefit.

    Then, those jobs that immigrants might be able to do more easily are fewer and far between during an economic crisis, when services are typically receive the first and harshest cuts. That also has the effect of pitting unemployed Finns and unemployed immigrants against each other. And indeed, surveys in Finland have shown the most extreme views against immigrants are held by unemployed white young males living in poor areas.

    The silence is deafening, as they say, and one distinct feature when trying to decide how racist Finland is, or xenophobic towards foreigners (the bigger the difference in cultures, the stronger the xenophobia, studies in Finland show) is the relative absence of public figures welcoming immigrants and celebrating and championing their contribution to Finnish society. Some commentators feel that it’s just too risky for some parties to start championing minorities, for fear of losing even more of the popular vote. That constitutes a second defeat for the politics of tolerance, though.

    But the voices of reason will find their way out eventually. Finland respects experts, and hopefully the sociologists will make more efforts now to give the Finnish public true facts in regard to the impact of immigrants and the importance of protecting public institutions from an erosion of universal rights for all citizens, one of the greatest acheivements of the Nordic countries, and envied in many parts of the world.

  6. Maisa

    Arto, please!

    You don’t think that Halla-aho’s comments on e.g. Muslims are racist?
    You must have skipped a line or two!

    And how about his pal, Mr. Hakkarainen? I assume you find him non-racist as well. He’s just a decent, hard-working, ordinary chap from the country side..??

    Get real.

    Br, Maisa
    (=native Finn)

  7. Arto

    Mark, thank you for your long writing. About the later rise of anti-immigration political base compared to some other countries, there is an obvious reason: the volume of immigration has been lower in Finland than in countries that you compared Finland to. But you should always remember that opposing (certain kind of) immigration is not a synonym for rasism or even xenophobia. For instance, the reasons can be purely economical, when we are talking about groups of immigrants with poor education, for example.

    Maisa: Halla-Aho strongly criticizes islam as a religion. I do not think that criticism of any religion is a rasist act. Religions must by no means be outside critisism. Halla-aho sees a profound difference between values of islam compared to liberal western societies and also worries about demographic development in Europe, potentially leading to muslim majority in many European countries within just tens of years. He might not be very wrong about it and I admit that the thought worries me. Why? Because it is the majority of people who make the rules such as laws. I would very much prefer Finland (as well as Sweden etc.) to stay as liberal countries with laws based on our values, instead of laws based on islam. In this sense I could perhaps consider myself (at least slightly) xenophobic – but is this really a sign of a moral corruptness or perhaps more of a common sense and will to survive as a nation?

    Hakkarainen – well, I am not interested in his views. He is just a man who has made a fool of himself. Yes, he sounds like a rasist.

  8. Mark

    Arto

    – “About the later rise of anti-immigration political base compared to some other countries, there is an obvious reason: the volume of immigration has been lower in Finland than in countries that you compared Finland to.

    I think you’ll find that the rise in the number of immigrants in Finland does not compare in a direct statistical relationship to the number of votes for PS. What I think is more likely true is that populist parties throughout Europe have simply learned what arguments have the strongest appeal. Openly racist arguments rarely do, even if these parties have in the past seen an openly racist membership and views expressed.

    – “But you should always remember that opposing (certain kind of) immigration is not a synonym for rasism or even xenophobia. For instance, the reasons can be purely economical, when we are talking about groups of immigrants with poor education, for example.

    I agree. Ensuring immigration is at the right level that it is economically sustainable is important and in that sense, being critical of immigration is not per se racist. However, it often goes hand in hand with defamation of other cultures, and unrealistic calls for assimilation. What happens is that a new set of rules/hoops are invented for immigrants that natives themselves do not need to go through. Also, you cannot police culture. While it is nice that immigrants would appreciate Finnish values, it should not mean that their own values are obliterated as a requirement. Likewise, one of those values is tolerance. Like you said, you want to live in a liberal society. If we then start applying an non-liberal policy for foreigners, we have started down a very slippery slope. Before we know it, Finns will be accusing each other of betraying the flag because they stand up for foreigners. That would be a shame. It’s happening already after the backlash from the election.

    Likewise, the argument should never be purely economic, as Finland accepts refugees for political reasons too. Finland represents many values, one of which is political freedom. A banner of that is to offer asylum.

    – “Halla-Aho strongly criticizes islam as a religion. I do not think that criticism of any religion is a rasist act.

    I agree. Debate about religion and religious values is valid, in the right context. If you are genuinekly concerned for the rights of women, for example, then elements of some (though definitely not all) Islamic societies would be seen to clash with Western values. But if you don’t then work also to protect the rights of women in your own country, then the claim starts to sound hollow and manipulative.

    Likewise, religion the world over can be criticised for many crimes, but religion also embodies many virtues and values that represent the best expression of human beings. The vast majority of Muslims oppose extremism and violence and practice moderate Islam. But if a greater number of extremists demand Muslims justify elements of their faith simply as a means to qualify for cultural acceptance, then that moderation is likely to turn militant and hostile in return. In other words, if Halla-Aho is genuinely concerned about seeing an evolution of values and discussion of extremism in the Islamic cultures, he sure is going a funny way about doing that in a tolerant and amicable way. One suspects he has an agenda and that his ‘concerns about Islamic values’ is merely a convenient way to defame the cultures of Islam, of which there are many.

    – “In this sense I could perhaps consider myself (at least slightly) xenophobic – but is this really a sign of a moral corruptness or perhaps more of a common sense and will to survive as a nation?

    Arto, it is very refreshing to see someone admitting to some strain of xenophobia in themselves. I’m not surprised you start to feel it’s a game of survival, because that is exactly how the populist parties have sold it to us. The reality is far from that. But in a world where huge tower blocks come tumbling down, and tube stations blow up, it starts to feel like anything is possible and maybe we really are at war. This is always the danger of extremism: it has the potential to make us move towards extremism in our response to it. But that would be a betrayal of our values and some kind of victory for extremists, who are set to benefit the most from any kind of apocalyptic-like clash of civilisations.

    We are now mired in the politics of fear. And it’s time to stand up and challenge it.

  9. Arto

    Mark, why should we see a direct statistical relationship between the number of PS voters and the number of immigrants? After all, “anti-immigration” is not the only theme PS are promoting. I am sure only part of PS voters have been after this theme of restricting immigration more strictly.

    “If we then start applying an non-liberal policy for foreigners, we have started down a very slippery slope.”

    This country belongs to Finnish people who have the right to decide about immigration politics. After someone gets citizenship, he/she should have equal rights and be treated just like any other Finn, regardless of skin colour, religion etc. But without citizenship, we have the power to decide, nobody else. And in that decision, we have to remember our own interests too. I understand economics cannot be the only criterion here, but there are many issues that count, and they do not need to be of a racist kind.

    Being worried about islamic values does not need to have anything to do with extremism. I find that a major reason for the current liberal atmosphere in Western countries is secularization. I would be pretty much equally worried about the possibility of laestadian majority (a form of Christianity in Finland that is almost as patriarchal is is islam) – except that laestadians are not so loud about telling others to behave according to their values. Birth rates are high in both groups…

    Consider Finland having a majority of “moderate” muslims. Do you believe that would not have any effects on legislation and degree of freedom for the citizens? I kind of don’t. I also believe Halla-aho is honestly concerned about the effect islam could have on the future of our liberal values. It is paradoxal that people who stand for “liberal” immigration policy, may actually promote the society becoming much less liberal in a relatively short time span – simply because a major part of immigrants do not share the very liberal values. If this is populist thinking and somehow in contrast with the truth, I would like to know how. I believe it is a common misconception to think the difference in values between islam and western people would be just superficial.

    I am also not sure if it is ecologically wise to let the over-breeding human populations to freely spread themselves to areas where population issues are in control. Overpopulation is a very severe global problem – it is not far from the truth to say that overpopulation is the origin of all other ecological problems as well as poverty of people.

    • Enrique

      –This country belongs to Finnish people who have the right to decide about immigration politics.

      Doesn’t Finland do that already? I think the point Mark is trying to make is that a negative atmosphere, as the one going on in Finland now, rubs off on all immigrants and people of immigrant backgrounds. You cannot selectively bash one group and expect things are going to be dandy for the rest. It is like a fight at home: you fight with one but it is felt by everyone.

      That is the major gripe I have of the anti-immigrant and anti-Islam atmosphere in Finland.

      Arto you are intelligent enough to know that we have religious freedom in this country. You undermine that and you water down our civil liberties.

  10. Mark

    Arto

    – “Mark, why should we see a direct statistical relationship between the number of PS voters and the number of immigrants?

    You seemed to suggest that: not many immigrants, not much support for PS, more immigrants, more support. My observation was that the increase in support to 20% doesn’t correlate with the relatively small influx of immigrants. I agree that PS have other ‘populist’ issues too. However, it won’t have been lost on the leadership of PS that Tony Halme’s popularity was based very much on his very strong anti-immigration opinions. That coupled to experiences of other far right parties in Europe who have benefited by sharing expertise ironically through their representation in the EU Parliament.

    – “This country belongs to Finnish people who have the right to decide about immigration politics.”

    I have no beef there, Arto. But some people seem to want to go a lot further and decide what foreigners eat, wear and say in public. And I am also glad to see someone actually stating that foreigners should have the same rights as natives ‘when they get citizenship’. My feeling though is that once you accept immigrants at all, you have to give respect, otherwise, how can we ever have the moral ground to demand them to respect the Finnish way of life? That respect surely implies not defaming other ethnicities.

    Defamation is very different to ‘raising issues in a rational debate’. There is a clear pattern of negative stereotyping. Immigration is framed always as a problem. Immigrants are talked about almost exclusively as scroungers or layabouts. Even though PS say they want productive immigrants, it’s just funny that they don’t actually seem to think there are any from certain areas of the world. People on this blog comment constantly, ‘what have ‘Afghans/Iraqis/Somalis ever given to Finland’. That’s not a simple question about economics, it’s clearly negative stereotyping. The implication is that they give fuck all.

    – “Being worried about islamic values does not need to have anything to do with extremism.”

    No, it doesn’t. I am concerned about certain elements of Islam. But maybe I’m lucky in that I know some Muslims very well and I can see that there has been genuine shock at the speed at which Islamaphobia has arisen. I mean, even with revelations about radicalisation, they expect us to be able to differentiate between the actions and values of a very very small minority and the vast majority. I don’t see Aho really offering very much in the way of personal experience of Muslims. He seems hell bent on a very narrow academic reading of Islam with the express desire of showing Muslims in a bad light. It’s not about having ‘different values’ with him; his assumption is that Muslim values are barbaric and antithesis of western values.

    – “Birth rates are high in both groups…Consider Finland having a majority of “moderate” muslims.”

    I’ve referred to this elsewhere as the ‘Strategic denial – consider if the Muslims became the majority?’. This really does create a sense of cultural self-defence and it’s based on what? The birth rate among minorities is higher in first generation immigrants, and then it slows. As Finland has a reproductive rate of just 1.73 for every woman, Finland could find itself with huge problems in generations to come. A population explosion in Finland would be quite welcomed by politicians, I’m sure. As it is, if we really are a country of freedom of religion, then what business do we have counting how many Muslims there are compared to Christians? Whoever said there were not secular Muslims? A great many Muslims I knew in England were quite secularised.

    – “Do you believe that would not have any effects on legislation and degree of freedom for the citizens?” No, I don’t think we are getting anything close to that kind of situation. Even in the most multicultural area of the UK, the borough of Tower Hamlets, immigrants or Brits of immigrant ancestory only make up 43% of the population. I’m sure part of the appeal of living in Britian or Finland is the freedom within society. Of course, you will always get a vocal minority calling for something totalitarian. We’ve had those kinds of people since forever, and no-one makes a big deal about die hard communists, out and out fascists etc. So why go after Muslims? It really sounds like a witchunt to me.

    – “I kind of don’t. I also believe Halla-aho is honestly concerned about the effect islam could have on the future of our liberal values.”

    I think you are misguided in your faith in Halla-aho. Is it an accident that our civil liberties, welfare system and educational system where all championed by those on the left? But all of a sudden, contrary to history, we are expected to believe the champions of civil liberty are those on the right? I think not.

    – “Overpopulation is a very severe global problem – it is not far from the truth to say that overpopulation is the origin of all other ecological problems as well as poverty of people.”

    Well, yes and no. Poverty is very much dependent on resources, security and political landscape. Many of the poorer countries have ineffective government. It’s not about population so much. The West has prospered because of relative peace. You have to realise that with economics, higher population doesn’t mean more relative poverty. It’s not like €100 has to feed 10 instead of five. It can mean that 10 people being productive leads to higher growth than five people.

  11. Arto

    Enrique, did you somehow understand that I would be denying freedom of religion? Of course not. People living in Finland must have freedom to choose their religion, whether it is laestadian, islamic or something else.

    But if we can use immigration policy to prevent consequences such as a future islamic _majority_ in our country, we just might want to consider that, if we feel this would be a threat to our society. This is something I personally take more or less seriously at the moment. We have the right to choose the people we take in, even if it sounds like discrimination towards some people. We can use the criteria that best serve our own interests if we so choose. I know saying so may sound almost shocking to some people, but the world is not a perfect place. And it will not turn perfect even if our decisions would be based on pure idealism (thinking only good about all people and religions and about adapting these to each other).

    Over time, people on Earth have been roughly organized as nations with their own countries. Perhaps there is a reason for this? I am not talking about 100% ethnic purity or anything like that, but can you say that the large scale migration going on will naturally result in something good in Europe? I am not sure about that at all – we have seen trouble in many countries already.

    About the negative atmosphere you are referring to. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding like critisim of immigration policy being equal to racism etc. straightforward simplifications going on. The reactions of many “tolerant” people have been very exaggerated if you read their writings in Facebook groups, for example. Hysteria almost. I am still not convinced about a large scale racism problem, but I agree that we need to strongly oppose racism whenever we encounter it. I guess some people would classify me as a racist based on what I have written above. I personally do not think so, however. It must be allowed to talk about the quality of immigration, differences in cultures and values and their potential effects to our society. We must not make our decisions blindfold.

  12. xyz

    Over time, people on Earth have been roughly organized as nations with their own countries.
    -And before they lived as tribes. How do you want to have a global voice in the future? There is no real alternative to Europe. I also think that the media should promote this e.g. there should be a European TV channel etc. I think its better to move forward. World is anyway already connected (Internet, Travel etc.)

  13. Arto

    Thanks again, Mark.

    “But some people seem to want to go a lot further and decide what foreigners eat, wear and say in public.”

    I don’t exactly understand what you are referring to here.

    “My feeling though is that once you accept immigrants at all, you have to give respect, otherwise, how can we ever have the moral ground to demand them to respect the Finnish way of life?”

    I agree. But it is still “our house” and our rules. If someone needs to be felixible, it should first be the immigrant adapting to our society.

    “Even though PS say they want productive immigrants, it’s just funny that they don’t actually seem to think there are any from certain areas of the world.”

    There might be too strong stereotypes by some but on the other hand, systems have been developed elsewhere (Canada, for example) about selecting these “productive immigrants”. There are points given based on several criteria (such as as education, obviously). The amount of points then makes the decision.

    Secular muslims? Sure, but how common is that against our main muslim immigration groups?

    “I’ve referred to this elsewhere as the “Strategic denial – consider if the Muslims became the majority?”” By a quick Google search I found the sentence but not a longer article. I would be interested to read it if you can provide a link – if you meant you have a longer writing about the subject.

    “I think you are misguided in your faith in Halla-aho.” Well, I am interested to read writings that discuss this issue from another perspective. It is not very common to find such articles, however. Actually I have been thinking reading Timo Vihavainen’s “Destruction of the West” (free translated title), but it is more or less the same view as Halla-Aho’s.

    “Is it an accident that our civil liberties, welfare system and educational system where all championed by those on the left? But all of a sudden, contrary to history, we are expected to believe the champions of civil liberty are those on the right? I think not.”

    Actually I think PS is more on the left as a party than it is on the right, if you check out their politics programme.

    “It’s not about population so much.” This is a so much a separate topic that we should probably forget it in this conversation, but I want to point out that the world’s resources are finite – it is not fundamentally about the money and economics but the finite resources that give us our living.

  14. Arto

    Correction:
    “Sure, but how common is that against our main muslim immigration groups?”
    should have been:
    “Sure, but how common is that among our main muslim immigration groups?”

  15. Mark

    Arto

    – “I wrote: But some people seem to want to go a lot further and decide what foreigners eat, wear and say in public.” I don’t exactly understand what you are referring to here.

    I’m referring to things like this comment you make not long after:

    – “I agree. But it is still “our house” and our rules. If someone needs to be felixible, it should first be the immigrant adapting to our society.”

    What do you mean ‘our rules’? What do you mean by flexible? How do you want the foreigners to adapt to Finnish society? What would you find offensive on the part of a foreigner in Finland?

    I’ve heard some people complaining about foreigners traditional clothing, or they don’t like them complaining in public about services (though Finns complain all the time about Kela!).

    Maybe you have something else in mind? But I do wonder, if people expect foreigners to dress a certain way, or talk a certain way, even what language to speak etc., then what happened to their freedom of expression, a right enshrined in the Finnish Constitution?

    I’m not against a point system for entry into Finland. But what bothers me about the debate is not the fact Finns want productive immigrants, but the atmosphere in which the debate takes place. Are we talking about doing everything we can to help those immigrants who are here, because we know that they will eventually fill a labour shortage? Are we talking about the challenges for immigrants? Are we asking what is it really like for immigrants? Are we ready to hear that Finland is not always a very welcoming country?

    I would also like to see much more understanding of what racism is, how it’s understood. Much has been written about it. Many practical criticisms have been made of multiculturalism, but the simple fact is that the issue has been politicised. That is the basic problem here. We are talking about a sociological and partly economic issue, and instead, it becomes political. It becomes infused with talk about political and national identities, as if those things are really relevant! The basic question that I have yet to have answered when it comes to thinking about a large ethnic minority living in ‘your’ country is exactly how does that stop you being a Finn? Or me being a Brit?

    How common are secular Muslims in Finland. I don’t know. I do know that many people coming from Somalia for instance are escaping Islamists, and not importing Islamism. But it would be naive to say that some tensions don’t come with them. It was second generation immigrants in England that I noticed have absorbed the values of freedom, democracy and secularism, though I met many 1st generation immigrants that likewise appreciated freedom. I met many refugees and immigrants in London–hundreds, maybe thousands—and the thing I found was that people really do appreciate freedom and refuge and family, even when they struggle to speak English or to understand our public institutions. I also knew people who experienced tremendous heartache because their loved ones were left in danger. Why is it that people so quickly lose sight of the fact we are talking about human beings, and that talk of nationalities and cultures covers over the very basic things we have in common?

    What kinds of discussion would you like to read, Arto? Honest appraisals of the potential for a clash of civilisations? Or would you like to read about the legacy of postcolonial Europe, which is very relevant to understanding immigration here?

    Yes, PS are taking elements that would be considered socialist. They really are more of a populist party than a far right party in that sense. They are mopping up the disaffected socialists and the disaffected conservatives. Not a bad strategy in political terms, but its not them paying the price for the heated anger that festers towards immigrants as a result.

    Yes, let’s leave the population issue.

    Regarding the Strategic Denial, I submitted an article to that discussed in extremely brief form how different denials of racism are constructed. It’s not an academic piece, but it was researched and based on years of hands-on experience of multicultural issues.

  16. Marjut

    I had fun reading the discussion, but here are some notes. First in the perussuomalaiset principles it says”We defend multiculturalism by defending our national identity” and from Suomen Sisu RY principles “Kansamme olemassaolon ja kehityksen turvaaminen sekä todellisen ja luonnollisen monimuotoisuuden säilyttäminen.Ihmiskunnan luonnollisen monimuotoisuuden hävittäminen monikulttuurisuuden harhaanjohtavalla nimellä on loputtava. Kansoja ei saa tarkoituksellisesti sekoittaa keskenään eikä tuhota historiallisesti kehittyneitä kulttuureita korvaamalla ne globaalilla alakulttuurien kirjolla.” =free translation”Different cultures should not be mixed, true multiculturalism is accomplished by keeping them seperate” yeah… Clearly they now nothing of evolution nor genetic richness. If they want to keep mixing only finns with finns the result will not be evolutionally desirable because genetic variations are needed to keep the human race continue to evolve. Clearly there has been some de-evolution going on here. As a native finn I am slightly embarassed that ancient christian values has found its way to eduskunta. “perussuomalaiset ovat kansanmielinen ja kristillissosiaalinen puolue” I don’t know how to translate that accurately so I wont try, but it says that they are nationalists and Christ something and social party. And my principle is never to vote anyone who supports values from the middle ages. They don’t approve gay marriages(sex-neutral marriages) they don’t want gay couples to be able to adopt or get atificial insemination nor they approve a single womans desire to have a child by insemination. So all women and men should be tied up in marriage or be alone or in registered relationships which really is giving people different value as a person, a human being. Christianity has always put women in an unequal position compared to men and I see true Finns also a threat to women because they seem to be a mans party.
    Arto I think you said that they are in your opinion more to the left but they say on their page that they are not in the right nor in the left. But they do have right wing views but some left wing benefit requests. But also think about it Hitler was a right wing nut but on the other hand he was also very much to the left because he wanted all Germans to have a job and a car thats why Volkswagen(peoples car) was developed so that every one could have a car in Germany.
    Also I’ve been wondering and I’ve been discussing this with true finns aswell as immigrants who work where I work and study where I study(imagine that immigrants who work and study) and I don’t think that a racist person considers him or herself a racist they label themselves anti immigrant people or they are opposed to immigrant laws at the moment but the further you talk with True finns the real status of their views comes apparent all of them think that they would have a better job, house and more money if those immigrants wouldn’t be taking all of those things away from them. It is Finns first in their opinion but I must say what happened to humanity. It is in basic human decency to help those in need and accept them so that they can and their children can become productive citizens. It won’t happen overnight I can promise you that. The immigrants who have it the hardest are people of color and mainly the first generation of immigrants who will never speak Finnish fluently so they won’t be able to get a decent job. If the first generation feels rejected by the Finns and our hole social system it is likely that their children will grow up to recent Finns and distance themselves from our culture rather than mingle with us and they will create their own culture which the True Finns seem to be so afraid of. But for those immigrants who have had it somewhat easy been able to get a job and healtcare and guidance and finnish skills their children will grow up to become more mingled with the Finnish culture. Some of them will even become lawyers, doctors or teachers instead of unemployed society rejects.
    I have a nigerian born girl at my workplace and someone heard her speak swedish and he said “wow how come you speak swedish” and the girl answered well I did study from elementary school through highschool here” and the guy was amazed. She is currently reading for exam here in helsinki and I do hope she gets in. As you can see the attitudes towards black immigrants are major but they can be solved by acceptance not discrimination and shutting our borders which will create more alienated immigrants who already are here and are trying to get the courage to apply for a job or a study place. The only places they will really learn Finnish culture and language. Besides I am not that fond of some aspects of Finnish culture for example at the moment after the hockey win: Finns burning Swedish flags in Sweden, bar fights, home wrecking, driving while drunk and shouting at immigrants when they see them racists comments which in their mind are patriotic. So yeah…

    On another note this blog is fun to read and it is nice to have a place to practice my English some more 🙂 I’ve been writing at for sometime 😛

    • Enrique

      Hi Marjut and thank you for those inspiring thoughts. Welcome to our blog!

      Isn’t it surprising how some in 2011 still see different culture as they did in the middle ages as you point out? Probably even a worse period was the nineteenth century. Those in associations like Suomen Sisu place themselves in the Germany of the 1930s. Taking into account what is known about Suomen Sisu, it’s nothing strange that they can identify with Alfred Rosenberg, a Nazi who was tried by the Allies for war crimes, and former Klu Klux Klan head David Duke. Both Rosenberg and Duke are the antithesis of multiculturalism, which is Suomen Sisu’s central message.

      When Suomen Sisu says people should not marry between cultures they are effectively insulting not only those that come from multicultural marriages in Finland, but Finns that emigrated in the last 150 years. As you know, many of these people have married with other ethnicities and still have strong bonds with this country despite being third- or even fourth-generation Finnish Americans.

      Finland needs a very serious debate on racism. It needs leadership against this social ill, which has, unfortunately, gained a beachhead in Finland through the PS.

      The reaction of the public and the slow-but-ever-growing outrage of the Finnish media against people who are trying to give credibility to populism and racism is a good example that we won’t go down the path of Denmark. The PS must divorce itself from the xenophobia and racism. It must, like any party, make a pledge to defend our cultural diversity and human rights.

      Multicultural Finns, if they identify with the latter, should make their presence felt in this country through music, art and academia. That time has come.

      We hope to read a lot more from you!

  17. Allan

    KRP nor Supo have never said Suomen Sisu is a nazi-spirited organization, and that is a fact. It was an invention by a newspaper reporter. Stop promoting this lie, Enrique, it undermines your nonexistant credibility.

    Or then I just will conclude everything else in your blog is a similar mirepresentation of truth.

  18. Allan

    Marjut, I can not understand what you are saying about Suomen Sisu. Exactly what does culture have to do with evolution? Do you have sex with a coca-cola bottle? Culture has nothing to do with genetics.

  19. Allan

    Yes Mark I hope all those parties forming the government will start championing the immigrants like the greens did. No need for campaigning for the PS. Just reading the news and having someone go racism an multiculturalism on the tv – sataa laariin as they say.

  20. Mark

    Arto

    – “I wrote: But some people seem to want to go a lot further and decide what foreigners eat, wear and say in public.” I don’t exactly understand what you are referring to here.

    I’m referring to things like this comment you make not long after:

    – “I agree. But it is still “our house” and our rules. If someone needs to be felixible, it should first be the immigrant adapting to our society.”

    What do you mean ‘our rules’? What do you mean by flexible? How do you want the foreigners to adapt to Finnish society? What would you find offensive on the part of a foreigner in Finland?

    I’ve heard some people complaining about foreigners traditional clothing, or they don’t like them complaining in public about services (though Finns complain all the time about Kela!).

    Maybe you have something else in mind? But I do wonder, if people expect foreigners to dress a certain way, or talk a certain way, even what language to speak etc., then what happened to their freedom of expression, a right enshrined in the Finnish Constitution?

    I’m not against a point system for entry into Finland. But what bothers me about the debate is not the fact Finns want productive immigrants, but the atmosphere in which the debate takes place. Are we talking about doing everything we can to help those immigrants who are here, because we know that they will eventually fill a labour shortage? Are we talking about the challenges for immigrants? Are we asking what is it really like for immigrants? Are we ready to hear that Finland is not always a very welcoming country?

    I would also like to see much more understanding of what racism is, how it’s understood. Much has been written about it. Many practical criticisms have been made of multiculturalism, but the simple fact is that the issue has been politicised. That is the basic problem here. We are talking about a sociological and partly economic issue, and instead, it becomes political. It becomes infused with talk about political and national identities, as if those things are really relevant! The basic question that I have yet to have answered when it comes to thinking about a large ethnic minority living in ‘your’ country is exactly how does that stop you being a Finn? Or me being a Brit?

    How common are secular Muslims in Finland. I don’t know. I do know that many people coming from Somalia for instance are escaping Islamists, and not importing Islamism. But it would be naive to say that some tensions don’t come with them. It was second generation immigrants in England that I noticed have absorbed the values of freedom, democracy and secularism, though I met many 1st generation immigrants that likewise appreciated freedom. I met many refugees and immigrants in London–hundreds, maybe thousands—and the thing I found was that people really do appreciate freedom and refuge and family, even when they struggle to speak English or to understand our public institutions. I also knew people who experienced tremendous heartache because their loved ones were left in danger. Why is it that people so quickly lose sight of the fact we are talking about human beings, and that talk of nationalities and cultures covers over the very basic things we have in common?

    What kinds of discussion would you like to read, Arto? Honest appraisals of the potential for a clash of civilisations? Or would you like to read about the legacy of postcolonial Europe, which is very relevant to understanding immigration here?

    Yes, PS are taking elements that would be considered socialist. They really are more of a populist party than a far right party in that sense. They are mopping up the disaffected socialists and the disaffected conservatives. Not a bad strategy in political terms, but its not them paying the price for the heated anger that festers towards immigrants as a result.

    Yes, let’s leave the population issue.

  21. Mark

    Allan

    Marjut is being perfectly consistent.

    – The PS manifesto: “Different cultures should not be mixed, true multiculturalism is accomplished by keeping them seperate” yeah…

    – Marjut’s response: Clearly they now nothing of evolution nor genetic richness. If they want to keep mixing only finns with finns the result will not be evolutionally desirable because genetic variations are needed to keep the human race continue to evolve.

    You complain that Marjut mentions genetic isolation and the grounds it has nothing to do with culture (really nasty comment about sex with a coke bottle, but we expect that from you).

    So, according to your view then, we are going to keep the cultures seperate but nevertheless allow interbreeding? How convenient.

    Of course Marjut is right to conclude that that kind of suggested segregation amounts to greater genetic isolation.

  22. Arto

    Mark wrote: “What do you mean ‘our rules’? What do you mean by flexible? How do you want the foreigners to adapt to Finnish society? What would you find offensive on the part of a foreigner in Finland?”

    Things like cirmumcision without medical grounds. Things like how you are allowed to slaughter a cow or goat. Perhaps even things like wearing full face covering masks (headscarf?) in public places.

    But nothing like restricting freedom of speech or a diet of anybody. Or religion, as long as it goes according to our laws.

    “But I do wonder, if people expect foreigners to dress a certain way”

    Wearing a face covering mask is just an exception here. I am not 100% of my view about it, but I feel it is a partiarchal way of dominating women that we perhaps should not accept in our country. France just made a decision about this issue, as you have probably heard.

    “or talk a certain way, even what language to speak etc.”

    Learning Finnish is perhaps pretty reasonable criteria for gettting citizenship. The reason for this is practical – improving chances to get a job and getting along in our society.

    “The basic question that I have yet to have answered when it comes to thinking about a large ethnic minority living in ‘your’ country is exactly how does that stop you being a Finn? Or me being a Brit?”

    In my opinion, the danger is that some loud minorities are telling the original people too much about what to do. This is where the different cultures potentially collide.

    “Why is it that people so quickly lose sight of the fact we are talking about human beings, and that talk of nationalities and cultures covers over the very basic things we have in common?”

    The world is full of trouble and suffering. Helping is valuable, but we cannot help them all anyway – and we need to consider what are the best ways to help. It might not always be migration. We need to think how much resposibility we really have for the troubles of others.

    “What kinds of discussion would you like to read, Arto?”

    I was referring to analytical writings that would be discussing views of people like Halla-Aho and professor Vihavainen, taking their arguments seriously without concentrating on putting racist labels everywhere. Actually such a book seems to exist: http://www.savukeidas.com/halla-aho Free translation in English: “What does Jussi Halla-aho mean”?

    About PS, they actually honestly identify themselves as a populist party. I was a bit surprised to read that since I had always thought the term “populist” is more for mocking certain kind of political behaviour!

  23. Arto

    Marjut wrote: “When Suomen Sisu says people should not marry between cultures”

    Do they really say something like that? Based on brief reading, I understood that they are against mixing different nations in purpose, meaning political decisions that promote such results (multiculturalism). I never got an impression that they would bring this thinking to an individual level. I might be wrong, I do not know this organization well.

    “It is Finns first in their opinion but I must say what happened to humanity.”

    I must admit that I have become more cynical over the years (or maybe more “realistic”) For example, I am no longer sure whether the aid we give to the developing countries is worth it or not. Quite recently I was giving monthly donations to an African country via a charity organization. Now I am having a timeout, since I am not so convinced about the results. I am afraid that this all might just promote population explosion more than it alleviates suffering and poverty. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions…” I feel the aid should go more effectively on family planning and probably education of women.

    “Besides I am not that fond of some aspects of Finnish culture for example at the moment after the hockey win: Finns burning Swedish flags in Sweden, bar fights, home wrecking, driving while drunk and shouting at immigrants when they see them racists comments which in their mind are patriotic. So yeah…”

    Me neither. But I hate this kind of argumentation that always pops up when we are talking about immigration issues. The whole thing is not to say that we are somehow better than some other people. We have our flaws. But it is about our welfare and future, and whether immigration will have more positive or negative effects on it.

  24. Mark

    Arto

    – “Things like cirmumcision without medical grounds.”

    As this is illegal in Finland, the issue is therefore one of enforcement and support from woman already affected. I think this is a fair request.

    – “Things like how you are allowed to slaughter a cow or goat.”
    Like Halal meat? When Germany authorised it, their studies using brain implants showed ritual slaughter to be painless if carried out correctly, while traditional bolt stunning was shown to have severe pain reactions. Likewise, French authorities ASIDCOM also carried out studies and their conclusion was: “religious slaughter would thus be a less stressing mode of slaughter. Conclusions of all the scientific experiments converge towards a firmly supported certainty: properly carried out, religious slaughter is the most humane way because it leads to less trauma to animals to be killed to be consumed for its meat” I’m sure that won’t be the end of the debate about Halal or any kind of animal slaughter for human consumption.

    – “Perhaps even things like wearing full face covering masks (headscarf?) in public places. Wearing a face covering mask is just an exception here. I am not 100% of my view about it, but I feel it is a partiarchal way of dominating women that we perhaps should not accept in our country.”

    It’s commendable that you are concerned for women’s rights. I’m not sure that the government telling women what to do instead of husbands is any better. But this is a big stereotype. Many Muslim women want to wear a veil, of various sorts. I think that it’s fair to make the case to Muslims to abandon the practice, as it’s not a requirement of Islam. And I don’t think it’s necessarily racist to be concerned about it. However, when it’s used specifically to defame all Muslim culture, you can see that someone has hijacked the issue.

    – “Learning Finnish is perhaps pretty reasonable criteria for gettting citizenship. The reason for this is practical – improving chances to get a job and getting along in our society.”

    No problems with that, though I think a lot more needs to be done on that score. The teaching materials are frankly outdated. It’s bizzare that many study books are written entirely in Finnish.

    – “In my opinion, the danger is that some loud minorities are telling the original people too much about what to do. This is where the different cultures potentially collide.”

    But are we not crossing the line on freedom of speech, which you are in favour of? I mean, Finns are free to tell people what to do and to canvass for services etc. Yes, I can see reasons for tensions, if people believe that there ‘isn’t enough to go around already’. But many of these requests can likewise be economic stimuli.

    – “We cannot help them all anyway”.

    True, and we help only a small handful by international standards. Actually, Finland often goes to the refugee camps in Palestine and elsewhere to find the most vulnerable as part of reaching their annual quota.

    I’ll have a look at your link later.

    On the question of ‘learning about the topic’. It’s very good to read around the topic, on both sides of the debate. Someone once told me that unless you have a revolution in your thinking every week, you are not really learning. I’m not sure I reach that, but I see the point.

  25. Allan

    You complain that Marjut mentions genetic isolation and the grounds it has nothing to do with culture (really nasty comment about sex with a coke bottle, but we expect that from you).

    So, according to your view then, we are going to keep the cultures seperate but nevertheless allow interbreeding? How convenient.

    Of course Marjut is right to conclude that that kind of suggested segregation amounts to greater genetic isolation.?

    Well apparently this global “American Coca-Cola culture” as it is called, is spread by genetically modified coaca-cola bottles, as that is your explanation why all the kids are having droopy pants and a baseball cap with the lid sideways as according to your logic, a person being born with certain ancestry is bound to follow some “culture” as if its imprinted in the genes.

  26. Mark

    Allan

    -“Well apparently this global “American Coca-Cola culture” as it is called, is spread by genetically modified coaca-cola bottles, as that is your explanation why all the kids are having droopy pants and a baseball cap with the lid sideways as according to your logic, a person being born with certain ancestry is bound to follow some “culture” as if its imprinted in the genes.”

    …how the fuck you arrived at that conclusion from what I wrote I will never know!

  27. BS

    This is so typical. As soon as someone writes a good article about the rise of xenophobia, there is some Perussuomalaiset-minded (native) Finn who belittles it and tries to convince everyone that “no, we are not getting any more xenophobic at all”, and “I have seen no evidence of increasing racism, so therefore it clearly doesn’t exist”, etc. etc.

    Arto and Allan, how about actually discussing with someone who BELONGS to a minority? They actually DO know what they are talking about, you see? I don’t experience racism either, because I’m a white native Finn. But I’m not belittling it or claiming that it doesn’t exist, just because *I* haven’t seen it, or because I can close my eyes and pretend that those statements written by Suomen Sisu etc. are not in any way xenophobic if I want to.

    • Enrique

      Hi BS and welcome to our blog, Migrant Tales. You make an excellent point: You have to ask minorities their opinion. When we have a number of perspectives, we can then see the bigger picture. I personally am concerned by Suomen Sisu and that it does not seem to bother Soini a bit. There are probably many undercurrents in the PS.

      We hope to hear from you.

  28. Arto

    BS, I was asking some evidence about the claims for increasing racism. I was not exactly denying it. What I feel is an atmosphere of hysteria at the moment because of PS success in elections – which does not prove anything about racism as such. I am just _suspicios_ about the claims of increasing racism. I know racists exists, they always have and probably always will.

    I have read many times that immigrants/coloured people are now more afraid to walk alone here etc. I can imagine they might be, but is it because of a truly increased amount of racism or because so many people and media are now talking about this issue so much and giving an _impression_ of increased racism? I could compare this psychological phenomenon to USA, where people are often very frightened about the possibility to encounter violence, because all those violent crime series (fiction) in TV give they an impression of very unsafe USA.

    For example, I find more or less ridiculous this latest episode where the Finnish icehockey team was asked to get involved in this racism issue because someone (possibly with her own political motives) had seem some drunk jerk Finn behave badly in subway. And they did. OK, it is not a bad cause to oppose racism, but once again an impression was given that this is a truly acute problem, and on what grounds? There are always idiots and sometimes you encounter them, no matter what campaigns you arrange.

    BS, have you been discussing this with someone belonging to a minority? What did you hear?

  29. Arto

    Enrique: “I personally am concerned by Suomen Sisu and that it does not seem to bother Soini a bit.” and earlier: “Just like Suomen Sisu would ever admit that they are a “Nazi-spirited” association”

    I do not know Suomen Sisu well, but I suspect neither do you.

    I know Jussi Halla-Aho is a member of Suomen Sisu. Therefore, I suppose you might think he is nazi-spirited? If so, I can understand your concern. But at least I have not found any evidence about that in his blog writings, where he quite often refers to the crimes of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union of Stalin. He certainly is not admiring those crimes in his writings.

  30. Arto

    Racism researcher Vesa Puuronen anwers Helsingin Sanomat about the question of increased racism (written in this month):

    Onko rasismi lisääntynyt Suomessa maahanmuuton lisääntymisen myötä?
    Vesa Puuronen: “Ei se minusta pidä paikkansa. Rasismia on ollut ennenkin, mutta se on tullut näkyvämmäksi 1990-luvulla lisääntyneen maahanmuuton myötä.”

    My free translation:
    Q: “Has racism increased in Finland as immigration has increased?”
    A: “I do not think that is the case. There has been racism before, it has only become more visible as the immigration started to increase in 1990’s.”

  31. Mark

    Arto

    I think some of the problem with Jussi Hallo-aho is not that he advocates the kind of Nazism that saw millions of Jews and Undesirables exterminated, but that he is taking us closer to the mentality that allowed those horrors to take place. It is the lack of moral clarity in his arguments that is most worrying. This approach to foreigners would represent a huge shift in the values written into the Finland’s institutions. Finns have so far to date greatly valued equality, meaning everyone is treated the same regardless of many factors, including gender, age, ethnicity, economic status etc. Yes, these are ideals that don’t always play out in reality, but they are also active goals being implemented in all government and municipal work, and they HAVE had a very positive impact on Finnish society. PS are advocating a fundamental change in the values that underlie Finnish society, and bringing them in via the back door, a disproportionate argument about the ‘threat’ of immigrants or even of EU membership. It’s this ‘go it alone, Finns first’ attitude and it’s a recipe for disaster, both economically and morally.

    I think we all have to accept a new strand of politics in Europe, that of populism. But populism, when you analysis it, is based on a theory of division. Even in Soini’s Master’s thesis, he talks about similar themes, the ‘elites’ pitted against the ‘ordinary Finns, or True Finn’. In these elites he puts intellectuals (academics), politicians and corporate governers. Add to that a division against ‘us and them’ based on ethnicity, and you see the role that immigration plays in the political game. There is some simple truths behind this political strategy:

    – people feel a general sense of insecurity, about their economic situation. They feel they have no voice and that politicians are divorced from the problems of everyday life.
    – in a war, people are galvanised together and motivation increases. Anything that fuels this sense of being at war, including cultural war, will mobilise support and political cohesion.
    – people want justice. Many of the arguments that are creating these divisions are about fairness. It’s not fair that foreigners come here and use our benefits or our healthcare, it’s not fair that they get their houses, it’s not fair that we help out the Portugese or the Irish or the Greeks, because they were foolish in their economy.

    What is lost in this politics of division is a real perspective. The Euro is zone and it must achieve stability in order to reap the benefit of its size. That means we must help those countries out that are now struggling. Leaving the Euro would be a financial disaster of huge proportions for that country and for the EU. The Euro functions as a currency on a part with the dollar. We never had that position in the currency markets when we all functioned with our own currencies, so we were always beholden to the dollar. The price for that is less ability to respond to crisis by individual governments, making bailouts necessary. But that is the risk that comes with the benefit. And those benefits still outweigh the risks. And that is why governments are sticking by the Euro.

    Anyhow. I don’t suppose many people see the ‘moral creep’ that takes place with this kind of populist politics. They think that this attitude will only apply to foreigners. But really, I cannot see it stopping there. Why? Well, when Denmark has finished tightening its borders, reintroducing border checkpoints and other such stuff, the nationalists will have to sink or swim based entirely on their economic and social policies. And the simple truth is that it’s very difficult to bring about hugely significant reforms that will greatly impact the popular consciousness or be felt as hugely benefiting. So the old cynicism in politicians returns. And it’s at that point that populist parties would have a choice whether to continue that divisive politics by going after internal groupings. That might be a good thing, getting people finally off the dole. But there are no easy solutions to activating the unemployed. A huge amount of effort has already been put into it across the EU. Why would the nationalists have the answer? Well, the arguments I’ve seen being made are to abandon welfare. And then the safety net disappears. And the problems of poverty become a whole lot worse.

    I really don’t think that some Finns who support PS understand the full implications of what they are suggesting; how it changes fundamentally some of the key values of Finnish society.

  32. Arto

    Mark, I have some views about the Euro crisis but let’s not go into that. I am not a PS voter.

    “This approach to foreigners would represent a huge shift in the values written into the Finland’s institutions. Finns have so far to date greatly valued equality, meaning everyone is treated the same regardless of many factors, including gender, age, ethnicity, economic status etc.”

    I do not remember any writing by Halla-Aho where he would say that citizens of Finland should not be equal but they should be treated differently based on things like ethnicity. It is a completely different thing to talk about quality and quantity of immigration than it is to talk about how to treat Finnish citizens, regardless of their origin. Citizenship matters when we talk about privileges a state offers its inhabitants.

    “- people want justice. Many of the arguments that are creating these divisions are about fairness. ”

    Exactly. If people think immigration policy is unfair, this feeds racism. Logically, it should not be like that, though. If this is really the case, people should be angry at politicians, not at immigrants.

    I think it really is most dangerous is if ordinary people have the impression that some foreign people are taking advantage of our kindness. This affects the trust people have on authorities and decision-makers. Ideal situation would be that the people can trust that the immigration policy is reasonable and also takes the interests of Finnish people into account, in addition to possible humanitarian reasons. This policy should also be communicated clearly in public. For example, it is outrageous to let some people come in and commit crimes. If you don’t behave, you should be kicked out. As simple as that. A long enough test period is needed before citizenship is granted. Meanwhile, special conditions like the one described above would be applied. This would not threaten our moral values in any way.

  33. Mark

    Arto

    – “I do not remember any writing by Halla-Aho where he would say that citizens of Finland should not be equal but they should be treated differently based on things like ethnicity.”

    I’m not sure if I understand this correctly: He’s not saying they wouldn’t be equal, they would just be treated differently? Isn’t that a contradiction?

    Not only would treating people differently based on ethnicity contradict the most fundamental rights of the Constitution, it would be a legal and administrative nightmare.

    I actually don’t know what the situation is now for those who are here on permanent residence permits in terms of different rights, but I have assumed that we are treated similarly to other citizens. I don’t know even the process for achieving citizenship, or if you have to give up citizenship of a different country. Those are not my concerns really.

    – “It is a completely different thing to talk about quality and quantity of immigration than it is to talk about how to treat Finnish citizens, regardless of their origin. Citizenship matters when we talk about privileges a state offers its inhabitants.

    I disagree. Calling it ‘quality of immigration’ conveniently hides the value choices behind it. Am I right to say that quality means (for most people concerned about immigration) that the foriegner is ‘working and not getting into trouble’. If it is, then penalising an arbitrary group of people on the basis that a minority of that group do not contribute (whether we talk about unemployment or crime) seems grossly unfair. Whether it’s even their fault they are unemployed is also highly questionable.

    – “Exactly. If people think immigration policy is unfair, this feeds racism. Logically, it should not be like that, though. If this is really the case, people should be angry at politicians, not at immigrants.”

    I agree. Though I might question whether immigration policy was unfair to existing residents. It’s said that immigrants take money in benefits, as if the assumption is that more benefit would be available to Finns if these immigrants weren’t taking it all. That is not the case. Benefit is decided on the basis of need and also to be low enough that it’s not a disincentive to working. Unemployed Finns won’t get more if there are less immigrants. Social housing is a bigger problem, though not so much in Finland yet. The responsibility there is down to city planners and central government to adequately anticipate housing needs. Again, not immigrants fault. Crime in another issue, which I don’t know very much at this point. What I do know is that the Constitution is very specific in saying that all citizens are equal before the law. I also understand why that should be the case. I put it to you Arto therefore that treating immigrants differently in the eyes of the law does fundamentally challenge Finnish values.

    – “I think it really is most dangerous is if ordinary people have the impression that some foreign people are taking advantage of our kindness. This affects the trust people have on authorities and decision-makers.”

    That is very true. It’s also true that it is precisely the job of political oppositions to undermine trust in the government as a means to getting into power themselves. And the conclusion is that immigration has been hijacked as an issue and overly politicised. It’s not that these issues aren’t important, it’s just some politicians are out to convince people things are not fair when every effort is made to make it fair.

    – “Ideal situation would be that the people can trust that the immigration policy is reasonable and also takes the interests of Finnish people into account, in addition to possible humanitarian reasons.”

    That’s a very reasonable opinion and I support it.

    – “For example, it is outrageous to let some people come in and commit crimes. If you don’t behave, you should be kicked out. As simple as that. A long enough test period is needed before citizenship is granted. Meanwhile, special conditions like the one described above would be applied. This would not threaten our moral values in any way.”

    While I appreciate the sentiment that we don’t want people coming to Finland who are intent on commiting crime, I cannot agree that this sentiment should translate into some kind of blanket sanction on immigrants.

    First, as Justice Demon (another poster) has pointed out, there are many crimes, and some are more ‘accidental’ than others. Any kind of blanket law could therefore penalise people for very simple misdemeanors, like incorrectly completing a tax form. Second, we would be breaking several international treaties if we send people back to countries where they are under threat of death. This might seem hard, but imagine someone cocks up their tax form and is then sent back to say ‘Afghanistan’, where they are assassinated. Breaking the law = tax fraud; sentence = death. We would be sacrificing a great deal of our moral value if this were to be the outcome of applying that kind of blanket rule for foreigners.

    You know, I really don’t see the problem here. The court system and the police are there to take care of people who break societies rules. They decide on guilt and they decide on punishment and we should be happy that the punishment fits the crime or acts as a sufficient deterrent to crime. But what you are suggesting is a new offence, just for foreigners, called ‘breaking the law whilst being a foreigner’. Can you possibly imagine how our standing in the world would plummet after that kind of nonsense? Do we really want to be like that?

    Add to this the fact that this idea of an extra punishment is somehow going to act as a deterrent is also extremely dubious. Many penalties for crime are considered deterrents (e.g. drug legislation) and yet those crimes continue. So the real possibility is that we will have diminished our values, destroyed our standing in the world as a modern democracy and not actually solved the problem.

  34. Arto

    “I’m not sure if I understand this correctly: He’s not saying they wouldn’t be equal, they would just be treated differently? Isn’t that a contradiction?”

    Where does Halla-Aho say they (immigrants) should be treated differently? I have never seen him write that an immigrant who has gained our citizenship should be treated any different from a native Finn.

    “I disagree. Calling it ‘quality of immigration’ conveniently hides the value choices behind it.”

    I do not intend to hide the value choices. Neither does Canada which openly ehphasizes its own economical interests when choosing immigrants.

    “Unemployed Finns won’t get more if there are less immigrants.”

    If there is a group of immigrants that cause more cost than income to the society, it is taken from the purse of us all. The economical status affects how much we pay taxes and how much money the state needs to get on loan.

    “Constitution is very specific in saying that all citizens are equal before the law. I also understand why that should be the case. I put it to you Arto therefore that treating immigrants differently in the eyes of the law does fundamentally challenge Finnish values.”

    You still did not get my point. Yes, all _citizens_ are equal and that is how it should be. To suggest otherwise would be quite shocking. The thing is, citizenship is not something you should get automatically. For humanitarian immigrants at least, a certain test/probationary period and fullfilling certain conditions is needed before citizenship is granted. If you commit a crime after this, fine: you are treated like any other citizen in such a situation. But if you commit a severe crime before getting citizenship, you will be thrown out – that is not the kind of people we want. Think of a club, for example: you need to play by the rules if you want to be a member. Same thing here. Citizenship = membership of Finland. The only difference is that once you get the citizenship, you can no longer be kicked out.

    “This might seem hard, but imagine someone cocks up their tax form and is then sent back to say ‘Afghanistan”

    Cocks up their tax form? Yeah, but how about rape, for instance? I would be happy to send a rapist back to Afganistan – he would know what the rules are, so it would be his own decision to commit the crime and suffer the consequences – being first a punishment in Finland according to our laws, then sending back to the country of origin, without the possibility to apply for citizenship again.

    “You know, I really don’t see the problem here. The court system and the police are there to take care of people who break societies rules. They decide on guilt and they decide on punishment”

    Even those punishments typically cost money to tax payers. If someone gets raped or murdered it does not necessarily help much that the guilty person gets punished. We do not need the extra burden of adopting criminals. I am sure they are a very marginal group within immigrants, but a “hard” policy about them would still send an important message.

    “But what you are suggesting is a new offence, just for foreigners, called ‘breaking the law whilst being a foreigner’.”

    Breaking the law and commiting a serious crime without Finnish citizenship, that is. I see no moral problem here. The immigrant is told the rules when he/she comes in. Nobody is forced to commit crimes. If you want to be a member of our club, play by our rules and show it.

    I think the attitude that shows in your writings as well as in many, many others is that the borders of countries and citizenships would not matter anymore. I disagree about such thinking. The country is the union of its citizens, promoting the interests of its citizens. This is its main task.

  35. Mark

    Arto

    – “Where does Halla-Aho say they (immigrants) should be treated differently? I have never seen him write that an immigrant who has gained our citizenship should be treated any different from a native Finn.”

    That’s why i said I wasn’t sure if this is what you mean, but I actuall quoted your text word for word.

    – “I do not intend to hide the value choices. Neither does Canada which openly ehphasizes its own economical interests when choosing immigrants.”

    But the effect is to hide the moral dimensions of our choices if you say it is only an economic choice. I think I will call this the Employer Fallacy, because it is assuming that immigration policy is ONLY or even MAINLY about finding the right employee (i.e. immigrant).

    We need more detail on this discussion Arto. You are suggesting ‘controlled immigration’ and applying ‘economic’ criteria to get the best immigrants. What you have suggested so far is a criterion, the Dependency Ratio, which you accept is ‘simplified and generalised’; indeed, those statistics basically reflect the different prejudices of Finns.

    The ratio shows which groups find it the hardest to get employment, not necessarily which groups are the least motivated or the groups that will be the least productive. Indeed, research does show that if given a job, Somalis, for example, are quite productive, often more than average.

    Even if we say that, okay, tough luck, you would be a good immigrant, but us Finns don’t trust darkies/arabs, so tough, we will put a quota on the number coming from those countries, we do nothing to change the existing problems of immigrants already here. So what, we throw our hands up at the problem and allow the racism to persist? Surely we should challenge the racism and do more to help immigrants with targetted assistance, i.e. language development, if this is as so many claim, the key drawback.

    – Mark wrote: “Unemployed Finns won’t get more if there are less immigrants.” Arto responded: “If there is a group of immigrants that cause more cost than income to the society, it is taken from the purse of us all. The economical status affects how much we pay taxes and how much money the state needs to get on loan.

    Yes, of course you are right, but I’m not talking about realities here, I’m talking about perceptions. And there is a perception that benefits given to immigrants diminishes the quality of life of the existing poor, as it were taken directly from their mouths. The truth is something else. It’s more likely to be a redistribution of corporate or income taxes. In other words, it’s the employed that pay for it. This is important because the ones who are most vociferous in their anti-immigration views are statistically more likely to be unemployed themselves. It is literally the poor vs. the poor.

    – “You still did not get my point. Yes, all _citizens_ are equal and that is how it should be. To suggest otherwise would be quite shocking. The thing is, citizenship is not something you should get automatically.”

    Okay, I understand what you were getting at.

    – “For humanitarian immigrants at least, a certain test/probationary period and fullfilling certain conditions is needed before citizenship is granted.”

    Okay, I’m not sure of the value of this, but I can see why you think it might satisfy the Finns who think that foreign criminals are coming here in their hordes.

    At the same time, I’m not sure that policy should be written on the back of public hysteria or paranoia about criminal foreigners. For example, in another thread on this blog, an argument erupted about criminal immigrants committing 60% more crime. A number of points are worth repeating. It’s 60% more crime relative to population size, but it’s only some 9% of all crime. Compare that to the 21.7% of crime committed by women and why aren’t women singled out as a group? It would be stupid, wouldn’t it? Why, because then we compare that to the 88.3% of crime committed by men. Now, perhaps, we finally reach a statistic that we should pay attention to – why do men, including Finnish men, commit so much crime. But no, we go after the 9% of foreigners. Another point, the biggest majority of foreigners getting into trouble are Russians (repatriated Finns?) and Estonians (most integrated non-Finns), just to break our preconceptions that those groups that receive the most vilification, the Iraqis, Somalis and Afghans, are the most criminal. It’s also true that Estonians have a fairly good DR rate, so assuming a connection between the unproductive foreigner and crime would also be false.

    I’m not sure if the threat of being kicked out is enough of a deterrent to stop crime. I’m not very informed about which crimes foreigners commit most.

    – “Cocks up their tax form? Yeah, but how about rape, for instance?”

    No, not how about rape for instance, as if a serious crime justifies a catastrophic response. What about those that would be affected for what we can all agree would be non-serious crime? Who was it that said, if we cannot do much good, we should at least aim to do as little harm as possible. Adam Smith, even?

    And even for rape, which is a terribly serious crime, the punishment should not be equivalent to a death sentence. For that reason also, you cannot apply blanket rules. It would have to be case by case. Justice Demon knows more about this procedure of deportation and the complications it entails and he has written in detail about it elsewhere in this blog.

    – “I would be happy to send a rapist back to Afganistan – he would know what the rules are, so it would be his own decision to commit the crime and suffer the consequences – being first a punishment in Finland according to our laws, then sending back to the country of origin, without the possibility to apply for citizenship again.”

    Well, I wouldn’t be happy. As much as I detest rape, or even think that rape is dealt with far too leniantly in Finland, I do not think the answer is add a potential death sentence onto the punishment. So, we combat rapists by becoming murderers? You see no moral problem with that? I see tons of problems with it. And again, the idea that the threat of deportation is an effective deterrent is very questionable, and certainly not worth the pain it would bring to far less serious infrictions of societies rules.

    – “I think the attitude that shows in your writings as well as in many, many others is that the borders of countries and citizenships would not matter anymore. I disagree about such thinking. The country is the union of its citizens, promoting the interests of its citizens. This is its main task.”

    I’m a bit disappointed in this comment. I had you down for someone who doesn’t make sweeping generalisations, who is interested in facts and reasoned arguments. 🙂

    Let me take it as a question, instead. Open borders. Well, they work very well in the Eurozone, encouraging cross border trade, fairer pricing, and ease of travel, though that is not necessarily a good thing environmentally. From the point of view of the EU zone and immigration, there are problems of economic immigrants making multiple claims in different countries, which has been taken care of by the Dublin Agreement.

    Clearly the flow of immigration needs to be controlled, if for no other reason than logistical problems: housing, intergration services, immigration services, and economic conditions. Clearly in a time of recession, we would expect the flow of economic migrants to slow, while in times of stable growth, we would expect them to rise. I don’t think any recent government has had a completely open door – rather, they were responding in a time of growth with a more relaxed policy, which in the light of a recent recession has led to problems and tensions.

    I’m more inclined to say that politicisation of the issue is what bothers me most; I’ve never liked the manipulations of politicians, though I perhaps understand the need for it better these days. Second to that would be the problems of what the atmosphere is likely to be like for existing immigrants. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the atmosphere has become somewhat poisonous, following the conversations on Facebook among Finns. Finns are debating very strongly with other Finns. And friendships are being broken. That is very sad, I think.

    Citizenship does not bring guarantees about human behaviour, either for a host population or immigrants. That is not a panacea either. However, citizenship is important because it sets out the rights of individuals, and also the responsibilities. Of course it’s important. 🙂

  36. Allan

    Well, there is this Canadian immigration researcher Howard Duncan in Finland, talking in Turku at some big immigration seminar.

    “Finland’s immigration policy must guard the country’s own interest,
    admonishes canadian immigration researcher Howard Duncan. Instead of
    humanitarian values, the economic benefit needs to be accentuated, as is
    done in Canada.

    According to Duncan who today speaks in Åbo [Turku], Sweden is a typical
    example of a country that has pursued a failed policy. There, immigration
    matters are being steered by a moral-aid mentality, which easily leads into
    problems. According to Duncan, Sweden over-protects those immigrating, so
    these do not adapt to work life or culture.

    ‘In case Finland adopts such a moral attitude, there is a risk that the
    normal taxpayer distances himself and experiences that he cannot accept the
    immigration policy’, characterises Duncan. ”

    What does he mean “in case”?

  37. Allan

    Well, when Denmark has finished tightening its borders, reintroducing border checkpoints and other such stuff, the nationalists will have to sink or swim based entirely on their economic and social policies.

    I fail to see nothing more than benefits in keeping Denmark safe. Safety attracts the “right” kind of immigrants you know.

  38. Arto

    Mark, thank you for your thorough answer. I hope to get back to this conversation later.

    Allan, I also saw that news. By coincidence I was writing about the Canadian policy above a couple of days earlier.

    • Enrique

      Allan, a blogger called Tony used to post Telegrph stories on Arabs. The Telegraphi is not only a conservative daily but very anti-Islam. It likes to publish provocative pictures and headlines.

  39. antonio

    Saija wrote up there: “It is just a point of view from where are you looking at.
    You can find racism everywhere. I am finnish, studying in Lisbon, Portugal. I am normal well behaving person and dressed well. I carry my responsibilities. I have been spitted to feets, slapped and shouted just because I am blond. My spouse is brazilian. He has been slapped on his head, called negro more than being called as his name. My chilean flatmate was beated by portuguese police 2 days ago, just because he is immigrant. Police shouted ” go to your home countries f…kers”. And Portugal is the country who is so poor now, but the worst poorness is not in economy, it is in their souls.”

    Well, I showed this post to some foreign friends of mine and they laughed. I asked them: Do you find it to be a credible account of facts? and the answer was : No way.
    I don’t find it a credible account of something that may happen in this country… people being spat on their feet because they are blond? police beating people up just because they are immigrants? well, they wouldn’t find time to do anything else here. I have met some finnish blonde friends here and none of them had any type of experience like yours. I think that either you are a disturbed person or your our account has some agenda behind it. That is just my opinion. I had dealings with authorities (documented) in your country that are very consistent with the accounts of racism and institutional xenophobia in your country. There is no way to rationalise away xenophobia and racism in Finland. It is endemic and institutional.
    I have been to many countries and speak several languages and I really found Finland to be the worst one in this matter.

    I think that you are a young lady in need of a better insight about the world and stuff in general… but I know that it is hard to get a good perspective while growing up in Finland as finn

  40. JusticeDemon

    Allan

    You have not yet shared with us your magic formula for determining whether a person crossing the Finnish border will commit a criminal offence. Of course we all know that your criteria for this are based on skin colour and religion, but what is your official position?

    Hopefully the authorities of Thailand will be able to adapt your formula to exclude people like Jouko Petri Jaatinen. How about some such criterion as Finnish males aged between 12 and 90? Obviously there would be fewer paedophile offences in SE Asia if travellers matching this profile were not allowed in.

  41. JusticeDemon

    Arto

    You are spectacularly ignorant of Finnish naturalisation requirements. Read chapter 3 of the Nationality Act and stop embarrassing yourself.

  42. Antonio

    What is so distinctive in finnish culture that makes it so special?
    Things finns do:
    They eat food they buy in supermarkets (no hard science behind this statement). This food tends to be the same stuff you can find across europe in supermarkets, give or take the odd item. Going to a Lidl in finland is about the same experience as going to a Lidl anywhere. Yeah, there is more choice of rye bread in Finland, hardly a reason to start a cultural fuss about it.
    They drive cars and use public transport in the same fashion as everywhere else.
    The political and judicial system in Finland is pretty similar to other countries. Actually this is the result of thousands of years of cultural exchange.
    What would we all be doing now if people hadn’t migrated, if ideas hadn’t been exchanged? If the genes hadn’t mixed up? Inbreeding and cultural absurdity? If a nasty flu wouldn’t wipe us all out we might be still doing sacrificial rituals and live in a lawless world.
    Finns watch practically the same crap on tv and in the cinema as everybody else. In fact a lot more cultural damage to finnishness is done through these media than by foreigners in Finland.
    Finns go to pubs and drink pints, eat ice cream, have jobs or are unemployed, use money to buy things, etc…
    I find it ridiculous that some people think that foreigners are a threat to finnish culture. Actually the things in common are way more that the things that are different.
    The foreigners I know in Finland aren’t there for economic reasons, they are there because of relationships and children. Saying this, economic reasons is a valid reason, but then why Finland? Why not other countries that have a much fairer policy and where integration in the labour market is far easier? I think that the ones who go there just for economic reasons didn’t really know what they were in for. On the other had I know finns who live here and also finns who live or lived elsewhere. People migrate for many different reasons, it has always been like this. It applies for finns too.

    I had more than one finn telling me that finland is such an advanced country that even female circumcision is forbidden. Is there a law for that? Where I come from we are still so backwards that such a thing would fall into the category of unlawful mutilation and the lawmakers are lazy and didn’t specify which body part mutilated corresponds to what crime and penalty. But the general feeling over here is that female circumcision (excision of the clitoris, isn’t it?) would be a horrible unspeakable crime. I wonder where do this people, who
    explained me this important finnish stuff, think I come from…

    Really, finns should travel more. I mean travel without taking their clichés and myths in their baggage. There are so many misconceptions there.
    I was asked by my lawyer during the process of having access to my son if I was doing it because of religious reasons… well, no I am doing this because the mother is a bitch and denied any access, I don’t even have a religion… you can almost hear the preconception cogs spinning in the heads of some people when they look at you. Finns tend to have them very well oiled, that is one of my preconceptions about them

    Before citizenship comes humanity. Isolation in cultural terms leads to absurdity. We are all persons, weather we are citizens or not and humanity has a long history of sacrifice just to make this simple thing true. Don’t f**ck it up by trying to go back. It will only lead to more misery in both ends.

    • Enrique

      Hi Antonio and welcome to our blog, Migrant Tales. To be frank, I was pretty surprised by what the young woman said. The problem is that we cannot confrm if what she said is true or, as you correctly pointed out, has an agenda. I know for a fact that there are many women in Latin countries that dye their hair blonde. In many of these countries having blonde hair is positive.

  43. Antonio

    Well, now that I am at it I would like to share what I think about soini.
    A scary big chunk of the finnish electorate thinks that he is a reamedy and he presents
    himself as such. I think that those who think so should get a second opinion because
    he might just as well be an opportunistic pathogen of the kind that infects wounds.
    Cheap history books (or free ones at local libraries) have documented cases of where
    this type of political trend leads to.

    • Enrique

      Hi Antonio, Soini is nothing more than a charismatic leader to the PS. If you took him out of the picture the PS would collapse. We have referred to him as the “good cop” of the PS. Even if he portrays himself as a “good cop” he is still a part of the police force or PS.

      Under the present circumstances, the PS is a threat to Finland and our liberal way of life. They don’t have many viable answers to our problems except for more police control and scrutiny of the population. The fact that 19.1% of the population voted for them tells you the state Finland is in today. Some Finns are ready to throw away the countries values and jump on the populist-anti-immigrant bandwagon.

      Sad but true.

  44. Antonio

    Hi Enrique
    You wrote: “I know for a fact that there are many women in Latin countries that dye their hair blonde.”
    That is true. But if that wasn’t enough there are quite a few natural native blondes around, by far not as many as in northern european countries, but still enough to make it a normal thing. And many women dye their hair too, and not just blonde.
    The picture that comes across to me when I read her story is one of people spitting at the feet of blondes. I am not saying it didn’t happen to her, there are enough idiots around here too, but for me and my friends it is something completely unheard of.
    Also about immigration over here, we have a lot of them and little tensions. Even in a country where people struggle even to find bad jobs, the foreigners have a fair chance of getting one. I get this perception from what I see. I know a lot of them working in almost all types of trades and integrating in a way that is hard to find in most countries.
    I think that a foreigner in Finland working on normal trades is a rare sight.
    I have quite a few stories of my dealings with finnish authorities that make me feel bitter about the country and I could write a lot about it, but I think that doing it here would sound like hate speech.
    About the PS and Soini, we only know their public statements and some of them are pretty bad. The ones done in private among themselves we can only guess. Finns aren’t stupid and they can guess it as well. At least we hear less pathetic attempts to rationalise and disguise racism and xenophobia in Finland these days, it’s out in the open.

    • Enrique

      Antonio, parties like the PS and the big question mark who is Soini politically shows some of the excuses that some Finns have used to maintain institutional racism in Finland. We’re moving in the right direction, I hope, but the victory of the PS in April shows we may be regressing. I have a lot of trust in immigrants who can change things by becoming social movements. However, I believe the real spark will come from Multicultural Finns, Finns or foreign-born Finns whose one or both parents are foreign. They have seen how their parent(s) have been pushed around by the system and, naturally, they will have nothing to do with that kind of behavior.

      I am certain that many Finns would identity with such a movement if matters continue to deteriorate further in Finland.

  45. Seppo

    “Really, finns should travel more.”

    I think Finns travel a lot. I think the way we travel can only be compared to our Nordic neighbours and maybe Germany and the Netherlands. Most of my friends have not only travelled a lot but also spent longer periods abroad in work or student exchange. Even older people travel all the way to Thailand and other far-away places.

    In southern Europe, on the other hand, it is quite common not to have been abroad at all and even more common just to speak your own language and no foreign languages at all. Even with young people, I have met them myself.

    Somehow many Finns are interested in experiencing other countries and cultures but they don’t want their own country to become more culturally diverse. Those people in southern Europe who have not travelled at all might be more welcoming to foreigners than Finns are.

    So even though I definately agree that travelling helps and is good for you, there is something else to it. I guess xenophobia is just quite deeply rooted among certain segments of this society. It is very unfortunate.

    The good thing is that younger and more educated Finns are getting very open and this opennes will eventually reach the other segments as well. We can only hope that it happens soon.

Leave a Reply