We would be in a lot of trouble if the one-sided immigration debate in Finland was left to a certain group of people. Those that I am referring to call themselves “critical of immigration,” maahanmuuttokriittinen. It is a funny term used to describe groups that are in fact hostile to immigration.
More people in Finland are beginning to understand the difference between racism and sensible debate.
One of these is Center Party Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi. She recently labeled SDP MP and anti-immigration hardliner Eero Heinäluoma’s statements as “flirting with racism.” Naturally Heinäluoma does not consider his statements racist at all. One of the many incredulous affirmations he has made is that immigrants will fuel racism because they will take jobs away from Finns.
The argument is a bit like the man who raped a woman and then claims that it was the victim’s fault because she was wearing a mini skirt.
There are countless of other examples of anti-immigration groups like the True Finns who claim not to be racist but in truth some are. You can find, unfortunately, these types of people in all of Finland’s political parties.
Since ignorance is not an excuse for breaking the law, it should not be one for insulting other ethnic groups. Even so, some of the views that some Finnish politicians have of immigrants and immigration dates back to the murky 1930s.
Even though not everything that is debated can be slammed as racist, it shows how much in diapers the immigration debate is in Finland. Some do not even know the difference (or pretend not to know) between what is appropriate and racist.
I have said on numerous occasions that you do not need to pass new laws for immigrants in Finland. The only thing we have to do is apply those we have in force today.
A good rule of thumb when speaking of immigrants in Finland is to ask if you would ever make such a statement about your own group or voters. If not, stay clear from them.
One of the pet topics of the far-right in Finland is speaking about social security fraud. The only problem with the debate is that the only culprits are foreigners. Supposedly Finns are honest and therefore do not take advantage of the social security system.
Why aren’t any politicians making a big deal about social security fraud in general, or among Finns in particular? Because it is a hyper-sensitive political issue. They would not touch it with a ten-foot pole especially with elections approaching in April 2011.
Bashing foreigners and over-exaggerating social security fraud among immigrants brings more votes and political mileage.