With the April 2011 election approaching, parties in Finland are feverishly scrambling on ways to lure voters. One campaign issue that has the ability to move voters and inflame passions is immigration.
One important matter to keep in mind in the ongoing debate on immigration is to understand its parts: immigrants living in Finland, labor immigrants from the EU and elsewhere, and refugees (quota and asylum-seekers). When political parties and their representatives debate immigration, try to find out which of these groups they are talking about.
Which parties are using the immigrant-bashing card to lure votes? Of the one’s that have MPs in parliament, the True Finns are the main culprits. Their party’s position on immigration is pretty clear: xenophobic, ethnocentric and off the wall. Other parties like the Social Democrats aren’t too far off; in all parties you will find people who have anti-immigration stances.
Here are some points that should help you figure out the double-talk and baloney that some parties put out concerning the subject:
(1) We want to do away with multiculturalism (True Finns). Political parties use this term multiculturalism to mean a society with many cultures. When they state that they want to do away with multiculturalism, what do they mean? Kick out all the foreigners in Finland? Kick out the foreigners who are different from us? Close our borders and don’t allow immigrants to move to our country? Ask dark-skinned immigrants to dye their hair and get plastic surgery?
(2) The state should not finance multiculturalism in order to speed integration (Wille Rydman, Kokoomus). This is one of the best examples of double-talk I have seen by a Finnish politician. Rydman is suggesting that we should not allow immigrants to cherish their identity and background since he thinks that this will speed their integration into Finnish society. Rydman should look at studies on the subject that show the total opposite. He should visit Amerindian reservations in the United States that tragically show what consequences ripping a person’s culture and identity have.”
I could go on with a long list of other incredulous affirmations that will knock you on your back.
One important matter to keep in mind: Immigration is a political issue. Some groups, like the True Finns, may place ludicrous expectations of how immigrants are supposed to adapt to our society. The question, however, is if such expectations are realistic.
Having a successful immigration policy requires a long-term perspective so that immigrants may become productive and dynamic members of our society. Being only focused on the 2011 election is doing Finland a disfavor.