MTV3: Being critical of immigration isn’t synonymous with being racist

by , under All categories, Enrique

There is an interesting article published in MTV3 on anti-immigrant pressure group Homma ry chairman, Matias Turkkila, who tells us that being critical of immigration isn’t synonymous with being a racist. “(Death) threats  are a sad path that one should not take,” he said. “I am against such actions, but I understand in some cases the frustration of those people that make such threats.”

Even though open debate is a healthy trademark of western, democratic societies, the statement “being critical of immigration isn’t synonymous with being racist” is a good example of deliberately evasive and ambiguous language, or double-talk in plain English. How can one even “understand” people that aim to take the law in their hands because they disagree with an issue?

Are groups such as Homma ry really interested in debate when their popularity rides on bashing immigrants with the help of stereotypes and miconceptions? When groups such as Homma ry spread questionable “facts” about immigrants they help fuel and maintain a climate of racism in the country.

In my opinion many of these so-called “immigrant-critics” have serious problems understanding the outside world and that change forms part of our normal lives. Groups such as Homma ry don’t like to be labeled “racist” because it undermines their message, which is filled with hatred, stereotypes and suspicion of immigrants in Finland.

Racism manifests itself in different ways in different societies. In Finland, it appears as elsewhere as a stereotype that justifies our view of a WHOLE group. A good example are foreign construction workers, who are ALL working for slave-wages, not paying taxes and stealing jobs from “honest” Finns. Is this true?

I remember in the 1960s the same arguments used in Finland today to be against immigrants and refugees as those in the United States during the civil rights movement. Bigots claimed that “blacks are lazy and therefore they are poor” to justify their racism. In my opinion, a Finnish verion of the latter is taking place in this country and maintained by groups such as Homma ry.

I am confident as Finland grows more accustomed to immigrants and these groups learn to defend and fight for their rights in our society, interviews such as these by MTV3 will be carried out but in a more critical fashion since such groups will be put under closer scrutiny by society.

  1. Martti Laavajärvi

    Do some things still exist in our modern day society of which you can’t discuss, moreover be critical?

    Immigrants who come to Finland seeking for an asylum (even though their reasons aren’t valid) halfway across the world aren’t the same immigrants who come to Finland to work. Having unemployment rates from 50-60% in some immigration-groups doesn’t really tell me that these groups adjust to this society very well. Finland needs good, honest workers, those who adjust to the society.

    Am I really a racist if I don’t want to have another rosengården (or any disastrous suburb like that) in Finland? Just that I don’t want more strain to our great social security network, doesn’t mean I will gather up everybody of the wrong colour to concentration camps.

    And I hope you won’t think so either.

    • Enrique

      –Immigrants who come to Finland seeking for an asylum (even though their reasons aren’t valid) halfway across the world aren’t the same immigrants who come to Finland to work.

      There is something wrong with your response: Immigrants are NOT asylum-seekers.

      –Having unemployment rates from 50-60% in some immigration-groups doesn’t really tell me that these groups adjust to this society very well.

      In my opinion it tells me a lot about the reticent attitudes in this country of immigrants and diversity. Do you really believe that a person that comes half way around the world to FInland wants to just stay home and do nothing with his life? If you agree, then you do not understand the main point of being an immigrant.

      The “rosengården” already exists in Finland and it will grow worse because of own big reason: lack of opportunities, suspicion and hostility by some Finns of immigrants. That is how ghettos are created. Give people chances and opportunities and they progress.

    • Enrique

      Hi O. Hietamaa, thank you for the good question and welcome to our blog.

      –“Immigrant-critic” is not a good translation of “maahanmuuttokriitikko”.

      You are right but the problem derives from the name in Finnish. How can somebody be against immigrants (stealing jobs from Finns by working for slave wages), refugees (calling them loafers and pesudo-refugees), cultural diversity and then be only “critical?” That type of thinking is full of flaws because you are judging a culture from the prism of your culture. I think the word critical is a huge understatement. It is a word made up by anti-immigrant/refugee/diversity groups. Look at some of the arguments of these people and take the word immigrant-refugee away and replace it with woman or the handicapped. What would you call a person labelling and stigmitizing immigrants in the same way he/she would women and the handicapped?

  2. Topelius

    Interesting meta analysis. Statements like the one by Turkkila can IMO be easily understood. For as long as I can remember politicians and media have not been able to critically discuss the by-products of immigration and multiculturalism. Frustration occurs in circumstances, where criticizing politicians, policies or the political system is instantly labeled as racism. Such labeling has also been a good defense strategy: after all, we don’t negotiate with racists, right?

    Can you honestly say that this has not been the situation?

    Luckily the Finns are granted the freedom of opinion. One is allowed to see problems in immigration and one is allowed to talk about them. One is also allowed to form an association like Homma ry and use it to lobby one’s ideas. Nothing strange is going on in here.

    What it all boils down to is that you just happen to disagree politically with Homma ry.

    I think you are resorting to very similar stereotyping yourself. A very small minority of the “immigration critics” label entire groups in any way. A few loud individuals do, yes, but for the big majority the problems are in the politics and not in the people. In general it’s a bit silly to criticize someone else for the vices you’re resorting to yourself.

    • Enrique

      Thank you Topelius for your comment. The late-Topelius was one scholar who understood cultural diversity. See:

      I don’t like the term “by-products of immigration and multiculturalism.” You state it as if you were made in some foreign planet that has never been touched by immigration and where people appeared and lived in the same places for thousands of years. Could you tell me where there exists such a people?

      Whether the group is small or large is not the point. Their hostile and angry statements are an insult to immigrants and refugees living LEGALLY in this country. They create a climate of suspicion that does not help anyone.

      If you like, read my response to O. Hietamaa.