When debating discrimination of immigrants and refugees in Finland, one can scent two matters in the air: hostile suspicion mixed with a dose of patronizing.
The tragic events of the Sello Mall killings on the last day of December show how some of our political leaders view immigrants. As soon as a psychopath is on the lose and it happens to be an immigrant or former refugee, it is an opportunity to reinforce our stereotypes, fears and hostility toward others.
Whenever a Finn goes on the rampage and kills indiscriminately innocent bystanders as we have tragically seen before, we don’t jump up and demand how people from a certain region of Finland should be placed under scrutiny.
Accusing immigrants and refugees of being freeloaders, lazy and a menace to our Finnish way of life is not only unfair but a cover used by some to hide the real challenges facing our society. It is tantamount to brushing our country’s real problems under the rug and using immigrants as scapegoats.
Immigration will, however, reveal many pleasant and unpleasant things about who we are.
Take for instance high unemployment. Immigrant critics and populist parties such as the True Finns argue that it is the immigrants’ fault because they are lazy and so challenged professionally that they cannot do even menial jobs.
High unemployment in Finland reveals a wider problem of labor markets that need a serious overhauling. How is it possible that after strong years of growth, Finland’s unemployment rate continued to be around 8%?
The suspicion that some Finns have of immigrants and refugees reveals another fact: Their fear of competition and laziness to deal with those challenges that threaten our way of life and future living standards.