By Enrique Tessieri
My great-grandfather was a refugee from Italy. I admire and respect him so much that I gave one of my sons his first name. I have lived in many countries as an immigrant and I am proud of this as well.
Moreover, over a million Finns left this country to other parts of the world. I raise my hat to them for their courage and ambition.
I was born in Argentina, one of the first nations in the world that opened its doors to immigration in the mid-1850s. I grew up in California, where I saw great changes take place during the civil rights movement thanks to Martin Luther King.
In Finland I heard from my grandparents and mother how a country with little resources held its own against a ruthless neighbor.
I think I know a little about what it means to be an immigrant. One thing I and millions of others do not deserve are your insults and ignorance fanned by the flames of hatred.
Do not throw dirt on our names, please.
We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are (Anais Niin).
The flames of hatred you talk about are the views of people we should not really take any heed of but there is a real problem that many politicians will not even discuss.
In a world that is increasing in it’s population many countries are having their cultures, history, political and religious views attacked by the incoming migrant, why should one of the most tolerant societies in the world have to take in people who wish us harm and who wish to change the law, culture and way our people are viewed.
The greatest threat to the western world at the moment is from Radical Islam, I’m sure you will get some Muslims who will say Islam is a religion of peace but who is it committing the acts of terrorism around the world today?
As far as I know it is always Muslims who blow themselves up and innocent other’s, it’s not christians, it’s not Jews, it’s not Hindue’s, 99.9% of all the terrorist activity in the world is going on in the name of Islam and that’s a fact.
England is a tolerant country, it’s people have always been tolerant and that’s the problem, we are too tolerant, we have allowed the incoming migrant to dictate to us what, where, how and why we do things at the expense of our own indigenous people’s.
England has a huge housing crisis, a health service crisis, we have a general space problem, it’s time we closed our border’s to all immigrants, and I mean all immigrants.
Starting with Kate Middleton, of course.
What’s your take on this lot?
Belle parole, Enrique. Your name carries a heavy burden: an almost epic story (and history) of the struggle of millions of Italians. For most of the people, “Tessieri” is only an ordinary family name. But in actual fact, the name printed on your ID card represents the faith and determination our ancestors had to give their children a better life. And they’ve succeeded: we now live with dignity. I doubt this would have been possible in 19th-century Italy (although it still hadn’t been unified).
I’m still not totally convinced about the benefits of multiculturalism. But I admire your work and willingness to discuss it openly and respectfully. It’s a pitty that on the other side of the table we usually have people like “newsextra1962”, whose aggressiveness and extremism makes it hard to achieve progress in the debate.
Anyway, keep up the good work!
Hi Mateus, and greetings from Finland. You are absolutely right: Our ancestors left to build a better life. The term immigrant is not negative but something to be proud of. This is why those far-right parties that speak of immigration as a social illness, are an insult to us and our grandparents that had the guts to move elsehwere in search for a better life.
Your words are encouraging and kind. Thank you.
PS I hope to hear more of you as before.
Enrique, I’ll be taking part in the discussions here as often as possible. I also plan to write in English in my blog every now and then, so you can participate as well if you want to.
By the way, have you read any of Philippe Legrain’s books? I’m currently having a good time reading “Open World: the truth about globalisation”. I have to admit that I’m a bit too influenced by his ideas at the moment. He’s also the author of “Immigrants: why your country needs them”.
I hope this will be the case, Mateus. It is always a pleasure hearing your views.
Enrique, an interesting story.
But I cannot see a connection between the story and the on-going immigration debate that almost exclusively focuses on asylum seekers that are beneficiaries of secondary protection and the subsequent state sponsored family reunification.
Hi gloaming and welcome to Migrant Tales. The connection is that anti-immigration groups attack immigrants and refugees in a “one-size-fits-all” fashion. It is like taking an atom bomb to kill two people. It’s overkill. By doing that you include in your attack a much larger group. Certainly we have to discuss the problems of immigration but the way it is done is by insulting everyone. That was my point.
Enrique, I think your position reflects more your sense of solidarity than the actual political reality in Finland.
To my knowledge there is no political party or a political force worth noting that categorically opposes immigration. Neither am I aware of a political group that has a significant problem with the quota refugees. It’s the asylum system, more specifically the secondary protection that in it’s various forms covers the vast majority of asylum migrants, and the illegal immigration that are currently under unfavorable scrutiny actually everywhere in Europe.
Hi gloaming, I am a bit confused now. Are you say there is no problem among the political parties about immigration and refugees? The only problem is the asylum-seeker or the laws that permit them to enter our countries. Or would you accuse the politicians like Kari Rajamäki who calls these people “social welfare shoppers?”
What I see is a constant shifting in position. Why? Because being against immigration and other cultures is untenable politically. In other words to tone down the message parties like the True Finns make it more acceptable to the public by stating that they are for immigration but against Muslims, specially Somalis and people from other Third World countries.
In truth, glaoming, I think all parties in Finland have done a poor job about bringing skilled labor to this country. We are paying a high price for that type of policy. Our retirement age will rise, for example.
A lot of double-talk as well: A good example are the Social Democrats who have people like Tarja Filatov but then you have others like Kari Rajamäki, who could well be in the same camp as Halla-aho. In Kokoomus, which has a pretty sensible stand if we look at what Arto Satonen wrote on his report on immigration and refugee policy, has Wille Rydman. The center party has its fair share of people from both sides as well.
My point is that you cannot discriminate openly against a group like in Denmark and say you are open to immigration. It will only lead to greater suspicion, which spills over to the whole immigrant community.
I personally believe that Finns are intelligent and won’t fall for the populism and ignorance that some anti-immigration politicians are using in their campaigns.
The story, Pekka Siikala: Three types of immigration critics in Finland, was picked up by The refugeevoice Daily. Check it out.