By Enrique Tessieri
One matter that shines through after reading and responding to the thousands of threads on Migrant Tales is that multiculturalism, racism and inequality mean different things for different people. One way to make sense of the ongoing debate on Finland’s ever-growing acceptance of its cultural diversity is figuring out what these terms mean for these groups.
Without understanding their meaning and how these terms are employed is to misunderstand the whole debate to put it lightly.
Take for instance how the term “multiculturalism” is used in Finland. While such a term isn’t mentioned in any of our laws never mind our Constitution, officials use it to refer to how our country is becoming more culturally and ethnically diverse.
Finland’s official definition of multiculturalism means in general the same thing as the Canadian social policy, which promotes cultural diversity.
One of the problems when officials use the term multiculturalism they too often forget to define what it means. Moreover, is diversity and equality, just like the Canadian multicultural model, being promoted in Finland? Intentions appear noble but deeds sometimes suggest the contrary.
If we look at anti-immigration groups in Finland, multiculturalism means an objection to cultural diversity, or specifically of Muslims and Africans moving here. Thus multiculturalism is seen by these groups as an immigration policy versus one that facilitates integration.
The Nuiva manifesto is the smoking gun of the PS’ ignorance and loathing of groups like Muslims and Africans. If ever adopted, the manifesto would would not only strengthen institutional racism but promote one-way integration, or assimilation. The aim of any immigration and integration policy based on the Nuiva manifesto would create those ghettos that these groups commonly warn us of by watering down the civil rights of those that the PS does not see as the “stereotypical prototype white Finn.”
Paradoxically “social equality” for far-right groups means bolstering their rights at the cost of others. Racism is the chief architect in creating that many tier society they seek.
The Nuiva manifesto sheds light as well on the PS as a far-right populist party. How do you define the far right? Is it any party that wants to change the values of society by strengthening their political base by promoting racism, social inequality, xenophobia and nationalism? Yes.
Moreover, the definition of “multiculturalism” by anti-immigration groups in Finland is similar to other far-right groups in Europe. There is nothing unique about it except for that it is a paste-and-copy job in the Finnish language. It’s the same hate speech but in the Finnish language.
One of the biggest myths pushed by anti-immigration groups in Europe today is that immigrants in general and specific groups don’t want to adapt. This could not be further from the truth. Since we are all social animals, our first and foremost aim anywhere is to adapt.
Since cultures constantly change and adapt, we should be promoting that change instead of fixing our view of “others” on stereotypes.
While everyone decides what his or her identity is, having narrow definitions of who is Finnish and who is not is a way of not challenging major issues like discrimination. There are today in Finland tens of thousands of people with “immigrant backgrounds” who have lived most of their lives in this country but are treated like outsiders.
Think about the can of worms we’d open if you started to speak of these “others” as Finns and equal members of society? We’d finally start facing the challenges and real issues confronting our society concerning racism and exclusion.