What destiny can befall a country or a political party that retreats into its own fears and scapegoats migrants for its own blunders and inaction? As one friend pointed out, Finland resembles today a sinking ship that is throwing overboard excess weight like migrants, refugees, minorities and Nordic values.
The situation is dire, very dire. All you have to do is take a whiff of the political atmosphere in Finland. Today the Perussuomalaiset (PS),* a populist anti-immigration party that still believes the sun revolves around the Earth, are the second-biggest political party in parliament.
Finland resembles a sinking vessel in the present anti-immigration and nationalistic political climate coupled with a diehard recession stretching back to 2008.
One could ask how is it possible that a country with one of the highest standards of living and best educational systems in the world can cave in to populist anti-immigration rhetoric.
Michael McEachrane, a researcher and anti-racism activist, sheds light on the latter question in Sweden, which has as a populist anti-immigration party with neo-Nazi roots that has grown to become the third-biggest political force in parliament.
The result is a compounded problem of denying the prevalence of nationalism and racism and the urgent need for political measures to eliminate them. Beyond its anti-discrimination legislation – which merely has led to a trickle of convictions – Sweden has few political measures in place against racism. Instead, the political focus tends to be on the “integration” of immigrants in the form of education, job training programs, access to citizenship and so on.
Even if Finland lags about thirty years behind Sweden’s experience with immigrants there are some similarities like the conclusions below of a recent visit to Sweden by the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.
“It is our view that the Swedish philosophy of equality and its public and self-image as a country with non-discrimination and liberal democracy, blinds it to the racism faced by Afro-Swedes and Africans in its midst. No country is free of racism and Sweden is not an exception.”
Is our meek response to racism in Finland similar to that of Sweden’s? On the one hand our view of ourselves as a liberal Nordic state have ironically blinded us as well to racism, discrimination and prevented us from tackling such social ills effectively. Another factor that plays a key role is our lack of cultural and ethnic diversity.
Thus if the majority of our politicians are white Finns, if the national media is a mirror of our white society certainly it becomes difficult for us to see and tackle problems like racism especially when it doesn’t affect us directly.
This is an unfortunate situation since Finland’s present anti-immigration and anti-cultural diversity climate do have adverse consequences on the tens of thousands who aren’t so-called white Finns and the 200,000 who are migrants in this country.
If you want to put the present situation in a historical context, it could be remotely compared with the Finnish Civil War of 1918 when the country was sharply divided between Whites and Reds. While some white Finns don’t want to divide Finland along racial, ethnic and religious lines, that is exactly what parties like the PS are doing openly while others give their blessings to such a Finland with their silence or apathy.
Both Whites and Reds reconciled after the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s and World War 2, which slaughtered over 60 million people. After the Continuation War (1941-44) and Lapland War (1944-45) Finns of different political backgrounds set aside pretty their differences for one common good: Finland.
The White-Red reconciliation was crucial in building a vastly different country that what preceded after the 1918 Civil War. Thanks to such consensus Finland enjoys today a high standard of living and comprehensive social welfare system that are on the defensive today.
The election result and the scapegoating against migrants and minorities, coupled with the rise of the PS, are flashing red lights that the society we thought was so successful has suddenly watered down its promises and even failed some of us.
Other important signs include the rise of nationalism and ultranationalism, open racism, lobbying for the USAmerican capitalist model and values for success, and the lack of empathy and solidarity for the suffering of others.
The latter could not be better highlighted than with the PS’ program on immigration that is in conflict with the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Below are some points of the controversial PS’ program:
- It is in conflict with our Constitution (Section §6) since migrants would not be equal before the law
- It is in conflict with our Constitutions (Section §9) since it wants to restrict free movement of migrants in Finland and Europe
- It targets especially Somalis, Muslims and Africans
- It would permit citizenship to be revoked
- It supports assimilation, or one-way adaption policies for migrants and minorities
- It supports an inhumane family reunification policy
- It believes that cultural diversity, or multiculturalism, as an ideal should be abandoned
- It wants affirmative action revoked
- It supports and wants to strengthen white Finnish privilege
If we regress into hate and draft policies that divide people into first- and second-class citizens it’s clear that nothing good can emerge from such policies except for resentment and hatred.
Just like the Whites and Reds reconciled to build a strong and confident Finland in the last century such a nation was founded and had ambitious goals such as inclusion, just laws, fair and equal opportunities for everyone especially if you were a white Finn.
They are still the best lifesavers we can use today on a sinking ship called Finland 2015.
* The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The names adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.