Finland’s attitude and experience of cultural diversity lag thirty years behind other European countries

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Watching YLE’s A-studio, which was aired Wednesday, is a prime example why we are still far away in Finland of having an inclusive society that is fair to everyone irrespective of their background. Spotting the red herrings in the debate on such a talk show isn’t easy but not impossible.

If National Coalition Party MP Wille Rydman argues that Finland needs structural changes in its economy and labor market, it really needs a major attitude overhaul on how it sees immigration and cultural diversity. Finland is at least 30 years behind other European countries like Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom in this respect.

Näyttökuva 2015-5-21 kello 9.27.37Watch Wednesday’s A-studio (in Finnish) here.

The latter means in practice that we’re debating the same things and using the same false arguments and fears that were proven wrong at least three decades ago in other European countries. Debate is highly inflamed and hostile for those migrants and minorities living in Finland today.

While each European country puts in context its own fears about immigration and cultural diversity, it boils down to one simple sentence: We consider immigration and cultural diversity a threat.

Certainly the Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, as well as all parties that have elected MPs in parliament, claim that they’re not against skilled immigrants moving to the country. Like on the A-studio show, PS MEP Jussi Halla-aho turned out his usual arsenal of rhetoric by stating that his party is only against asylum seekers and refugees.

When Halla-aho and the PS speak against so-called “humanitarian immigration,” which mean asylum seekers and refugees, they never tell you how many of them they’re speaking of.

Former Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen said they totalled about 8% of all immigration. Consider that Finland has one of the smallest immigrant populations in Europe that amounts to about 4% of our population, how many are those 8%? Is it enough to help the PS become the second-biggest party in parliament?

I guess so.

It’s clear that Halla-aho and his band, which includes the whole PS, use the anti-immigration card to get votes. Their aim is shameful and overflows with opportunism.

Rydman, the NCP MP on the show that gave us simple answers to complex problems, has a reputation of being the Halla-aho of the NCP for his extreme views on immigration and cultural diversity.

Rydman June 2011 in a letter to the editor to Helsingin Sanomat that the state should not finance multiculturalism but instead Finnish-language courses. Here’s the red herring: I want migrants to have more Finnish-lanaguage courses but what he means is that he doesn’t want Finland to become culturally diverse. In other words his argument is pretty much what Halla-aho wants, or keep Finland white.

Social Democrat MP Krista Kiuru states that her party is against skilled labor coming to Finland since unemployment totals about 10%. This argument is very much in tune with what the PS think and shows, in my opinion, how the SDP has turned its back on migrants and minorities in Finland.

The red herring in Kiuru’s statment is that we don’t want migrants to come here. Don’t employ those who have lived, worked and pay taxes in this country because unemployment among white Finns is so high.

The only MP that had something sensible to say was Swedish People’s Party MP Carl Haglund, who correctly told Halla-aho that plans by the new government to assess the cost of migration foster an anti-immigration atmosphere and a clear message: Immigrants pose a threat. Come to Finland at your own peril.

Finland needs to be renewed in many ways. One of the most important areas, and which is not being discussed at all for obvious reasons, are our own antiquated and bigoted views of immigration and cultural diversity.

Immigration fosters growth and brings new blood and ideas to a country. Is this what some Finns, especially politicians, fear?

The Finnish name of the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English 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.