Finland’s tolerance to Otherness is being tested to the limit these days. If we look at it from a political perspective, the knee-jerk reaction is clear. Denying that there isn’t a connection between the stellar rise of an anti-EU, anti-immigration and anti-Islam party and our ever-growing cultural diversity is understanding a little or erroneously the issue at hand.
It would be wishful thinking to believe that the Perussuomalaiset (PS), which won 39 seats in the 2011 election versus 5 in 2007, that there is a return to the past when the political landscape was dominated by three major parties: National Coalition Party, Social Democrats and Center Party.
Returning back to the political good old days without Timo Soini’s PS is just as unrealistic as stopping Finland’s ever-growing cultural diversity. Intolerance and cultural diversity are here to stay and will set the pace of things to come in Finland in the future.
As far as intolerance is concerned and the rise of parties like the PS appear to throw sand in the gears of cultural diversity, the good news is that history and our sheer numbers will have the final say. We will one day have the power to tell our own narrative as Finns.
Professor Jeremy Gould spoke to Otava Opisto Folk High School students and staff on Friday.
Professor Jeremy Gould of Jyväskylä University gave us the big picture in a recent talk he held near Mikkeli. According to him, there is very little narrative coming from immigrants and visible minorities concerning our ever-growing cultural diversity.
“Nearly everything written about ethnic relations in Finland is by researchers with no personal experience of racism,” said Gould. “Obviously, this limits the depth and relevance of their insights.”
It would be too simplistic to blame only the PS for Finland’s ever-growing intolerance. Such a social ill has been fueled as well by the silence of other political parties, the media and general public.
Not only is silence and lack of leadership a problem, associations that claim to further the rights of immigrants and visible minorities are just as guilty as those who decide to remain silent to the threat of intolerance.
If we accept white Finns, or visible minorities who speak like Uncle Toms, to champion for our rights and to our narrative, we have nobody else to blame but ourselves for our failures.
The big challenge in this century for Finland is deconstructing its twentieth century national identity. In its place there will be a more inclusive Finland where there is a lot of room for everyone to embrace this country as their home.