Finnish politicians: Leave your “we’re against racism comfort zone” catchphrases and take action!

by , under Enrique Tessieri

I read National Coalition Party (NCP) Interior Minister Petteri Orpo’s speech in parliament Wednesday about racism. While we’re moving in some direction on this front there is one factor that takes us off the path: denial. 

Making a claim that the opinions of “a far right minority get too much attention” in the debate is a good example of how Orpo and other politicians play down the problem.  How many far right politicians are there in parliament? Does the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party promote racism, hate speech and enable this “far right minority” to get attention?

Taking into account the latest #pizzagate scandal, which could be a good example of ethnic profiling, structural racism and outright discrimination and prejudice, Wednesday’s debate in parliament on racism and hate speech didn’t mention once this latest scandal by the police.

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As usual, the debate on racism and hate speech in our society normally vacillates with a positive statement against such a social ill but that is almost immediately followed by another affirmation that neutralizes the latter.

A good example of this was Orpo’s speech, who correctly pointed out that racism and hate speech should be challenged but then backtracked, according to a quote in Verkkouutiset:

“One can be critical of immigration policy or be concerned about the large number of migrants without being racist. During difficult times tolerance must address people’s concern and different opinions. Labeling somebody a racist is a harsh accusation.”

Before we study closer this claim by Orpo, it’s important to note that the PS, which have based their growing popularity on spreading urban tales and anti-immigration sentiment in Finland, is a partner in government with NCP and Center Party.

What surprises me most about the interior minister’s statement is that he uses the same language of those who are spreading anti-immigration sentiment in Finland. Classical examples of that are “being critical of immigration policy” and that we should “tolerate the intolerant.”

Terms like “immigration policy” and being “critical of immigration” are unfortunate examples of how the anti-immigration lobby has succeeded in determining what terms will be used to debate such a topic.

In my opinion, “immigration policy” and “being critical of immigration” are euphemisms for anti-immigration, anti-cultural diversity or anti-non-EU migration to Finland.

If the government were seriously against racism and “intolerance,” a much-used term in the Nordic to mean anti-racism, why doesn’t it use in its speech phases like “cultural and ethnic diversity”, “social and equal opportunity for all irrespective of the person’s background?”

Social Democrat MP Nasima Razmyar pointed out that Finland isn’t a racist country but that racism does appear in Finland.

The main question we should be asking as well  is what are we concretely doing to challenge ever-growing racism and hate speech in our society?

Are there any new laws, apart from tightening family reunification guidelines again,that are being drafted? How many visible minorities are policemen, university professors, teachers and public servants? How are the voices of our ever-growing culturally and ethnically diverse society being heard by the majority?

Why do so-called “ethnic” Finns label Others as having some background like “person with migrant background?”

Why does the Finnish criminal code still does not recognize the term “hate crime.” When will Finland establish a racial equality board? Why can’t the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman handle cases involving discrimination at the world place?

These and others are some concrete steps that would challenge us to leave our comfortable “we are against racism catchphrase zone”  and do something about challenging racism in Finland. 

It’s highly unlikely, however, that anything will change on the above-mentioned fronts as long as you have a party like the PS in government. While the PS would oppose such changes, it’s clear that opposition would come from mainstream parties as well.

For those who may have conveniently forgotten, the PS bases its popularity on spreading anti-immigration and racist sentiment in Finland.

Doing the opposite would be committing political hara-kiri.

*The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Yossie

    “One can be critical of immigration policy or be concerned about the large number of migrants without being racist. During difficult times tolerance must address people’s concern and different opinions. Labeling somebody a racist is a harsh accusation.”

    If you can’t agree with this, then it shows just how much of a fanatic you are.

    “In my opinion, “immigration policy” and “being critical of immigration” are euphemisms for anti-immigration, anti-cultural diversity or anti-non-EU migration to Finland.”

    Then what is anti-immigration? Anti-cultural diversity? You can’t say it is a bad idea to have tens of thousands of people a year to this country that have very poor prospects to get employed? It makes you “anti-immigration” that is something really bad or disgusting?

    • Migrant Tales

      Anti-immigration and anti-cultural diversity means denying who we are.

      Please don’t use terms like “fanatic”because I don’t speak of you in that way.

      Keep a cool head, ok?

    • Yossie

      “Please don’t use terms like “fanatic”because I don’t speak of you in that way.”

      You don’t, I admit. I´ll refrain using that from now on.

      Still, I think it is very extreme position to take that we should not say anything critical about immigration. Is it wrong to say some aspects of the immigration might not be in the best interests of Finland? I fail to see how that would be “denying who we are”.

    • Migrant Tales

      Thank you Yossie. Your opinions are welcome. What aspects of immigration do you think are not beneficial for Finland?

  2. Yossie

    What is not beneficial? Taking tens of thousands of people a year with no jobs and low prospect of finding one. Giving out free education for people that afterwards leave Finland.

    • Migrant Tales

      True, Yossie. We should stop kidding ourselves. If we invest in people by granting them education we should be able to try to keep them here. Sensible idea, no? How could we change matters around so that Finland would get something back for what it invested in these people?

    • Yossie

      I have actually met some of these people that come here for studies. The people I met all had made their plans before coming here: Get the education and move to elsewhere in Europe. I suppose I can’t blame them since they already spoke French so it makes sense for them to move to there. It does not make sense for us to pay for their education however.

      That is the risk we take with investing into these people. Immigrant is far more likely to leave than a person that has grown up in here. Finland has high taxes, poor climate and hard to learn tiny language which is required to get jobs. It really isn’t a tempting prospect.

      What we should do is either have foreigners pay for their education and make it deductible in taxes in case they decide to stay. That would eliminate the risk of investing in them. Or we should totally re-evaluate the education provided in English. Main aim should be that the education provides the workforce that is needed in Finland. That means not having foreign students just because some people feel it needed for “international atmosphere”. That means no professions that are not needed. That means no education programs just to keep some remote school alive. That means every single english education program should have very extensive mandatory finnish language education attached to it. Every student that graduates, must have very good finnish capabilities. Basically to have students invest in staying Finland by having them learn the language as prerequisite for diploma. Now its all too easy to just leave when it finally comes up that they need the language.