The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn of the crow.
Some immigrants who have lived in Finland for many decades have adapted so well to this country that even their prejudices and stereotypes are just like those of the locals. Some, like Alain Chiaroni or Freddy Van Wonterghem, however, go beyond the call of duty to give Africans and visible minorities lessons on how they should integrate into Finnish society.
What unites Chiaroni and Van Wanterghem other than they are both Perussuomalaiset (PS) party members? Answer: Their reactive views on cultural diversity and visible immigrants like Muslims and Africans.
At least Van Wonterghem, a native of Belgium, has failed miserably on the integration front. He got slapped in March with a 420-euro fine for inciting ethnic hatred against a group.
Despite having lived for 38 years in a foreign country, Chiaroni sounds like a nineteenth-century colonial master from France when he speaks of Somalis and Africans living in Finland.
“You could only get citizenship [in the late-1970s] if you had a sound background, a good education, a job in Finland, had Finnish- language skills, ties to Finland, were well-integrated into Finnish society, had two influential persons recommended you [for citizenship], etc…”, he writes in an Uusi Suomi blog entry.
He continues by stating that certain “political circles” in Finland are of the opinion that our country must adapt completely to those immigrants who move here.
“Has Finland lost its common sense?” he asks.
What Chiaroni forgets to ask is a more important question: Why Finland had so few foreigners in the 1970s and why there was so little foreign investment in the country?
By around 1980, the biggest “foreign” group living in Finland were Swedes, who were mostly Finns that were naturalized Swedish citizens. In the 1970s, Finland’s foreign population totaled a mere 7,000 souls.
Moreover, Finland did everything possible to restrict foreign investment with the help of the Restricting Act of 1939.
Would I want to live in a country where foreigners, black people and visible immigrants were a rarity and where outside investment was the exception as opposed to the rule?
I like how Finland looks today with all its defects. It’s a million times better than in the Cold War years, when your otherness followed you around like a shadow that marked you for the rest of your days.