Comment: Compared with Finland, Ireland appears like a distant world when it comes to anti-immigration groups and their hate rhetoric.
Both countries have seen a lot of emigration since the nineteenth century. In Finland over a million people emigrated to other parts of the world during 1860-1999. A study in 1978 showed that since 1820 over 4.723 million people emigrated to the U.S. from Ireland alone.
Apart from such similarities, there is one big difference: Ireland lacks an anti-immigration party whereas Finland has the Perussuomalaiset (PS), which became the third-biggest party in the April election.
There may be many reasons why Ireland doesn’t have an anti-immigration party. One of these could be tolerance. In Ireland such anti-social behavior isn’t seen favorably by politicians and the public while in Finland it is.
How many politicians would be forced to resign in Finland if they followed Ireland’s example? The Irish Examiner writes: “Last November, Mr [Darren] Scully was forced to resign as mayor of Naas, after saying he would no longer deal with, as he described them, bad-mannered, aggressive, black Africans. The party has not taken any decisive action.”
If we cited the comments made by many Finns concerning the death of a Somali in Oulu this week, we could conclude that too many think that racism is acceptable.
To show how serious the problem is in Finland, a Finnish-language teacher I spoke with on Saturday from Kouvola said that no politician would ever carry a sign in public stating that we should give more financial support to refugees and immigrants.
One important lesson that we could learn from Ireland is that racism must be seen as something unacceptable in our society.
Why? Because it is a direct threat to our society, our values and our common sense of decency.
Racist political rhetoric must not go unchecked.
By Jennifer Hough
An example needs to be made of politicians who make negative comments about immigrants if Ireland is to avoid going down a route of an “accepted rhetoric or racism”, Integration Ireland has warned.