Finland’s conservative Kokoomus youth leader, Wille Rydman, makes an incredible statement in a letter to the editor to Helsingin Sanomat: The state should not support nor fund multiculturalism because it would hinder the adaption of immigrants into our society.
So, what he is suggesting is that funds from Finland’s well-intentioned but semi-wayward integration program have been earmarked for enhancing multiculturalism in Finland. If Rydman wants to look at Finland’s integration program seriously, he will note that it fails on many fronts, like instilling a sense of dignity in immigrants.
The issue is much simpler: work and acceptance. If you want newcomers to embrace and grow in their new home they will have to be inspired by it. Our society must offer them opportunities and, most importantly, acceptance.
Some Finns like Rydman have a simplistic view of how immigrants should conform and adapt to our society.This is understandable because they have never lived in societies, and if they have have never fully grasped, where immigration is normal and where synergies occur.
One of the most flawed components or Finland’s integration program is that adaption of immigrants is one-way: that is, we will tell you how to adapt to our society and what is important to us. This is Rydman’s simplistic recipe: throw away your culture and learn Finnish as a Finn or Swedish as a Swede and, presto, full integration.
This type of recipe for immigrants is not only a disaster but leads to exclusion. Could he please tell us where this type of integration has occurred successfully?
Another saddening aspect of Rydman’s discourse, who is a member of Finland’s largest political party, is that he thinks that all these civil rights goodies in our constitution and laws, like equality and the right to diversity, do not apply to immigrants.
These types of simplistic solutions to the dynamics of immigration is not only irresponsible but shows how little some politicians understand the issue. Certainly with elections in April 2011 around the corner, politicians such as Rydman are eyeing the elections with opportunistic gleam.
Rydman looks at two extreme examples of immigration policy: France and Sweden. Why didn’t he look at how the “major leagues,” countries like the United States, Canada, Australia or England in the European Union, handle large immigrant populations?
Europe is a sad case lined with too many politicians such as Rydman and an unfortunate list of others who forget our dark and xenophobic past.What happened in the 1930s in Nazi Germany and most recently in the former Yugoslavia should serve as extreme rude wake up calls.