Some will agree that Finland is decades behind other countries when it comes to challenging racism. But there is good news: The rise of an anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam party in 2011, the Perussuomalaiset (PS), is a sign that we’re moving forward to phase two.
Phase one is when most of the efforts of a society go into denying or playing down the existence of racism. Phase two is when we begin to challenge in earnest intolerance through important changes in the law that would be seriously enforced and have a lasting effect on our attitudes.
Even if the PS do well in the upcoming elections in 2014 and 2015, there mandate if they ever make it to government will end in disaster. In a worst-case scenario, Finland will lose up to eight years of precious time flirting with an anti-EU, anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam party that will give them nothing but problems.
If we compared Finland with England,we’d be somewhere in the 1970s and 1980s now. Back then we saw the rise of the National Front in the United Kingdom and anti-immigration personalities like Enoch Powell.
Like in Finland before the 2011 elections, the media in England ate right out of the hands of people like John Kingsley Read, the founder of the xenophobic National Front, and gave Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech. wide coverage.
The hostility that we saw against immigrants thirty to forty years ago in the United Kingdom is clearly evident today in Finland. True, the media has woken up a little, but it still has a long way to go in reporting fairly about immigrants.
Xenophobes like Read and Powell of the United Kingdom have mutated into the PS and its populist-nationalistic anti-immigration rhetoric, which the media has given inflated respectability and importance.
In the United States it took hundreds of years to finally ignite the spark of the Civil Rights Movement on December 1, 1955, when a Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus.
Those of us who aren’t white and are proud of our origins, are waiting as well for that Rosa Parks moment. That spark will come and when it does we’ll feel it’s presence.
How will we know?
- Support for the PS will shrink considerably
- People are tied of listening to the PS’ whining and rhetoric
- When we see xenophobic politicians as a minority and that they are only one or a small minority of votes in a 200-seat parliament (Abdirahman “Husu” Hussein)
- The media will know what racism is and challenge it like any other social ills like gender inequality and homophobia
- Politicians will promote and defend Finnish Nordic values to all of its inhabitants irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds
- Our reaction to intolerance and racism will not be silence but be first and foremost a response
- Finns will accept that there are “other” Finns that aren’t white. These people have the same rights and are treated equally by society
- Cultural diversity is a good matter, it will be promoted because it makes sense and strengthens us as a society
- Racists will be shamed and forced back to their closets.
In order to save our country from being devoured by the fires of hatred and intolerance, it’s important that we all take part in this struggle.
One way or another, we’ll get there.