Husein Mohammed raised an important point on a recent blog entry where he reviewed Umayya Abu-Hanna’s latest book, Multikulti. He asks if the Perussuomalaiset (PS) is the only intolerant party in Finland.
He writes: “The term racism is used quite a lot in [Abu-Hanna’s] book but there’s no mention of violence, visible or about racism in [other Finnish] political parties. The general rule is that when we speak about anti-immigration [players], we mention the rise of the Perussuomalaiset as an important party [in this respect]. Not a word is mentioned of that party in the book. It’s a good thing since blaming only the Perussuomalaiset you leave off the hook other parties and players who aren’t anymore tolerant.”
How did the PS become Finland’s third-biggest party after the parliamentary election and how did they together with the media react to that party’s rising popularity?
Migrant Tales wrote on a blog entry in 2011: “The PS could have never dreamed of such success in the last election without the help of Kokoomus [National Coalition Party], Social Democratic Party and Center Party.”
Instead of challenging the rise of a populist party, some identified with PS’ intolerant and xenophobic message.
The Center Party and the Greens did put up some resistance and were punished severely in the elections.
One of the saddest cases was Social Democratic Party leader’s Jutta Urpilainen’s maassa maan tavalla (In Rome do as the Romans do) statement in March 2011.
National Coalition Party chairman Jyrki Katainen didn’t show much leadership either. He effectively let racism out of the cage in Finland by stating that “being critical and debating immigrant issues in this country didn’t make you a racist.”
He forgot, however, to mention one very crucial point: Immigrants must take part in such a debate too.
There was no open debate that included immigrants and visible minorities up to the 2011 elections. The debating landscape looked more like a PS bashing ground against immigrants with the tacit approval of other parties.
While racism is alive and well in all Finnish parties, it does especially well in the PS.
What is the difference between a person who is openly racist or one who isn’t?
If we look at the recent municipal elections, many candidates that jumped the PS ship defected to the Center Party, Christian Democrats, Social Democrats and National Coalition Party.
It makes you wonder, doesn’t it, and leaves us with the following question: Racists come in different sizes and shapes. Some are quiet while others are quite vocal about it. The quiet and the silent are, however, bonded by the same matter: varying degrees of intolerance.
When debating racism in Finland, we should not forget that this social ill has many homes in many places.
It hasn’t found a home in one party but resides in all of them.
Racism indeed is alive and well and more accepted than ever. One of major reason for this is becus of media and politicians.
i Follow Uusia Suomi blogi and believe me racism is more accepted, some are proud to be racist, some don’t even know tthe definition of racism and some even defend racism. It’s really sad times taking place for immigrants right now in Finland. The question is if racism has this level of acceptance among many Finns even politician what are theyu going to do with the vicible immigrants living here? becus i ddon’t think they have that much of offer for them if they exclude them from the rest of the public, i just wonder what is going to happen to vicible foreigners when we have hardcore racists in the office, are we naive to think that vicible foreigners will have same rights as native finns ? The think us we vicible minorities been living in Finland and some of us have citizen, how are we able to trust anyone i Finland after all of this? peace for now.
I think too D4R that the internet makes racism visible in a way it wasn’t before. Many conversations where people expressed racist opinions were done in private before. Now, it’s possible for immigrants to see these opinions out in the open, and it shows the world to be ugly in a way that was perhaps best left hidden. It will help force people to face the issue in the end though.
I hope it is a comfort to you D4R that Migrant Tales has been receiving a lot of ‘likes’ in the last week from Finns, as people have been reading around the Umayya story. We need more people like her, who can make their voice heard.
Finland is very strongly committed to human rights and many many people are aware that this means developing issues within Finland as much as abroad. I think this is where the contract of trust if first made between someone of a foreign origin and the Finnish society.
Progress can be made on social issues. Once upon a time drink driving, tobacco smoking and domestic ‘disputes’ [read violence] were accepted within Finland. But while these things still happen, social attitudes around them have changed significantly.
No longer is domestic violence treated as a ‘private argument’, or smoking seen as one of life’s accepted pleasures, or drink driving seen as an acceptable way of getting home from the pub or a friend’s house. People acknowledge today the harms involved, to the individuals concerned and to others and society as a whole.
The recognition on the harms coming of racism need to be better understood within Finland, across the board.
That’s really where professionals like health care and social welfare staff need to take up the baton, as well as researchers and statistical authorities, humanitarians, NGOs and community groups. There really needs to be a concerted alliance built to tackle racism within Finland.
The harms of racism need to be spelt out in big bold letters. Then stupid arguments about ‘levels’ of racism, as if any level were acceptable, will be put to bed. The same stupid argument was made with cigarettes at one point – ‘well a couple a day isn’t doing anyone any harm’. No-one except a fool would believe that today.
The harms need to be explored in detail, across the board, from employment, to housing, to simply getting around town, to individual experiences of racism and living with stigmatisation. The economic and social effects or racism, the harms of creating an underclass need to be put under the microscope. Then the government will be forced to act and to develop their policy to respond to racism.
And racism itself needs to be explored not as a political belief or as an acceptable expression of nationalism, but rather as a psychosocial illness. It leads to dehumanising of groups and creates real social harms and harm to individuals. And racism harms the people who hold racist beliefs too. It harms them psychologically, in just the same way that belonging to a cult unquestionably harms a person psychologically.
You’d think that would be obvious, but clearly it isn’t, as racism does not have any entry in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This is a huge oversight. Other personality disabilities that give rise to social ills are described in the DSM, but racism and other extreme prejudices are suprisingly absent.
It has a lot in common with many of the existing disorders, including adjustment disorders, addiction, personality disorders (anti-social and narcissistic), and social phobia (focused on specific social groups). But many in the American psychiatric fraternity are reluctant to ‘politicise’ mental health. They say it is a ‘social’ problem that is learned an can be unlearned. They also fear that people would use any mental health diagnosis as an ‘excuse’ for anti-social behaviour.
First, that doesn’t stop them labelling almost all other forms of anti-social behaviour, most of which can be seen to exist on a spectrum. Typically, a behaviour is seen as pathological when its consequences start to be harmful or disabling for the individual or those around them. Pretending that mental illness is a purely ‘pharmacopathology’ is itself purely a theoretical bias in the field that is absolutely not consistent with how an awful lot of mental illness is actually treated, i.e. most effectively these days with cognitive behaviour therapy, i.e. unlearning. But that’s a theoretical prison the mental health professionals have built for themselves.
Basically, they (the American establishment) don’t want to tackle the problems of the South as a ‘medical profession’, preferring to label it a ‘social problem’, i.e. not our problem. Nevertheless, many psychologists and psychiatrists accept that there are clear elements of psychopathology in racist attitudes.
The intransigence in the mental health field in tackling racism as a psychosocial disorder with a very strong mental health component is slowly starting to shift. The Oxford Handbook of Personality Disorders will in its next edition have a chapter on ‘pathological bias’.
Indeed, in each of the fields I mentioned above (statistical authorities, researchers etc.), there is scope for developing strategies to combat racism. It’s not enought to call it a ‘social ill’ and then turn our backs on the phenomenon.
European society has lurched to the Far Right in recent years. Extreme views are being ‘normalised’ again. It’s time to act.
Thank you Mark for your effort of making points. I’m not worried about the good Finns who’re making thumbs up for us in this blog,nobody is claiming that all Finns share same chracteristics, people are individuals, not all Finns are racist, there’re good Finns and bad Finns, but must yake seriouse about the racist individuals in this country they are gaining numbers and popularity, what i’m worried about is these hostile people who’re gaining important positions in high offices like politicians etc…. it’s like they’re spreading through the country, my createst fear is that they already spread in to healthcare system…. if we’re shown so much hostility everywhere how’re we able to get a right treatment if heaven forbid we get sick? we just simply cannot and will not trust a people who show us hateret all the time, and we cannot expect any good coming from these people. So far there has been too little peole among officials speaking for us and defending us from these hostile people who’re threatening us and spreading racism through the rest of the population. I’m very grateful to this site for giving us chance to express ourself without it nobody would even know about what we’re facing in this country.
In my opinion, foreign born people often see racism as too black and white terms, when most of the reality is shades of grey. And I have also noticed, that they may mistake some things to be signs of racism, although in reality there is no racism. Having said that, it is also true that white Finns may mistakenly think that racism is very rare, because they haven’t seen it themselves.
And I hope you don’t be too scared. Even many of us who have voted for Perussuomalaiset and who are critical towards mass immigration, aren’t (at least completely) racist. Many of us have friends who have been born outside Europe and many of us help people who have been born outside Europe.
I would like to see open minded immigrants and those that are against mass immigration, but who are open minded, to get to know each other better. It would help all sides to remember that we all are humans and that there are probably many issues that both sides can agree.
I forgot to mention that I have twice voted for person born outside Europe and both of them have Muslim background and I seriously considered that option even in elections where I eventually voted for Perussuomalaiset.
I have been following two foreign born politicians with interest for several years. One off them I could vote easily, if he just was a member of better party, like Perussuomalaiset as he is quite brilliant. I have voted him once before, but in previous elections I just couldn’t bring myself to vote the party he represents. The other foreign born politicians I have been following, is more down to earth, but seems to be on many issues on same wavelength as I am. However, I would like to see more evidence that he is really secular, as I don’t want to support Muslim fanaticism.
–I forgot to mention that I have twice voted for person born outside Europe and both of them have Muslim background and I seriously considered that option even in elections where I eventually voted for Perussuomalaiset.
We vote for the person and the party he represents. If the person runs for parliament it means that he or she is a naturalized Finn, or a Finn. As you know, there are many types of Finns with many types of backgrounds. I am always amazed by people who still call people who were born here as “immigrants” or people with “immigrant backgrounds.”
Why do you think some Finns do this? Making such an affirmation is like making a strong statement: You are not equal to us because you’re not a white Finn like me. Just like we spoke about using the term undocumented immigrant, we should start to throw away many of these words that promote discrimination and inequality.
Moreover, much of the terminology we use is highly charged politically. Check out terms like “pakkoruotsi” (interesting how those who are against teaching Swedish at schools state that it is “forced”). In the same light, why do we have to speak “pakkosuomea” if this is officially a bilingual country that respects other languages? Kukkahattutäti is another one made up by anti-immigration groups. There are many more.
As these are public officials, would you care to name them?
Paranoia is a normal response to repeated and especially unpredictable abuse. The difficulty with repeated abuse in public by complete strangers is that you are left without really knowing who hates you because of where you come from. Humans tend towards pessimism.
Noticed how? Through Homma forum anecdotes? This comment does not really help to establish a real dialogue on racism. Though the tone is sympathetic, the fact that your first response in this debate is to bring up issues of credibility is frankly a big part of the problem with aversive racism in Finland – default position = denial!
Having started out by expressing your skepticism, your acceptance that Finns are just cautious because they haven’t seen it is for me a further slap in the face. ignorance? Just because they haven’t seen it doesn’t mean that people should immediately go into denial about it. That’s more than a mistake!
Having friends of another race or ethnic grouping does not preclude racism. Racism is often specifically a group-directed attitude with group-directed affects, while individual members of that same stigmatized group can and often are taken as individuals. That doesn’t let racists off the hook! It just rubs in the moral hypocrisy of it all.
Maybe you should try to get to know a few that are not ‘open-minded’, because it’s quite likely that these are the ones that have suffered most in Finland and are the ones from whom you are likely to learn more!
–And I have also noticed, that they may mistake some things to be signs of racism, although in reality there is no racism.
Do you think you are the right person to make such a call? It’s a bit like me, a man, telling everyone that there is gender equality in Finland. Pretty funny, no?