Red herrings, code words that help sanitize and make more acceptable our intolerance

by , under Enrique

Even if I have written for years about Finland’s anti-immigration groups like the Perussuomalaiset (PS), you have to learn to detect the red herrings in order to understand their real views on the topic. What you may uncover behind these red herrings is far scarier than ever imagined. 

A red herring is “something intended to divert attention from the real problem or matter at hand; a misleading clue.”

It’s not easy to figure out what politicians think on a certain issues, especially if it has to do with a hot topic like immigration.

Why is it so difficult to get a plain honest answer? Because those that spread intolerance know that it’s morally wrong and therefore sanitize their views with red herrings and code words.

Any sensible person understands – or should know – that intolerance is morally objectionable and wrong. If it weren’t, why do so many anti-immigration groups use red herrings and code words to hide their real views?

If you asked PS MPs like Jussi Halla-aho, or why not James Hirvisaari of Muutos 2011 as well, what their anti-immigration views are, they’d probably reply that they aren’t against immigration. What they are really saying is that they don’t object to foreigners as long as they’re white Europeans, Christians, conservative and heterosexuals.

The lie exposed above is that if their criteria were used to accept immigrants in Finland, nobody – or very few – would move to this country. Thus their real aim, which is to keep Finland immigrant population to a minimum, would be accomplished.

It would be wrong to claim that the PS and Muutos 2011 are the only anti-immigration parties in Finland. There are others. Check out Wille Rydman’s and Susanna Koski’s vies of the Youth League of the National Coalition Party.

Another good example is Social Democratic Party head Jutta Urpilainen’s infamous maassa maan tavalla statement in 2011, which means in Rome do as the Romans do. What Urpilainen suggested is that this is my country, not yours. In order for it to be yours you must be like me.

Irrespective if a politicians or supporter belongs to the Left Alliance, neo-Nazi Kansallinen Vastarinta or anything in between these two extremes, they are all united by one factor that is rarely if ever mentioned by the Finnish media: What are their real views of people who are different from them? Are they for or against greater cultural diversity?

Some common red herrings used constantly by anti-immigration and anti-cultural diversity politicians include:

  • This group is so different from us that they’ll never adapt to our society. (What they are really saying is that since they are so maladapted in their opinion they must not be allowed to live or move here).
  • Immigrants don’t want to learn Finnish and therefore don’t want to adapt. (The truth is that it’s very difficult to meet Finns and becoming their friends. If you disagree, ask another Finn).
  • I’m not against immigration. (Right. All I want are white brain surgeons to move to this country. We don’t need any immigrants).
  • If we bring the right type of immigrants, we won’t be required to change. (Immigrants should be judged by the skills they bring to the country not by their ethnic and religious backgrounds).
  • I’m not allowed to express my opinions freely about Muslims and immigrants. (Google the word “Eurabia” or “Immigrant threat” and see if this is true).
  • There’s no racism in Finland. (Right, a white person speaking for a black person is like a man speaking for women and claiming that there is gender equality).

So what’s the solution?

Recognize the red herrings and code words so you can tackle the real issues facing our ever-growing culturally diverse society.

Do it relentlessly.