The fallacy of the “two extremes” argument in Finland on immigration, asylum seekers and our ever-growing culturally diverse society

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Here’s a simple question: Why does the police, like President Sauli Niinistö, see the present debate on immigration, asylum seekers and our ever-growing culturally and ethnically diverse society as being conducted by two extremes? 

President Niinistö, who hasn’t shone as a defender of our culturally diverse society, spoke of the tolkun ihmiset, the silent majority that doesn’t identify with neither of these extremes.

Ville Rantanen offers in a cartoon below his view of the tolkun ihmiset.

There is one very noticeable flaw in Niinistö’s and online police Jarno Saarinen’s points of views of the “two extremes:” They are the views of white Finns with power who are the least affected by the ongoing hate speech and hostility against migrants and minorities.

Acknowledging this flaw in the debate is crucial to understand the issue.

People who say and do racist things, or politicians that want to relegate migrants and minorities to second- or third-class members of society, are the real threat to migrants and minorities – not to white people like Niinistö and Saarinen.

Add to the latter that we have an openly anti-immigration party like the Perussuomalaiset* in government with mainstream parties like the National Coalition Party and Center Party and the issue takes an ever-worrying dimension.

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The police try to moderate the present debate on Finland’s ever-growing culturally and ethnically diverse society. Online police Jarno Saarinen writes: “There are two extremes in our society that are so far from each other that I, with mixed feelings, await what will come out of this. It’s difficult to define these two extremes because giving them a name is difficult. Some speak of racists and anti-racists while others speak of those that defend anti-immigration and pro-immigration standpoints. Whatever the definition,  I want to speak of those who see the other group as the plague; it’s unfortunate that the rhetoric of these two groups is similar.” Read original posting (in Finnish) here.

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Ville Rantanen’s view of the tolkun ihmiset.

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We, therefore, prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings. The direct translation of “Perussuomalaiset” is “basic” or “fundamental Finn.”