This week was marked by two important news stories that will could have far-reaching consequences on our country: Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP James Hirvisaari’s expulsion from the anti-immigration and anti-EU party, and positive words about immigration by Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen.
Verkkouutiset is published by the National Coalition Party. See full story here.
While the first news about Hirvisaari dominated this week’s headlines, it was interesting to note how this far-right anti-immigration MP has been turned into a scapegoat by Timo Soini and his party.
Hirvisaari was sacked because he took a picture of his guest, Seppo Lehto, making a Nazi salute in parliament. It wasn’t because of his conviction for ethnic agitation or for all the racist and far-right statements he’s made in the past. Moreover, we shouldn’t forget that Soini accepted Hirvisaari’s candidacy (and his anti-immigration rhetoric and lunacy).
Even if the PS wants to convince us that “its racism problem is over,” think twice because it is far from over. With or without Hirvisaari, the PS continues to be an anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam party that aims to keep Finland white at all costs.
You don’t have to look too far in the PS to find the likes of Jussi Halla-aho, Olli Immonen, Juho Eerola, Vesa-Matti Saarakkala, Riikka Slunga-Poutsalo and a long list of others to understand that the party’s racism problem is still a festering issue.
The expulsion of one far-right anti-immigration hothead like Hirvisaari is not enough. We need leadership and a shift in attitudes and values that will help Finland steer a new course on the intolerance front.
The second important piece of news this week was by Interior Minister Räsänen, who is no friend of gays, immigrants and immigration. She did, however, speak in a positive manner of the important role that Finland’s immigrants should be allowed play in this country’s development in this century.
The main point Räsänen made was that immigrants bring more money than take from society. Contrary to what politicians like Hirvisaari say, immigrants foster economic growth.
”Taking advantage of the skills of immigrants is vital to Finland’s well being,” she was quoted as saying on Verkkouutiset. ”Those that come [to Finland] from elsewhere should be seen as involved and active participants [in society]…”
If immigration is an important pillar of economic growth for many countries, why do some still believe that it is an economic and social burden? Why does the interior ministry have to tell us something so obvious, that immigration fosters economic growth?
The answer is simple: Because the debate on immigration, immigrants and our ever-growing cultural diversity has been hijacked by the likes of politicians like Hirvisaari and others thanks to our silence. We are still taught at schools and at home that foreigners are a threat and should be eyed with suspicion.
Taking into account our aging population and the social and economic deterioration we face as a nation in this century if we persist to believe our urban tales about immigrants, it would be suicidal today not to challenge intolerance, prejudice and racism in Finland.