One of the biggest questions when speaking of the integration of immigrants and visible minorities in Europe and Finland is what are they supposed to adapt to. In theory everything sounds perfect in our law books. What happens on the ground, however, is a totally different story.
This abandoned Cadillac reveals the crude face of integration. Great expectations but difficult to fulfill because the car has no engine. The children of immigrants are one vulnerable group.
The shameful xenophobic and anti-Semitic events going on in Hungary and Eastern Europe, Greece and elsewhere are enough proof that the region has some serious issues to deal with.
In my home country of Finland, matters have gotten so bad that in 2011 the Perussuomalaiset (PS), an anti-EU, anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam party, rose from the minor leagues to become the country’s third-largest political force in parliament.
The PS is today the fertile breeding ground for right-wing extremism in Finland.
Two crucial articles of our Constitution should not be forgotten when speaking about integration:
Chapter 2 Section 6 (No one shall, without an acceptable reason, be treated differently from other persons on the ground of sex, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, health, disability or other reason that concerns his or her person).
Chapter 2 Section 17 (The right of everyone to use his or her own language, either Finnish or Swedish, before courts of law and other authorities, and to receive official documents in that language, shall be guaranteed by an Act…The Sami, as an indigenous people, as well as the Roma and other groups, have the right to maintain and develop their own language and culture).
I am confident that Finnish officials have the best intentions in mind when they look at the integration of newcomers. There is, however, a major obstacle when speaking of effective integration and inclusion of immigrants in our society: lack of funds and not seeing any worth in cultural diversity.
This shouldn’t surprise us. The whole social construct of Finnish national identity is based on narrow terms. We need, however, to change that culture radically. Instead of reinforcing our exclusiveness, new generations of Finns should be taught the importance of inclusion, mutual acceptance and respect for diversity.
Why would anyone want to embrace the culture and values of any society that is outright hostile to them?
You have a choice in Finland: Become an an Uncle Tom (Tuomo-setä).
In Finland the definition of aTuomo-setä could be any immigrant or visible minority who betrays other people like himself by becoming and adopting the same values that exclude others socially.
Taking into account the negative atmosphere and the inability of Finnish society to accept and permit cultural diversity to become the standard, it would be naive if not foolhardy to forget your roots and identity when adapting.
Your greatest asset to our society is your culture and identity.
It’s not being third-rate white Finn.