What kinds of feelings does this campaign ad by Kokoomus hopeful Wille Rydman invoke? Does it play into the anti-immigration sentiment gripping Finland at present or offer viable solutions to make immigration work for Finland? Is he just another opportunistic politician that uses the anti-immigration card to lure votes?
In order to answer that question, you would have to ask to whom this ad it directed to. Immigrants? Or Finns who just cannot stomach cultural diversity?
Rydman, who has been labelled by some of his own party members as the Halla-aho of Kokoomus, suggested on June 10 in a letter to the editor to Helsingin Sanomat that the state should not finance multiculturalism but instead Finnish language courses. There is a wealth of evidence that shows that if you deny people their right to express their identity you create mental health and social problems.
Rydman appears to have a simplistic view of culture. He has not read nor knows of such studies that show how important identity is to a person.
Is voting for Rydman synonymous with defending immigrants’ rights?
You decide. What do you think?
“Rydman, who has been labelled by some of his own party members as the Halla-aho of Kokoomus, suggested recently that the state should not finance multiculturalism but Finnish language courses. There is a wealth of evidence that shows that if you deny people their right to express their identity you create mental health and social problems.”
I think that there is a big difference in denying people the right to express their identity and state not financing it. Expressions of identity come naturally and most of them are free. State-sponsored “multiculturalism” is not really culture at all, just state politics in a bit Soviet style. Total opposite of natural development and mixing of cultures.
Language in the other hand is essential for survival.
Hi Lucillalin, thank you for dropping by. JusticeDemon asked a good question: “Perhaps you could supply some concrete examples of the State-sponsored “multiculturalism” that you find so objectionable, just so that we know we are talking about the same thing.”
The problem with Rydman is that he does not really have any idea what multiculturalism is. He probably could not tell the difference between the social policy in Canada and our laws and constitution. His thing is bashing immigrants to satisfy his political ambitions. It’s not for any reason that members of his own party have called him the Halla-aho of Kokoomus.
When I think of Rydman and what his statement means (not to fund multiculturalism) I see it as forcing people to throw away their identity and become second-class Finns. I see his policies denying people the right to express their culture. I see one of his judges who sees the term “multicultural” or an adjective other than Finnish as a pretext to deny any grants or funds.
In a society that imposes general (as opposed to earmarked) taxes on individuals to pay for public services the only fair way to withdraw “cultural subsidies” is to withdraw them from everyone. If there are any cultural subsidies, then these ought to be allocated in a manner that reflects the cultural diversity of the population. I would therefore expect to find some books in my local public library written in English, Russian or Somali. I would expect to see public funds used to subsidise services such as Selkouutiset, Oddasat and News in English.
Perhaps you could supply some concrete examples of the State-sponsored “multiculturalism” that you find so objectionable, just so that we know we are talking about the same thing. For example when Archbishop Leo is invited to the President’s reception on Independence Day the costs of this hospitality are covered by public funds. Perhaps all religious community leaders should be required to purchase tickets for this event, as otherwise we have State-sponsored multiculturalism. Please specify your objection and we can examine it more carefully.
Wille Rydman comes across as a political battery hen. As far as I can see, aside from one academic term of occasional unqualified supply teaching at his old school, he has never had a job that was not a political appointment of some kind.
I would certainly like to quiz him on the detail of his proposals for modifying Finland’s asylum and family reunification policy.
JusticeDemon: How could a Master of Political Science who has just turned 25 have had time to get “real job experience”? Your comment gleams of arrogance.
Hi kapa, if you don’t have “real job experience” isn’t a bit of humility in place? Take for instance Rydman’s comments about immigrants. Do you think he really knows what he’s talking about and do you think his policies will work? I personally believe they are only made for mass populist consumption. If applied, they would only accentuate discrimination and inequality. One of the statements that does not make any sense at all by Rydman is that he wants the state to spend money on language courses (good) but not finance multiculturalism. What does this mean? To show how little he understands immigration and immigrants, he believes that all you have to do is teach good Finnish grammar to newcomers and, presto, assimilation magically happens. I can tell you from studies and personal experience that that is not the way you integrate people into society. Langauge is only one of many factors.
That depends on whether you regard politics as a discrete specialised occupation. It’s worth pointing out that in voting for candidates of this kind (nearly all parties have them), the electorate is not placing its trust in one of its peers. The suspicion remains that such a candidate will be unable to identify with the experiences of ordinary people who suffer the consequences of political choices.
It is partly in response to such concerns that individuals holding unelected political positions are normally expected to have some considerable real life experience (a civilian occupation if you like).
It is a perfectly proper question to ask whether Wille Rydman has any idea of the specifics and human impact of his policy proposals. There are thousands of people engaged in intercultural occupations on a paid and voluntary basis who are much better qualified than Rydman in this respect. Indeed the campaign poster above specifically recognises this factor.
Rydman needs to respond on the specifics of his policy proposals for services such as Selkouutiset, Oddasat, YLE Regional News, and News in English. What about subsidies for cultural minority events such as Kihaus Folk or Jutajaiset? There are 12,000 native speakers of Russian living in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area and numerous Russian speaking associations and businesses operating a variety of projects and regular activities, including the largest Russian language newspaper in the Nordic countries and the Sputnik Finljandija radio service. How will Rydman’s proposals affect these initiatives? Has he even considered this?
Look at it this way, Wille Rydman needs a job. Either he gets elected or he falls in line at the friendly neighborhood Kela office for income support. Either way, he is sponsored by the state. Better then to send him then to the Kela instead of parliament. Less damage for him to do there. Maybe he can finally get to know some of the migrants he loves to bash, the ones who have multiple degrees from Finnish and European universities and who fail to find work due to labor market discrimination.
As far as I’m concerned these politicians are just the same as those on the dole. The only difference is they get to wear fancy suits.
The real injustice though is that they have turned migrants into cannon fodder in order to get votes and to mask their own shortcomings in dealing with economic issues.
I believe that if the likes of Rydman, Soini, Halla-aho, Urpilainen, et. al. take the reins of government, the flow of migrants will truly be stemmed. However, this will not be through any new government policy but rather through the deterioration of the Finnish economy. Nothing like a 20% unemployment rate to convince people not to go to your country. What truly scares me about these populist politicians is not their firebrand rhetoric, rather it is that such rhetoric disguises a fundamental ignorance on issues of the economy and basic governance.
Here is an interview of Rydman in HBL (in Swedish). http://www.hbl.fi/text/inrikes/2010/2/21/d43453.php
I believe that it shows that he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He seems to hint that some labor immigrants are ok but slams multiruclturalism. What he is saying is that newcomers that move here don’t have a right to their identity never mind their children and grandchildren. Rydman is watering the seeds of social problems with such stands.
Even if this Kokoomus politician is young, his ideas are from a period way before he was born.
As a Finn living in Britain all my examples are British, because this is what I know about, both as I’ve studied it as an academic subject, and as something I witness in everyday life. My husband is Asian, so I have opportunities to see this from many perspectives. (he comes from a country where different ethnic groups and religious groups actually have to follow different laws as a state policy)
Simplest one is giving financial aid to special interest ethnic groups – Bangladeshi women’s groups, Cypriot only day centres. Britain is extremely divided without any encouragement. I could paint a line in London on the streets where the Bangladeshis end and white hipsters start. Its the very opposite of many nationalities living together.
And about libraries – having books in different languages is fine, but separating shelves on ethnic basis, such as people do here further divides the culture. Artists are not artists but black artists, Asian artists etc. People build their whole identities on this, which I find really problematic. Finland seems to imitate bigger countries, so I’m naturally worried they would travel towards a nation of ethnic enclaves like UK.
Hi Lucillalin, thank you for dropping by. Maybe the problem lies in the concept of English versus British. Societies that are multicultural have to begin with inclusion and acceptance. I would even dispute your view that culture remains stagnant but turns into something hybrid. Countries that have had lots of immigrants are a good starting point on how to make diversity work. Many times we place all the blame on the immigrant when, in fact, it could be the host society, which is exclusive. That is why I believe that the magic phrase is mutual acceptance, respect, inclusion and equal opportunities.
About special festivals – in many countries minorities, such as us Finns have self-founded festivals by collecting money amongst themselves. I think that being self-sufficient in cultural affairs makes people less passive. Even subcultural events are self-funded : ticket sales, magazines, sponsorship etc. Government is not the only option in everything.
Unless the country has no cultural subsidies at all, the implication of this is that minorities are taxed twice over. They contribute towards cultural provision for the mainstream and then they contribute again towards cultural provision for their own minority.
In the case of Finnish communities in the UK there are substantial subsidies from the Finnish government and the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church. I would also estimate that a good half of the members of Finn-Guild are Finns living in Finland.
Immigrant communities tend to divide along linguistic lines especially for at least a couple of generations. The Finns in Britain are no exception to this.
By the way, when you say your husband is Asian, do you mean East Asian or Indian/Pakistani?
Fascist harbours a grudge on life and holds his Mein Kampf near and dear. DO NOT VOTE FOR HIM! Enough said.
Hi Maggis and Pegasus, welcome to Migrant Tales. We hope you take part in the ongoing debate on immigration in Finland and elsewhere. As you know, we will have elections in Finland on Sunday (April 17) and the populist True Finns are expected to make some gains. The result will be watched by many in this country and abroad.