Living in Finland after the April 19 parliamentary elections is like witnessing a coup where xenophobia and Islamophobia have strengthened their stranglehold on our country with the blessings of the Center Party and National Coalition Party (NCP). With the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* in government and the election of PS MP Maria Lohela as the new speaker of parliament send a disturbing signal to many Finns and especially to our ever-growing culturally diverse community.
Finland is already a culturally diverse society. If parties like the PS would have wanted to shut our borders to visible migrants they’re too late. Cultural diversity in Finland is unstoppable and will grow in the years and decades ahead.
The rise of a hostile party like the PS, yes hostile to migrants and minorities let there be no questions about that, hasn’t been clearer and more disturbing than after the elections. Their message in coded language couldn’t be clearer: We want Finland to remain white.
A good source of inspiration for social equality and change in Finland is the Civil Rights Movement (1955-68) of the United States. In some cases what MLK said is applicable to Finland. In 1982 we marched in Helsinki to parliament to speed up passage of the country’s first aliens act. Foreigners weren’t allowed back then to organize marches or participate in demonstrations.
Treat statements with tweezers by the PS like, “we aren’t against immigration as long as you come here, work, pay taxes [and stay quiet].” That statement is a coded message for: We don’t want visible migrants and minorities in Finland.
Another example of the latter is what Lohela said recently about her opposition to so-called humanitarian immigration and that it is one of the “biggest” problems facing Finland. Former Christian Democrat Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen, however, wrote recently that that type of immigration accounts for about 8% of all immigration.
The answer is simple: xenophobia and political chicanery.
The anti-immigration rhetoric coming from the PS is a disgrace to any person who believes in justice and our Nordic way of life. Why don’t the Center Party and the NCP, both partners with the PS in government, tell them to stop spreading lies and urban tales against our culturally diverse community that only victimizes and labels its members?
One important matter that they should keep in mind is that Finland’s migrant and minority population will grow. Parties like the PS that are hostile to our culturally diverse society will lose out. Few if any of these so-called New Finns will want to join and be active in parties that were and still are hostile to their parents and grandparents.
Finland’s second-largest party in parliament doesn’t like you and will do everything possible to exclude you from society as long as you’re not a white German, Swede, Brit or USAmerican that mix near-perfectly with the white ethnic landscape of Finland.
Some minorities that are being targeted by the PS, and even Juha Sipilä’s government, are Swedish-speaking Finns. The Romany minority, which have faced harsh oppression in Finland for 500 years, will be left alone as long as they don’t integrate too much and start demanding that they’d be treated equally.
The rise of the PS and its membership in government is attributable to a number of factors like rising poverty in Finland and social exclusion of hundreds of thousands of white Finns, but mostly it’s due to ineffective and incompetent politicians like those in the previous government led by Prime Minister Alexander Stubb and Jyrki Katainen.
The narrative that you will find from politicians and the media is clear as day: Let’s blame migrants and minorities for our failures as politicians. Direct your anger at them for your problems. This will let us off the hook.
While I could continue writing about matters that worry me deeply about the path Finland is presently on, there have to be solutions on how to challenge this threat that hasn’t subsided since 2011 but has grown in leaps and bounds.
And now, what?
Here are some solutions:
- Silence will never be our language
- Use all the democratic tools at your disposal to show your opposition to xenophobia and parties like the PS
- Civil disobedience can sometimes be an effective tool in getting your message across
- If all of the above don’t work, radicalize if necessary
- Migrants, minorities and Finns of all backgrounds can join in the struggle
- Write, protest, march, vote, get involved in politics and/or spark a social movement if necessary
- A good legal benchmark to follow is our Nordic values enshrined in our constitution and non-discrimination act
- Be on the guard for wishy-washy double talk and learn their code words and red herrings of anti-immigration parties and groups
- Avoid terms like intolerance but call such social ills by their real names: racism, bigotry, prejudice etc.
- Don’t forget that racism is costly to tax payers because it is exclusive, never inclusive
- Don’t forget that xenophobia is not directed at somebody else but at you
- Study and learn what migrants and minorities are facing in other parts of Europe and how they are challenging racism and social exclusion
- Express eloquently your opposition to the ongoing anti-immigration atmosphere in Finland
- Single out the Uncle Toms, Tuomo setä, Setä Tuomo, or mamu in Finnish, that are selling out to the white Finnish establishment that keeps institutional racism intact
- Be patient and persistent with one clear goal: You are seeking to build a Finland where your children and grandchildren will be treated with respect and have the same social rights as white Finns and where xenophobia is outright shameful
I’m certain that there are more solutions on how to challenge the racism that has today a stranglehold on our country and society.
This list, however, above should set us on our way.
* The Finnish name of the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English-langauge names 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.