After years of looking the other way Finland is paying a high price today for its self-inflicted xenophobia. What are the consequences of such a social ill if we continue to permit it to roam freely with the help of urban tales, bigotry, populism and political chicanery?
The climate of suspicion that has Finland in a stranglehold has impacted our country in many ways negatively. It is a monkey wrench that has been thrown into the works of a successful nation that appears to have lost today its way and which fears its own shadow.
As our population grays we need new young people to move to this country. We need more jobs and innovation. In order to speed up the adaption process of these newcomers we need to be a more open and inclusive society.
Instead we have done the total opposite. We have reverted to false panaceas like xenophobia and anti-immigration rhetoric, which have made matters worse.
It’s not only society that loses but especially migrants and minorities trying to adapt and become a part of society.
Xenophobes commonly demand that migrants must adapt to our ways but instead place and build walls that exclude such people from being part of society.
Fear is one of the deadliest poisons of xenophobia. Fear is hate.
The present state of fear, which politicians, the media and public officials are feeding directly or indirectly, is one of the biggest challenges that Finland faces today. That’s why we need more, not less, leadership against xenophobia, fear and hate.
One common matter that unites all xenophobes, Islamophobes and bigots is that they are the biggest whiners around. They are constantly complaining why migration or group x is bad but never offer any credible solutions. Never.
A common false argument used by Islamophobes is that Islam is hazardous to our society. Muslims cannot ever adapt to our way of life, according to them.
In Finland we have about 60,000 Muslims and probably a few tens of thousand more thanks to the over 30,000 Iraqis, Afghanis and Somalis that have sought asylum in our country this year. What is the solution that the Islamophobes offer? Deport all Muslims back to where they came from and place restrictions on religious freedom?
In order to find one of the roots of xenophobia we should ask which groups profit from this climate of fear? If xenophobia has grown in this past years, and especially in 2015, it does have a following. Didn’t it help the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* become one of the biggest parties in Finland in 2011 as well as made more visible far right and neo-Nazi groups?
A country, like its people, can become crippled by fear. When we fear we make hasty and poor decisions.
The fear we sense in Finland is felt by the markets as well. Why would a foreign company want to invest in a country that can’t guarantee the safety of its foreign workers and that their children could be bullied in a racist manner at school?
Fear is hate. Source: the House of Commons.
Xenophobia is a cancer spreading in Finland and we must find ways to challenge and stop its growth. Confronting it isn’t easy but not impossible either. For such a task we need more leadership, not less.
The leadership Finland requires is the type that calms people’s panic and ensures everyone, including migrants and minorities, that they can live in a country without fear.
* The Finnish name of the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English-language 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.