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Here we go again: Immigration politics

July 27, 2015

Word of warning: I reserve the right to remove any nasty, racist comments that come up on this post or any other post in this blog. I will not tolerate hate speech or threats in this blog – period. Carmen P.

It is 2015. It is beyond me how elected members of parliament in Finland can get away with words like this!

The Finns member of Parliament from Oulu, Olli Immonen wrote this on his Facebook page the other day:

“I’m dreaming of a strong, brave nation that will defeat this nightmare called multiculturalism. This ugly bubble that our enemies live in, will soon enough burst into a million little pieces. Our lives are entwined in a very harsh times. These are the days, that will forever leave a mark on our nations future. I have strong belief in my fellow fighters. We will fight until the end for our homeland and one true Finnish nation. The victory will be ours.”

What is mind-boggling is how many freaking people agreed with him… What bullshit!

As an immigrant to this country I am so sick of being labelled as a threat – an ENEMY. You want to fight against me??

I’m sorry, but these so-called defensive arguments of “Oh, I don’t mean you.” or “Oh no, but you’re white and you come from Canada.” or “Oh, but you’re educated…” do nothing to play down the fact that we (= all immigrants to Finland) are being painted with the same brush.

Evidently Olli Immonen and other facets of the Finns Party and other political movements in Finland figure that us working, tax paying immigrants have no place here. Shove off and get over it! Quit rocking the bloody boat!

MR. SOINI – have you nothing to say about this?

What the hell is going on with all of these “Take back” movements – like the one currently happening in Australia too? Take back what?

<scratching my head>

As a taxpayer, I am paying your bloody salary Mr. Immonen – so suck it up! I, the Canadian-born, multicultural, Finnish-rooted, naturalized Finnish citizen, IMMIGRANT am not going anywhere.

One other thing to add: The issue I also have with Mr. Immonen’s words is how they affect the FINNISH-born children of immigrants. What do you have to fight for then Mr. Immonen? Are the children of immigrants and international families in Finland a threat to you too? My Finnish-Canadian child is not good enough for you? I’d like to hear an answer to that.

How about those refugee families that have settled and integrated into life in Finland – are they a threat? Would you really say those words to my Afghan friends who have gone through the school system, the army and are now contributing to society by working? They have no intention of going anywhere, Finland is their home.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. szakib permalink
    July 28, 2015 8:15 am

    Somebody should really teach these people economics and genetics 101. Finland has no future without immigrants.

  2. anonymous permalink
    July 29, 2015 6:34 pm

    You do realize that one end of the “integration axis” is multiculturalism and the opposite end is (cultural) assimilation? I lean on assimilation and I suspect so do most people who are against multiculturalism. It doesn’t automatically mean that they are against any individual people. I suspect many people even confuse multiculturalism with anti-rasism and don’t even realize that there is another way to integrate, one that wouldn’t require the native culture, etc. to make special provisions and yield it’s place.

    Numbers matter, too. If there were tens of thousands of Canadians living and more moving in to live, associating mainly with themselves and living as Canadians, according to Canadian customs and identity and senses of right and and what is legal, forcing people around them to conform to that, I think people would have a problem with that as well. So it is disingenious of you to make it about yourself as an individual, because it’s about the systemic level, not how a single individual lives their life.

    I’m sure I’ve said it before, but there is a definite difference with North America and European nation states. The North American countries would betray their ideological basis and whatever moral foundation they have if they stopped allowing immigrants, because they are the result of deliberate immigration. It’s baked in the cake.
    European nation states came to being as a way for individual peoples to have their own customs, keep their own culture and language and govern themselves instead of having foreign rulers or ruling class and maybe a foreign administrative and legal language. I would argue having state borders and autonomy have actually eased tensions between ethnic groups. The cohesion helps with national feelings and collective decisions like keeping wellfare state afloat and general feeling of trust in other people, which translate to many good things. Bringing in and planting new cultures functioning on the basis of different cultural and moral codes strikes at the root of this and is actually fairly destructive for the cohesion unless those people are willing to assimilate.

    • anonymous permalink
      July 29, 2015 6:35 pm

      *learn towards

      • anonymous permalink
        July 29, 2015 6:36 pm

        I really should’ve caught that one at least.

    • July 30, 2015 10:25 am

      Thanks for weighing in anonymous. I completely understand and agree with your points of view, you have eloquently summed them up in a way that I cannot.

      You wrote “So it is disingenious of you to make it about yourself as an individual, because it’s about the systemic level, not how a single individual lives their life.” …This post is perhaps a very knee-jerk reaction to ridiculous things that people keep saying about immigrants to Finland. I am tired of being painted with this brush. Fortunately this blog is a chance to vent now and then and I can do it on my own terms.

      I am quite happy to assimilate and integrate because being Finnish is not much of a leap from being Canadian. The only thing I “fight for” as a Canadian is that the Little Miss learns at least something about where I am from. When she is older I will not expect her to practice Canadian traditions – that is up to her and if she doesn’t that’s fine, I can live with that.

      It is very hard to put my thoughts and feelings on this issue into words without sounding hypocritical and contradictory; on the one hand I feel (this) , but on the other hand I feel (that)… I won’t get into it here.

      I do appreciate the comments, as always.

      • anonymous permalink
        August 1, 2015 9:51 am

        It’s just that so very many people have those public knee-jerk reactions and knee-jerk reactions mean there’s no thinking involved.

      • anonymous permalink
        August 1, 2015 11:22 am

        I should also say I’m not at all sure you are being painted with that brush. If you feel you are, maybe you could take a dispassionate look at how you present yourself in and to the public. Maybe there is something (perhaps “proudly patriotic”) that rubs people the wrong way because you are (perhaps unconsciously) pushing it in their faces.

        Or maybe you’re just being self-conscious. Minorities consist of individuals too. Not everything directed at minority individuals is directed at the whole minority. I would say very little of it is.

        Take, for example, the Tapanila incident. The public condemnation wasn’t against all immigrants. It was very much against those individuals and probably also against those larger groups of boys and men you see around, who cause problems and maybe even do something worse. Those groups by themselves even make people more nervous compared to similar “native” groups, because they are groups choosing to speak in a foreign language, making their actions unpredictable to people around them and difficult to stop beforehand by outsiders. (This is on top of how people, especially teenagers, in groups tend to do stupid things.) Now, all of that only extends to all immigrants or any immigrant groups, if this behaviour is somehow intrinsic to them. I would say it should not be, but I suppose this is about perceptions and also very much a question relating to multiculturalism and assimilation. Nevertheless, if that is what immigration (in general or of certain groups) realistically ends up being (even if in very few cases), I think it is clear that people don’t want it. But the thing is, I don’t think it’s directed at you in any way.

        Bear in mind that se koira älähtää, johon kalikka kalahtaa. You can always make it about yourself, but that’s not very productive for anyone.

      • August 2, 2015 7:49 pm

        Anonymous, after all this time I think it is a self-conscious thing… You’re actually being a voice of reason here – thanks. 🙂

  3. Anonymous permalink
    July 30, 2015 10:29 am

    Do Finns want to assimilate when living abroad? See post-war cases, e.g. Sweden and how much resistance and marginalization there was. And no, you cannot always blame Swedes for this.

    Assimilation is giving up yourself. Finns would never do the same when abroad. Marissa Mayer’s marimekko curtains are heroical even she herself probably does not really know much about Finland. Such a smart Finn! Minority schools for Finns abroad are presented with proud – but locally you complain that foreigners are given the right to maintain their language. They should learn Finnish! Sure they will, especially children.

    Why is it so destructive for the Finnish society when one brings in oneself with the own past, customs, values, language and culture skills, which could benefit Finland and open doors if used properly? How all this disturbs the roots of the proud Finnish culture IF those things don’t harm the society (I don’t mean extreme or criminal views and practices)?

    Integration is a spice: learning from each other, understanding the society, yet picking the best and sharing one’s own. It’s meeting halfway and being curious about each other, not rigid. We don’t need to be identical to live our lives.

    The first mistake Finland makes about integration is to take for granted that it works only one way. “They” need to make the effort. When one is not feeling welcome (and excuse my French, but all this current politics talk is not very accomodating, no matter how you put it), the newcomer’s resistance and marginalization grows.

    • July 30, 2015 11:01 am

      Unfortunately a portion of the people who do move from elsewhere are not given the chance to integrate, and instead are marginalized because their (non-disruptive) culture, language and customs (and their physical appearance) because they’re still too different for a segment of the population to digest…

    • July 30, 2015 11:04 am

      I’ve already been told (at least once) that I “will never be Finnish enough” in spite of my efforts. And that is because the person in question cannot accept the fact I am from somewhere else.

      • Anonymous permalink
        July 31, 2015 12:01 am

        This is so sad! That is why I don’t long for the citizenship.

    • July 30, 2015 11:11 am

      In fact even after all of these years living here, I feel like I have *found* myself. I have lost nothing and gained a lot. I haven’t given up, I have soldiered on in a place where I know I can be myself.

    • anonymous permalink
      August 1, 2015 10:32 am

      Whether Finns want to assimilate abroad or not is a moot point if the host nation wants them to. Assimilation isn’t giving yourself up. It’s simply living with and like the “natives”. You’re assuming that assimilation isn’t integration. It is. It’s a way to integrate without asking the rest of the society to accommodate your existing customs, culture and language. It still involves give and take and the surrounding society also changes somewhat because of it. There is that influence you crave.

      Maintaining a language and always using it in public instead of communicating with the rest of society are completely different things. The destructive part for the Finnish culture is that it seems completely one-way because Finnish culture tends to be fairly subtle and introverted whereas other cultures are often loudly extroverted so it’s not so much a proportional representation or friendly exchange than a complete drowning-out. I can’t help thinking why bother with Finland, if Finnish culture is not something you want to be a part of. There are some 200-odd other countries and many more cultures in them that might provide the things you want. I get things aren’t that simple for people, but then you’ll just have to choose. You can’t always get what you want and you shouldn’t expect to.

  4. szakib permalink
    August 2, 2015 8:39 pm

    RE: everything above:
    Despite the fact that the guy’s *words* were about “multiculturalism”, what he actually meant was “immigration”. He was not talking about assimilation vs. multiculturalism (about which you are having a very intelligent discussion). He was talking about Finland being purely Finnish, i.e. (lack of) immigration.
    It is only relatively well-educated people (apparently over-represented here) who know the difference between the two.
    Finland actually has a very good system of assimilation with the high-quality, state-sponsored “integration training”. It could barely be better (And this is a good thing: without cohesion, it is difficult to keep a country together, see e.g. France’s riots.) The Perunasuomalaiset have no intention of making changes to this. They just want to keep people out.

    • anonymous permalink
      August 3, 2015 4:00 pm

      Look, even if the current system “could barely be better”, it’s not enough. People have experiences that indicate there are both individuals and groups of people apparently dropping through the cracks. If we already see that now, I wonder what it will be like in 20 years. Sweden is considered 10 or 20 years ahead of us and they have clear problem areas both physically and figuratively – not that there aren’t worse examples around the world. I’m wondering whether we are doing anything more intelligently than they were, because it’s a stupid direction to be heading for. That’s why lean towards assimilation.

      Nobody talks about assimilation in public. That’s why people don’t understand the difference. The public discourse always presents the false dichotomy of multiculturalism or racism, and the people who tout for multiculturalism and also dominate the public arena seem either ignorant of that distinction or are unwilling to make it, for reasons we may only suspect.

      I don’t actually care about Immonen. He is what he is, even though I think some of it is him just not being smart enough to act or present his views or feelings in a thorough and nuanced way. He was legitimately voted in and thus has the right to publically represent his voters. If it turns out he isn’t doing that, he’ll be voted out. Still, it’s better to have this stuff out in the open than left festering in some dark corner only to have it break out later as a huge problem.

      I actually care more about the response. These are people, who always assert their intelligence on the subject, engaging it in such a simplistic way that it almost looks like a caricature. Instead of addressing the deeper values and issues in the context of Finnish society and explicitly stating where they stand on and would draw the line on related issues, they again resort to blunt sensationalism. It’s a problem because sensationalism numbs people to the issue, so that the conversation is not only had now, but the likelyhood to have it in the future gets smaller. They manage to make it seem that they just want to hear as many foreign languages and experience as many foreign cultures and value systems and eat as many ethnic foods* as possible when walking down the street without having to buy a plane ticket. That’s actually a more selfish and less justifiable position on immigration than what the actual, openly self-professed, hardline racists, who exist very few and far between, would have. That’s like arguing blue is morally superior to red because you like it more and other people’s opinions on the subject are categorically wrong so they don’t count. (* And also multiculturalism isn’t a requirement to ethnic foods in any meaningful way. Anyone, speaking any language, acting in any way, can cook and sell any type of food. That includes the natives.)

      They proudly present a failure to see that opinions aren’t values and that values need some sort of justification. In fact, opinions that are based on mere feelings don’t need justification, but they don’t carry the same weight that a considered opinion carries, let alone the weight of a well-scrutinized value, which in itself isn’t an ultimate argument either because values vary. I don’t get why it is so difficult for them to understand that this was and continues to be the reason immigration critics keep getting voted in. They could have defused all of this before the first time True Finns got their big win by simply talking about the actual issues, acknowledging the problems, accepting criticism, proposing changes, involving people, etc. rather than resorting to name-calling and wishy-washy, disinterested, boilerplate, PC-in-the-worst-ways non-answers that people could easily see through.

      The way you, too, so easily assert your opinions of what other people are all about without even acknowledging their actual words and their official stated position or showing an attempt of trying to understand them, makes you, I’m sorry to say, part of the problem, though I suspect you might characterize yourself as being part of the solution. I should point out that even a statement like “purely Finnish” isn’t absolute by any measure. What you are mainly condemning is your own interpretation of it, so you should consider why it is that you chose to interpret it that way. Those words leave open questions of scope in very many directions and issues, as well as what exactly is meant by “Finnish”, so I wouldn’t jump on the guy based on that. Now, I’m not big on quotations, because they are often just a way to oversimplify the issue or to make poorly fitting analogies, but you should consider Hanlon’s razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” It could simply be an inartfully expressed imprecise thought.

      • szakib permalink
        August 4, 2015 9:05 am

        I don’t see why it would be so bad that I, as everybody else above, “so easily asserted my opinion”. This is the internet, a place where everybody can easily assert their opinion.

        I did acknowledge his words. I was speculating on what he actually meant. I was trying to point out that his words mean something different to the commenters here and the general public, especially his voters. You actually seem to agree with me on this. My basis for this speculation is that I have never heard the Perunas talk about integration vs. multiculturalism (which, of course, does not mean that they never talked about this), but I have heard them be anti-immigration several times.

        I am very well aware of the fact that the phrase “purely Finnish” is meaningless. I was paraphrasing “one true Finnish nation”, which is also meaningless. This discussion is about politics, not science.

        Actually, I think one of the reasons for Immonen’s statement generating such a response is exactly that it is only 81 ambiguous, written words. Not much data, lots of room for interpretation. Everybody can find an interpretation to love or hate.

        I did not and do not claim to be part of the solution, but I also don’t think that I am part of the problem. I am the topic of the discussion: an immigrant.

        About Hanlon’s razor: I do think that the far right (not only here in Finland) is stupid.

      • anonymous permalink
        August 8, 2015 7:23 pm

        I did acknowledge his words. I was speculating on what he actually meant. I was trying to point out that his words mean something different to the commenters here and the general public, especially his voters.

        If that was your intention, then you failed on both counts. I don’t see any speculation or any ambiguity being conveyed or even tentatively explored, quite the opposite: I read your comment and see pure assertion and jumping to the worst possible conclusions. You also use intentional insults, so yes, I think you are very much part of the problem, whether you actually mean what you’re saying or not, in either case.

        Before you might accuse me of a double standard, I find such a seemingly hostile interpretation as to be an intentionally libelous misrepresentation a much larger problem than an ambiguous post (as you yourself just admitted it was). It’s one thing to write something ambiguous, that could be quite innocent, possibly extremely racist, or something in between. It’s quite another to criticize it by fixating on the most nongenerous interpretation of it, unambiguously claiming that is what was meant without any evidence, and then wave it away as mere speculation of the ambiguity. Surely, if the point is to criticize the faults of ambiguity and possible hostile meanings, you should then consciously avoid making those very mistakes, and definitely not fail that much worse the same way.

        I wasn’t actually implying science in any way, but if you really think that is the only context where words should convey meaning or be used with any precision, or that at least politics shouldn’t be such a context, I’m beginning to see the problem here. I feel obliged to tell you that the society around you has a drastically different perspective on words and meanings and generally frowns upon all underhandedness and dishonesty, so that attitude may be or become a large source of difficulties in your personal or professional life and cause feelings of hostility and anguish both to and around you. I know there are personal and cultural variations, which, again, is why I prefer assimilation. It’s just easier and more fair to play by a single set of rules.

        I should also point out that you missed the larger point I was making about Hanlon’s razor. I felt obligated because I rarely see anyone miss the point by such a spectacular margin, though I understand the slight may have been intentional.

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