Whine, whine and whine again.
Once again the old canard of ”economic issues driving the immigration debate”, as if people wouldn’t have justified concerns in good times as well as in bad. One good thing though, Maryam Abdulkarim, interviewed for the YLE article, opens her yap and offers an opinion which I believe is shared by a majority of her fellow Somalis and other non-western migrant types, and goes a long way in underlining the average Finn’s basic suspicion or justified fear:
“I think for someone to even ask that question is really ridiculous,” (should foreigners become as Finnish as possible?)
“But then I think it is even more ridiculous for someone to answer that ’well I think immigrants can come to this country, but then they have to become like us’.”
If you refuse to take hold ( at least many of) the same values of the nation you’ve freely chosen to reside in, and in many cases, allowed in and cared for at others’ expense, you better well be grateful enough in showing that appreciation by wanting to fit in and stop making demands for this and that right. That more than anything else is what turns people off to having more immigrants in the country.
Then there is Enrique Tessieri, also interviewed in the YLE article, who believes that Finns are ”against cultural diversity”. That is what the YLE journalist was looking for, and Tessieri provides. If you would ask Finns whether or not someone should be proud of their cultural heritage, and even celebrate it in their own unique way while embracing Finnish culture and values, they wouldn’t voice a concern, at least most wouldn’t, but that doesn’t fit the carefully crafted narrative, ”of evil white racists”.
You see folks, the only people allowed to be proud of their cultural heritage and national identity, and if necessary, allowed to defend that identity, are those who hail from countries that had some brush with Western colonialism. Fortunately for Finland, most Finns still carry a sense of patriotism and national identity, after having been under both Swedish and Russian domination and yes….colonialism.
As an immigrant myself (living in Finland for over 26 years), I don’t go along with the game that these sad-sack immigrant whiners are playing, in fact, I shun it and them. I say, quit your stupid complaining, if you like and want to stay in Finland, learn the language, work hard, and don’t force your culture on them and embrace the culture. And above all, be thankful that they were kind enough to let you in.
NOTE: I know of other immigrants in Finland who have not had an easy time finding work, but they bust their ass and count their coins afterwards, and don’t whine, nor do they seek to change the culture to suit them and an agenda.
Integration is the holy grail of immigration policy, accepted and promoted by all major political parties. A recent poll showed a majority of Finns agree with the statement that foreigners “should become as Finnish as possible” if they are to remain in Finland. Foreigners reading the survey found it difficult to interpret what might be required.
“I think for someone to even ask that question is really ridiculous,” says Maryam Abdulkarim, a Somali-born Finn in Helsinki. “But then I think it is even more ridiculous for someone to answer that ’well I think immigrants can come to this country, but then they have to become like us’.”
Enrique Tessieri, editor of the Migrant Tales blog, believes the survey shows that many Finns “are against cultural diversity”. His blog started in 2007 as a means to counter what he saw as a biased media discussion of the immigration issue. He sees the debate on cultural difference as a work in progress.
“I think it’s changed quite radically,” says Tessieri. “I think the growth of the blog is an example that these questions are not being answered. Our only aim is to be a voice for those who don’t have a voice, who are not being heard by the politicians and the media in general.”
Debate lacks nuance
Abdulkarim, who works as a research assistant at Helsinki University, sees the whole concept of Finnishness as problematic. She says rural Finns are different to urban Finns, and any attempt to claim ownership of the term is bound to cause difficulties.
“They are more maybe conservative, they have different values, so are those people less Finnish or are they more Finnish? So it just becomes really bizarre, the whole question.”
She says the Finnish discourse on migration lacks nuance. There are relatively few migrants in Finland, and many of them do not fit a stereotypical category.
“For some reason it seems that most Finnish people think that when you talk about immigrants it only refers to Somali people, or people with a Somali background, or people who are from Africa,” says Abdulkarim. “And they neglect the fact that the majority of immigrants in this country come from other EU countries.”
Tessieri says that migrants are here to stay, and claims everyone will benefit if they are made welcome. His argument revolves around liberal, global markets and Finland’s chances of success in a competitive world economy.
“For better or worse I think we have to accept globalisation,” says Tessieri. “We need skilled workers, we need foreign investment, we need new ideas, we need foreign markets for our exports and so on. If we fail in this, and by failing I mean if we become xenophobic, that we fear the outside world, we restrict the movement of people to this country, we make it difficult for foreign investment to come here, then we are in trouble.”