ABOUT THE WRITER
Recently, I was asked by Conservative Beach Girl to write about the current state of events here in Finland. Before I do that, please let me introduce myself briefly. I am a thirtysomething, an engineer and entrepreneur, father of a lovely baby boy and I live nearby Helsinki - the capital of Finland.
I've had my blog up and running for one year now, writings primarily circle around the issues of multiculturalism and immigration. Finnish name of this blog is "Laiva on täynnä", a rough translation being something like "Ship is full". I don't feel I have to explain allegorial meanings any further.
Because of its geographical location, Finland has been able to avoid some of the problems that Southern-European countries are struggling with today. Our coastlines are far away from Africa and Asia, we have no former colonies, nor do we have any unreconciled issues with anyone.
Year 1990, a significant event took place. An event that would start a new era in Finland. A group of Somalian people arrived here, seeking status of political refugees. It has been later said that Finland was totally unprepared for them. We did not know how long refugees would be here, we did not know whether we should teach them Finnish or not, we did not know anything. All we knew was that during the second world war, when Finland was itself engaged in times of trouble and under an attack by Russia, we sent our own children as refugees to Sweden. We were given help then, now it was our time to help others. Help those in need.
First somalis were given either a refugee status or a permit to stay. Others soon followed. To this day, there is a total of about 10.000 somalian-speaking people here. And of course many others from other crisis areas around the world - Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan etc.
IMMIGRANTS AND IMMIGRATION
Since a good proportion of the immigrants are refugees, they are having hard time to integrate into Finnish society. I admit that it is not an easy task. Finland is a modern, advanced country, undoubtedly sometimes very difficult for arrivals to comprehend. This is especially so, if the arrivals lack education and language skills. Many are illiterate.
But you cannot blame Finnish people for not trying. We have tried very hard to integrate our new immigrants. We have so many language courses, coordinators, projects and processes - aimed for immigrants to assist in integration. We had this idea of everything working out if we try really hard. It was rather childlike idea, too.
Current state of events isn't so terrific. Unemployment levels are astounding. One out of ten somalis work, and those who do, work mainly at public sector. Situation for Iraqis or Iranians is just as bad or worse. Crime rates are horrible.
There are many problems. How do we solve them?
By openness, discussions and education?
Or by manipulation, self-betrayal, censorship and discriminatory legislation?
You guessed correctly.
There is a very strange collective mental process "taking place" just now. Before Millenium, I had never heard or read anyone using the term "multiculturalism". But after the worst fears of Millenium Bug had been cleared, the faint voices chanting "multiculturalism", "diversity", "all different, all equal" became louder. Then, only human rights activists chanted those words. This day, they are being chanted by country's political elite, top media, church, everyone. Multiculturalism was put into a pedestal. And now it's there to stay.
The most convincing argument to support multiculturalism is that it "enriches our culture". No one seems to be able to explain what this means, but it seems that having diversity is a value of its own. If there were no different people who'd act differently, we would have no diversity. And if we do not have diversity, then things are not as well as they shold be. "Multiculturalism enriches" has become an axiom that few people dare to question.
And as we now celerate our newly-gained diversity, everything that is linked to multiculturalism or ethnic groups now has a silver lining.
Women's magazines introduce stirring articles about interracial marriages. Explain procedures of converting into Islam and living happily ever after.
Traditional protestant church no longer seems to separate Islam from Christianity. Priests have become bureaucrats who perform bureaucratic tasks. If there is any spirit left anymore, it has been hidden well.
Meanwhile, there are 30.000 muslims in Finland, half of them in Helsinki. Most are Sunni, a few thousand Shias as well. City has 8 mosques. Circa 1000 Finnish have converted to Islam. Majority of them are female. Islam has become - as they now say - a religion that cannot be ignored anymore.
And similarly the immigrants themselves have become a group that cannot be ignored anymore.
ARGUMENTS FAVORING IMMIGRATION
While it is painstakingly obvious that illiterate refugees cannot do very well in Finnish jobs, country's top politicians suggest opening recruitment stations into Africa. They also suggest ethnic quotas to private companies. Another very strange derivative of multiculturalism is that environmentalists want to increase immigration because otherwise our factories may run out of workers.
Often-heard argument for immigration is that because of the distorted population aging figures, we desperately need more medical staff to exchange diapers for the elderly (sic). An obvious way to overcome this difficulty would be to educate more nursing staff, a less obvious way would be to import diaper-changing people from the third world countries only to find out later that religious beliefs of the newcomers may forbid touching nonbelievers.
Perhaps the stupidest argument favoring immigration I've heard goes like this: immigrants do well with other immigrants. And immigrants need medical services too. So if we have foreign medical staff, they do better job at assisting foreign people than local ones. While this may actually be true, the person who came up with this idea had certainly forgotted about the orginal intentions of beneficial immigration.
It seems that many people want to increase immigration, but they really cannot say why they want that. So they come up with different arguments that may or may not be mutually coherent. Some want to oppose racism. Some just want to be good. Some want to get rid of the evils and wrongdoings of the world. Perhaps they view immigration as a tool for this.
ABOUT CENSORSHIP, MIKKO ELLILÄ AND MIKA ILLMAN
I suppose that, in general, most people want to be nice. They want to refrain from anything they consider evil. The worst thinkable thing is of course Hitler and his Nazi regime. It was based on racial discrimination - so racial discrimination must be the worst possible thing there is. I know this sounds a little naive, but to my opinion, this is the mindset of many people. Critisism regarding immigration in general is considered racism. Making generalizing statements about criminal behaviour about immigrant groups is harsh racism. Referring to 110-fold robbery rate of somalis is really not an argument against whether Finland should take in more somalis or not. It is not an argument because it is a racist statement.
A Finnish professor Tatu Vanhanen studied possible correlations between IQ and wealth of nations. He was accused of ethnic agitation. Fortunately, police dropped the case but this did not save poor professor from being publicly humiliated.
During the cold war, Finland had dire straits with Soviet Union. Threat of invasion was always present. But no one ever said this aloud. People were afraid. Under the circumstances, media started to censor itself. During the following decades, the system of self-censorship became impenetrable. Big Brother was never openly criticised. Never. Soviet Union is long gone, but the same attitude persists. Only the target of this attitude has changed.
Just recently, we had this case of Mikko Ellilä who wrote a controversial text "Society Consists of People" (translation kindly provided to us by Aapo) and who is now facing an investigation by the police . It really had very little to do with Mr Ellilä's person or his claimed racism. This case was about nations legislator wanting to reduce the freedom of speech on the Internet. It was a case about legislator wanting to assign mandatory moderators for all internet discussion forums. It was a case about legislator wanting to illegalise criticism about immigration.
Please read the last sentence again.
Finland, while having most free press in the whole world, attempts to illegalise critic discussion about immigrants and immigration. State prosecutor Mika Illman:
"Making a positive statement about Finns being better than others can be allowed, as long Finns are not compared to other groups."
"In a democratic country there must be a possibility to introduce strong criticism towards government and its policies. Issues relating to immigration are part of government’s policies. If criticism relates to immigrants as well, it is acceptable as long as the criticism is not said aloud."
There you have it. According to State prosecutor Mr. Illman, criticising immigrants - e.g. about high crime rate - turns critics themselves into a criminals. Why? Why on earth would anybody want that?
Mr Illman justifies his efforts by "protection of plural society". This is pure madness. How plural can a society be, if its foundations cannot be criticised out in the open?
MRS ASTRID THORS
A couple of months ago, Parliamentary Elections were held. "Working class" parties Social Democratic Party of Finland, and Left Alliance suffered a defeat, while right wing parties Centre Party and National Coalition Party prevailed. Environmental party Green League got 8,5% of the votes, a success by all accounts.
Without the issue of immigration I would actually have been very happy with those results. Unfortunately, bad things took place because of that election. First of all, previous Minister of the Interior, Mr Kari Rajamäki had to step down. He was known for his Sarkozy-like opinions regarding immigration. A widely quoted example from him: "70% of refugee applications were without foundation." Public response was to arrange a demonstration against this "racist" minister and demand his resignation. A good man he was, but now powerless.
What did we get to replace him?
We got Mrs Astrid Thors. A good person. Only very good persons act as chair of Unicef Finland or Refugee Advisory Council. A direct quote from minister responsible of immigration issues (HS 6.5.2007 / page D4): "I wish we would stop always just investigating, whether an incoming person is a terrorist or not. We should give him a chance". She wants to increase the number of intaken refugees and allow residence permits for refugees relatives. According to Thors, the "ship should change it's course".
Just like her Swedish counterpart, Ms Nyamko Sabuni, Thors started to receive death threats because of her opinions. Maybe someone thought that Thors was - in a way - making threats to her own people. Threats received some media attention. As usual, journalists were quite eager to report about anything relating to proof of racist criminals. Too bad that all this time they have turned a blind eye to foreign racists residing in our country. If they looked more closely and unhooked themselves from their self-imposed gag order, they would come to understand that there is a growing number of crimes being committed here, and those crimes are done because of racial motives.
We have rape waves committed by ethnic groups. Gang rapes have been unheard of here. Well not anymore. Slashing achilles tendons of a rape victims to prevent them escaping. Fistulas. We have it all now.
We have immigrants who - after being introduced into professor's apartment - feel compelled to crush his skull, strangle him so that they can rob his liquor and tobacco. Farewell to Mr Kari Tikka. A family friend.
We have Ruandan baptist priest who claims refugee status. He turned out to be a mass murderer.
We have endless arrays of news describing ethnic crime (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25). And we have the media desperately trying to hide the fact that perpetrators are of ethnic origin. For some reason, media wants ethnic crime to remain hidden.
And we have a legislator who wants to make criminals out of those who say these things aloud.
It may very well be that immigration is a key for solving some of our current problems. But it may just as well be, that during the process we create a new set of problems. Unsolvable ones.
I am not against all immigration. But to my opinion, it is not possible to solve the problems of third world by importing the thirld world in here. Finland was not designed for that purpose. Finland was designed to be our home. And that's the way I want to keep it.