For those that sighed with momentary relief and claimed that the new government’s immigration policy won’t be as bad as they expected haven’t seen anything yet. Behind the populist and nationalistic rhetoric coming from people like Perussuomalaiset (PS)* chairman Timo Soini, there’s nothing but suspicion and hostility against Finland’s migrant and ever-culturally diverse community.
What are we to make out of the new government’s policies as the mist clears? Soini gave us an eyeful Saturday when when he stated that “the blue and white” can be clearly seen in government policy.
Read full story (in Finnish) here.
What are we, Finland’s migrant and culturally diverse community, supposed to make out of such a nationalistic catchphrase?
Are we, the migrant and minority community in this country, who are struggling to survive by working and paying taxes, belong to that group that Soini labels Finnish labor?
What is even more shameful is that mainstream parties like the Center and National Coalition Party (NCP), who should know better, have with their complacent silence gone to bed with such rhetoric. The reason why they have accepted such rhetoric and a party like the PS in government is because they generally agree with the PS leader.
Of course we don’t belong to that group the PS leader and other nationalistic politicians refer to as Finnish labor. We are the enemy, the Other, those who came to Finland and stole those jobs from real Finns and caused as a result unemployment to soar). We are also the ones responsible for most of the crime and rape that occurs in this country.
We are the scapegoats.
We are the scapegoats because politicians like Soini and others haven’t effectively addressed high unemployment, kickstarted the economy and dealt with ever-growing poverty in this country. We are, therefore, the scapegoated – their failures are our fault.
We’ve been at this juncture of history before. For those old enough to remember, that period started at the dawn of World War 2 and ended in the early 1990s with the demise of the Soviet Union.
Finland’s “blue and white” was everywhere back then. Our suspicion of the USSR, coupled with our xenophobia, made it difficult draw clear lines between fascism and nationalism. The fact that the PS, which is the second biggest party in parliament, has grown rapidly since 2011 is one of the unfortunate paybacks of this lack of leadership.
In sum, that nationalistic policy during the cold war was fed by our fear of the USSR. During that seventy-year stint there was a huge sign outside Finland that reads: No trespassing by foreigners. Enter at your own peril.
This cartoon by Rabah Boussuira was published in Strange Days (1984).
The nostalgia that politicians like Soini evoke, with the help of government parties like the Center and NCP, is a return to that 70-year period when Finland was geopolitically isolated.
One of the sweet lures of that period especially for anti-immigration populists is that Finland’s foreign population was miniscule. It was a period when social policy authorities like Heikki Waris claimed that, “Racial homogeneity particularly characterizes the Finnish people who have practically no racial minorities…Consequently, racial prejudice and discrimination are nonexistent (sic!).”
A return to those days would be hell for migrants and minorities and especially Finland.
* The Finnish name of the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English 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.