Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Open your mind...

On 2.3.2009 HS has published an opinion by Jeremy Gould, an associate professor of development studies on the University of Helsinki, about how Finns have to change and open themselves to the difference.

The article is not available online, but the main points are as follows:

1. The immigration to Finland will grow in the near future, and it won't be possible to stop it. (Because of, you know, international agreements. He doesn't say which agreements. Different EU countries have very different immigration and integration policies. Now who is screaming "but with the same results" from the back row? Shame on you!)

2. Finnish people are by their nature deeply suspicious of strangers, but of course there are many different Finns and the whole idea of a monolithic Finnsh culture is an illusion.

3. It is not realistic to imagine that a) immigration would stop, b) we could send all the suspicious immigrants somewhere and c) the immigrants will magically integrate and become like Finns.

Damn, and here I thought we were doing so well with The Great Five-Year Integration Plan...

Of course, none of these statements can be really discussed, because a) total stopping of all immigration is not under discussion in anti-immigration circles, except maybe the tinfoil hat brigade, b) depends on how suspisious they are, we just sent two guys back to Somalia on a suspision that they might commit their 22d (or whatever was the count) violent crime, and c) depends on who is trying to integrate and what counts as integration.

Gould himself seems to have integrated perfectly well: he is a fine upstanding working citizen, writes good Finnish, and makes about as much sense as some Finnish social studies professors I could mention. He doesn't seem to believe that some people and groups are capable of the same, and I must say we do have quite a bit of empirical evidence that supports him.

But anyway, his conclusion: Finns must change, let go of their suspicions, open themselves to the differences and let new and pluralistics Finnishness grow and develop. Or else somebody will punch them in the nose. (OK, he puts it as "the probability of violent conflicts will grow".)

What is the man smoking? If it's not a banned substance, it damn well should be.

Now, I am not much of a strategic thinker, violent-conflict-wise. More along the lines of "hit them over the head with the backpack, kick them in the nuts and scream for the police". But what would Sun Tzu and von Clausewitz say on the subject of expecting a violent conflict and in the meanwhile letting more of the other party in? And would it even be printable?

And is the threat of violent conflict the best way of getting people to let go of their suspicions? I, for one, am generally rather suspicious of people with whom I have or expect to have a violent conflict. Most folks are, I think. Probably because those who weren't didn't live long enough to become anyone's ancestors.

And could anyone tell me what are those differences that I am supposed to open my mind to? Different skin colors? Different food? Different languages spoken in the streets? Different prayers, e.g. "O Allah, destroy the Jews..."? Different views of witchcraft, as in "witches are real and they make people's dicks disappear and let's kill them"? Honor killings? Neighborhoods that the police is afraid to visit? Burning suburbs? Bombs on the subway?

Yeah, I know, sort of concentrating on the negative by the end of the previous passage. That's because I got a feeling that when people are saying "open your mind to the differences or else" they are not meaning that I should open my mind to foreign food, foreign languages, a British coworker, an Estonian food store, a Russian book store or even an American associate professor.

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