Sunday, June 20, 2010

The common voice of every right-thinking immigrant

An immigrant parliament is being founded in Finland, by Alexis Kouros, Umayya Abu-Hanna and a bunch of other professional multiculturalists. The idea is to have all the immigrants vote for the parliament, and have the parliament give advice to the officials and the lawmakers and propose new laws.

(Wait a minute! Propose new laws? Only the government and the MPs can propose new laws. I hope they mean "lobby for the new laws" or something.)

The new organ does not, thank God for small favors, have any financing yet. They are thinking of living off immigrants' own donations, and maybe asking the state and EU for money.

Judging from the reactions on the English-speaking and Russian-speaking immigrant forums, the immigrant donations will be just enough to buy them some coffee - if they already have a coffee machine.

As an immigrant and a Finnish citizen, my second thought was "why do I need their parliament when I can vote for the real one?". (The first thought was rather unprintable.) The immigrant parliament is supposed to represent non-citizens as well. I think that there is a very good reason why we don't let non-citizens vote on the matters of state. Surprisingly enough most non-citizens with whom I have ever discussed it understand those reasons pretty well.

The new parliament-to-be has a webpage already. There Kouros tries to explain the idea.

According to him the idea of the parliament is to give a common voice to all immigrants. The real parliament doesn't serve this purpose, because only a few immigrants can get elected and they are not necessarily the right-thinking kind of people.

Here is what he says: "Even if we had a few immigrant candidates in the parliament, that would not solve the problem of an absent, unified immigrant voice. MPs are elected by a general vote, which means that most probably the vote of the Finnish community determines who is elected."

Yeah, Mr. Kouros, the majority determines who gets elected. This is, like, the idea of democracy. And the absence of the unified voice of the immigrant community just might mean that the immigrant community does not have a fucking unified voice.

Seriously - what does the immigrant community have in common with each other? I don't even mean that some are Somalis, and some are Russians and some are Americans and some have come to work and some have come as refugees. I mean that I don't even have any voting issues in common even with my own group, the Americans who came here to work. What do we have in common to vote for? A right-wing American will vote for the right, a left-wing for the left, an environmentalist just might vote for the Greens, or maybe not, a person concerned about Islamism might vote for Perussuomalaiset or for Muutos 2011, and an American who has moved to rural Finland just might - gasp - vote for Keskusta.

Besides, the tone of Kouros's interview ("in a worst-case scenario, an anti-immigrant person, with an immigrant background may be elected") suggests that the common voice his is looking for specifically doesn't include the common voice of the immigrants who'd vote for Perussuomalaiset or for Muutos 2011.

Kouros and the other bullshit artists are not very specific as to who can vote. They say that they are trying to be as inclusive as possible, including the actual immigrants, the people at least one of whose parents was an immigrant, and people adopted from abroad. Kouros expresses hope that only the people who see themselves as immigrants will vote; Abu-Hanna says that the immigrant identity is the most important thing.

Yes, great idea: choose your voters based on how they feel about themselves and their place in the Finnish society. Then tell everyone else that they represent all the immigrants.

As an aside: how are they going to find out who has immigrant parents and who doesn't? If they can get that kind of information out of the population register, it's a bigger problem than their whole parliament.

Kouros feels that he has not been accepted as a Finn during the 20 years he's lived in Finland. If I were mean (and I obviously am) I'd say that getting a real job would be a step in the right direction.

When asked about how would the Finnish community react to this parliament, Kouros gets a bit aggressive:

"I am sure that there will be some sectors of society that will not like this project, but those are the people who don’t want immigrants to exist at all. In general, I am certain that it will be well received and appreciated."

Well, thanks for telling me how I feel about my own existence, and all those other folks on the immigrant forums as well. So far as I have seen the immigrants are in fact the sector of society who like this parliament idea the least.

Russians and the sexual market theory

Despite having lived in Russia for 16 years, I don't really know that much about the sexual dynamics there. I belonged to a minority with somewhat different sexual dynamics and was raised to believe that having sex with representatives of the majority would result of too much of a culture clash. (I think I did it just once; it resulted in being caught by the camp staff, so we didn't quite even get to the cultural differences, or to the orgasms for that matter. I've done it with some Russians after leaving Russia, but they were raised abroad and therefore quite different.)

Anyway, the sex life of Russian Russians has always been a mystery to me. Lately I have been reading Russian forums, and the mystery did not solve itself, but rather deepened.

There seems to be a belief there, both among the men and the women, that there are much fewer men than women and that the sex market there is a man's market. This is of course not really the case demographically, at least not until 40, but that's what they seem to believe.

How exactly do they reconcile the idea that you must get a man right now or else you'll run out of them real soon with the idea that of course the man has to pay for the privilege?

On a somewhat-related note: I have met many Russians (ethnic and otherwise) who have told me that they would really like to be me (in the sense of living alone in the city). The Finns and the Americans who express the preference for lone city living tend to - surprise - actually live alone and in the city. Russians express this preference more often than Finns or Americans, but for some reason don't do it that much.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Israel, alternative history, and Helen Thomas

A lot of criticism of Israel makes me wonder about the critics.

One can of course criticize Israel's policies without being antisemitic or otherwise weird. First of all, some of the things that Israel does are either ill-advised or uncivilized and deserve criticism.

Second, even when it does something that does not IMO deserve criticism, as a country that sometimes does uncivilized things under the conditions of dire necessity it still gets criticized by perfectly normal people for perfectly understandable reasons: first of all, it's hard to determine what is necessary from for away, and dire necessity seems to be a lot less dire when it is someone else's, second of all, it's sometimes hard to determine even for Israelis themselves, and third, a lot of people tend to condemn uncivilized actions even when they do believe they were necessary.

(I am not sure what to make of the current events myself; I am not well-versed in the legalities of enforcing a naval blockade, and being both of a somewhat legalistic mindset and uncivilized upbringing, tend to think along the lines of "should've let them into the territorial waters and then summarily drowned the fuckers", which is not an actual advice that I should care to give to Israelis or anyone else.)

What makes me wonder, though, is not that some people disapprove of some of Israel's policies, but that a significant percentage of them (say, a fourth or a third) seems to disapprove of the fact that Israel has any policies at all, or indeed exists. With this kind of Israel's critics any prolonged conversation at all comes to the statement that Israel should never have existed in the first place, a new state created in 1948 (as opposed to its ancient neighbors, I suppose, who were created already in 1922, 1943 and 1946).

Or at least should never have been created where it is now. Last week I talked with a woman who said just that. I asked for her suggestion for a list of better locations; she suggested Uganda, which was indeed mentioned as one possible location at the time. I did not managed to elicit from her whether (and why) she thinks Ugandans would have liked it better than Arabs did, or whether she just thinks it would have gone down better due to Ugandans being poor Black people whom nobody cares about on a continent that has so much trouble that nobody'd pay any attention.

Not that there is anything objectionable in thinking of alternative methods and better places of establishing Israel, if one is engaged in some general talk about alternative history. One should, however, first establish: better for whom: Jews, Arabs, Ugandans, Germans? World peace in general?

In the context of talking about the current politics, however, this statement is quite striking. I can think of many countries that should probably have never been established, either from the point of view of the citizenry or from the point of view of the neighbors, or both; but you almost never hear this argument about any of them besides Israel. Besides, since talking about it now is rather obviously 62 years too late, what I almost always hear behind the "it should have never been established" is "can't we just get rid of it now?"

And sometimes the idea comes out in the open. Last week Helen Thomas, who, mind you, is not a local Ku Klux Klan leader, but a well-known American journalist and a member of the White House Press Corps covering the US Presidents since Eisenhower, has had a few drinks to many on the lawn outside of a White House Jewish heritage event and and said that Israelis should get the hell out of Palestine and go home. Lest anyone should think that she meant that Israelis should get the hell out of Hebron and Bethlehem and go home to Tel Aviv and Haifa, she elaborated that "home" would be in Poland and Germany, and added "and the United States" as an afterthought.

Oh well. I guess I can only wish that Helen Thomas's home always be as pleasant, safe and welcoming as Germany and Poland were for Jews in the decade when Israel was established. I can also hope that the woman herself goes to enjoy her ancestral home in Lebanon someday.

Hmm, Lebanon. Isn't that one of the countries whose Jewish community has in almost all its entirety moved to Israel and everywhere else? I did not see them welcoming Israelis back 3 years ago. Granted, nobody welcomes the guys arriving on the bomber aircraft, but I don't see them having welcomed peaceful Israelis wishing to buy a summer cottage, either, or even to visit as tourists. Or indeed Finnish citizens with an Israeli entry stamp in their passport.

Talking about the alternative history, sometimes I wonder: what would all those alternative history lovers say if Israel actually decided to move somewhere else? Like, the whole Israeli army and the rest of the population suddenly teleporting to Poland or Germany and saying "this used to be our land, move over"? They do have a bigger army than Poland, mind you. The idea of Israelis kicking Poland out of Pomerania, Germany out of Bavaria or Russia out of Saint Petersburg has an interesting sci-fi kind of appeal, just to see what all those people who used to say that Israel should get out of Israel would say.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Go away, uncle Darwin!

I didn't want to comment on the Gaza raid, but there is another ship approaching there now. Called, of all things, Rachel Corrie.

If anyone ever again tells me that the seamen are superstitious, I'll laugh in his/her face. The name just calls for a Darwin award.

Nevertheless I wish the passengers and the crew a safe boarding and very fast journey back home after it.