A tempest in a teapot. Or is it more? As these eyes read it, Estonia – and Sweden, Finland, tolerant northern European countries – are in bad books these days, due to perceived slights delivered to a vocal minority. In Estonia issues presently swirl around black – and other - people being insulted by a popular satirical TV show. Last year the issues had to do with those who claim their religion demands covering the faces of women for modesty’s sake.
Do not those who choose to cloak their women pretend in a way that they do not exist? Or are there merely to provide offspring? Gott in himmel, my grandfather used to say, when faced with the world’s absurdities. To provide rights, and perhaps that should be in quotation marks, to people who have willingly chosen to emigrate – or flee, as the case may be, and they flee from repressive regimes to free ones, they then repress local freedoms - elsewhere for, perhaps, economic reasons is simply absurd.
Racism still exists today, no doubt. And both in the West as well as in the Third World. Especially in Muslim countries and Africa. India still has the caste system. On a fundamental level it is understandable that one wishes to be with one’s own kind. Immigration and the colossal refugee crisis have changed all that. Yet, why the desire to provide newcomers with “special” rights when they should learn to acclimatize, behave as others do? It is not racist to expect that a newcomer to a land behave as those who live there do, by the laws and mores present for generations. But some of these, again perhaps, economically driven newcomers think otherwise, and the bleeding hearts support them.
Point in proof. This week vocal Muslim groups assailed British PM David Cameron after he stated that he expected immigrant Muslim women in Britain to adhere to English language proficiency requirements, part of their being granted residency. One must know the language of the land, correct? Apparently some 190,000 such women, brought into the country by their spouses, do not speak English at even a pre-kindergarten level. How is this racism on Cameron’s part? Suppression of rights? When in Rome do as the Romans.
On an associated note – EMTs, paramedics in Canada’s three major cities have long warned that they are often faced with language barriers when responding to emergency calls. Everyone can dial 911 but to speak English? Is it too hard to learn, when so many others have done so? One paramedic told the press a few years ago the problem is especially acute in Chinatowns. Elderly parents have been brought to Canada by their wealthy, employed children. Needing medical help, however, they cannot provide even the basic information required. Communication cannot be a one-way street; expectations of services cannot be made without acclimatizing to the host country. At the barest minimum that demands language comprehension, if not minimum command.
It has always been a mystery, why people in free, democratic societies support Marxism. Many such vocal protesters, who would be the first to die in a GULAG or STALAG, populate universities. In tenured, highly paid positions. Totalitarianism is seriously wrong. Yet why is it that when given freedoms – fought for and won! - they are exploited by many in the intellectual class?
Ornery individuals get media attention; those who actually care and pay taxes have little say in issues such as Canada’s C-51 bill or Estonia’s summer of 2015 tempest about cloaked immigrants and what Brussels had to say about it. Sure, Estonians are leaving the fatherland in droves in search of better-paying positions elsewhere, and they need to be replaced in the workforce. (A recent study indicates that Estonia is attractive for foreign workers. Titled Estonia Offers the Most Favorable Job Prospects it was posted on the Estonian Investment Agency’s website on January 7th. The first paragraph reads as follows. “According to a study by Glassdoor / Llewellyn Consulting, Estonia is one of the countries in Europe that offers the most favorable job prospects.”)
The same applies to Canada – immigrants of all shapes, sizes and colours are working in positions that no one else wants. Kudos to them, boos to the populace. Yet that is what the government has created. Globally, this is a common worry.
To this day the double standard rules. Go to a Canadian grocery store; pick up pancake mix and rice. You meet Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, a perpetuation of racist images. They were the cooks, not white people. But is anyone complaining? No.
Yet the rights of Muslims seem to supersede those of the local people, whose ancestral lands have been opened to support the newcomers. In the case of the Schengen Zone, of which Estonia is a member, the lack of boundaries has been abused, to say the least. Something is amiss in Europe and over here.
The refugee crisis in Europe is causing much angst there. This is especially so in the post communist countries of central and eastern Europe that have not been able to bring their living standards up to those in the West and are still coping with the distortions to society caused by the nature of the communist system and occupation by a foreign power for half a century. The massive movement of such a large number of people has not been seen since the end of the Second World War.
Tiny Estonia is a country that has had its work cut out for it assimilating Slav, mainly Russian, settlers brought in by the Soviets in a deliberate attempt to wipe out its language and culture. It now has to deal with another unwelcome influx of socially backward people, this time imposed by Brussels rather than Moscow. The rationale in Brussels seems to be that since we helped you to get on your feet with fiscal transfers, you can now pay back by taking your quota of refugees. One wonders if the reason that Brussels is so willing to accommodate the influx is because of guilt about Western Europe's colonial past. France and Belgium in particular come to mind about Africa.
Yes, the numbers Estonia is required to take are tiny but so is the country and it is socially and economically still fragile and will be so for at least another generation. Hence its unease is understandable.
Unlike the western European countries Estonia for centuries was occupied by a foreign power yet it somehow against the odds managed to retain its language and culture. The tiny quota imposed on Estonia is not a threat and this is particularly so because very few of those people will want to remain there. Sweden and Germany have much better social services and there is nothing at the moment to stop people from moving there. Estonia has nothing to worry about imposed immigration; the real worry is the malevolent giant to the east that has started to rearm. Fortunately the crash in the price of oil has put a crimp on this but as we know oil prices have always been volatile...
Colour me white, it is a fact. Paint me a humanist, that is what I aspire to be. But certainly not at the advantage or disadvantage of others. A credo to follow for all of the globe’s people.
Racism: covert or overt? Expressed by whom?