If you ride a tiger it’s hard to get off
The English translation of the Chinese proverb is used when you face a dilemma or a situation you can’t get out of. It’s not that you can’t get off the tigers back, but you can’t dismount without being eaten. It means that you have to deal with the situation now or stay on the tiger, which means being influenced by forces you can’t control.
I think there are many reasons why future generations of Norwegians may face a dilemma because we didn’t deal with the situation today. Immigration could be one issue because there is a lot that doesn’t make sense when Norwegians talk about multiculturalism. The term means that immigrants don’t need to be assimilated or intergrated, not the first generation or any later generation. They would of course have to respect the laws, but there was a period when authorities seemed to allow a different standard. The problem with this view is that it’s irrelevant what Norwegians think about religious symbols in the public sphere, religious laws like sharia and alien traditions like a patriarchal society. In a multicultural society it would be concidered a violation to deny people the right to choose a minority culture and ignore everything Norwegian. We know that most Norwegians expect a lot more of the old monoculture than you could possibly have with diversity, so the welcome many Syrians have received isn’t realistic.
Many talk about how wonderful it is to help the Syrians and about how much we value ethnic diversity, but our actions say something else. Many say that we can let Syrians work, but it’s not that simple. There are Norwegian studies showing that people with a foreign name have a significantly reduced chance of being called in for a job interview when they are just as qualified. There also studies showing that first generation Africans with a degree from a Norwegian university are at the back of the line when they apply for a job. Data from Statistics Norway show that the employment rate is much lower among Asians and Africans than any other group. On top of this no one seems to concider the fact these people come from a war zone, and in a war there isn’t any difference between allies and enemies. Some will have emotional issues and may not be able to function in a job.
I read about 62 year old Maryam Mirzad recently. She came as a refugee from Afghanistan 14 years ago, and last year she was granted a loan through a government program that helps people with low income get a house/apartment. She bought an apartment, but the board wouldn’t let her move in because they didn’t think she could speak Norwegian well enough. I guess this is the small print on our welcome to Norway contract.
Many don’t realize that children born in Norway are classified as refugees. Two Kurds from Iran settled in my hometown in 2003, and their two daughters Nawjin and Hawjin were born at the local hospital in 2004 and 2006, but the whole family was deported last year. The kids may have had a chance to stay if the parents had turned them over to the Child Protection Services (CPS), but they would still have been treated as refugees and deported when they turned 18.
There’s been so many CPS-cases involving families where one or both parents are foreign citizens that some countries are publicly accusing Norwegian authorities of stealing children. That may seem like a ridiculous claim, but maybe less so after the court battle that is taking place on Iceland these days. Norwegian CPS decided to take a five year old child from an Icelandic woman and place it in a foster home, but the woman took the child back to Iceland before they could act. This is where it gets crazy. The Norwegian CPS hired a lawyer on Iceland and asked for this child to be extradited referring to The Hague Convention. The Icelandic court said yes, but the decision has been appealed. The child’s father lives in Iceland and the Icelandic CPS has said that it can provide the same services as their Norwegian colleagues, so what is this about? I assume the objective is to help a child and not win an argument.
These are just a couple of key issues that could have dramatic consequences in a couple of generations, if not sooner. This isn’t just about ethnicity and religion, but about anything we see as un-Norwegian. Sooner or later immigrants are not going to accept being treated as less than a true Norwegian.
We may in fact be creating a class system. Norway isn’t worse than other countries. This is human history, but we should still protest.