Jay Smooth offered in early March some good points on how to spot a racist by sticking to the that-sounded-racist conversation as opposed to they-are-racist conversation. The former conversation allows you to focus on what the person said and why what they said is unacceptable. The other one will take your focus away from the issue.
Keeping this in mind, it’s easy to spot racist and unacceptable comments by politicians like Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP Jussi Halla-aho and others.
Taking the question a bit further, what does it say about the media, our politicians and society when they forget these racist rants and treat politicians who made them as if nothing happened?
It sadly reveals that if you are a white Finn you can nearly say anything you want about refugees, visible migrants and Muslims and almost get away with it. Even if Halla-aho got sentenced for ethnic agitation, the national media continues to give politicians like him inflated respectability and importance.
Searching for easy targets and scapegoats is a dangerous and slippery slope that some witnessed in last century in Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler and his henchmen were hostile to cultural diversity like some politicians and political parties in Europe today. The more they executed their plans “to make Germany Jewish and minority free,” the tighter the noose around its neck got until it snapped and become lifeless in 1945 with the fall of Berlin.
With European parliamentary elections (MEP) on May 22-25, there’s a danger that anti-immigration, far-right and nationalistic parties will make big gains.
No matter if these parties are from Finland or Italy, United Kingdom or Bulgaria, they lack credible solutions. Many voters will be shocked and disappointed if they ever get an opportunity to implement their policies.
Their negative and hostile stances on immigration and cultural diversity raise an eerie question as well. Considering that Europe already is culturally diverse, how are these parties going to make Europe white again? Are their actions and attacks against minorities going to get ever-merciless? Did Geert Wilders of the Islamophobic Party for Freedom give us a glimpse in March when he ensured supporters that there would be “fewer Moroccans” in the Netherlands?
The recognition we give people who spread racism, prejudice and hatred makes a big difference. Look at former PS MP James Hirvisaari after he was sacked from the party in October for taking a picture and posting on social media a person making a Nazi salute in parliament.
Hirvisaari, who was sentenced as well for ethnic agitation, became a political nobody and joke after he got the boot from the PS.
Contrary to Hirvisaari, Halla-aho has played his political cards differently. For Soini’s favor and protection, Halla-aho has toned down his racist rants without changing his views on “multiculturalism” and “runaway immigration.”
If you want to spot a politician who sounds racists look at what he or she said. What the person said is written in stone and can’t be denied with the usual “I’m not a racist” defense.
Here’s one of many quotes that got Halla-aho in hot water: “Robbing passers-by and living as parasites on tax money is the national, maybe even genetic characteristic of Somalis.”
In another blog post in June 2008, he wrote that the Islamic prophet Mohammed was a pedophile and that Islam was a pedophilic religion because its prophet had intercourse with his nine-year-old wife, Aisha.
Are these statements racist? Any sensible person can tell that they are because they single out, victimize and exaggerate a whole group of people. These statements weren’t made with the intention to foster healthy debate but to insult and insight ethnic and religious hatred.
Here’s another one by Halla-aho, who states that people from Africa live in the Stone Age and therefore should not live in Europe. One of the pet arguments of anti-immigration politicians is to stress how different people are in order to justify their racism of different groups. Here’s one he made in 2007:
An African who’s been brought to Helsinki from the savannah pollutes no less with his conspicuous consumption than an ethnic Finn. He will probably pollute more because moving from the Stone Age directly to the modern world, he lacks consumerism and eco-conscience, which Westerners have.
If you still have doubts whether the PS makes racist and unacceptable statements, visit The Truth about the True Finns blog and Halla-aho’s quotes (in Finnish) on Wikiquote. Read a long list of racist, homophobic, fascist and neo-Nazi quotes by PS politicians here.
Juho Eerola, who is the PS’ third vice-president, is another MP who has toned down his views. Check out what he said on Hommaforum, a hate site, on July 6, 2010:
I myself am attracted to Benito Mussolini’s fascism, and in particular the economic policy [the country] pursued. Entreperneurship was encouraged but it was under strict government control. Vital large corporations could not be owned by foreign investors but were firmly in government hands. Italy achieved during those times full employment and strong economic growth. We could learn a lot from such a model.
Apart from migrants, visible minorities or gays, the rise of the PS especially in 2011 was seen as a new and interesting addition to the Finnish political scene. Even if the PS are a knee-jerk reaction of voters to ever-growing poverty and social inequality in Finland, what is surprising is that some voters picked a party that is provincial, hostile and scapegoats migrants and minorities.
It’s no secret that the UKIP and PS are close ideological allies in Europe. The Guardian of London published an opinion piece that gave ten reasons why you should not vote for the UKIP. The exact same reasons apply to the PS.
- Its stances are bonkers
- It has nasty friends in Europe
- It’s a magnet for unsavory types here
- It has rewarded offense (in the case of the PS it has rewarded party members who have been sentenced for ethnic agitation)
- It hates the EU but cashes in
- Its MEPs are not actually worker bees
- It is vulnerable to special interest as any other party
- It speaks with fork tongues
- Its only plan is Nigel (or in the case of the PS it’s Timo)
- It makes a sensible debate on Europe less likely
Another opinion piece on the conservative Telegraph explains how UKIP’s leader Nigel Farage has taken British voters for fools.
The PS are doing the same thing in Finland. Like their ally in the United Kingdom, both parties may have their victory in the upcoming MEP elections, “but then they will begin the long march back into political obscurity,” according to the Telegraph.