BBC: True Finns’ nationalism colours Finland election

by , under All categories, Enrique

Comment: The BBC is one of many media in Europe that will be covering the April 17 election.  It writes: “The True Finns saw political potential among the neglected people in society. Their political message is two-fold: social-democratic welfare combined with nationalism and xenophobia.”

The BBC continues by stating that Finland is officially a bilingual country but Timo Soini’s party has no room for Swedish: “It excludes Swedish as something unfamiliar to Finnish culture.”

I’ll never forget an analyst in the early 1990s who pointed out that devaluating the Finnish markka was like pissing in one’s pants in winter. At first it feels good but later on the sensation changes.

Could this be a good description of the election and especially for all those who believe that the True Finns are a sensible answer to the challenges the country presently faces?

__________

An anti-immigration party in Finland – the True Finns – has surged in popularity and could produce a surprise in Sunday’s general election, opinion polls suggest.

Read whole story.

Thank you for this link @Mastersson

  1. Hmmm

    The article is a nice piece of propaganda allright. Naturally it has no sources to back it’s claims.

    “Their political message is two-fold: social-democratic welfare combined with nationalism and xenophobia. ”

    Is it xenophobia if the current migration policies are questioned?

    “Finland is officially bilingual, but the True Finns’ nationalism has no room for Swedish.”

    This is simply not true, see below:

    “Polls suggest that most Finns share that view and want to stop the teaching of Swedish in Finnish schools.”

    The question is about mandatory swedish teaching for everyone, which has been the case for 40 years. Nobody wants to stop teaching of Swedish or even remove the official bilingual status. There is big difference.

    “Instead, young women should study less and spend more time giving birth to pure Finnish children. That is like a faint echo of Nazi ideology.”

    This claim can not backed up by any means. Nowhere has the party suggested such a silly thing. The claim is ridiculous. The way this piece of “news” is presented is like a faint echo of Nazi ideology.

    PS I’m still undecided and leaning away from the True Finns but it’s disinformation like this that make me want to vote for them.

    • Enrique

      Hi Hmmm, if you disagree with the BBC why not write them a letter? Explain to them that the True Finns are an open and immigrant-friendly party.

  2. JusticeDemon

    There is nothing that gets under the skin of the average Finn more effectively than the way the country is portrayed by the international media.

  3. Jonas

    I have to agree with JusticeDemon, and this article gets very much under my skin. However, not because it is full of factual errors (Jan Sundberg is a highly respected academic and is often also in the domestic media) but from the shame and embarrassment. It is truly a blow to our international reputation that we are (probably) about to elect so many True Finns to our parliament. We are going down the same road as Denmark and I find that difficult.

    Hmmm, many, many of the True (Basic) Finns’ candidates views are to eradicate Swedish as national language from our country. Don’t forget that many belong or are connected to Suomen Sisu and Suomalaisuuden Liitto , both organisations which have written some horrendous things about the Swedish language in the past. In any case, if you abandon teaching of the other national language, it will lead to having to grant many dispensations to civil servants that can’t – as required – use the other language, this in its turn will lead to calls for the requirement to be abandoned as unworkable. Once abandoned, Swedish-speaking citizens and residents will find it practically impossible to receive services in Swedish. The state simply won’t have anyone to deliver them. When such a thing happens, Swedish will be an official language only on paper, so it won’t be much of a leap to abolish it entirely. I am sure this is the dream of many a True Finn.

    • Enrique

      Hi Jonas, I totally agree with you. Here we see how some like the True Finns have poisoned our society. They attack one group but then that encourages them to go after everyone. To the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland, I encourage you to fight tooth for your rights. If you give in an inch to the True Finns, who want to undermine the role of the Swedish language in Finland, they will end up relegating you, as you pointed out, “an official language on paper.” Spreading hatred and suspicion of other groups rubs off on everyone.

      What do you think that the DPP of Denmark think about the True Finns’ plan to shelve the Swedish language in Finland?

  4. Niko

    I don’t know should I laugh or cry because of the article. “Hmmm” said quite well what is untrue in it.

    Enrique, why do you support mandatory Swedish? What is wrong if Finns want to choose some other, more useful language instead of it? I would say that English, Russian, German, Spanish and many other languages are much more useful nowadays than Swedish. Many people who actually study Swedish in school don’t use it after graduation, because English is used everywhere nowadays and even in Sweden you can speak English.

    • Enrique

      –Enrique, why do you support mandatory Swedish? What is wrong if Finns want to choose some other, more useful language instead of it?

      Niko, why do you support mandatory Finnish? Shouldn’t that be an elective?

      If you do away with mandatory Swedish that will be a coffin in the grave of that official language. Moreover, if it is the True Finns that are lobbying for this vociferously it becomes even more suspect.

  5. Hmmm

    “Explain to them that the True Finns are an open and immigrant-friendly party”

    Why would you stoop to such bipolar thinking? Can’t you see that there is a middle ground between truely xenophobic (this word is seriously suffering from inflation due to miss use) and overly open and immigrant-friendly ends? Fortunately none of the bigger parties in Finland represent these extreme ends. Explaining that to the BBC would more realistic although I doubt it would do any good.

    JusticeDemon:

    There is some truth to what you’re saying. But if you’re referring to my post, you’ re mistaken. My point has more to do with the way misinformation is created even by the “official” or supposedly neutral information sources such as BBC. Then there are some who seem to think that it’s ok to knowingly use such misinformation as long as it’s beneficial to their agenda. I guess the logic is that the end justifies the means.

    In general I’m amused that both extreme ends often accuse the other end of using misinformation to promote their views while at the same time doing the exact same thing. But what’s really worrying is that the “neutral” players are also getting their hands dirty… and often with the tax payers money.

    • Enrique

      –Can’t you see that there is a middle ground between truely xenophobic (this word is seriously suffering from inflation due to miss use) and overly open and immigrant-friendly ends?

      Hmmm good point. Are the True Finns a xenophobic party? I think we have mentioned on numerous occasions that the Suomen Sisu wing is. They are openly Islamophobic and Soini has used this group to lure votes to his party. I would not call that very honorable.

      You have to take into account also that people that live in culturally diverse societies such as England or the United States have formulated a pretty good picture of what racism is. I personally feel that we have to be adamant when it comes to civil liberties and spreading “urban myths” about immigrants as is sadly the case. As Finland becomes more culturally diverse the less it will approve statements in the style of Halla-aho, Hirvisaari and Lahtinen. They are all Suomen Sisu members. Lahtinen is known to like IKL, a Mussolini-inspired association that saw its heyday in the 1920s.

      There was a story in HS that pointed out that some of the books that Suomen Sisu follows were Alfred Rosenberg and David Duke of the Klu Klux Klan.

      A bit fishy, no?

  6. Niko

    – Niko, why do you support mandatory Finnish? Shouldn’t that be an elective?

    Because 92% of people speak Finnish as their first language? If I would be living in Sweden, I wouldn’t demand that they have to study Finnish as their second language. Me and my children should learn Swedish in that case. Same thing in any other country as well. Finnish and Swedish are not important languages in global world and I think nobody should be forces to study it, except he/she wants it. These languages should be only mandatory in those countries where majority are using it as their first language.

    And no, mandatory Swedish can’t be compared with other mandatory subjects in schools, because, for example, math is an universal subject.

    • Enrique

      –These languages should be only mandatory in those countries where majority are using it as their first language.

      Niko, no matter how much of a majority of Finns speak the Finnish language as their mother tongue, history will always unite us to Sweden. By that same token we also have cultural ties with Russia. Finland’s two official langauges are Finnish and Swedish. Maybe you could have resolved the matter by doing it the USAmerican way. Nowhere is it mentioned in the constitution that Englsih is the official language.

  7. JusticeDemon

    I return to my challenge expressed here some time ago. Which political party should a Nazi vote for tomorrow? Which one has a programme and candidates with views that are correspond most closely to a neofascist and xenophobic agenda? Which party should you support if you hate Moslems? Which party is most likely to stop coloured immigration? Which party is most likely to repeal the laws that ban hate speech? Among which party’s supporters are you least likely to be criticised for expressing racist and xenophobic views?

  8. Niko

    – Niko, no matter how much of a majority of Finns speak the Finnish language as their mother tongue, history will always unite us to Sweden.

    Shouldn’t we look in the future and not in the past? Swedish was an useful language maybe 30-40 years ago, but even then Russian would have been more useful. I don’t want that you couldn’t study Swedish language, but it should be optional. For example, Russia would be much more useful in East-Finland, because we have many Russians living there.

    • Enrique

      –Shouldn’t we look in the future and not in the past?

      We should not forget our history, which helps us understand the future. I really am skeptical that Finns will embrace Russian in eastern Finland. It’s not so much a mandatory/elective language issue but goes much deeper: we are proud and encourage the Swedes, Finns and everyone who may live here to live in a country that it acceptant of others.

      The same things you speak of about why we should let go of Swedish was used in eastern Finland with Russian. How do you think the Swedish-speaking Finns think about such a suggestion? We have to have a major rethink about Russia and forgive what happened in our history order to embrace the Russian language in earnest. Is that happening especially these days with the True Finns on the rise?. No. All we are hearing from Timo Soini’s party is a lot of nationalistic double-talk that hides the real motives. Here is an example of that double-talk: Soini suggests he’s against Islamophobists like Halla-aho but does nothing to discourage people like him. Where does that put him?

      The issue is more complex than some think. There is more at stake than language.

  9. Hmmm

    “A bit fishy, no?”

    Yes, if you can show that Soini actually has actually “used this group to lure votes to his party”. I think he has called them “propellipää” which is not a positive name to call anyone. Also, as far as I know, Sisu is a very disorganized group, mainly active in the internet forums. I would dare to say that the voters of many parties include persons who participate in the Sisu forums. BTW, is Sisu active in any other ways? Anyway, IMO it’s a far stretch to claim PS a xenophobic party because some of the voters belong to the Sisu.

    On a side note, people excessively using [insert word]phobia words should really look into the definition of phobia.

    “Which one has a programme and candidates with views that are correspond most closely to a neofascist….”

    That’s like asking which party has a programme that resembles most closely to the party programme that resulted in the genocide in the USSR. Or alternatively asking which resembles a car more, a plane or a space shuttle.

    • Enrique

      Hmmm, here is one of the big questions being debated: Some claim that the True Finns’ anti-immigrant stand has been a driving force in its popularity starting from Toni Halme. Soini claims that only 10% of the party’s support comes from anti-immigration. Which do you believe? Have you ever read what Halla-aho and James Hirvisaari write? Aren’t you worried that Teemu Lahtinen is an IKL admirer?

      The whole issue I think boils down to the following: Since you aren’t a Swedish speaking Finn and since you aren’t an immigrant, a Jew, a Muslim, a minority on the receiving end, it may be difficult for you to see how some feel about what is spoken in public. That is why an immigrant would see the True Finns more of a threat than probably a person like you.

      I personally think it is pretty incredible that some Finns, who are even candidates for parliament, belong to organizations that have Alfred Rosenberg and David Duke on their shelves. I think it is incredible that a person like Teemu Lahtinen can come out and state that schools should not encourage children to get married with non-Finns.

      As I mentioned, some people who have lived in multicultural societies (demographically speaking) have a lower threshold for racism. I, for instance, grew up during the civil rights movement period in the United States. It taught me a lot.

  10. JusticeDemon

    Hmmmm

    I can ask that question too. Which political party in Finland is most Stalinist in its outlook? For example which one has proposed that funding to the arts should be allocated according to defined cultural preconceptions?

    Why are you afraid of answering my question? Which current Finnish political party or candidate should a Nazi support?

  11. Hmmm

    “Which political party in Finland is most Stalinist in its outlook?”

    If you look at the whole program, probably SKP.

    “Why are you afraid of answering my question? Which current Finnish political party or candidate should a Nazi support?”

    I’m not. Why the attitude? Probably one of the small right wing parties. But the questions are, IMO, irrelevent and pretty far fetched since none of the official parties’ programs come close to the mentioned examples.

    That’s a good point, Enrique, meaning the point of view of an immigrant. But the POV -argument is valid the other way around too. As a Finn, knowing Finnish mentality, I’m really not that concerned that the radical wing of PS would gain much power in the party itself, let alone the parliament or government.

    “I personally think it is pretty incredible that some Finns, who are even candidates for parliament, belong…”

    I think that the option of excluding “undesired” people out of the system would be even more incredible. I’m not that fond of the likes of Lahtinen either, but they have the right to express their opinion.

  12. Mary Mekko

    What did growing up in the civil rights period here in USA teach you? What a “white” girl like me learned in 1970’s San Francisco (although we considered ourselves Irish because of immigrant parents, never “white”), was that we would be the victims of black male aggression as retribution for wrongs committed in the South some 100-plus years earlier. We, the immigrant children born with fair skins, should be subjected to ridicule, foul language, hair pulling and other harassment daily on public buses and on the streets. It was cruel and nasty, right there on the level that the Jews received in the beginning of the Nazis’ laws against Jews in Germany. So what I learned, I can tell you, is that one must defend one’s self, and above all, speak truth, call a spade a spade. If there is intolerance in the so-called “persecuted” group against the dominant group, say it, don’t act as if it is not happening. I saw with my own eyes on the Metro in Helsinki that the Somali men were eyeballing and harassing non-dark Finns, and none were fighting back against it, until I started shouting at them in English on that platform (Roihuvuori). Finns are too passive for their own good. That is what I learned in multiracial Frisco.

  13. Risto Kivilainen

    Niko. You seem to know absolutely nothing about any of the history of the situation. Swedish use to be the official language and alot more Finns use to speak it, until many Finland swedes changed their surnames to Finnish and changed their language to Finnish also during the last great surge of true Finnishness. The Finland Swedes have been around in Finland as long as the so called True Finns. The Finland Swedes lived in the west and southern coast and The Finns lived in the other parts of Finland , the finns then spread out.This issue is about wiping out a culture and language that belongs in the country, after the Finnish war there is suspect of a sort of ethnic cleansing (thats not the correct word) by moving large amounts of Finnish speaking Karalians into Swedish speaking areas. Dont try to use the Finns in Sweden argument as the Finns moved there in the 1970s.

    • Enrique

      Hi Risto Kivilainen and welcome to Migrant Tales. It is lamentable, shameful and outrageous that in today’s Finland we are debating the role of Swedish in our country. Discussing the role of Swedish at school is the same as asking if we should teach Finnish to our children. Much of the discussion surrounding immigration in Finland is full of holes and lack of knowledge of one’s history.

  14. Toni

    >It is lamentable, shameful and outrageous that in today’s Finland we are debating the role of Swedish in our country. Discussing the role of Swedish at school is the same as asking if we should teach Finnish to our children.

    It is not the same. If we were liberal we could have a choise what to study at school. If someone wants to study Swedish or Russia instead of Finnish it should be possible…

  15. Touke

    Liberal, Freedom of choise = majority voice
    Right?
    We have been under Russia too, but we dont teach mandatory Russia?
    That is ridicolous, i have to say.
    Welcome everyone Finland, where language is Finnish (suprise?)
    I dont have anythin agains Swedish or their language but it should not be mandatory in our schools, personally hate it at my time.
    And these finnis/swedish, their language here is not correctly real finnish or swedish language all, if you use swedish what you have learned in Finland, they laugh you at Sweden.
    So come on, now you have to stop dreamin and start to think big picture.
    There is no use for mandatory swedish for finnish schools, that is waste of majority time, it is our problem that minoritys do get these incredible things go through in our system, that should end, please.
    i am sufferin, really…..
    mandatory swedish = importance of culture, important basis for an Finnishness
    Oh come on, you cant be serious………
    I think we could use English language as mandatory, others would be optional.

    Best regards, Simple Finnish

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