Finland after April 17: Awakening phantoms of the past

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

What would Finland see if it took a long and deep look at itself in the mirror after April 17? Would it see the ogre of racism? Xenophobia? The rise of right-wing populism? Would it say in sotto voce: “Mirror, mirror on the wall whose societal values are the fairest of them all?

Optimism is an indispensable resource that humans have to pull through difficult times. When we use, however, such optimism to create wishful thinking that is when we tread into dangerous territory.

After last month’s election victory by the Perussuomalaiset,  which gained 19% of the votes and 39 MPs, what would Finland see today if it looked at itself in the mirror?

For one we’d see a slightly different country where our values of social equality and tolerance for all enshrined in the Constitution are being threatened by nationalist populist rhetoric.

Alan Bruce put it eloquently:  “Europe is being stalked by organized and pernicious forces of hatred – many of which have simply been lying low since 1945.”

Anyone who wants a glimpse of the mindset of some PS MPs, especially those that belong to the far-right Suomen Sisu association,  should acquaint themselves with the work of Alfred Rosenberg and David Duke.  The ideology of racism, anti-Semitism and White, or in the case of Rosenberg Aryan supremacy, unites both authors.

PS MP Jussi Halla-aho, one of four Suomen Sisu members who were elected to parliament, has refused publicly to condemned Rosenberg’s and Duke’s writings.

He does not because the Finnish twenty-first century context of Rosenberg and Duke are Suomen Sisu and the Nuiva manifesto.

It is widely known that Suomen Sisu is against Finns marrying foreigners. The racist views of these people, very present in Rosenberg’s and Duke’s writings, is based on the fear that white Finland will be overtaken by immigrants and Islam. Their opposition to multiculturalism can be compared, in today’s context, to the loathing  that the Nazis had of the Jews and other minorities.

Rosenberg and Duke are the antithesis of multiculturalism, which means generally accepting and living in a culturally diverse society.

The main argument of Rosenberg’s The myth of the twentieth century is that the “Aryan race” became corrupted and lost its power due to the Jews. In order to become the “master race,”  Germany had to expel the Jews from the country.

Alfred Rosenberg was tried in Nuremburg for crimes against humanity. He went to the gallows on October 16, 1946. Source: collections.yadvashem.org

Former Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke shaking hands with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Duke believes that his goal is “the advancement” of races by segregating white and black people. Is this what Somen Sisu seeks in Finland?

The same ideology, in a Finnish twenty-first century context, is being allowed through the backdoor by parties like the PS through MPs like Halla-aho and others.

It is not only unfortunate but shameful that some Finnish politicians’ lack the leadership to condemn an ideology based on far-right nationalism, xenophobia and racial myths spread by the likes of Rosenberg and Duke. Politics does make strange bedfellows but there are certain lines one cannot cross in a democracy.

Do Kokoomus, the Social Democrats and other parties believe that the Finland we are now seeing in the mirror will vanish magically with the help of wishful thinking?

Is Finland’s future being left to chance?

  1. JusticeDemon

    chairman of a committee that drafts immigration policy

    If you are referring to the Administration Committee of Parliament, then it’s a bit of a stretch to describe its terms of reference in this way. Like any parliamentary committee, the role of hallintovaliokunta is mainly reactive. It issues opinions to the plenary session of Parliament on legislative proposals that have been submitted by the government, and it may also ask the government to prepare detailed reports on general policy and on progress in implementing legislation.

  2. Hannu

    “It is widely known that Suomen Sisu is against Finns marrying foreigners”
    Can you provide some link or similar or is that “wide” just you?

    “which means generally accepting and living in a culturally diverse society.”
    Even you dont want to live “culturally diverse society”

    • Enrique

      –Can you provide some link or similar or is that “wide” just you?

      I’ve read this type of bs from James Hirvisaari and Teemu Lahtinen is in the same league. You show me a link from Suomen Sisu where they respect cultural diversity, minorities and that EVERYONE in this country is equal. Please Hannu, this is not Viitasaari.

    • Enrique

      Mikko, if a party spreads hatred, racism and excludes other groups from society by handing out myths, what should the reaction of the state be? How should other parties and common people react to such a threat? What should be the reaction of the German state be to Nazism today? Do you think that a party that was responsible for mass murder in World War 2 should be allowed to spread the same idology that led to such a pogrom? I think there are certain lines we do not cross in a democarcy: One of these are autocratic values like racism and exclusion.

  3. Mikko

    Of course if a party spreads hatred, racism or excludes other groups from the society we and the government shouldn’t tolerate this kind of behaviour. However, True Finns are not this kind of party and it sounds ridiculous that you even compare them to Nazis. Do you really think that True Finns could ever do anything what Nazis did? Nazis didn’t tolerate any other races than Aryan, forced to study only German, established one party system etc. True Finns say that you are welcome to Finland as long as you come here for the job or love (I think Soini said this), wants to give you an OPTION to study some other language than Swedish and are now discussing for common goals in the government with other parties. So, how are they like Nazis?

    You probably know that there has been lot’s of attacks to foreign- and non-foreign bus drivers lately. The worst attack was against Finnish bus driver, but because the bus driver in your giving link has immigrant background, it must be because of his race and much worse than attacking to Finnish drivers. Shouldn’t we condemn the attacks no matter the background and not pull that “racist card” every time something bad happens to immigrants? It sounds from your texts that you think immigrants are somehow better than Finnish citizen and should be treated differently. Shouldn’t we all have the same rights in this society?

    • Enrique

      –However, True Finns are not this kind of party and it sounds ridiculous that you even compare them to Nazis.

      Hi Mikko, you can say those things because you are white and a Finn. But if you were a minority the story would be different.

      Where did I call the PS Nazis? If you read carefully what I write there are members of the “natsi-henkinen” Suomen Sisu members in the PS. You have people like Jussi Halla-aho who consider Alfred Rosenberg’s and David Duke’s thought on the same league as Karl Marx. You may disagree with Marx, but he was one of many heavy weight of the nineteenth century. I highly doubt that if you placed Rosenberg and Duke next to Marx’s work that you would place them in the same league as Halla-aho tries to.

      Here is something from the JSN that may open your eyes: http://www.jsn.fi/sisalto/?id=6275

  4. Allan

    I think the Suomen Sisu respects cultural diversity – providing the culture stays where it originates.

    If you Enrique promote Jasmins blog no wonder you are on the list of kooks.

  5. Mike

    “Jussi Halla-aho, one of four Suomen Sisu members who were elected to parliament, has refused publicly to condemned Rosenberg’s and Duke’s writings.”

    Why should Jussi Halla-Aho condemn Rosenberg’s and Duke’s writings?

    It seems that people preaching equality are actually only preaching equality as long as others agree with them.

    Jut because I don’t agree with something, don’t mean I’d have any right to deny someone elses opinion (or demonize it) if it differ from mine. If I do that, I’ve already lost. If there is no debate about different opinions, there can’t be solutions either.

    I did vote PerusS in elections, and I find it extremely insulting you are trying to link PS and people who voted them to kkk and nazis. But even if I find it insulting, you have that right to think different than I do.

    • Enrique

      Hi Mike and welcome to Migrant Tales. I consider it equally insulting that a group in the PS thinks its ok to bash immigrants and Muslims because they get votes. Considering that over a million Finns emigrated from Finland and some have come back to this country to listen to “racial purity” myths and baloney is crossing a sacred line. I am one of them. But you are white and a Finn so you wouldn’t care if you voted for the PS or not. Many care and are concerned by people who belong to organizations like Suomen Sisu. And isn’t that what democracy is all about? We guard and defend our rights in order not to lose them.

  6. Toni

    I see immigration threat to finnish society. We all got our views but comparing True finns to KKK is kinda absurd. YES they got some trigger happy/rasist people. But mainly most members grudge towards EU not agaisnt foreing people

    • Enrique

      Hi Toni and welcome to our blog. Did I say that ALL PS were KKK? I did not. I just quoted the KRP and Supo on what kind of an organization Suomen Sisu is. If you like these guys that fine. We don’t because bigotry is very unFinnish. The baloney these guys try to feed the public comes from abroad. So it isn’t Finnish at all. I see Finland through our Constitution and laws. But you are also white and Finnish so you could not even begin to grasp what these people mean to minorities.

  7. Valmistuva

    I think your background as a non-Finn makes you conflate Perussuomalaiset with Nazism. Perussuomalaiset is, rather, a party valuing the agrarian and republican traditions of Finland critiquing the strong forces of middleclass liberalism and capitalism. It somewhat resembles the Democratic Party in the US before they turned liberal. Immigration, though, is an issue that cuts both ways: thus, Perussuomalaiset have also some middleclass suppporters.

    Also, it is a common enough Anglo-American trend to conflate nationalism with Nazism. Karl Popper did this as early as the 1940s; the Marxist critics did it later (because nationalism was deemed bourgeois). Modern nationalism is a German idea to be sure, but in Finland nationalism has not meant racist policies unlike in some other countries like the US (where the racist policymakers were actually quite often older liberals). Rather, born republicans, Finns often perceive that Finland should be free from any strong ruler be it the East or the West ideally if not always in practice. Different communities and different regions of Finland have traditionally been left alone from too overbearing a bureaucratic and middle class control, in strong contrast to the US for example. Regional culture has often been even opposed, generally with great approval from the people, to the more elitist and middleclass culture of Helsinki for example: witness the films by Pakarinen, Helismaa, Rautavaara and others that often speak mockingly but never with a mean purpose of “kulttuuri” or culture of big cities.

    Nationalism has been fairly easy to integrate into this mindset but it doesn’t mean Nazism or racism is the result. Nationalism has meant honest, strong leaders, great social equality because confrontational and capitalistic liberal values have been largely absent from the meainstream, great sense of communitarian presence, and a feel of local independence.

    Generally, the Finns are only now learning to debate issues. There was much less discussion going on in the past. Again unlike the US that has valued vitriolic debate for 200 years, Finland has not experienced a similar culture of discourse: silence and truth have been valued instead, and this has its benefits also. As a result, the political power struggles between different ethnicities and minority groups, together with the more massive onslaught of liberalism, capitalism and globalisation, cause conflict in the minds of many Finns. Still, the situation in Finland provides an interesting countercurrent to this development whose existence is, I think, in principle a good thing. To be sure, the future remanins unknown. I just thought to offer a little wider perspective into this issue.

    • Enrique

      Hi Valmistuva, welcome to Migrant Tales.

      Let me correct you: I am a Finn. And even if I weren’t, everybody has a right to his/her opinion. Secondly, where did I say that the PS are Nazis? You don’t have any issues with Suomen Sisu, right? Well, check out what Supo and KRP think of them. Check out this link: http://www.jsn.fi/sisalto/?id=6275

      By agrarian values do you mean Teuvo Hakkarainen? He blamed his racist outbursts on his country rural background. I have met lots of people in the countryside in Finland and they have treated people from other cultures with respect. But I do agree with you: part of the PS could be tea party.

      In the ongoing debate in Finland it depends where you are: are you the one doing the bashing or are you being bashed. That is the question.

  8. Valmistuva

    My pleasure. Enrique, you may be a Finn but I’d venture your knowledge of Finnish culture and history is not particularly thorough.

    To my knowledge Suomen Sisu has denied having anything to do with Nazism, though they are nationalists to be sure. I’d still need more substantial evidence to join Suomen Sisu and Nazism than a single interpretation of Supo’s and KRP’s views on them.

    People like Hakkarainen exist in Finland in cases where political correctness, a very novel concept in Finland and a debated one at that, doesn’t meet with people’s attitudes. In a democracy ideally there are all kinds of representatives because people are different from each other. PC can be perceived, and sometimes has, as yet another invention by “kulttuuri”. The important point is that it is hard to reconcile PC with Finland’s historical roots just like in the EU it is hard to reconcile Portugal with the Finnish ethos of thrift, hard work and de-emphasis on monetary values.

    Bashing vs. bashed… I think this is really a bit too confrontational.

    • Enrique

      –You may be a Finn but I’d venture your knowledge of Finnish culture and history is not particularly thorough.

      My knowledge of Finnish history is thorough enough. It’s funny that when you disagree with a regime or a government, one common answer is “you don’t understand.” I have studied Finnish history pretty thoroughly through many perspectives. My grandfather found in the civil, Winter, and Continuation Wars. By the same token I could state that you must be young and therefore have forgotten your history and the horrors of war.

      We are also straying away from the point. Certainly an organization like Suomen Sisu would not call itself a Nazi associaiton; a person rarely admits that he is a racist.

      You can get as much information you want on Suomen Sisu. I already have enough and many others as well.

      I recommend that you inform yourself on the issue before speaking for everyone, including myself. There is no PC when you spread myths about minorities, hatred and division. A party that does these things can never expect a colorful future.

  9. Mike

    “Hi Mike and welcome to Migrant Tales. I consider it equally insulting that a group in the PS thinks its ok to bash immigrants and Muslims because they get votes.”

    I don’t bash immigrants nor do I bash muslims. I don’t have anything against immigrants if they have valid reason to come in Finland. What I do not like is economical immigrants that come to abuse our social security system. I don’t think there are that many people who actually fall into that category, but they are handy scapegoats for those who have their agenda in stirring racial or religion based conflicts.

    To me, using those system abusers as excuse towards immigrants is not any different than using very rare few PS as trying to tie them all in kkk or nazi ideology. It all is about demonizing the opponent by opinions or actions of few and then using it to drive own agenda.

    If you are immigrant and come here by marriage, fine with me. If you come here to work as we others and pay taxes, great, welcome to build society with us. If you truly seek refugee because your life was in danger, welcome, problem with this is though that too many cases it’s not really those who need that help who end up here because they do not have money to get here… If you come here to leech social security and do crimes, no thank you, we have people like that already we do not need more of them. And if you come here do work in grey economy and not pay taxes, no thank you, you are then causing problems for others. That’s pretty much how I see whole immigration thing. And of great many people whom I’ve talked to and who voted PS think pretty much similarly. Maybe you think system abusing leeches should be let in, I don’t know?

    And about muslim/religion thing. Who ever comes here have right to worship a great spaghetti monster all I care, I don’t belong to church and as long as you aren’t trying to convert me to what ever it’s your problem what religion you belong in…

    “Considering that over a million Finns emigrated from Finland and some have come back to this country to listen to “racial purity” myths and baloney is crossing a sacred line. I am one of them. But you are white and a Finn so you wouldn’t care if you voted for the PS or not. Many care and are concerned by people who belong to organizations like Suomen Sisu. And isn’t that what democracy is all about? We guard and defend our rights in order not to lose them.”

    I wonder how many of those million+ finns emigrated to do nothing but hang out and abuse social security system in their new countries? Could you shed light on this? I just wonder… I don’t think there were that many of them, probably less than we have those that came here to abuse the system… And I hope if there were any, they got shipped back to finland…

    I don’t really care a about those who go preaching racial purity. I don’t like it nor their ideology, but I do not deny their right to preach it. I have no any moral right to raise my own opinions over others by denying theirs just because I disagree or dislike what they say. They’re only making themselves looking fool. If they are denied (by demonizing their view/opinions) to let do that, they go just underground with their hatred and they can gain hidden support there… Humans are funny creatures who often tend to turn and do what ever is denied/banned even if it wouldn’t make any sense what so ever…

    • Enrique

      Mike, could you please tell us how many are abusing the system. Can you please tell us something that we do not know and which you only know.

      If you are worried about immigrants abusing the system, why not Finns? Your views are assumptions and that is a bad way to put forth an argument. You are walking on thin ice because you are only assuming.

    • Enrique

      Allan, at least Hikipedia has a sense of humor. Thanks for making me laugh.

      The job of a blog is to be opinionated but still you should encourage people to comment no matter how much you may disagree with their point of view.

  10. Allan

    Problem is, that these kinds of blogs are the sources for media, and then media gets quoted on Wikipedia and becomes the “truth”. See the problem with that? No? OK, I’ll start a blog of deifying Videla – in Finnish, and all the newspapers in Finland will take my stance on Videla as the “truth”.

    • Enrique

      Yes, Allan, please start a blog on Videla. It’s a topical issue in Finland. Good luck.

      I have been in journalism for about 25 years and have wrote for the most important newspapers in the world. I was a correspondent in Colombia, Milan, Buenos Aires, Madrid and Helsinki. Now, you are telling me that all I have to do is make up a story and publish it on a blog and everyone will start to quote me as an authority? Wow! I wish it were that easy!

      Maybe you’ll have better luck than me. You won’t have to work that hard.

  11. Allan

    Oh, and Hikipedia is funny – it would be very offensive if you find an entry of yourself. Halla-aho has two entries, that popular!

    • Enrique

      Halla-aho is an MP. He has to take the heat. That’s part of the game of being a public figure.

    • Enrique

      I look in the mirror every day when I step our of my home. Do you? And, by the way, what I publish I do with my real name.

  12. Allan

    Hey – it is your own predicament, not anyone else to blame. If I decide to go into politics as Halla-aho in 2015 when I am 48, nobody can come ask any old idotisms, nor any idiotisms I wrote when I was 18 or 28…

    You, on the other hand need to stand behind what you write. I understand you are pretty wrong most of the time, and then you call racism when you are proved wrong? Not such a good idea, maybe you should test your theses as a pseudonym first.

    • Enrique

      Allan, good luck with your blog. My name is on everything I write. I hope that when you start to write you don’t do it behind anonymity.

      I’d be pretty disappointed. Try writing with your name. Your words have more meaning then because it carries your name.

  13. Hannu

    “–Can you provide some link or similar or is that “wide” just you?

    I’ve read this type of bs from James Hirvisaari and Teemu Lahtinen is in the same league. You show me a link from Suomen Sisu where they respect cultural diversity, minorities and that EVERYONE in this country is equal. Please Hannu, this is not Viitasaari.

    So you lied.

    • Enrique

      –So you lied.

      Could you please enlighten me and tell me how I’ve “lied.”

  14. Allan

    Come on Hannu, it is not “lying” if you believe in your own vivid imagination, if you get others to believe in your vivid imagination its called a variety of things, like “religion”, “politics” or “journalism”…

    I call it good entertainment.

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