Finland and the far-right threat posed by Halla-aho and Niinistö

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

Social Democrat Party presidential hopeful, Paavo Lipponen, has been the most outspoken candidate about the threat of the far right in Finland. On a television debate Thursday, he accused Perussuomalaiset (PS) party far-right MPs like Jussi Halla-aho and Jussi Niinistö of hiding behind Timo Soini of boosting the PS leader’s as well as the party’s popularity.  

Setting aside his Islamophobic rhetoric, Halla-aho suggested recently that the Greek military should overthrow the elected government. Contrarily Niinistö  is on another crusade to weaken the role of the Swedish-speaking minority in this country.

Niinstö’s far-right credentials come from his association with Suomalaisuuden liitto (Association of Finnish Culture), where he is a board member. Suomalaisuuden liitto is an association that was founded in 1906 but is today firmly under the control of the PS. One of its board members is Teemu Lahtinen, a PS member who belongs to IKL, a fascist party founded in the early 1930s.

Believe it or not, both Halla-aho and Niinstö chair the all-important administrative and defense committee of parliament.

Below is a joint campaign ad for the April 17 election by Halla-aho and Lahtinen. The Hindi turban used on the potato shows the extent of their ignorance. I apologize for the racist nature of the video clip.

It would be naive, even reckless, to think that the PS in general and some of its members in particular are not flirting and promoting far-right ideology.

Niinstö’s political colors became evident on September 12, when he stated in parliament Nazi playwright Hans Johst’s Schlageter, “Wenn ich Kultur höre … entsichere ich meinen Browning” (“Whenever I hear of culture… I release the safety-catch of my Browning”). 

Niinstö substituted the word “culture” in Johst’s play for parliamentarism.

Certainly Niinstö never mind Soini will never admit they are promoting far-right nationalism at the cost of minorities and our noble Nordic social welfare democracy.  If you ask them, they will tell you with a poker face that they are fighting for your rights. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There is one quote by Adolf Hitler and another one by Hermann Göring that help shed light on the sad state of Finland and Europe today. The first one by Hitler is how far-right groups spread urban myths about immigrants and minorities today: Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.

The second one by Göring shows how the far right lures new followers:  The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

    • Enrique

      –Perhaps Klay will explain what the crowd is chanting at the beginning of that Halla-Aho video clip.

      I think it would be a good idea, JusticeDemon.

    • Enrique

      Hi Kati, welcome to Migrant Tales! Es un gusto verte por acá también.

  1. Addi

    How sad and disgraceful these politicians and their followers who subscribe to such beliefs are to Finland. Unfortunately, I am not unfamiliar with Jussi Halla-aho. In fact, one of my mother’s distant cousins, Jussi Sippola, was the judge in the Helsinki district court who ruled that Halla-aho acted with the intention to blaspheme and imposed a fine on him back in either 2009 or 2010, I believe it was.
    Anyway, here in the U.S. today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday. I’m reminded of part of a speech that our president gave back in 2008 before he was elected president. It is still relevant today.:
    ” ‘Unity is the great need of the hour’ is what King said. Unity is how we shall overcome. Unity is the great need of the hour – the great need of this hour. Not because it sounds pleasant or because it makes us feel good, but because it’s the only way we can overcome the essential deficit that exists in this country [America].
    I’m not talking about a budget deficit. I’m not talking about a trade deficit. I’m not talking about a deficit of good ideas or new plans.
    I’m talking about a moral deficit. I’m talking about an empathy deficit. I’m taking about an inability to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we are our brother’s keeper; we are our sister’s keeper; that, in the words of Dr. King, we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny.” ~ Senator Barack Obama, 1/21/2008

    January 12 at 1:52am · Like

  2. Allan

    In the USA Halla-aho would not have been sentenced, as there is a thing called “freedom of speech”. The whole clause of “blasphemy” is outdated, if there is a God, then that God can deal the punishment by throwing thunderbolts.

    The only thing discraceful is not the sad cohort of remnants of the 70’s communist movement writing this kind of libelous articles, but someone actually believeing them. Halla-aho’s comment of Greece was related to the inability of the government to make decisions that will make them loose support. Which the next week saw a cabinet crisis. A little piquant detail is that Greece is buying 400 leopard tanks, a few submarines and fighter jets with its bailout money.

    What comes to Niinisto’s comment on “parliamentarism”, that was directed against taking the decision power away from the people to political party elite, but you sad communists never believed in democracy, as long as your party was ruling.

  3. justicedemon

    Allan

    I don’t think there are any regular contributors to this blog who are Communists. Are you sure you posted your message in the right place?

    As for freedom of speech in the USA, Allan, I suggest you go to a crowded Broadway theatre and shout bomb! as loud as you can. You will probably end up in Gitmo, where you can while away the hours, days and years thinking about your rights.

  4. Allan

    And justicedemon, how does crying a bomb in broadway got anything to do about describing what a man in his 40’s having sex with a 9-year old is?

  5. Roger Roger

    Hi Justicedemon,

    need some legal advise in case of discrimination at work, If you could help me in this matter then please do send me an email message at ae_koho@hotmail.com and I shall reply with my matters.

    sorry Enrique for unusual comment on this post, I was looking for Justicedemon all over the place, so, found just here. You can delete my comment later, as I am hopeful he’ll contact me !!!

    • Enrique

      Hi Roger Roger, no problem. We’re happy that you found JusticeDemon. I am certain he’ll get in touch with you.

  6. Allan

    “Are you sure you posted your message in the right place?”
    Just as a warning for English-speaking people, as the Finnish speakers can read all this off SAFKA already. Another quality site on Finnish politics!

  7. justicedemon

    Allan

    1) So tell us: who are these Communists? Go on – give us another laugh.

    2) You are either talking about Jouko Petri Jaatinen or you are unbelievably ignorant of historical context. I don’t think Richard II was in breach of Canon Law, but I might be wrong about that.

    3) I doubt that most Finnish speakers can make much sense of the SIF website, even if they completed their B3 course in Russian at Senior High School.

  8. Addi

    I actually find it very unfortunate that hate speech is considered free speech here in the U.S.. Words are powerful and can influence and/or motivate others to act out in a violent manner. When someone verbally provides the supposed argument and/or “justification” for violence, then the only thing missing is the gun or the bomb. The people who engage in hate speech know exactly what they’re doing, and they just sit back and wait for some lunatic to act on their hateful, violent words.

    In January of 2010, the Supreme Court Of The United States ruled that placing limits on independent spending by corporations for political purposes is somehow a violation of their 1st Amendment right to free speech. So, corporations in the U.S. have been granted the same right to free speech that human beings living in the U.S. have, and they can now purchase elections. Should free speech = unlimited political donations too?? Uh, no…that’s just wrong. Just because it’s “legal” doesn’t make it right or moral!

    • Enrique

      –In January of 2010, the Supreme Court Of The United States ruled that placing limits on independent spending by corporations for political purposes is somehow a violation of their 1st Amendment right to free speech.

      That is unfortunate. Is that what they call leveling out the playing field?

      Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower, both Republicans, warned us about the role of big business and the industrial-military complex in destroying a country. Here is the link: http://wp.me/p4UBR-22s if you are interested.

  9. Addi

    “That is unfortunate. Is that what they call leveling out the playing field?”

    Heh…in reality, of course, this ruling serves to tilt the playing field even MORE in favor of the corporations and big banks. It basically redefines corporations as people and assigns rights to them that, prior to the ruling, were only constitutionally guaranteed to human beings. It was both a sad and totally absurd day for democracy in America. In fact, President Barack Obama took the unprecedented step of calling out the justices of The Supreme Court of The United States during his 2010 State of The Union Address just a couple of weeks after the court handed down this ruling.
    “President Barack Obama stated that the decision ‘gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington — while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates’.[41] Obama later elaborated in his weekly radio address saying, ‘this ruling strikes at our democracy itself’ and ‘I can’t think of anything more devastating to the public interest’.[42] On January 27, 2010, Obama further condemned the decision during the 2010 State of the Union Address, stating that, ‘Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law[43] to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.'”
    Now here’s the leading Republican candidate for president in our 2012 presidential elections telling a group of people that corporations ARE people. It’s so insane. http://youtu.be/KlPQkd_AA6c

    Thanks for the link, Enrique. What’s even more sad is that in this day and age today’s Republicans would think that Lincoln and Eisenhower were left wing extremists/socialists. Even Ronald Reagan would be too liberal for America’s far right extremist Republicans. We no longer have “moderate” Republicans. Hahaha, unless you count President Barack Obama.

  10. justicedemon

    That’s largely a debate about semantics. In law a person is simply anything that can be the bearer of rights. Corporations are also persons in law, and may hold rights (patents are an obvious example) that do not belong to any of their shareholders or even to their shareholders collectively.

    It is only because a corporation is a person that it can be sued, and there is no conflict or contradiction implied in a lawsuit brought by shareholders against the corporation that they own. In fact this is something that happens quite often.

    If the statute draws no distinction between natural persons and bodies corporate, then the default view must be that their rights are the same. Mutatis mutandis, of course (e.g. it is silly to say that a corporation has the right to family life), but if the case concerned the right to dispose of property by making donations, then the court would normally affirm this unless there is a statute to the contrary.

  11. justicedemon

    So none of our readers can recognise what the crowd is chanting at the beginning of that Halla-Aho video clip?

    That silence speaks volumes for the poor educational standard of some of our more rabid contributors on one of their favourite subjects.

  12. Addi

    This ruling by the Supreme Court Of The United States is about much more than semantics.
    Corporations are not people and money is not speech.
    Via J. Bookman:
    “The notion that corporations — a useful legal fiction created by government — should have the same rights as natural human beings would have astounded Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and John Marshall. The theory of natural rights that animated the Declaration of Independence proclaimed that it is people and only people who are endowed with inalienable, natural rights. At the time, they did not even extend that theory to apply to those people who were held as slaves.
    Corporations are not natural persons with rights inherent in their existence.They are our creations.
    Yet at its core, the Supreme Court’s majority decision attempts to erase that distinction and give corporations and people equal standing. The judges proclaimed point blank that it is in fact unconstitutional to treat corporations and people differently in matters of political speech:
    ‘Premised on mistrust of governmental power, the First Amendment stands against attempts to disfavor certain subjects or viewpoints or to distinguish among different speakers, which may be a means to control content. The Government may also commit a constitutional wrong when by law it identifies certain preferred speakers. There is no basis for the proposition that, in the political speech context, the Government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers. Both history and logic lead to this conclusion.’
    In other words, inanimate, lifeless corporations cannot be ‘disfavored speakers’ under the Constitution. They must be given the same natural rights as human beings.
    Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the minority, is clearly confounded by what his colleagues are attempting:
    ‘Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed
    and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure,and instrumental orientation of corporations raise legitimate concerns about their role in the electoral process. Our lawmakers have a compelling constitutional basis, if not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate spending in local and national races.’
    To rule that Congress cannot limit the rights of corporations that are invented by man and controlled by man — to endow those legal fictions with the same natural rights as living, human beings — is absurd. To claim the U.S. Constitution as the basis for that ruling is an outright fabrication.”
    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/12/corporations-people-and-truth/

  13. Allan

    JD – my puter lacks a sound card. I can make a “wild guess” they might be chanting “mestari” – just because I happen to know an inside joke. If its not that, then what are they chanting?

  14. justicedemon

    Addi

    The point is that the distinction between ‘preferred’ and ‘disfavoured’ speakers must be made by statute: either ordinary or constitutional. It seems to me that your problem is the peculiar formulation of the US Constitution on this point (Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press). This prevents the enactment of ordinary statutes that draw a distinction between preferred and disfavoured speakers. This constitutional amendment took effect in 1791 and seems, in my view, to be in dire need of modernisation.

    The corresponding clause in the Finnish Constitution reads as follows:

    Jokaisella on sananvapaus. Sananvapauteen sisältyy oikeus ilmaista, julkistaa ja vastaanottaa tietoja, mielipiteitä ja muita viestejä kenenkään ennakolta estämättä. Tarkempia säännöksiä sananvapauden käyttämisestä annetaan lailla.

    and I would translate this as:

    Everyone shall enjoy freedom of expression. Freedom of expression shall include the right to express, disseminate and receive information, opinions and other communications without prior hindrance from any quarter. More detailed provisions on the exercise of freedom of expression shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament.

    The Finnish document is [much] more modern, and reflects the kind of problems that arise with freedom of expression in practice. Most particularly, it stresses that there shall be no prior hindrance (such as closing down a newspaper for what you think it might otherwise be likely to print), but this does not mean that there can be no consequences to free expression. People remain responsible for their words, and Parliament is free to specify the criminal and civil consequences of certain forms of expression. Indeed it has done so, for example, in the form of laws governing individual and collective defamation, and incitement to hatred and violence.

    One of the more amusing things that we have to deal with in Finland is the influence of USAmerican TV shows on the civil rights awareness of the general population. Most of the freedom of expression nonsense spouted by our testosterone-poisoned neonazi friends is based on the idea that we should be free to say what we like whenever we like and to suffer no consequences for doing so: in other words very much the unsophisticated US view. When you point out that this means freedom to shout ‘bomb!’ in a crowded airport or to telephone the emergency services every five minutes because you’ve lost the TV remote control unit, then they get upset and explain that what they really want to do is publish racist literature.

  15. justicedemon

    Allan

    It’s a very famous religious verse called the Shahada. You might hear it, for example, when the workers in a rail track gang are working in pairs, hammering in the spikes that secure the rails to the sleepers.

  16. Addi

    Well, here in the U.S. hate speech is considered free speech, but there remains a widespread fundamental misunderstanding of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It protects people from the government interfering with and/or censoring a person’s freedom of speech, expression…etc. That does not mean that private citizens, private businesses, private organizations or other private establishments, not owned and/or operated by the government, cannot censor offensive, hateful speech. Most Americans do not understand this, however, and will screech about how you’re inferring with their First Amendment rights if you choose to delete, censor, or block their hate speech. As a private citizen, you do have to guard against say or doing anything that smacks of discrimination.

    I still insist that corporations are not people, and money is not speech. Sure “corporate personhood” exists for a few specific legal reasons, but I disagree with this ruling. I believe that the SCOTUS is sadly mistaken here.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2010/01/money_isnt_speech_and_corporations_arent_people.html

  17. Allan

    Justicedemon – the problem is the people making these laws governing “individual and collective defamation” – I would guess this blog would have been sued for collective defamation of the Finns in the 1950’s. Twenty years later it became fashionable to be a sad Finland-hating git. Times change and opinions change. The US constitution is far better as it provides a continuity of the freedom of expression regardless of who happens to be deciding to be the moral police.

  18. justicedemon

    Allan

    You still haven’t learned the difference between government and the rule of law.

    You are quite free to lodge a complaint with the police or public prosecutor concerning your complaint of collective defamation against Migrant Tales (not “sue”, by the way: this is not a civil claim). Go ahead, but be warned: if all you have to offer by way of evidence is your usual Gish Gallop, then you’d better be ready to pay a fine or spend up to three years in prison for filing a knowingly unfounded report of a crime (section 6 of chapter 15 of the Finnish Penal Code). Failing to pay attention in your civics class at senior high school is at best a plea in mitigation.

  19. justicedemon

    Addi

    There is no question that a body corporate has legal personality. Look at it this way: large businesses would love to lose their mature legal personality and secure the legal status of infants, thereby becoming immune to prosecution and civil claims. To give a topical example, I’m sure that Costa Cruises would be only too happy to deflect its strict liabilities onto Francesco Schettino alone.

    Corporate bodies in general (this also includes associations and clubs) are established by law, and the division of liabilities between the corporate body and its individual members or shareholders is also specified by law. A corporate body has rights and duties that are separate and distinct from those of its members. It is up to the legislature to define the rights and duties of corporate bodies in relation to their members and to society as a whole, and indeed there is a huge volume of legislation (broadly called “business law”) that seeks to do this. The wording of the First Amendment to the US Constitution now appears to be an obstacle that prevents the legislature from doing so in certain ways. The more modern Finnish Constitution constitutes no such impediment.

    It occurs to me that business corporations are established for a commercial purpose and that their members should be entitled to require them to adhere to that purpose. Political donations are funds that would otherwise be paid to shareholders in dividends. It would not be unconstitutional in any obvious sense to introduce a statutory requirement that every shareholder must individually consent to each political donation made by a corporation. The counter-argument that political donations create a more favourable business climate need not necessarily outweigh the right of shareholders to enjoy their property, nor their right to be consulted as to the disposition of that property.

    Think this through and I think you will agree that the basic problem is very largely a democratic deficit in corporation structure.

  20. Addi

    Believe me, I’ve been thinking it through for many different reasons on many different levels, and corporations are not people and money is not speech. I work in finance and this issue is getting so very confusing…makes my darn head swim because as one analyst put it, “If corporations are ‘people,’ then why don’t they use our human tax tables? Unless they are married (merged) or head of household, I’d think that they should pay at the single rate. There should be no ‘corporate’ tax rate, since they are just like the rest of us. I don’t dare to think of the tax write-offs, but perhaps the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) rule that some have to follow would be appropriate. When corporations can’t exempt themselves from the AMT, they pay at a rate lower than many humans do, and that is after they file for the foreign tax credit, if they can. It does seem a bit unpatriotic to be willing to pay other countries’ taxes and then complain about ones in the country that you call home. We human beings are paying for the roads that the company trucks are driving on, among other perks that some corporations get for free…” Ugh, I can’t think about this anymore. Tax season starts soon. 🙂

  21. justicedemon

    Allan

    That’s not the sound of a riot. Any more than a discussion over the price of muikku in Kuopion Tori is the prelude to a knife fight.

    You are hearing what you want to hear. If your own background and prejudices were different, then you would hear something else entirely. Like those loonies that play Led Zeppelin classics backwards to find secret messages.

    Similarly, you could probably not imagine how anyone could ever feel threatened by a crowd waving flags and singing Den glider in.

    What you hear depends on who you are.

    This is all part of the psychology of prejudice. We can define populism as the cynical and conscious exploitation of prejudice for political gain. This election video seems to be a textbook example.

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