Finland votes on April 17: Stoking the flames of bigotry

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

Finns will go to the ballot boxes on April 17 and some are predicting a big victory for the populist True Finns, a party which bases much of its  campaign on anti-EU rhetoric as well as nationalism, conservative values, anti-immigration and Islamophobia.  The good news is that the majority of Finns have given them the thumbs down.

Researcher Vesa Puuronen said in an interview on Sunday in Mikkeli-based daily Länsi-Savo that the Islamophobia gripping some parts of Europe is similar to what happened in this continent in the 1930s. “I fear that it (right-wing populism) will rise (elsewhere) and could grow in Finland,” he was quoted as saying in Länsi-Savo. “I hope we’ll pull through this with less damage than from the right-wing populist wave of the 1930s that caused a calamity throughout Europe and the world.”

Another important matter to take into account is that researchers like Puuronen believe that racism based on culture and religion is as dangerous as what eugenics brought us before World War II. One of the favorite pastimes of these questionable “men of science” was classifying and justifying “racial” superiority.

One of these “researchers” of eugenics in Finland was Rolf Nordenstreng. This was the level of his observations: “You cannot expect intelligent children from a Gypsy horse thief and a promiscuous Negro wife (sic!).” (Nordenstreng, 1929, p. 48).

This is an updated 2010 version of the above by James Hirvisaari of the True Finns:  “And on top of this we’ll get (from Muslim immigrants) discrimination,   intolerable contemptuous bad behavior, hate, degradation of women, mutilated children’s bodies, sexual molesters (sic!)…”

Isn’t it incredible that we live in 2011 and still find these types of affirmations are coming from people who should know better?

This is what General David Petraeus said recently about the buring of the Koran in Florida: “This was a surprise. (It was) hateful, extremely disrespectful and enormously intolerant.” Is there any difference to what happened in Florida and Hirvisaari’s wrath?

Despite the fact that racism has raised its ugly head in Finland, it is a good matter that it is out there for all of us to see. We must not only challenge it but nip this social ill in the bud.

Because I believe in Finland, I know that we will prevail in the task.

  1. Jaakko

    “This is a 2010 version of the above by Jussi Hallo-aho of the True Finns: “A Somalian ethnic, probably genetic special characteristic, are rudeness, stealing and rape (sic!).””

    Where have you taken that line? I could only find this:

    “”Erityisesti somalien etninen, kenties jopa geneettinen erityispiirre onkin juuri röyhkeys, ryöstäminen ja raiskaaminen””

    -a quote of some Olavi Koskela in Hikipedia, the Finnish Uncyclopedia
    http://hikipedia.info/wiki/Jussi_Halla-aho

    I hope you didn’t use that as your source.

    • Enrique

      I once read it on his blog, Scripta.

      Here is one from James Hirvisaari that drives home the point: “Valitettavasti hillittömän muslimimaahanmuuton myötä Suomessakin tulee olemaan lisääntyvässä määrin myös ihka aitoa rasismia, joka kohdistuu varsinkin juutalaisiin mutta myös kantaväestöön ja muihin etnisiin ryhmiin. Ja kaupan päälle syrjintää, sietämätöntä ylimielisyyttä ja huonoa käytöstä, vihaa, naisten alistamista, lasten silpomista, seksuaalista häiriköintiä ja vähemmistöjen vainoa, mellakointia, lippujen polttelua, älämölöä, huumeita, ryöstelyä, raiskausrikoksia, pedofiliaa, polygamiaa, lapsiavioliittoja, häpeäväkivaltaa, rituaaliteurastuksia, ruoskimisrangaistuksia, kivityksiä ynnä muita läpeensä inhottavia ja umpikieroutuneita tapoja ja ilmiöitä. Lopulta jopa itsemurhapommituksia ja terrorismia. Siis jos emme tanssi tasan tarkkaan heidän pillinsä mukaan.”

  2. Jaakko

    So Halla-aho has deleted the post in which he wrote that sentence? It can’t be found anywhere on the Internet that would link it to Halla-aho himself. Few times appears with that Koskela guy.

    Are you sure you don’t mix it with “Ohikulkijoiden ryöstely ja verovaroilla loisiminen on somalien kansallinen, ehkä suorastaan geneettinen erityispiirre.”?

    • Enrique

      Yes, Jaakko, this appears to the be the one. Thank you for pointing out the matter.

  3. Mary Mekko

    In my experience, Real Finns never say anything out loud that smacks of “racism” or “religious intolerance”. But Real Finns say this loud and clear to me, when I visit their country, because they know I come from a different kind of place. They want to know my opinion and compare it to the SF Bay Area or California in general. They want to feel secure that social chaos will not break out in their country. And yes, they know that SOME Muslims are extremely, harshly intolerant and they fear these men. Real Finns say these things to me when we take a walk in the redwoods at Muir Woods, or have a coffee in Sausalito, or eat lunch in Sonoma.

    But meanwhile, back at home, in public, they’re “thumbs up” to multikulti!

    The issue is complex for every nation, and there are so many facets to the debate, that it cannot be lumped into a YES or NO, black or white discussion. Enrique, do you not come from Spain? Are there not many, many Spaniards afraid of an African and/or North African inundation, not just for economic reasons, but for cultural reasons? Would Spanish women feel themselves unsafe on the streets, for example? (or do Spanish men make them feel this way anyway… I do have a Finnish female friend who was harassed mightly in Spain, 1980’s).

    If Finns cannot even have open discussion on immigration, THAT would be a terrible indictment of the nation. Let the True Finns and other groups debate long and hard – that is democracy. Don’t let one small gaggle of left-wing government employees determine immigration quotas without the people of the nation speaking up on every aspect of it. Why condemn free speech? And are the True Finns really right-wing? How? Do they hate socialism and communism and the welfare state?

  4. JusticeDemon

    Mary

    Don’t let one small gaggle of left-wing government employees determine immigration quotas without the people of the nation speaking up on every aspect of it.

    Finland does not have immigration “quotas” aside from the fixed number of individuals received under the UNHCR resettlement programme. This number is set in the State budget, which is ultimately determined by Parliament.

    I know many of the government employees involved in this area of public policy. Can you identify even one of this small gaggle of which you speak? If not, then how do you know that anything of the kind exists?

  5. Pertti Virtanen

    Text is still there: http://www.halla-aho.com/scripta/muutama_taky_illmanin_mikalle.html

    Halla-Aho’s quote was taken out of context and was repeated as such by Finnish media a great deal. One could call this quote-mining, demonizing or mud slinging.

    Newspaper Kaleva had made a suggestion in its editorial, that “killing while drunk was probably a genetic charasteristic of the Finns”. Someone Finn had gotten offended by this statement and made a complaint to Council for Mass Media in Finland (JSN). The complaint was dismissed, as according to JSN Finns drink a lot to get drunk and there acts of violence are many a time connected with high alcohol level.

    To point out the double standard of this decision Halla-Aho constructed a statement using the same logic as in the Kaleva article about Somalis mainly to point out that this would not be acceptable in Finland. He very well proved the point as he got prosecuted for it. Though he was acquitted as it was crystal clear from the text that he did not present that statement as his opinion or a fact.

    Another quote from the original text of Halla-Aho:
    “Emmehän voi ajatella, että Suomessa eri ihmisiä koskisivat eri säännöt. Kaikki somalit eivät tietenkään ryöstä tai loisi verovaroilla, mutta eivät toisaalta kaikki suomalaisetkaan tapa päissään.”

    “We cannot presume that there would be different set of rules for different people in Finland. Obviously all Somalis do not commit robbery’s or live on welfare, but neither do all Finns kill when they get drunk”.

    If you take the liberty to call any person a bigot with something taken out of context you are surely to find a lot of bigots in the world.

    • Enrique

      Hi Pertti Virtanen and welcome to Migrant Tales.

      I think, however, you are carrying this “demonizing” too far. Some would say it is the other way around by spreading stereotypes and outright lies about immigrants and refugees.

      Halla-aho is a member of Suomen Sisu, the guy has never held a real job in his life and now has found some fame by bashing Muslims and immigrants. In my opinion, he is a political opportunist. If you ask me, the likes of him and his followers have been treated with kid’s gloves by the media. I think the epitome of it all was when Milla Hannula published her book, Maassa maan tavalla, trying to give some validity to xenophobia.

      This may work somewhere else but on this blog guys like Halla-aho have very short leashes. Or do you think we should start publishing James Hirvisaari’s rants about Muslims? What about all these other ones who signed the Nuiva manifest?

      Why don’t these people ever show up on this blog and defend their views? I challenge them to post a comment and defend their views on immigration and refugees.

  6. JusticeDemon

    Pertti Virtanen

    So I can say something like obviously all of the True Finns are not uneducated fascist thugs and that’s OK?

    Shall we then engage in a long debate about this? Tell me what you think of this claim, and remember to repeat the claim over and over as you do so.

  7. a_passerby

    JusticeDemon, “So I can say something like obviously all of the True Finns are not uneducated fascist thugs and that’s OK?”

    So are you accusing True Finns of being uneducated fascist thugs? which of them, I love to know!

  8. JusticeDemon

    a_passerby

    Did I accuse the True Finns of being uneducated fascist thugs?

    Are you sure? Or are you taking me out of context?

    I don’t think I accused the True Finns of being uneducated fascist thugs.

    Perhaps you are placing your own gloss on what I said, because you might accuse the True Finns of being uneducated fascist thugs.

    I did ask whether I could say something like obviously all of the True Finns are not uneducated fascist thugs , and I suggested that Pertti Virtanen could join me for a long debate over whether I can say anything like this. In the course of that debate we would obviously keep repeating the topic of debate, viz. the question of whether I can say something like obviously all of the True Finns are not uneducated fascist thugs.

    Thank you for starting that debate.

  9. a_passerby

    @JusticeDemon

    Hence, the question to you… are you accusing them of being uneducated fascist thugs since you are making reference to all of them not being uneducated fascist thugs. So, I suppose you believe that some of them are OBVIOUSLY uneducated fascist thugs.

    It’s not the topic that you threw out for a debate, it’s you all alone walking on the thin ice.

  10. JusticeDemon

    a_passerby

    Hence, the question to you… are you accusing them of being uneducated fascist thugs since you are making reference to all of them not being uneducated fascist thugs. So, I suppose you believe that some of them are OBVIOUSLY uneducated fascist thugs.

    In order to make any kind of accusation, I would first have to make a statement. This is different from making reference to something. That’s the same elementary logic that Pertti Virtanen was relying on in his defence of Halla-Aho.

    It’s not my fault that you quoted me without italics, btw.

    A statement might be something of the form: obviously all of the True Finns are not uneducated fascist thugs. I made no such statement. Instead I asked whether I could say something like obviously all of the True Finns are not uneducated fascist thugs.

    It’s equally not my fault that many readers are superstitious about the power of words (talk of the Devil and he will appear), but this is something that unscrupulous writers can exploit in order to evade responsibility for the influence of their output on the behaviour of others.

  11. Pertti Virtanen

    Question to Enrique:

    If JusticeDemon would now be prosecuted for his comment for blasfemy towards True Finns and the mass media would repeat the mantra “JusticeDemon made a statement which implied that majority of True Finns are racist thugs”, would this be fair in your opinion and would the media be treating JusticeDemon with kid gloves?

    JusticeDemon, you did’nt seem to get the point. So here is the point explained in a format that should not raise prejudice from the start:

    Let’s suppose that there is an equal society of gingers and brunettes where 15% of gingers are ill mannered and 15% of brunettes are vain. One newspaper states that the gingers’ being ill mannered is a genetic characteristic of the gingers.

    A complaint of an offended ginger is dismissed based on the fact that there are studies that indicate that many gingers are ill mannered.

    One Blog-ginger then writes to his blog that the claim of the genetic characteristic behind gingers being ill mannered is ridiculous as with the same logic a statement vice versa would not be accepted in society by anyone. There are statistics that that brunettes are vain. Blog-ginger then states that with the same logic used it could be said that vanity of the brunettes is a genetic characteristic of the brunettes.

    Blog-ginger then gets prosecuted and media constantly repeats that he claims brunettes being vain. He is also labeled brunette basher and Dr. Brunette by the media.

    -> Equal freedom of speech exists in the society of gingers and brunettes?

  12. Pertti Virtanen

    JusticeDemon, what action should the Finnish government take towards Akuliina Saarikoski, the anarchist militant lesbian, who wants to destroy the heterosexual culture?

    Quote “Panemme, ammumme, laukeamme ja tuhoamme, kunnes kaikki on meidän. Kuolema heterokulttuurille”
    (“We shall fuck, shoot, come/explode and destroy until all is ours. Death to heteroculture!”)
    http://www.kolumbus.fi/antti.heiskala/suomineidon-morsian-akuliina-saarikoski.html

    When asked does she really mean this she has answered “Hell yes”.

    Should she be prosecuted for heterobashing? Now if somewhere in Finland a gay person will for example hit a hetero, do you think Akuliina will evade the responsibility for her influence of her output on the behavior of others?

    Or do you think that what she says is within freedom of speech and acceptable?

  13. Tiwaz

    Enrique
    -“I think, however, you are carrying this “demonizing” too far. Some would say it is the other way around by spreading stereotypes and outright lies about immigrants and refugees. ”

    And spreading stereotypes and outright lies about Finns is A-OK in your view?
    Halla-Aho made his post using existing article written about Finns as base, replacing few words.

    You view his blog with altered message as racist, but make ZERO effort to condemn the original one which would have to be equally racist. But apparently racism is only possible against minorities, which is wrong.

    This is why I have told you to take your own blog posts, replace “Finn” with “Somali” and ask yourself if you, Enrique, might be the racist here.

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