In the future, when Finnish historians of different ethnic backgrounds look at the present parliamentary term 2011-15, they will most likely conclude that it was the darkest period for Finland and immigrants in the new century. A prelude to this sombre period were the municipal election of 2008 and how it reflected a shift in the national mood.
It would be naive, even an exercise in self-deceit, to claim that the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party isn’t one obvious culprit. The municipal elections of 2008 and 2003, when PS MP Tony Halme was elected to parliament, speak volumes about how racism and xenophobia started to lift their heads in this country.
Despite being one of the worst periods in our recent history, where some groups and politicians aim to make racism and xenophobia as normal and acceptable as karjalanpiirakka, it has brought out the best in some of us. For some, like Migrant Tales, it has been a clarion call.
If this period has brought out the best in some of us, it has brought out the worst as well.
Some regretful examples come form of silence and lack of leadership by the Finnish media and some politicians. The success of the PS in the April elections is proof of the inarticulateness, complacency and even the flirting of these two groups with anti-immigration parties and groups.
The PS has provided us with monthly scandals beginning with MP Teuvo Hakkarainen’s first day in parliament to the recent suggestion by councilman Tommi Rautio’s to give a medal to a cold-blooded killer.
A word of advice to anti-immigration extremists: Everything you write will come under scrutiny by future generations. Those future generations, which will be made up of Finnish researchers from different ethnic backgrounds, will highlight the racism and xenophobia that inflicted part of our society today.
When they give their lectures at our universities on ethnic studies or history, they will show to their students the shameful evidence left in the writings of numerous anti-immigration politicians like PS MP Jussi Halla-aho and his Suomen Sisu crowd, for example.
Time will increase the shamefulness of these racist writings. What is written today by some of these racists will look eerily similar to what some groups wrote about blacks during the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Recognizing this will be the first important step in liberating our society from the illness that has inflicted it.