Finland’s ignorance of racism and fascism

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

One of the political dramas that Finland is facing today is that it does not know what racism and fascism is. The Finnish media up to the April 17 election not only lost its teeth and forgot its important role in defending our civil rights but helped the right-wing populist Perussuomalaiset (PS) with its complacency.

It’s difficult to say if some journalists preferred not to write critically about PS candidates that belonged to Suomen Sisu because they were ignorant or because the racism of these candidates appealed to them.

While Migrant Tales calls Suomen Sisu a Nazi-spirited association, this was unfortunately the exception not the rule when it comes to the Finnish media.

Expo magazine editor Daniel Poohl said recently that Suomen Sisu ideology is a mirror image of fascist parties in Finland, Germany and Italy during the 1930s and first half of the 1940s.

If the Finnish media has done a shoddy job at reporting the rise of the far-right and populist threat to Finland, politicians haven’t done any better. Instead of trying to show leadership against racism and neo-fascism in Finland, they preferred to remain silent or, worse, assimilate the PS’ anti-immigration message.

Didn’t the politicians of all of Finland’s major and minor parties elect the head of the PS’ Suomen Sisu wing, MP Jussi Halla-aho, to chair the administration committee in charge of setting immigration policy?

It was only after Anders Breivik appeared on the scene in Norway and killed 77 Norwegians in July that some members of the Social Democratic party started to ask question about Halla-aho’s role in the administration committee.

Another tragedy of the media and too many politicians are their treatment of PS head Timo Soini, who tries to portray himself to the public as a good cop of a right-wing populist party that is anti-EU, anti-immigration and especially anti-Muslim.

I totally agree with Poohl.  In the ongoing debate on Finland’s political future there is one important matter missing: knowing what racism and fascism is and their threat to our values and society.

Having lived, worked and traveled extensively in Latin America, I know that democracy can be shelved very easily.

Recovering it will be a real bitch.

  1. khr

    The role of media in the elections was by no means straight forward. Soini being taken to the TV discussions provided PS a lot of positive visibility. But leaving him out would have meant that YLE would have thrown away any pretense of political neutrality.

    On the other hand at least I got tired of the daily anti-PS news that the news papers had before the elections, and probably many people voted PS just because they do not like being told who they may vote.

    • Enrique

      khr, it’s funny how differently I see what you wrote. In my opinion, the media did a lousy job of asking the PS the right questions. If there was ever a low ebb in the history of Finnish journalism, 2008-2011 would be a good candidate. In the same way that the media must ask the PS tough questions, it should grill other parties as well.

      When we speak about defending civil rights, it doesn’t mean one group. It means everyone who lives in Finland. Racism and discrimination are not a part of our civil rights.

  2. khr

    I agree that the media certainly could have been better at making questions. I still got an impression that there needs to be an anti-PS article in almost every issue. These were, however, often ad hominem attacks and other things only peripherally related to the elections. The actual political line of the party got questioned less. We got fed more entertainment than given a good overview of what each party represents.

  3. Ifiwasyoungiwouldfleethistwon

    I think despite the influence of media in driving public opinion to this and that direction; an average healthy person (mental) still has the freedom of choice to whom (he / she) can vote for. However,I think the main issue remain beyond the theme is how to explain the so called (HUMAN VALUE) ..if we have great divide in recognizing who is human ie. ( we dont agree about the unit), then we will hardly ever admit descriminaction,racism and etc..at all levels; the individual and/or institutional based one.

    • Enrique

      Hi Ifiwasyoungiwouldfleethistwon, and welcome to our blog, Migrant Tales. Even if 19.1% of Finnish voters cast their support for the right-wing populist PS, we respect the result. However, it is our democratic right to be against the PS and for what they stand for, especially their antiquated and racist views of immigrants.

  4. justicedemon

    The most obvious evidence that rasismi is a difficult neologism for many speakers of Finnish is the derived expression ikärasismi, which I recall was used repeatedly by the former Mayor of Helsinki, Raimo Ilaskivi. Obviously ikärasismi is the kind of gobbledegook that only exposes a deficiency in the user’s education, but the fact that it gets over 30,000 Google hits nowadays suggests that that this deficiency remains fairly common. There are enough epähiket around to keep this silly expression going for some years to come, but I wonder if it will ever appear in a published dictionary as a respectable expression in its own right.

    Even nowadays most people in Finland remain unable to distinguish rasismi and rotusyrjintä as concepts, even though this distinction is every bit as simple as the difference between humour and laughter (i.e. the former is the usual cause of the latter, but both can exist independently).

    More interesting was the inability of most Finnish politicians and civil servants to perceive the most obvious direct example of racism in Finnish legislation of the 1990s. The initial formulation of the immigration privileges extended to certain citizens of the former USSR on the basis of their biological origin (i.e. as a preference based purely on descent) was self-evidently inconsistent with ICERD, but it took many years for the Finnish government to admit this and introduce cultural and other conditions into the process. These privileges were only finally repealed this year.

  5. Ifiwasyoungiwouldfleethistwon

    Enrique, thnx ..it seem that am here so late; amazing that the stories are looking all the same since 2007. Major lines are complaints ,regrets,questions of why type.. taste on them is metal like! They are replicate!! Aren’t they..What amazed me is your undaunting efforts to respond and to enrich the discussion..some times u try to support (pskologikly) ..what make u pick up such huge issue !!
    The world not only Finland is taking serious steps towards Moral and Political hypogonadism ..
    Have u ever thought that the UN should take this issue and re define or re-write the human rights chapter not only in finland but all over the world ;after it reform it self.. Have u ever thought that there is massive need for a declartion of HELSINKI to ensure that human can survive here with some dignity and respect until she or he go back .

  6. Tiwaz

    “khr, it’s funny how differently I see what you wrote. In my opinion, the media did a lousy job of asking the PS the right questions. If there was ever a low ebb in the history of Finnish journalism, 2008-2011 would be a good candidate. In the same way that the media must ask the PS tough questions, it should grill other parties as well.

    When we speak about defending civil rights, it doesn’t mean one group. It means everyone who lives in Finland. Racism and discrimination are not a part of our civil rights.”

    Enrique, you should ask why media never touches with 10 foot pole on NEGATIVE side of multicultural ideology. Media should be 100% neutral and only state facts, not ideology.

    But today we only have multiculti ideologists like you spreading lies and half truths.
    Aamulehti had some sort of symposium on “Immigrant fears on Tampere streets” after chinese woman was brutally murdered. Sad, but at the same time they ignore immigrant crime, which is proportionally to population much larger problem. Not to mention that it appears that woman was simply in wrong place at wrong time, and it could have been finnish woman who died. But nobody would make any noise about that would they? Like those pizzeria burning murderers were not crucified in media, like any Finn would have been.

    If you want to see PS-party lose support, you must accept that it is time to take tough stance on failure known as multiculturalism and immigrants. Pretending that immigrants have no responsibility for themselves, or trying to hide failures of groups to adjust to Finnish society, will not help your position.

    Either immigrants are made to realize that they have to change, or PS-party will keep going strong until they are finally made to change by force. Ball is, once more, at immigrant end.

    What you should speak of is immigrant ignorance and racism.

  7. Mark

    Tiwaz

    – “Immigrant fears on Tampere streets” after chinese woman was brutally murdered. Sad, but at the same time they ignore immigrant crime, which is proportionally to population much larger problem.”

    First, racism can work both ways. Racism laws in Finland also give rights of redress for racist-based assaults by immigrants. The point is, is there any evidence that crimes by immigrants are race crimes? It would be interesting to see what evidence you can supply on this issue.

    The other point is that there are very specific crimes against immigrants that have been classed and clearly are race crimes. We can argue whether police statistics are accurate or not, but only an idiot would try to say that there is no race crime in Finland. For that reason, it is clearly necessary to consider the feelings and fears of the immigrant community. Are you really saying that it’s okay to attack immigrants because they are immigrants and then they are not allowed to complain about it or respond in any kind of public way?

    In the same way, people are free to talk about their fears in regard to immigration. That is of course a right and necessary in a free democracy. If someone told me as an immigrant that Finns hate immigrants and racists, I would say that that is nonsense, though I understand that if you were a victim of crime, that kind of generalised fear is understandable. But that doesn’t make it right. In the same way, if someone tells me that immigrants are criminals, I would say that that is equally nonsense, though I might understand that kind of generalised fear if you were a victim in a crime involving an immigrant.

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