Finnish high school students ask tough questions on racism to PS candidate Soini

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

Thanks to hard questions asked by high school students on Thursday’s Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) televised debate to Perussuomalaiset (PS)  Timo Soini, the issue of racism in Finland finally got the scrutiny it deserved in the presidential campaign.

Taking into account that an anti-immigration party like the PS won its historic election victory in April, a social ill like racism has got dear little attention in the presidential election.

This fact reveals that Finland is either in deep denial or in shock-and-awe concerning the rise of the PS and the xenophobic atmosphere it has helped to fuel in this country.

But the critical and persistent questions by the high school students on YLE’s presidential debate on Thursday to PS leader Soini on racism in his party encouraged other candidates to grill the populist leader on the topic.

Thanks to the example of the students, there is hope that the beachhead the PS has got in Finland is seriously questioned by those that will lead this country in the future.

Those candidates that denied on the YLE debate that racism had lifted its head in Finland were the usual ones:  Soini as well as Christian Democrat hopeful Sari Essayah and Paavo Väyrynen of the Center Party.

Soini backed his claim by hiding behind a Police College report  in October that showed that hate crimes had fallen by 15% in 2010 versus the previous year.
Social Democrat Party hopeful Paavo Lipponen, who said he had become a candidate because he was concerned about the rise of racism and the PS in Finland, hit Soini the hardest.
“Even if [your party] had 50% support I would still be against this type of [racist] politics,” Lipponen said on Helsingin Sanomat quoting the YLE debate. “This must come to a stop…”
Lipponen said that the PS’ connections to far-right European parties is shameful.

  1. Question

    If Paavo Lipponen is the presidential candidate which represents those who are against the views PS should we judge how much support that view has by where he will eventually will finish in the presidential election.

    Even if his support has dropped due to supporters wanting to Timo remain as a MP he is still set to gain more votes as Paavo Lipponen in an election when his supporters want him to be president

    So even without a large influx votes Timo can still remain more popular than a candidate who is running simply to oppose him. Which shows anyone who goes into a election with similar views to PS will automatically have a head start over anyone who has opposite views to PS.

    This will show that in Finland that taking a more stricter/critical view against immigration and the eu is automatically expected from MPs,from enough voters to have now changed how elections are won and lost in Finland

    You can criticize other political parties for talking in the language of PS.But any political party which takes a strong anti PS line will have to accept being a minor party in Finland for now and maybe for the foreseeable future.

  2. Question

    You use the word “Racism” as using views which are socially unacceptable.

    But when those views become the majority instead of the minority do they stop being socially unacceptable and acceptable?

    And is that not the situation we have now in Finland ?

  3. Question

    Students being opposed to Timo, PS and their views.

    When theses students start to work will they be happy to see large amount of their taxes being spent on failed eu projects like the euro?

    “Thanks to the example of the students, there is hope that the beachhead the PS has got in Finland is seriously questioned by those that will lead this country in the future.”

    Are some of theses students actually going to be the ones who will lead PS into the future when reality takes hold when they fully understand the true cost of living

  4. Question

    Question
    Well that’s really made you spit out your morning coffee, hasn’t it?
    lol

    I see from your patronizing reply you where unable to respond with a intelligent reply as the truth was to much too handle

    Well at least you did not respond with tourettes of the “Racist” word.

  5. justicedemon

    Question

    I’m afraid the truth bears little resemblance to your fantasies.

    But ideally, we should be allowed to cast both a positive vote for the party that we support and a negative vote against any party that we oppose, as in certain recent exit polls. How do you think that would turn out?

    Tourettes is a serious medical condition. Is this now another form of prejudice that you are seeking to propagate alongside the xenophobia and homophobia?

    Jog on, sunshine

  6. Question

    You can not use the presidential election as representative of the situation.

    PS supporters are not bothered if Timo does win the presidential election or not as they know Timo can achieve more in parliament and then eventually running for prime minster than being the president of Finland. PS voters voting for Timo could be a dangerous game for them as Timo could actually win

    If PS do have a target then it is to finish in a better position than Paavo Lipponen which is the battle between PS and those opposed to them.
    Which at the moment PS seem to be taking the lead

    The next election in which PS will want to be successful in will be the next municipal elections which will be the real test of the longevity of PS in Finnish politics

  7. Mark

    Question

    – “But when those views become the majority instead of the minority do they stop being socially unacceptable and acceptable?”

    If they are even close to being a majority, then they can be said to be acceptable up to a point, among a proportion of the population.

    However, the Finnish Constitution, several pieces of legislation, and a great many international conventions state that discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, religion or race is outlawed. Not only that, Finland must work towards protecting those who are vulnerable to discrimination, through positive action if necessary. In other words, if Finland were to fully go down this path, it would become an international and european outcast! Given the work and history that Finland has done in protecting and advancing human rights, I cannot see this every really happening. There almost certainly is a cut-off point for PS support and I think it was reached in the last election. It’s clear that other parties have sacrificied some of the debate on immigration to counter the populist appeal of PS. PS have succeeded however through both populist, nationalist and socialist policies (typical fascists in that respect). It will be interesting to see where next PS will make progress in trying to dictate the public-facing policy debates.

  8. Question

    My issue is that people are using the term racism onto things which are clearly not racist

    For example the question of what is better long term Asylum or more foreign aid is not in anyway racist and the vast of majority of Finnish would think the same way

    But there are still people who consider it to be racist if this questioned is raised. This is one example where the public have by sheer numbers have removed the world “Racist” from a question concern immigration.

    Finland may now have one of the larger populist parties in Europe but its not the only populist party in Europe and with the political power thees parties have they are forcing their governments to go against human rights legislation
    The process of banning the burqa has been started in some European countries in Holland meat products produced from the ritual slaughter of animals have also been banned, both it appears go against the human right laws which you have mentioned.
    Yet the fact theses governments have gone ahead with theses laws have shown a disregard for theses human rights laws
    And in some countries the support for theses laws also came from the left which shows a cross party support to a growing feeling that human rights laws as they stand are out dated and need to be re written to make more reflective of today’s society.
    So Finland would not be in any way be a outcast country

    If there is a drop in PS support it wont be due to their polices as that would have happened already especially after what happened to Norway. It would be more likely due to PS making immigration into just another policy like Education, Health and of course the EU. .

  9. Allan

    Lipponen is himself been corrupted with the Nord-Stream gas pipe, and him seeing “closet nazis” everywhere starts to sound like the bogeyman under the bed. He also has a Freudenthal-medal. Freudenthal was a scientist that declared the Finns subhumans, but that of course is not racism at all.

  10. Question

    Lets see how long it will take “The Banning of the Burqa in Finland” to lose its islamophobic overtones and if not agreed with be a accepted opinion.

    Like we have now in Finland for example with the issue of Asylum

  11. Question

    Allan

    This is point they are so obsessed with the “R” word and fanatic in its use they come over as being at bit embarrassing in the eyes of the public.

    Lipponen is standing to go against PS but also taking a pro EU stanch.There is a man who understand the pulse of opinion of the Finnish people.

  12. Question

    This is point they are so obsessed with the “R” word and fanatic in its use they come over as being at bit embarrassing in the eyes of the public.

    I think we can just leave you two loonies to discuss your authoritarian wet dreams here and see how long you continue.

    Proves my point about being a bit embarrassing

  13. BlandaUpp

    Question

    Say the smoking of crack or Krokodil becomes socially unacceptable.

    When those smoking of crack or Krokodil become the majority instead of the minority do they stop being socially unacceptable and acceptable?

    And is that not the situation we have now in Finland ?

  14. Mark

    Question

    – “For example the question of what is better long term Asylum or more foreign aid is not in anyway racist and the vast of majority of Finnish would think the same way.”

    It’s a reasonable question, but it does illustrate the problem with the debate and how superficial it all too often is. Foreign aid is geared most specifically to development, with it sometimes made conditional on developing social, economic and human rights, rather like a stick to go along with the carrot.

    The idea that increased foreign aid would limit immigration assumes therefore that most immigrants are economic immigrants, whereas the asylum system does not favour these kinds of immigrants.

    – “Yet the fact theses governments have gone ahead with theses laws have shown a disregard for theses human rights laws.”

    That’s a good point, and one that will rumble on and on, I’m sure. That the banning of the Burka or Halal meat will completely undermine the EU rights framework is doubtful though. There are a great many politicians and government officials prepared to stand up for women’s rights etc., and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the veil ban lifted in the next few years.

  15. Question

    Because at the moment thar is against the law .

    But in country like Holland where their was vote about making cannabis legal and as it was passed then if become socially acceptable even though some would still disagree with the law.

    But my point is those who come onto this blog with a anti PS view are to fanatic with using the word racist as a way to expose PS on their polices like asylum for example in a attempt to stop people voting for them.. But as anyone knows the vast majority of Finnish people would would like also reduce the number of asylum seekers.
    Which means you can not now criticize PS for being racist because they have a anti asylum view in the attempt to stop them as the majority of Finnish people also share the same opinion.
    Which not only makes it a more socially acceptable view it also makes it impossible for anyone to still use the racist word against PS on that issue in a way to stop them wining votes because the numbers are against them.

    Word of advice:
    Drop the Racist word understand what the majority of Finnish people now think is acceptable and unacceptable in debating the immigration issue and you may start to get somewhere

  16. Mark

    Question

    You seem to think that as long as a majority hold power or the sway of opinion, that the practice or attitudes under question cannot be criticised or put in a negative light? If that were true, then slavery would not be ‘wrong’ as long as the majority (or minority in some cases) doing the enslaving think it’s okay. By that same reasoning, we might happily say that Nazi ideology was not wrong either in 1930s Germany. This is a serious flaw in your argument.

    We must start with a definition that works. And a definition of racism that has wide agreement is that it is discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion. It’s not a neat box, and it dovetails all sorts of local, tribal and historical conflicts. But it works, because it gives us something to legislate for.

    So, if the majority of Finns adopt racist attitudes, I for one will not stop calling it for what it is. If you don’t like it, fine.

    Racism is not ‘our’ favourite word. That would probably be ‘tolerance’. 🙂

  17. justicedemon

    Question

    But if they can’t find shelter and understanding in the peruSSuomalaiset, then where can the racists go? Characters like Hakkarainen and Halla-aho would be ousted from any other parliamentary political party for their embarrassing racist and fascist outbursts (much as the Centre Party froze out Sulo Aittoniemi). In the PS all they get is a slap on the wrist as long as they can still attract a segment of the electorate.

    Which parliamentary political party is the most natural choice for people who would like to be free to spread racist views and campaign for the introduction of racial and cultural discrimination as public policy?

  18. eyeopener

    @Question.

    You should inform yourself better about the laws on cannabis in the Netherlands!!. It’s not that simple as you suggest. Start with the rejection of the Single Convention of New York 1962. Compare with the Prohibition Act in the USA!! Not everybody is so myopic as you are.

    Beyond that: would you agree with me that the rule of law is a characteristic of democracy?? Do you agree with me that democracy implies the equal treatment of people?? Could you agree with me that the majority SHOULD/MUST/HAVE TO respect the minority??

    Well then: how is it possible to draw up laws that are non-democratic??

  19. Antonio

    Question
    – “But when those views become the majority instead of the minority do they stop being socially unacceptable and acceptable?”

    Hummm how can I express what I think about your statement… In my humble opinion you can be hinting at something like: Well if the majority is racist then racism is acceptable. If this is the case, my answer to that is: NO, RACISM IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. That is a good excuse for genocides, when a majority decides to wipe out a minority, but by no means right. There are many more reasons in favour of tolerance.
    I see that many finns were indoctrinated in the virtues of nationalism from a very young age.That can serve some good purposes but in the great picture is not that important and it can become dangerous as it tend to hinder clear reasoning.
    If Europe as we know it collapses it will be bad for all of us in the long run and also for the world. It will be a step back, Finland included, in my opinion.
    I see that many people in Finland don’t really experienced other cultures outside the “them and” us prejudices. I don’t know how to talk to people who look at me as a walking cliché representing god knows what preconceptions they have in their minds. I have no interest in these people.
    Today I saw a group of finns at the beach playing some local game and I thought what would them think of a group of people like me, playing games at their beaches and speaking in tongues.

    Well I have a mission. And that mission it to clear things up. I will make some videos narrating my experiences in Finland and my ongoing dealings. When these videos are finished I will post them up with back ups and will send a link to them to all the newspapers, journalists, embassies, etc…, etc… in the world. Isn’t the internet a wonderful tool? It will be a cumbersome task to put a bigger as possible list of emails, but hey, that is my mission now. I hope I will help to shed light in the way how some foreigners are treated in Finland when dealing with certain matters. If I break the “formal law” (I am not a lawyer, I don’t know what will be the legal implications) I don’t care much. There is a huge gap between formal and material justice and it’s the latter that I am concerned with, the formal is in many cases just as excuse for wrong doing and injustice.

    • Enrique

      –Well I have a mission. And that mission it to clear things up. I will make some videos narrating my experiences in Finland and my ongoing dealings. When these videos are finished I will post them up with back ups and will send a link to them to all the newspapers, journalists, embassies…

      I am happy to hear this. How about showing them on Migrant Tales? YouTube? There are many outlets.

      This blog began in May 2007 with an average of 24 visitors per day. It has grown many fold from those days. If you have a message, know how to get it out, people will listen to you. Good luck with your project!

    • Enrique

      Here is a quote of the year by none other than PS MP James Hirvisaari on his Uusi Suomi blog: “I have during my whole political career spoken and written against racism and hate speech; for human rights and against human rights violations.”*

      The first thing I’d suggest for Hirvisaari is to actually read the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Secondly, I’d ask him if he has championed for the cause of anti-racism and hate speech, why was he fined for hate speech?

      Does the man have a strange sense of humor or is his world view seriously warped?

      *Itse olen koko poliittisen urani ajan puhunut ja kirjoittanut rasismia ja vihapuhetta vastaan. Ihmisoikeuksien puolesta ja ihmisoikeusloukkauksia vastaan.

  20. Allan

    “Today I saw a group of finns at the beach playing some local game and I thought what would them think of a group of people like me, playing games at their beaches and speaking in tongues.”

    And how many Finns are on your beaches playing their games may I ask?

  21. Antonio

    Not that many, I didn’t count and I would like to make a correction, I saw them at the beach, not at my beach. If you tell me why there is relevance in the numbers I can try to recall… ohhh
    you mean that they could have been just a few and Finland is fuuuullll of foreigners, is it?

  22. Allan

    Yes Enrique, and I suggest you read the EU Human Rights Court decision on “freedom of speech”;

    »Sananvapaus ei pelkästään kata sellaisia tietoja ja ajatuksia, jotka otetaan myötämielisesti vastaan, joita pidetään vaarattomina tai joihin suhtaudutaan välinpitämättömästi. Sananvapaus kattaa myös sellaiset viestit, jotka loukkaavat, järkyttävät tai häiritsevät valtiota tai jotain sen väestön osaa. Tätä vaativat tuomioistuimen mukaan moniarvoisuus, suvaitsevaisuus ja avarakatseisuus, joita ilman ei ole kansanvaltaista yhteiskuntaa.»
    (Handyside 7.12.1976 A 24 ja Grigoriades v. Kreikka 25.11.1997.[3])

    So even if you don’t like what he says – its still not hate speech. Hirvisaari can take his case up to the EU court though the process will take years.

    • Enrique

      Allan, am I asking for censorship? Not. Did I say the quote I picked out was hate speech? Not. Is it ludicrous what Hirvisaari claims? Yes.

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