By Enrique Tessieri
Jari Tervo, one of Finland’s most successful writers and personalities, said in tabloid Ilta-Sanomat that Finland is a totally racist country. Tervo’s statement comes after writer Sofi Oksanen made waves shortly after the April election by stating in Rome-based daily La Repubblica that the ideology of the right-wing populist Perussuomalaiset (PS) party has its roots in Nazi Germany.
“Finns get offended when I said that this is a racist country,” Tervo was quoted as saying in Ilta-Sanomat. “Everyone who has visited at least one chat site knows that Finland is a totally racist country.”
I met Tervo in the late-1980s at the Helsinki Press Club. Back then I was a regular columnist for Apu magazine. Our first meeting didn’t hit it off quite on the right foot.
“How’s it going mutakuono (mud face)!” Tervo said to my amazement in front of other journalists. It really pissed me off and we never spoke to each other after that event.
Even though we were not on speaking terms after that incident, he may have thought that calling me mutakuono was the same as two blacks calling each other the n-word. Whatever the intention was, it was highly insulting to me.
Whatever the case, I am happy that Tervo has become outspoken against one of the greatest threats to our society: racism and prejudice.