By Enrique Tessieri
After most of the Finnish media was taken for a long and extensive ride by the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party, Migrant Tales has warned on numerous occasions about the threat the party poses is not only to immigrants, visible minorities and Finns with international backgrounds, but to our whole society. The Helena Eronen scandal, when she wrote about sleeve emblems, is another case in point.
Tuomas Muraja, Turun Sanomat’s foreign editor, the daily that published the story on Eronen’s column, says outright that history will see PS chairman Timo Soini as the man who brought the “aggressive far-right” to parliament.
The whole scandal reveals a lot about what Eronen thinks about our democratic institutions and institutions like the media. After the attraction that her blog entry caused in Finland and abroad, Eronen is now planning to sue Turun Sanomat for defamation.
Her writing about sleeve emblems and her boss, PS MP James Hirvisaari, who was fined by a court for hate speech in December, say a lot about Eronen. She used to advertise openly on her Uusi Suomi blog profile belonging to the anti-immigration Muutos2011 party.
Another factor that sheds more light on her far-right anti-immigration ideology is that she visited Auschwitz in 2007 and knew where people were some exterminated during the Holocaust. Here more on the topic by Ossi Mäntylahti.
Jews were forced by the Nazis in Germany and occupied Europe to wear a yellow Star of David. This is satire, right?
As if missing totally the point, Eronen blames the Turku-based daily for the bad press she attracted. She conveniently forgets that it was what she wrote that was unacceptable, especially coming from a parliamentary aide.
Those who visit our blog regularly have noted by now that every month there is a scandal coming from the PS. The lion’s share of the scandals hinge on racism, homophobia, offering medals to cold-blooded killers, as well as an eerie fascination for fascism, Nazi-spirited and far-right ideology.
Muraja correctly states that the whole Eronen scandal and what she wrote wasn’t satire at all but exposed far-right or Nazi-spirited ideology with humor or as a joke. Spreading fascist, Nazi-spirited and racist jokes are nothing new by these groups. Such writings are primarily meant for their followers even if they are published online.
Another important aim of this type of questionable satire and jokes by groups like Suomen Sisu is to move the goalposts in order to make racism, and the ideology that supports it, “normal” to common voters.
Will they succeed depends on our reaction and how deeply we want to bury our heads in the sand. The only reason why there are far-right MPs in parliament is because we have given them a mandate. It is now our job to take it away from them.
How? The answer lies in our democratic institutions and most importantly in our values: independent media, vigilant public, and leadership.
In many respects what happened in April 2011 is due to many factors: the financial scandals that rocked the Center Party, the EU financial crisis and the bailout of Portugal a week before the election, but most importantly traditional parties lacking courage and leadership to challenge the PS.
Migrant Tales writes shortly after the election: “Another factor that spurred the PS to new heights was a watershed statement in March 2010 by Kokoomus chairman Jyrki Katainen, who stated that being critical and debating immigrant issues in this country didn’t make you a racist. After that green light to racism was given, the Social Democratic leadership gave the PS another pat on the back with their infamous saying, maassa maan tavalla.”
Even if we respect the election result we can passionately express our opposition to the political agenda of a party like the PS.
Unless we want to turn Finland into a country where fascism, far-right and Nazi-spirited ideology have a clear mandate, our media, politicians and the general public will have to do much better.