Denials by party leaders like Timo Soini that the Perussuomalaiset (PS) isn’t a xenophobic party, and the meek response of Finland’s mainstream parties to such a threat, speak volumes of the present state of this country. Who helped the political careers of xenophobes like Jussi Halla-aho, James Hirvisaari and others? Soini and the PS.
Why do we forget this important fact? Possibly because we dread admitting that intolerance is a bigger problem than we want to believe.
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Believing that Soini is against racism as he often claims, it allowing him and intolerance off the hook.
Certainly racism and intolerance isn’t a problem for a white Finn never mind the head of the PS. It is, however, an issue for many in this country who aren’t white and those who struggle for acceptance in an ever-hostile anti-immigration atmosphere that has political support.
British shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander, was quoted recently as saying on The Guardian that non-Jewish people must take a leading stand in defeating antisemitism in Europe. Speaking at the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, he said that in the fight against antisemitism, silence was the “coconspirator of evil.”
Correct. If I were Alexander’s speech writer, I’d stress that it’s not only antisemitism that we should challenge, but all types of intolerance irrespective if that person is a Muslim, Roma, gay or belongs to any other minority.
He said that the rise of antisemitism was “deeply troubling” in the face of the far right making significant gains in the 2014 European parliamentary elections.
Will we begin to raise our voices against intolerance when it snatches power?
By then it will be too late.