Timo Soini: The beast behind the sugar-coated words

by , under All categories, Enrique

What does Perussuomalaiset (PS) party presidential hopeful, Timo Soini, really think about immigration and cultural diversity? A column he wrote in the Suomen Soini Presidentiksi  [Soini for president of Finland] publication exposes what the leader of the PS really thinks about such important issues. 

It’s clear while reading Soini’s views on the topic that he is in favor of one-way integration, or assimilation. He  praises in the column, headlined Maahanmuutto, demokraatia ja perussuomalaiset [Immigration, democracy and the Perussuomalaiset],  those immigrants that are ready to accept Finnish culture and traditions.

I am certain if we asked the PS leader to define Finnish culture, his response would be deficient and leave us with more questions than answers.

The same “conservative and Christian” views that Soini speaks so highly of in his column has, in my opinion, been at the center of the problem. It has retarded and hindered the acceptance of hundreds of thousands of expat Finns,  immigrants and their children from our society and threatens to exclude many others in the future.

If the PS and Soini haven’t already noticed, these so-called bicultural multi- or polycultural Finns have taken that giant step to integrate but many still suffer from acceptance by society.  High unemployment levels, institutional racism, prejudice, antiquated views of what culture is and even the rise of an anti-immigration party like the PS, show that more acceptance is needed by our society.

Soini’s and the PS’ total disregard for mutual acceptance and that integration is a two-way street show well the biggest flaws in their stance and why it is correct to call them an anti-immigration party.

Even though Soini does not mention the word multiculturalism once in his column, his definition of it is not too far from Jussi Halla-aho’s and that of other far-right anti-immigration groups in Europe like the Danish People’s Party.

The PS chairman writes that he is not against immigrants but opposes our immigration policy. This affirmation, that the problem lies in our immigration policy, is one of the favorite deceptive arguments used by far right and anti-immigration groups. When Soini uses such an argument he really means that Europe and Finland allow too many Muslims and Africans to live here.

Another important matter is revealed by Soini’s column:  Despite his conservative-populist political views, he can deliver his opinions in a diplomatic  sugar-coated fashion compared with too many in his party members who can’t and whom he rightfully criticizes.

Soini is the good cop of the PS but at the end of the day he is a cop like the rest of the members of his party.

One key paragraph in particular exposes to the tee the PS leader’s view on immigration and cultural diversity:  “I also hope that more and more native Finns could tolerate those who embrace Finnish culture, our customs and traditions; those [immigrants]who want to stick to conservative and Christian values​​, and even those who have decided to vote for the Perussuomalaiset [party]. We live together side by side in this beautiful and wonderful country, and in a affluent society that is fair.”*

In other words, Soini and the PS are ready to accept you as members of society as long as you resign your culture, identity and rightful and democratic right as  equal members of this society. Acceptance only happens on their terms and with conditions.

What does the PS leader think about those Finns who don’t share his conservative and Christian views?

*Toivon myös, että yhä useammat kantasuomalaiset voisivat suvaita niitä,  jotka vaalivat suomalaista kulttuuria, meidän tapojamme ja perinteitämme; niitä, jotka haluavat pitäytyä konservatiivisissa ja kristillisissä arvoissa, ja jopa niitä, joka ovat päättäneet äänestää perussuomalaisia. Me asumme yhdessä rinnatusten tässä kauniissa ja upeassa maassa ja reilussa hyvinvointiyhteiskunnassa.

  1. Mark

    Dead right, Enrique. He needs to spell out what he means by ’embracing Finnish culture, traditions and customs’ and also what that is supposed to mean for the immigrants own traditions.

    When two people embrace, the respect is supposed to be mutual. A one-sided embrace is a kind of adulation, and I’m sure that Finns don’t need the adulation of foreigners to feel good about themselves.

    • Enrique

      Mark, one thing that I am happy — or not so happy — about is that the column exposes pretty well who Soini is and what he thinks about immigration and cultural diversity. It’s basically what we have been saying on Migrant Tales for a long time.

  2. Mary Mekko

    I wonder if HYVINVOINTIYHTEISKUNTA is the key to Finland’s attraction to foreign refugees. If they had to work hard at labor on farms or in forests, as back in the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s, exactly as Finns did in Sweden, would they really be so interested in joining Finland’s wonderful nature, learning its lovely language, assimilating into its Lutheran work-ethic culture? Would they really want to leave hot (and poor) countries to move to a cold, yes, ice-cold and poor country? I wonder as I wander, around this Internet….. What Somalian shephard boy wouldn’t find Pasadena, even as a busboy in a Mexican restaurant, better than living in the East of Helsinki, in a cement tower, in a hostile anti-foreigner environment, guiltily collecting money from the paleskins around him, who regard him as an ugly threat to their girls, women and social stability? Sure, it’s better than his hut in Somalia, but it sure can’t be that much fun, and if the free money just stopped, and he were forced to take hard-labor jobs outdoors, don’t you think he might just reconsider his urge to “embrace Finnish culture”? If he and his wife worked all day, exhausted, for low wages, as Finns did for decades in Sweden, getting no free ride, and their children turned against their native Somalian way of life to become Finns, I think the two of them would pack up faster than Wiley Coyote went he spotted fresh rabbit meat.

    • Enrique

      Hi Allwillbegood, I am happy that I stumbled on this opinion piece by Soini because it reveals his ideas on immigrants, immigration and minorities to the tee. At the end of the day, he may not say what he really thinks but his thinking on the topic is very much like people like Jussi Halla-aho, who let’s it all hang out when it comes to anti-immigration rhetoric.

      Before I went to work in Colombia a journalist said: Before they shoot you in the head, they smile cordially. It is the same act but done differently.

  3. Seppo

    Did all of you guys, who commented on this post, read the article written by Soini? I really recommend you do so.

    Enrique, everything you choose to highlight from Soini’s text is indeed there, but I have to say that I am disappointed that you decided to ignore some very important things he wrote. For example, he says that

    Maahanmuuttajat tuskin haluavat
    kotiutua maahan, jossa heitä halveksitaan ja pidetään toisen luokan
    kansalaisina. Kantaväestön yleinen
    suhtautuminen uusiin tulokkaisiin
    on siksi hyvin keskeinen tekijä kotouttamisen onnistumisessa.

    Isn’t this exactly what many people have been writing about here on Migrant Tales and elsewhere? That the key to integration is the attitudes of the local population, that immigrants cannot integrate if they are not first accepted?

    If Timo Soini writes this in a newspaper for Perussuomalaiset voters, I think it is a very good thing and forth mentioning even here.

  4. Seppo

    “There is, unfortunately, no mention by him that contrarily Finns should make an effort to accept these new and older members of our society.”

    I think the section of the article that I quoted above mentions exactly this.

    I also think that you, Enrique, are totally misinterpreting the paragraph you have quoted in your post. When Soini writes that “Toivon myös, että yhä useammat kantasuomalaiset voisivat suvaita niitä, jotka vaalivat suomalaista kulttuuria, meidän tapojamme ja perinteitämme…” he is not talking about immigrants at all but the “intolerance” that he feels some Finns show towards the PS and Finns that have more conservative values.

    Halla-aho and his followers have the tendency to interpret negatively everything that has to do with immigration or immigrants. I think we should not make the same mistake concerning the PS.

    Timo Soini is a conservative populist, a fundamental Christian and an anti-EU nationalist. But unlike some other members of his party, he is not a racist, and I really don’t understand the efforts to depict him as some sort of a “beast”.

    • Enrique

      Hi Seppo, I read Timo Soini’s opinion piece carefully. For me it exposed who Soini really is and how ignorant he is of immigration and the role it plays in society.

      Soini’s problem, and the failure of such an integration policy, is that it is one-way. As long as you accept without question who we are, our values, everything will be ok. There is a lot of double-talk and obfuscation in his views. Having poured over tons of PS and far-right views on immigration, Soini’s views are pretty clear. For a matter of fact, I was pretty shocked by what he said.

    • Enrique

      Check out this video clip on imagining a world without borders, a talk by Bridget Anderson is a Senior Research Fellow at COMPAS at the University of Oxford.

      Here is a comment by @Crowling: “It’s a pride horribly misplaced then, and a complete delusion that that borders offer security. Across history borders thresh around like a basket of snakes. Think of what Europe looked like just 20 years ago, with the Balkans completely reconfigured with hundreds of thousands killed or made refugees. Think of Europe in 1930, or 1914 – where did all those secure borders of Austro-Hungaria go? Or the Ottomon Empire? What abour Africa and its borders? Not much security there!”

  5. Mark

    I’m with Seppo to some extent on this one Enrique. I think you should have taken this point up.

    As it is, though, I think that only 1 of the 3 sentences discussed actually has any positive merit; that is, that the approach to foreigners is a key aspect to their integration.

    The other two sentences can be taken several ways. That foreigners wouldn’t want to come to Finland if the attitude is so negative could be taken as a positive strategy by those opposed to immigration.

    Second, the idea that PS are the REAL victims of discrimination is an argument being made by very many racist groups throughout Europe; they try to defend their position by accusing their critics of the very same thing they are accused of. That Soini is playing that game does nothing to soften his views, but rather, the opposite, they seem to place him very squarely among the racists, who are as ever, completely in denial.

    As for the sentence with merit. If Soini is truly advocating a positive atmosphere, he should come out and remind Finns that they should also respect the traditions and beliefs of foreigners, with the only proviso being that those traditions remain within Finnish laws.

    All foreigners in Finland are offered protection for the right to preserve their native ethnicity and their language under the Finnish constitution and a raft of international conventions and treaties that Finland has signed. This is not even about being polite, it’s about following the rule of law within Finland. This is not a matter for opinion, rightly. You cannot give human rights to one group and deny it to another – it completely contradicts the notion of what human rights are, i.e. universal, anti-discriminatory, and rights accrued simply by birth.

    • Enrique

      Timo Soini continues to surprise me. Here is something straight from his blog: “Perussuomalaisten Jytky-voitto löi Suomen eliitin ällikällä ja tosikot ovat tiltissä vieläkin. On Suomi niin kauhean ahdasmielinen maa näin jälkihaloslaisen ajan auetessa. Suvaitsevaiston fasismi ja darvinismi kukkivat. Sille on vastavoima – Perussuomalaiset.”

      In other words he writes about all this “intolerant fascism and Darwinism that is blooming [in Finland].” What is he saying? He suffering from political nearsightedness? What about Suomen Sisu and the Jussi Halla-aho wing? Who attracted people like Toni Halme to the PS?

      But here is something that I am copying and pasting from a discussion thread on My Finland is International by Ashley Last: “Far Right parties are often able to present themselves as defenders of freedom by discrediting concepts such as political correctness (“You are telling us what we can and can’t say”) and multiculturalism (“You are telling us how we should and shouldn’t think”).

      Therefore, people who preach tolerance are fascists because we are unable to deal with anyone who doesn’t share our view of the world.

      There is little point in arguing with someone as cretinous as Soini but anything to avoid returning to the essay I’m in the middle of :p… *our* side needs to stop using the word “tolerance” as though it is something to be proud of. To “tolerate” means to put up with something one finds distasteful. It also implies a certain “anything goes” attitude that idiots like Soini can exploit for political capital. In this sense, Soini’s point would stand up…*our* side is tolerant, therefore why can’t we tolerate Soini’s opinions?

      The only answer to this is to nail our colours to the mast and tell the ugly fucker and his disgusting ilk that we actively embrace difference, debate and real democracy, but will not tolerate (there’s that word again) those who wish to exclude others’ from our society based upon the colour of their skin…because ultimately this is about race and structural inequality.

      I have lost count of the number of times I have been told by Finnish people that I shouldn’t hate the True Finns because I am not the kind of immigrant they have a problem with. I repeat: this is about race and structural inequality. Soini’s answer: blame the victim.”

    • Enrique

      Mark, I agree that Soini said “one of the three sentences” had any merit. But here is the double-talk and lip service you get from a politician like him.

      Take a look at another one of his “good-cop” comments: The PS is the only answer to fascism and blooming Darwinism in Finland. What does that mean?

  6. Mark

    Enrique

    Interesting comments, he’s made. It seems that he is suggesting that PS is likely to have a moderating effect on the Far Right in Finland. However, what he doesn’t seem to understand is that moderating fascism and Darwinism (whether in the form of eugenics or ideas of racial superiority) does very very little to bring those political extremes into the mainstream, other than to make them appear more acceptable.

    He doesn’t seem to understand or acknowledge the fundamental challenge they would pose to the values of an open, free and tolerant democracy in Finland, or to the legal frameworks that have also been set to protect the same.

    • Enrique

      –He doesn’t seem to understand or acknowledge the fundamental challenge they would pose to the values of an open, free and tolerant democracy in Finland, or to the legal frameworks that have also been set to protect the same.

      Here is the issue. You hit it right on the nail.

  7. justicedemon

    Seppo

    You are right, of course, but I perceive Soini as the cultured and sober guy in a suit who cannot afford a ticket to the opera, but agrees to arrange the trip for a busload of wealthier philistine savages (including some that despise the opera as an institution) who would normally be turned away at the door. If he is really responsible for his ‘party’, then he must be held wholly accountable for its conduct.

    As a presidential candidate, there is one question that he must be asked. Will he agree to sign a law that the Pope opposes (on, say, abortion, euthanasia or homosexual adoption)? This is the Baudouin situation, but Finland has no constitutional provision enabling a serving President to stand down for one day. Instead, we would experience a specific delay in the legislative process, with the unsigned Act returned to Parliament. Which would come first? His duties as President or his conscience as a loyal Roman Catholic?

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