By Enrique Tessieri
Today Finnish voters will head to the polls. What their collective message may be for the direction Finland will take in the following four years remains to be seen. One of the most tragic aspects of the campaigning to April 17 is how some, like the True Finns and individual members of all the parties in this country, have used fear-mongering of immigrants and refugees to further their political careers.
This type of chicanery is unacceptable in a country where IT-technology is king and where its students enjoy one of the best educational systems in the world.
If xenophobia gets the best of us after the polling stations close today at 8pm local time, then all the Nokias and Pisa exams will have little meaning. We must now begin to invest in stereotypes, ethnic myths, intolerance and see our society consisting of “us” (good guys) and “them” (evil people).
Another matter that has surprised me is the sheer ignorance of some of the candidates who should know better. Even if there are politicians who have been quite outspoken on racism and xenophobia, there are PhDs who speak of other cultures in the same level as elementary school dropouts. They are the children of Rolf Nordenstreng’s teachings in a twenty-first century context.
Contrary to the nineteenth century racist, its twenty-first century counterpart is more astute and hides his fanatism by carefully chosing his/her words to avoid being sued for incitement against a religious or ethnic group.
These types of candidates masquerade behind soundbites like “guardians of freedom of speech and western values” while they bash and send other groups to the twenty-first century gas chambers of hatred, where one survives but is imprisoned by walls of hostility.
If we allow the new fanatism to get the best of us, we will be setting the groundwork for future wars. Wasn’t that the whole idea of the European Union when it was founded in the 1950s?
Good trade and business relations will keep our countries busy in more productive things than spreading hatred and war.
Resolving and winning the challenges we face as a region will be the icing on that cake.