Finland has been regressing into a false hole of provincialism and xenophobia

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Should we be surprised by the results of a recent opinion poll, which showed the rise of an Islamophobic populist party to third place after the Social Democrats and National Coalition Party? As Léo Custódio put it: “Racist party 3rd in polls in world’s happiest country.”

Those who are surprised by the rise of the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party, could be those politicians and civic leaders who have played down, even flirted, with anti-immigrant and Islamophobic sentiment for their own opportunistic aims.

How many leaders of the same caliber as former President Tarja Halonen do we have today in government? Very few if any. Apart from Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, who isn’t a statesman but a business leader with an international background, all the rest in his government are politicians who feel comfortable in a provincial mindset and “us” and “them” world.

Even so, the most important fact the polls show is that the country has a leadership crisis of people who can see past the end of their noses. When a politician suffers from social shortsightedness as we are witnessing now, this paves the way to reinforcing and maintaining a hostile environment against migrants, minorities and anyone different from the white male norm.

If we lack the ability to see the future and how to build a society where social equality is the norm for everyone irrespective of their cultural and ethnic background, we end up putting our country’s future in harm’s way.

By promoting negative narratives about migrants and minorities, by spreading half-truths about them, such politicians have not only declared war on Finland’s Other but have planted the seeds of present and future strife.

Not being able to see past one’s nose will mean a lot of hardship for white Finns as well: the image of the country will suffer and so will its economy. Why would any foreigner in his right mind want to move and raise his and/or her children here? Wouldn’t the hostile environment scare them off?

Just like the politicians, the police are years behind and playing catchup with our ever-growing culturally and diverse community. While the police want more minorities to join the police service, why has this process moved at snail’s pace?

Is it because we don’t understand that our society has changed and that there are Others living here?

If we look at the actions of the police and media on how they have framed the sexual abuse cases of Oulu, it shows greater preoccupation in racializing crime than eradicating it.

With respect to the media, there is little balance never mind fairness in Yle’s reporting of the sexual assault cases of Oulu. Yle is like a giant using a bazooka to kill an ant.

During November 27 to February 13, Yle published a whopping 77 stories on the sexual abuse cases of Oulu. This is not counting all the other stories that the tabloids and other print media published during that period. On January 14 alone, Yle published 13 stories about the topic!

The police do not receive high marks either in helping us to see past our noses as a society. Taking into account that a poll showed that 25.1% and 24.4% of the police surveyed in 2016 voted for the National Coalition Party and Islamophobic PS, respectively, did the police frame the crimes that happened in Oulu to suit their prejudices and benefit their two favorite parties in the upcoming elections?

Finland’s hostile environment, shortsightedness, lack of leadership and willingness to continue relegating migrants and minorities to second- and third-class member status in society, are some of the greatest threats facing Finland today that is impacting us politically, socially and economically.

The Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13, 2017, into two factions, the PS and New Alternative, which is now called Blue Reform. Despite the name changes, we believe that it is the same party in different clothing. Both factions are hostile to cultural diversity never mind Muslims and other visible minorities. One is more open about it while the other says it in a different way.

A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Official translations of the Finnish name of the party, such as Finns Party or True Finns, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and racism. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and after that the acronym PS.