I’ve lived and worked in countries like Colombia and Argentina during the dirty war (1976-83), where people were and still are killed for what they write. Never would I have imagined that I’d receive my first death threats twenty years ago in this country, Finland. The threats and harassment haven’t stopped.
When I read about this serious problem affecting university researchers who study a social ill like racism and even journalists, I not only wonder how we have got here but how long it will take before something snaps.
Unions representing university researchers brought up the issue in mid-February, stating that threats to their members at the University of Eastern Finland have been on the rise. A new story on MTV3 today reveals the same problem on a much wider scale.
Another sad example was Jyväskylä, were a group of neo-Nazi thugs disrupted a book event on the far right in Finland.
It’s clear that those who harass and threaten people for what they do or write, have little respect for our democratic institutions. They are like lawless vigilantes full of bravado but turn to cowards when their identity is exposed.
Racism and hatred are sexy for some people. Some politicians fall in love with them because it brings them to the public light and feeds their low self-esteem, narcissism and bizarre ego trips. What they don’t know – or don’t want to know – is that racism and hatred know no master. It can bite back, and hard.
Anders Breivik is a good example. He’s the dog on the short leash that turned into a mass murderer. The smoking gun were the hate sites he visited and that fed his twisted world where, like in a fairy tale, you can rewrite history to suit your ignorance.
What is Perussuomalaiset (PS) leader Timo Soini going to do about the extremists in the PS like MP Jussi Halla-aho, James Hirvisaari, Olli Immonen, Juho Eerola and others?
Nothing because he can’t and because he has already let the ogre out of the cage. Living on an overdose of wishful thinking, the PS leader believes he has control over the violence that his party has sown but well understands that he is now a hostage.
That monster that lurks in our society spreading hatred is the same one that is threatening university researchers, journalists and writers that challenge it.
Like a cancer, we must isolate and neutralize it.
Or maybe we should continue covering our eyes and leave everything to chance.