Finnish terms that parties and politicians use to hide their anti-immigration and racist views

by , under Enrique Tessieri

It’s always amazing to watch on television politicians like Sebastian Tynkyynen, third vice president of the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* and leader of its youth organization. They speak of anti-immigration sentiment nearly always in code and appropriate the term, as if it were a commodity, thanks to their white privilege. 

They speak of asylum seekers fleeing war, migrants and minorities living in this country as if were some kind of political fodder to help prop up their latest poll result.

The PS saw its support nosedive last week by 7 percentage points since the April elections to 10.7%, according to a latest YLE poll.

Bad timing for some, good timing for others. Tynkkynen’s row with the PS leadership comes at a bad or good time for the populist anti-immigration party.

It’s unfortunate how the Finnish media has been taken for a ride by politicians like Tynkkynen. It shows how the likes of him and others who are openly hostile to cultural diversity in Finland continue to dominate the debate, or at least the terms used to debate the matter.

Taking into account that Finland is a welfare state that identifies and considers itself a part of the Nordic community, it would be politically inappropriate to bring to the debate terms and concepts that would undermine values such as social equality.

Section 6 of our Constitution states:

Everyone is equal before the law. No one shall, without an acceptable reason, be treated differently from other persons on the ground of sex, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, health, disability or other reason that concerns his or her person.

Euphemisms serve a purpose in the ongoing debate because they help you get around sticky Constitutional issues that undermine our present Nordic values and from getting sentenced for ethnic agitation.

One euphemism that’s being used a lot these days is another invention by the PS, “immigration policy,” maahanmuuttopolitiikka.

By criticizing “immigration policy” you don’t have to label migrants and minorities directly living in Finland but that’s what you end up doing. The term is code for anti-immigration and that you are against Africans, Muslims and other non-Europeans moving here.

Näyttökuva 2015-10-17 kello 8.53.02
Sebastian Tynkkynen would be in favor of the PS leaving government for supporting a bailout package to Greece and closing the border with Sweden. What is disgraceful about the interview is how Tynkkynen speaks of asylum seekers, migrants and minorities in Finland in anti-immigration code and opportunistically boost the party’s declining popularity in the polls at the same time boost his own political career. Watch full interview here.

Another euphemism created by the PS and used by the national media is the term “immigration critic,” maahanmuuttokriittinen, which means, among other adverse things in code that you are against cultural diversity and more foreigners – usually non-Europeans – from living in Finland.

All these code words, which mean in plain English anti-immigration and anti-cultural diversity, or keep Finland white, have a devastating impact on the migrant and minority communities in Finland. The help maintain with such code words the xenophobic atmosphere in this country.

Here’s the interesting question: Why does the media accept using such euphemisms instead of challenging them directly? Isn’t one of its important jobs to read such code messages and interpret them to their readers?

If the BBC refers to “immigration critics” as anti-immigration politicians why doesn’t the Finnish media do the same?

The answer to that question exposes how the media is in many cases the servant of those in power as well as of its own prejudices.

*The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.