A short editorial by Helsingin Sanomat Thursday warns that the 1.3 percentage point rise in the recent opinion poll of the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party may force other parties to latch on to Islamophobic rhetoric. The PS’ pet themes today are high electricity and gas prices at the pumps and others, which it did not specify.
While the latter should be clear to the editorial board of Helsingin Sanomat, the daily leaves out another important fact: the national media and public servants like the police spread the PS’ hateful rhetoric.
The 2011 parliamentary election, when the PS won 39 seats from 5 previously, was propelled and helped by uncritical reporting that was more amazed at the new racist kid on the political block. Even parties like the Social Democrats started copying the PS’ anti-immigration rhetoric.
PS rising political “stars” like Jussi Halla-aho, James Hirvisaari, Juho Erola, Timo Soini, and others got their place in the sun. Things were so bad back then that Islamophobes were invited to give their opinions on talk shows.
In the 2015 parliamentary election, when the PS duplicated its 2011 result by gaining 38 seats, a rape happened in the Helsinki neighborhood of Tapanila one month before the election. The crime got a lot of attention in the media, and Yle went as far as to ask people of the Somali community why “they always rape.” The police also helped by labeling the suspects “people of foreign decent,” even if they were born in Finland. Why was it important for the public to know the latter?
The PS got another present in the 2019 election when suspects, who were asylum seekers, were accused of pedophilia and sexually harassing minors. Even if the media, the police, who warned people to stay away from foreigners, charged this to hysterical levels, the PS, with the aid of parties like the National Coalition Party (Kokoomus), who promised to get tough on migrants, scored another election victory.
For example, Yle alone reported 77 stories on the topic, 13 on one day, about the sexual assault cases during November 27, 2018 – February 13, 2019. During that period under review, the Oulu police published 13 statements on the topic.
I am waiting for some high-profile migrant topic to arise for the PS to latch on to and spread its usual brand of hatred.