How the Finnish media gives anti-immigration parties like the PS space, inflated respectability and importance

by , under Enrique Tessieri

An article in Sunday’s Helsingin Sanomat about Perussuomalaiset (PS)* MP Mika Raatikainen, who will replace former PS MP Jussi Halla-aho’s after he was elected to the European parliament in May, reveals once again this country’s media fascination with racist double-talk and rhetoric that just don’t add up never mind make sense.

If there is a culprit in Finland that has made this country a more hostile place for migrants and minorities, it is the media.They are part of the problem.

An article published this week on migrant crime by Lahti-based Etelä-Suomen Sanomat is another case in point.

The Etelä-Suomen Sanomat journalist makes a disingenuous claim at the bottom of the online version of the story by stating that researchers of The National Research Institute of Legal Policy fear that studying migrant crime will label different national and ethnic groups.

This is exactly what the journalist does in the article.

Even so-called quality dailies like Helsingin Sanomat, which should know better, play into the anti-immigration rhetoric of parties like the PS, which are hostile to our Nordic democratic way of life, migrants, minorities and our ever-growing cultural diversity.

It’s clear that one of the aims of the PS after its historic election victory of 2011 is to become a ‘normal’ mainstream party.

Is this possible? How can a party that spreads ethnic hatred, victimizes certain ethnic and religious groups, polarizes society by stressing ‘us’ and ‘them,’ is homophobic and promotes nativist nationalism can ever become ‘normal.’

Certainly this is what the PS wants but it is quite another story if they can eat and have their populist cake at the same time. Näyttökuva 2014-7-27 kello 11.10.27

Read full story (in Finnish) here.

Why is there so much interest in the Finnish media with a party that openly promotes racism and has had MPs sentenced for ethnic agitation, like Halla-aho? Why does the Finnish media pay so much attention to a party that has had some of its members applied to becoming members of neo-Nazi groups like Kansallinen Vastarinta?

Why isn’t there any mention in the Helsingin Sanomat story about Halla-aho’s and the PS’ ties with the far-right extremist Suomen Sisu association?

The answer is simple: Finland’s media is white. Since it is white it doesn’t have to worry about becoming a victim or target of the PS that near-constantly fuels suspicion of migrants and minorities in this country.

The Helsingin Sanomat story offers us common anti-immigration slogans, such as our social welfare system should not serve the whole world, used by the PS.

I beg your pardon? Is the above possible? Who has made such a claim except for the PS?

If you are a politician and want to fear-monger in this country, a sure way is by stating that hordes of migrants will soon invade the country. Such fear-mongering has been used for decades in Finland.

In the Helsingin Sanomat story, Raatikainen claims that he disagrees with Halla-aho on a few points but but is quick to define himself as an ‘immigration critic’ who is in favor of tight immigration policy. He agrees with Halla-aho in that he doesn’t “want people [migrants to move here] who don’t do anything and are involved in crime.”

If I were the journalist interviewing Raatikainen, I’d ask him which groups in this country want migrants to move here who don’t do anything and commit crime? That question would open a whole new area of discussion that would shed light on his anti-immigration rhetoric.

Raatikainen confuses us with his double-talk, when he first claims that he’s against migrants who don’t want to work and commit crime but those that come here to study, work and do their best are welcome.

Don’t the majority of migrants fall into the latter category?

As in many stories about the PS written in the national media, Raatikainen’s interview reveals a generous pinch of political opportunism.

Parties like the PS don’t have a clear idea of how they’d improve immigration policy never mind how to turn newcomers into dynamic members of our society.

Even if they have no idea about many of the things they talk about, they are right on one matter: Anti-immigration rhetoric is sexy and it appeals to Finnish voters  as well as to the media.


* 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.