Below are two public figures that are treated differently by the Finnish media. Both are way off in their views. The one on the left is Johan Bäckman, who gets scorned by the national media for his pro-Russian and pro-Putin stances, while Perussuomalaiset (PS)* MEP Jussi Halla-aho, gets a more benign reception despite the fact that he’s Finland’s number one public racist.
Contrary to Bäckman, Halla-aho, who was sentenced for ethnic agitation in 2012, Helsingin Sanomat saw his racist diatribe before 2011 as a strange expression of “freedom of expression.”
There is nothing wrong with protecting freedom of expression but there is a problem when journalists cannot distinguish between an important human right and racism.
Halla-aho, who like other far-right European politicians are pro-Russia, gets a much better reception from the media despite his extremist views of immigration and Muslims.
You can listen to Johan Bäckman’s interview in RT here and read (in Finnish) Jussi Halla-aho’s story in MTV here.
Why is Bäckman shunned by the Finnish media while Halla-aho has some acceptance, even tacit understanding?
Is it because Bäckman is way too pro-Russian for the media’s taste while Halla-aho’s racist statements and views are acceptable because the media agrees with the MEP’s views?
If we are fair, the Finnish media has distanced itself from Halla-aho and the PS, a populist party that continues to be a threat to our Nordic democracy. We hope that such distancing continues.
Even so, double-standards are still evident when we look at the media’s treatment of Bäckman and Halla-aho.
If Halla-aho raved about Vladimir Putin like Bäckman does he would be feel the full scorn of the media because our newspapers and magazines are more Russophobic than xenophobic.
* 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. The direct translation of “Perussuomalaiset” is “basic” or “fundamental Finn.”