Our response to intolerance in the EU and Finland must be first and foremost a response

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Every great journey challenge begins with a single step.

A Chinese proverb slightly changed

A study by the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), reveals how racism and intolerant attitudes are becoming more prevalent in the European Union. What to do?

Kuvankaappaus 2013-3-14 kello 9.26.19Read ENAR study here.  

A recent example of how racism and intolerance spread roots in Finland is Timo Soini’s comments on PS MP Olli Immonen’s election as chairman of Suomen Sisu.

Soini did no condemn (why would he?) Immonen’s election but compared the extremist anti-immigration association to a harmless hunting, farming or youth association.

Not only is the PS chairman and his followers responsible for fueling more intolerance in Finland by playing down or denying such a social ill completely, the silence of the big parties is equally worrying.

One researcher in the ENAR study, Mutuma Ruteere, exposes what is not only happening throughout Europe but in Finland. He said that the problem is not only the discourse coming from far right parties, “but in the fact that established mainstream parties do not reject such discourses and even often support them.”


If there are two shameful watersheds that will be remembered for bolstering intolerance in Finland, they were made in 2010 by National Coalition Party’s Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen and Social Democratic Party economy minister, Jutta Urpilainen. Both said that “debating immigrant issues in this country didn’t make you a racist” and massa maan tavalla (in Rome do as the Romans do), respectively.

If we look at the most recent polls, the National Coalition Party and the Social Democrats are paying a high political price, together with the Center Party, for flirting with an anti-EU, anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam party.

The silence of the largest parties, coupled with the opportunity to capitalize on anti-immigration and anti-EU sentiment in Finland by the PS, is what has gone terribly wrong with this country.

The more Finland denies collectively that it doesn’t have an issue with intolerance, the more it will continue to feed such a social ill.

We need the courage to challenge and ghostbust those myths that promote intolerance. There you will find the root of our prejudices and hatred.

One of these took place in the last century when Finland did everything possible to stop immigrants from moving to this country. As we lost hundreds of thousands of able workers to Sweden, we covered up for our mistakes with the help of ethnic myths about ourselves. In the process, we undermined diversity and fueled nationalism.

The ENAR study expresses concern over the rise of uninhibited forms of racism that have emerged throughout the EU. A good example is using freedom of expression or claiming how whites are victims of racism as justifications for promoting the status quo of intolerance.

Migrant Tales has written about this on many occasions. The aim of those who are against diversity is to point out how different a group is, which helps justify their racism and feelings of hostility for that group.