By Enrique Tessieri
What kind of a message does the right-wing populist Perussuomalaiset (PS) party send to their supporters and Finland when they decide that it’s OK to turn a blind eye to one of their many controversial MPs, Teuvo Hakkarainen, who publicly insults homosexuals, lesbians and Somalis? Hakkarainen was quoted as saying on tabloid Ilta-Sanomat that these types of minorities should be relocated to the Åland Islands.
Is this what Timo Soini recently meant by the “PS not hating anyone?” OK, maybe the PS doesn’t “hate” but it sure has a lot of serious issues.
Even though PS MP Hakkarainen meant his Åland Island comment to be a “joke,” it shows that his sense of humor and that of the PS’ is out of line with the majority of the country. I am certain that most children in Finnish elementary school could tell us that it’s wrong to insult people because of their background.
I see Hakkarainen’s comment and the PS’ inaction as a direct slap in the face of Finland’s good name. For some it may even bring eerie memories of how “undesirable” people, like the Jews and Romany minorities of Nazi Germany, were packed and sent in box cars to concentration camps.
If Finnish voters seriously believe that a party like the PS still has the credibility and vision to change Finland, they should think twice and hard. One only has to look at the already-long list of racist and anti-democratic “jokes” made by a number of PS MPs.
What kind of a Finland does the PS wish for our children and grandchildren? The answer is simple: A highly polarized nation where politicians cultivate a culture of hatred.
On a more light-hearted note, YLE reported that Swedish People’s Party MP Elisabeth Nauclér has sent an invitation to Hakkarainen to visit the Åland Islands, her home province.
“Åland is home to 92 nationalities,” Nauclér was quoted as saying on Tuesday’s Iltalehti, “even Hakkarainen is welcome.”
Green Party presidential hopeful, Pekka Haavisto, who is gay, commented on Hakkarainen’s gaffes on Wednesday’s Iltalehti.