Husein Mohammed raised an important point on a recent blog entry where he reviewed Umayya Abu-Hanna’s latest book, Multikulti. He asks if the Perussuomalaiset (PS) is the only intolerant party in Finland.
He writes: “The term racism is used quite a lot in [Abu-Hanna’s] book but there’s no mention of violence, visible or about racism in [other Finnish] political parties. The general rule is that when we speak about anti-immigration [players], we mention the rise of the Perussuomalaiset as an important party [in this respect]. Not a word is mentioned of that party in the book. It’s a good thing since blaming only the Perussuomalaiset you leave off the hook other parties and players who aren’t anymore tolerant.”
How did the PS become Finland’s third-biggest party after the parliamentary election and how did they together with the media react to that party’s rising popularity?
Migrant Tales wrote on a blog entry in 2011: “The PS could have never dreamed of such success in the last election without the help of Kokoomus [National Coalition Party], Social Democratic Party and Center Party.”
Instead of challenging the rise of a populist party, some identified with PS’ intolerant and xenophobic message.
The Center Party and the Greens did put up some resistance and were punished severely in the elections.
One of the saddest cases was Social Democratic Party leader’s Jutta Urpilainen’s maassa maan tavalla (In Rome do as the Romans do) statement in March 2011.
National Coalition Party chairman Jyrki Katainen didn’t show much leadership either. He effectively let racism out of the cage in Finland by stating that “being critical and debating immigrant issues in this country didn’t make you a racist.”
He forgot, however, to mention one very crucial point: Immigrants must take part in such a debate too.
There was no open debate that included immigrants and visible minorities up to the 2011 elections. The debating landscape looked more like a PS bashing ground against immigrants with the tacit approval of other parties.
While racism is alive and well in all Finnish parties, it does especially well in the PS.
What is the difference between a person who is openly racist or one who isn’t?
If we look at the recent municipal elections, many candidates that jumped the PS ship defected to the Center Party, Christian Democrats, Social Democrats and National Coalition Party.
It makes you wonder, doesn’t it, and leaves us with the following question: Racists come in different sizes and shapes. Some are quiet while others are quite vocal about it. The quiet and the silent are, however, bonded by the same matter: varying degrees of intolerance.
When debating racism in Finland, we should not forget that this social ill has many homes in many places.
It hasn’t found a home in one party but resides in all of them.