US President Donald Trump’s Finnish “tolkun” moment and his mixed response to far-right violence

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Three people died in the wake of a demonstration by white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members clashed Saturday with anti-racism activists when the white nationalists planned a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The rally saw a car being deliberately driven into a crowd of people that killed one person and left at least 19 others injured.  

The other two fatalities were policemen who died in a helicopter crash.

After what happened at the demonstration, we saw US President Donald Trump have his tolkun moment. Instead of challenging the white supremacists in Virginia, Trump went on to “condemn violence from all sides.”

Sounds familiar?

President Sauli Niinistö, who is no friend of cultural diversity, mentioned the term tolkun ihminen in February 2016 and how two extremes dominate the present debate on asylum seekers, migrants, and our ever-growing cultural diversity. Such a simplistic affirmation has not helped to challenge racism but has fueled it and even encouraged politicians like Interior Minister Paula Risikko to visit a far-right Finland First demonstration this year and give them the thumbs up.

While it’s easy to identify who the far-right extremists are, the “tolkun ihminen” analogy, who are the others? Are they those who fight against racism and bigotry? President Niinistö hasn’t given us a clue.

Like the song about a supposed silent majority living in Muskogee, Oklahoma, disgraced and impeached US President Richard Nixon claimed that such a majority backed his embattled presidency.

If we are to challenge racism, bigotry, far-right populism and extremism, we need leadership from politicians and the public instead of mixed messages that pander to such groups.

What about if President Niinistö or Interior Minister Risikko took Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s speech to heart after what happened in his state over the weekend?

Let’s see how it would sound if we change some words of the Virginia governor’s speech and imagine a Finnish politician or prominent public figure speaking out against racism and bigotry in this country.

And I have a message to all the white supremacists and nazis who came to Charlottesville the Helsinki Railway Square. Our message is plain and simple: Go home! You are not wanted in this great commonwealth country. Shame on you! You pretend that you’re patriots but you anything but a patriot. You want to talk about patriots talk about Thomas Jefferson Johan Snellman and George Washington Rosa Emilia Clay, who brought our country together. You came here to hurt people our ever-growing culturally and ethnically diverse society. And you did hurt people asylum seekers, migrants, minorities and Others. 

But my message is clear, we are stronger than you. You have made our commonwealth country stronger. You will not succeed. There is no place for you here. There is no place for you in America Finland and Europe. We work here to bring people together to unite folks. I remind you all that we are an ever-growing nation society made up of immigrants and diversity. Unless you’re Native American Saami, the first ships that came to Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 and since that time many people have come to our country especially since the beginning of this century to unite us.

Our diversity, that mosaic tile of immigrants, is what makes us so special. And we will not let anybody come here and destroy it. So please go home and never come back. Take your hatred and take your bigotry. Immigration was always an integral part of Finnish history.

Finland needs these types of speeches and leadership that promote and defend our Nordic values against social ills like racism and bigotry. One of those greatest values is mutual respect and equality.

Our success depends on us and not on the actions of extremist groups like the Perussuomalaiset*, Finland First and others.

* After the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13 into two factions, the PS and New Alternative, which is now called Blue Reform. Despite the name changes, we believe that it is the same party in different clothing. Both factions are hostile to cultural diversity. One is more open about it while the other is more diplomatic.

A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Official translations of the Finnish name of the party, such as Finns Party or True Finns, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and racism. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and after that the acronym PS.


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