By Enrique Tessieri
The Age of Chivalry died in the 2008 municipal election in Finland with the advent of “total words.” The ongoing war of words bring near memories of the former German concept of “total war,” which meant attacking undefended shipping, helpless civilians and breaking all the rules of wars prior to WW I.
The ongoing immigration debate in Europe and Finland bares close similarity to “total war” with one big difference. Those waging it usually hide their identity.
Some do not, however. One of these was Anders Behring Breivik, who went on the rampage in Norway killing 77 people intoxicated by total words and steroids.
All those that use words to wage total war against immigrants and minorities naturally distanced themselves from the mass killings in Norway. Even Perussuomalaiset (PS) party MP Jussi Halla-aho, whom Breivik cites in his 1,500-page diatribe, played down the impact of his words on Counter-Jihad websites like the Gates of Vienna and Scripta.
One matter that the Nuremberg Trials taught us when the members of the former Nazi regime were brought to trial for their crimes was that anything can be played down, even unimaginable acts of human cruelty.
It is difficult to say what causes greater alarm in a post-22/7 Europe: hate speech or playing down its impact.
It is remarkable that people who claim to have so much knowledge about their perceived threats of multiculturalism and Islam on Europe know so little about the impact of the message their words carry. Any decent writer or journalist worth his or her weight can tell you that words are a powerful weapon. They can even move mountains.
But a consensus is emerging in our country about condemning the war of total words and drafting a law similar to the Geneva Conventions, which establish the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of the victims of war.
In light of what happened in Norway, a similar set of legal standards are urgently needed without hindering our inalienable right to freedom of speech.
It is commendable that understandably the Social Democratic Party is calling for Halla-aho’s head as chairman of the administration committee, whose responsibilities include immigration policy. Whether Halla-aho gets the boot or not is important but that more of us are becoming outraged by their views.
The ultimate danger of the war of total words is that it will linger on and pick up speed. That is why we must challenge it and those who cannot win by the rules of common decency.
That is why they wage a war of total words on our societies and attack its most defenseless members.