We are all responsible in Finland for feeding the ogre of racism and hate speech

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Those groups that are responsible for the rise of populism, racism and hate speech in Finland aren’t those that promote it but by those who stand by with their silence. They are the ones Martin Luther King Jr referred to as “the good people,” or “the silence of the good people is more dangerous than the brutality of the bad people.” 

Not only is the silence of the so-called good people a factor but their expectation and hope that racism and hate speech can be kept on short leashes.

Parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, who openly promote racism and want to make permanently migrants and minorities second- and third-class citizens, could never become such big parties without the tacit support of the “good people.”

Näyttökuva 2016-3-27 kello 10.17.13
Scores of asylum reception centers were targets of arson attacks. While we don’t know the motives of Saturday’s arson attack against a church in Ylivieska, mixed statements, silence and indifference have played a role in promoting such acts. Source: Ilta-Sanomat.

Violence and hostility towards people who aren’t white Finns have become more public in recent years. The so-called “good people” have let out this monster from the cage in the form of vigilante street gangs, fear-mongering and by encouraging, directly and indirectly, racism and hate speech.

Some “good people” I could mention are the Finnish police service, President Sauli Niinistö’s disingenuous and mixed statements about our ever-growing cultural diversity, and politicians who make careers by being racist and promoting hate speech. Others include the national media interested in its power and ethnic narrative, and an education system that still doesn’t promote enough cultural diversity at schools to reflect better the diversity of Finland in the 21st century.

We have no one else to blame but ourselves for letting out the ogre that out of the cage in the fantasy that we could control it.

If we’ve let the ogre out, we can send it back to where it came and throw away the keys. Few things will change as long as we have weak political leaders and most of the country that lives in denial about social ills like racism and hate speech.

The last thing that will irradicate this social ill from our society are quaint statements that “we are against racism.” We need action, leadership and, most important, changes in the law and attitudes.

The European Network Against Racism (ENAR), a Brussels-based NGO, gave the following recommendations for Finland to challenge Afrophobia and xenophobia in general:

  • Establish an equality body responsible for dealing with discrimination cases within employment.
  • Greater promotion of cultural diversity at schools is needed to better reflect better the diversity of Finland in the 21st
  • A plan needs to be developed and implemented to increase the ethnic diversity of the workforce in the public sector in particular within the non-discrimination Ombudsman’s office and the police service.
  • Finnish Law should integrate a direct provision for hate crimes to ensure that hate crimes are adequately recognized and punished as such.
  • Government agencies and NGOs must improve their monitoring of discrimination in all areas and especially in employment.

Read full report and recommendations here.

Few things will change, however, as long as we have weak political leaders that live in denial about the hostility and discrimination that migrants and minorities face in Finland.

Such politicians who lack the leadership abilities on this front are the biggest threat that Finland faces in this century.

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We, therefore, prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.