By Enrique Tessieri
The more I read about Timo Soini the more I am convinced that the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party is a threat to this country, especially to those who do not fit the PS’ narrow view of the world. I am not contesting the election result, which I respect, but what the cat has brought in from the back door.
Marianne Lydén will publish in a few weeks a book, Jag är inte rasist. Jag vill bara ha främlingsfientliga röster [I’m not a racist. I am just out to get the votes of those who hate immigrants], that highlights the role of the media and political parties in fueling the rise of the PS, according to HBL.
While we at Migrant Tales have repeatedly criticized the media’s lack of teeth and the complacency of the largest political parties to the xenophobia and racism of the PS, Lydén raises the important question again in her book.
If anything, the media and politicians can learn from their past mistakes and now see what can happen when we are too complacent to parties that hold in contempt the rights of other groups in society.
“We journalists did Soini’s work by spreading his hatred of foreigners sometimes unknowingly,” the staff reporter at the Swedish-language daily HBL is quoted as saying, “but if we wouldn’t have written about him we wouldn’t have been doing our job.”
Lydén points the finger in her book at the following politicians for boosting the PS: Kokoomus MP Ben Zyskowicz, Jutta Urpilainen and Eero Heinäluoma of the SDP as well as Center Party veteran politician Paavo Väyrynen.
While you’ll find the same anti-immigration hardliners in all Finnish parties as in the PS, it explains why a politician like Urpilainen can flirt with Soini’s one-way integration model for immigrants and why Wille Rydnman has been christened by his party as Kokoomus’ Jussi Halla-aho.
The HBL reporter shows how an Islamophobist like Halla-aho and Soini complimented each other in the historic April election. “Without Halla-aho Soini would have never got the anti-immigration vote. Without Soini Halla-aho would not be chairing the administration committee,” she said.
Another important observation that Lydén makes is that nothing happens immediately or by chance in Finland. Racism has been festering in the undercurrent for a long time in Finland. “What is it and nothing of the sort happens [xenophobia] in Finland was the normal answer,” she said of the 1990s.
I have worked as a foreign correspondent and journalist in Finland for a long time and totally agree with Lydén about turning a blind eye to racism, bigotry and prejudice. If you didn’t you were blacklisted by the foreign ministry which did everything possible to smear your good name.
I am certain that Lasse Lehtinen, Rolf Friberg, Pekka Karhuvaara and Finnfacts can give us more details about how the foreign ministry “worked” with foreign journalists during the cold war and tried to convince us that Finlandization did not exist.
We are in big trouble if we deal with this threat of the PS in the same manner as we did before the election.
However, I believe that Finland is slowly but surely learning a stinging lesson from its pre-April 17 mistakes.