Last week True Finns party came out with their declaration against discrimination. Let’s take a look at the text first and then amuse ourselves a bit.
Declaration by the parliamentary group of True Finns
AGAINST RACISM, DISCRIMINATION AND VIOLENCE
In the context of recent violent attacks against Helsinki area bus drivers and other racist aggravation of recent times, the True Finns party has been asked to denounce and distance itself from racism.
The True Finns parliamentary group hereby denounces all forms of racism and discrimination, and will have nothing to do with the aforementioned.
We denounce generalized or false slander and demonization against any group on ethnic, religious, political or language basis, regardless of whether they’re a minority or a majority.
We denounce all violations of the right to physical integrity, regardless of the etnic groups of the assailant and the victim, and regardless of whether or not such acts are motivated by racial motives, other motives or not motivated at all.
We denounce all discrimination or favoring on the job market, in education and in other contexts based on ethnic background, language, culture, religion or a similar aspect.
We demand that all acts of discrimination and violence will be dealt with, with equal gravity, regardless of the victim’s majority or minority status. All irregularity in reporting news and making snap judgments against persons sends a strong message that their status as a member of a group affects their basic human rights.
We hold the opinion outright, that the powers that be need to treat every person as an individual rather than a representative of his minority or majority group, ethnic, cultural or otherwise. Nobody should be punished or rewarded for their background.
The True Finns parliamentary group issues this declaration denouncing racism, violence and discrimination in all its forms as a response to allegations that have been made against the party in media and by political groups. We invite all other parliamentary parties to join and sign this declaration, and issue penalties towards members who by word or deed act against the principles laid forth in this declaration.
Finnish Parliament 25.5.2011,
True Finns parliamentary group
It may well have been on Timo Soini‘s part a move to keep Jussi Halla-aho in check by letting him to penmanship a declaration against discrimination and to present it in a press conference. On Halla-aho’s part the whole declaration is just a way to make politics and a big “fuck you” to his opponents.
It’s unclear if every True Finn MP thoroughly understood what they were signing when they passed the declaration. If anything, other True Finn MP’s surrendered the hold of the situation to Halla-aho, and he used it to his own political agenda. At the same time it strenghtened Halla-aho’s influence in his parliamentary group.
So far legal experts have said that the declaration is in contradiction with the Finnish Constitution and the international human rights treaties (for example in Helsingin Sanomat 28.5.2011). The problem they have with the declaration is that it condemns any positive favoring that is usually practised to ensure that minorities have equal opportunities than the majority.
It’s notable that the declaration “against racism” does a little to denounce racism in particular. Literally it says that a racist motive in violent act isn’t more reprehensible than any other motive or no motive at all, even when Finnish penal code makes the difference. Court of law can judge a more severe punishment on the grounds of racist motivation (Penal Code chapter 6, section 5). Jussi Ojajärvi has explored this aspect more thoroughly in his blog.
Even though Halla-aho has no doubt thought the wording of the declaration carefully, it gives interesting weapons to his opponents, especially the paragraph about slander and demonization. There’s no way most of the writings by Halla-aho pass the test viewed against his own declaration. Not with all the generalizations about certain ethnic groups or leftist greens or “multiculturalists”.
Furthermore, the wording “we denounce all discrimination or favoring on the job market, in education and in other contexts based on ethnic background, language, culture, religion or a similar aspect” should prove problematic for True Finns. “Other contexts” and “similar aspects” are quite all encompassing. What about context of marriage and aspect of gender? The declaration indeed supports claims for such issues as gender neutral marriages and adoption rights for same gender couples. Of course, this isn’t said in so many words, because it’s not the intended interpretation. Most of the True Finns are against same sex marriages.
About the translation of the declaration
As a basis for the above translation was used this translation by Jasmin Oksala. Slow-news-day.net tweaked it a bit so it would represent the original Finnish wording more literally. If there’s any part of the translation that’s somehow botched, please comment. Here’s the original Finnish declaration as pdf for reference.