Image: Wikimedia Commons / Julia Kahelin, valtioneuvoston kanslia

Condemnation isn’t enough: tackling the root causes of far-right violence in Oulu

The heinous acts of violence perpetrated by far-right actors against non-ethnic Finns in Oulu are despicable and must be condemned on the strongest possible terms. However, this is not enough. We must address the root problem, the racist and alienating discourse used by politicians and the dog-whistling that incites people to violence.

Such acts can be seen as Stochastic Terrorism. Stochastic Terrorism is “targeted political violence that has been instigated by hostile public rhetoric directed at a group or individual”. Even on the day of the first attack, a politician from a far-right party agitated on social media for Finns to take part in actions to remove invasive species from our environment. The reference was made for the Lupine plant but the intent is very clear to understand. Our current Minister of Finance has written [in Finnish] that if she owned a gun,  people would die in a commuter train. She posted the message in 2008, only two days after a fatal school shooting that left 11 people dead. Researchers have also commented [in Finnish] on the polarizing atmosphere of Finnish society and warned that, in the end, everyone loses.

It is terrible to see the government’s inaction in this matter. Prime Minister Orpo is just pointing out the paper the government published against racism last year [in Finnish]. Our current Minister for the Interior danced around the subject and condemned all violence. The head of the True Finns parliamentary group said they are willing to discuss but do not want to make the issue political. This beating around the bush and soft handling of racist and violent rhetoric absolutely has to stop.

Thankfully both of the stabbing victims in Oulu survived. The next victim might not be so lucky. Usually, survivors of this kind of terrorist attack are faced with serious PTSD and recovering might take many years.

Violent words breed violent actions, and violent actions breed more violence. This vicious circle must be stopped and it must be stopped now.