I was going to write an obituary over Finland’s only WWF star Ludvig Borga, but since the passing of boxer/singer/pro wrestler/author/politician Tony Halme things have taken a strange turn.
Anyone living in Finland who follows the news even with one eye has by now heard of the row that columnist Kaarina Hazard created with her text in the evening paper Iltalehti. Hazard, who has studied communication and journalism must have known what she did when she sent in her column about Halme – and more specifically about the way the so called yellow press treated the death of this controversial man.
I won’t condemn or applaud Hazard’s column, let’s just say that it was an interesting piece of media critique. But one fact remains: a lot of people in this country actually saw Tony Halme as a true hero. They voted for him! Now this tells me something of Finnish politics, media and mindset. Halme was a voice that somehow managed to call out to those who were not reached by other voices. Those who didn’t understand or care for the intricate political game. Those who really couldn’t care less for all the fancy talk and vague promises of politicians. Those who didn’t understand all the new cultures, influences and religions swarming up, talk of hbt rights, scientific discussions on global warming etc etc. They wanted a paycheck in their hand, a flat to live in, colour TV and food on their tables. And they really didn’t care about the rest, if there were problems, they were best locked up and left alone. Out of sight, out of mind. Gays, lesbians, black people, shrouded women, strange languages, honor killings, terrorists, poor people, ragged beggars, all this was strange and wrong and not the way it was supposed to be.
Tony Halme put his words straight and tattooed an “EXIT ONLY” tag above his crack and wrote that all foreigners that broke the law should be sent back to their “camel dung fire”. Simple truths, simple solutions. He spoke his mind, used a language that everyone understood. He was a the guy who was bullied in school but rose to the challenge. A man who had seen the world (USA and Japan), but remained patriotic. A man you could believe sat in your corner bar.
Now, Halme didn’t deliver on a single promise he made when he was elected to parliament. Instead he OD’d on amphetamine, tried to shoot his wife and spent the rest of his days as a walking vegetable. But still the crowds cheered him on. Why? Because he was a man of the PEOPLE. Maybe not a man FOR the people, but most definitely a man of the people. Now, when a man like this becomes one of the most popular politicians in the country, it is time for the other politicians to take a look in the mirror. A good look.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a few thoughts on my first two weeks at Ny Tid. Cheerio!