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03 July 2006

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Hermes

"after the fall of the military junta and the invasion and occupation of Cyprus, both events seen by the great majority of Greeks as the handiwork of the US. The sins of the US are vast according to many of my Greek friends. America shows favoritism to Turkey, refuses to support Greek demands regarding FYROM, bombed innocent Serbs"

Stavros, these are all true in varying degrees, it is not "blind anti-Americanism". You arrogantly imply that Greeks have developed an ambivalent attitude to American policy for no reason, it is just purely prejudice that drives them i.e. Greeks are not ruled by reason.

That is downright rude.

demonax

Stavros
I don’t think you can have it both ways. I don't think you can cite the well-known anti-Greek, pro-Turk activities of the US – and then accuse Greeks of being 'blindly' anti-American.
If Greeks are anti-American, then they have pretty good reason to be so. That this anti-Americanism has been used to camouflage a multitude of Greek sins is undoubtedly true – as is the fact that it contributes to lazy or rubbish thinking – particularly by the Greek left (the Eleftherotypia article you referred to on Phylax, http://www.enet.gr/online/online_p1_fpage_text.jsp?id=35488260,49605508,57635076,63424132. is particularly stupid) – which reveals the poverty of Greek political and intellectual discourse.
HOWEVER, none of this should obscure the pivotal US role in the two most traumatic events for Greece in the last 40 years – the dictatorship and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus/the reemergence of Turkey as a threat to Greece's territorial integrity, which shaped the rotten society, feeble economy and incoherent foreign policy we all detest.
Also, you mustn’t think that, in Europe, it is exclusively Greeks who harbour anti-US grudges or are opposed to US global hegemony. You would have thought that the British would be the most pro-US Europeans, but this is far from true. Here's a poll from yesterday's Daily Telegraph, Britain's leading right-wing newspaper, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/07/03/nyank03.xml and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=5EE2WMCVDBLSNQFIQMFSFF4AVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2006/07/03/nyank103.xml.
'Most Britons see America as a cruel, vulgar, arrogant society, riven by class and racism, crime-ridden, obsessed with money and led by an incompetent hypocrite.'
Christos Yiannaras has a ready audience in the UK, if he only knew.

Happy 4th of July!

Hermes

Stavros, Eleftherotpyia is one newspaper out of many. Some of the better Greek newspapers give very well reasoned arguments for their anti-American rhetoric. Anti-Americanism is stupid if it not based on facts or events. But in Greece at least, it very often is based on real facts and events that even Americans have admitted too.

This is an article, from a well known international newspaper published in PAris but based in New York, by one of the main American think tanks. Note there is no mention of making Turkey bend to even some Greek interests.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/07/03/opinion/edcook.php

This is the sort of brickwall Hellenes have to come up against all the time in defending their national interests.

Rather than bashing Greeks (your own people) all the time, I suggest you channel your efforts into lobbying your government into formulating better outcomes for Greece.

Hermes

Reading that post again, I find it disgusting. I am not even sure a Turkish Grey Wolf could be so anti-Greek.

You should truly be ashamed of yourself.

Stavros

Demo, no one is suggesting that Greeks may not harbor some legitimate complaints. I'm not naive enough to believe that America is blameless. Greek interests and American interests have sadly not always coincided. I understand completely Greek attempts to strike out on their own and develop a different approach. The key point that I wanted to make is that Greeks need to move on and quit harping about how evil America is. The military junta consisted of Greeks, and I daresay they had more than a few supporters. I find it amusing that all of their supporters are now suffering from a collective self-induced amnesia regarding those years.
As for Cyprus, have we forgotten the internecine squabbling between Greek Cypriots for and against Archbishop Makarios? If Kissinger gave the orders, they were surely carried out by Greeks.

Germany invaded Greece. It brutally occupied and starved its inhabitants for four years. Now all is forgiven, yet America is still vilified.

When I wrote this post I truly expected this reaction. Although I must admit I did not expect to be called a Grey Wolf. So much for reasoned dialogue. The sad thing is that most Greeks are so fixated on the American bogeyman that they have failed to take a good look at themselves in the mirror. My hope is that Greeks and Europeans alike will spend less time demonizing the United States and devote more time to introspection and problem solving.

Hermes, I hope your blood pressure is back in the normal range by now and you don't cross me off your Christmas card list. BTW, Yiannaras was writing in Kathimerini not Eleftherotypia. I found his comments almost as disgusting as those of Mikis Theodorakis, who eloquently said: "I see Americans as detestable, ruthless cowards and murderers of entire nations. From this moment on and forever after, I will view as my enemy anyone who has anything to do with these barbarians." Maybe its time that Greeks tone down the rhetoric. A little self criticism and less ego might also be helpful. I think I'll go lick my wounds now.

Dana

Dear Stavros
I highly enjoy reading your site. I must say that without having such deep knowledge and experience, I very much agree with you on this topic. I am not Greek, my connection and source of interest in reading your blog, phylax etc. stem from my direct nearly 10 year experience of living in Cyprus. One of the main surprises which struck me right from the beginning was deeply rooted anti-americanism. And right from the beginning I am trying to understand not only the Cyprus problem, but also way of thinking of people here and in Greece as well. Your blog helped me quite a bit.
I must add that I also absolutly enjoyed your stories about your background, childhood, your father. Just didn't get to commenting on them. I wish you all the best. Dana

Hermes

Stavros, your arguments are quite flawed. I meet many self loathing Greeks and I do not bother with them.

Rob Wallace

Hi Stavros

For what it's worth, as a South African living in Greece, I totally agree with you about knee-jerk anti-Americanism. I find many of your comments absolutely valid.

Kosta

Stavro,

I am not sure I can write a response that can do justice to this topic as it is an extremely complex one. I do question what influence your time in the US military has on your perspective of post WW2 Greek history.

The fact of the matter is that the United States did support oppressive regimes in Greece following the Second World War. The fact of the matter also is that there have been and are plenty of collaborators in Greece. One book I highly recommend is Jon Kofas's "Under the Eagle's Claw : Exceptionalism in Postwar U.S. - Greek Relations" (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0275976238/sr=8-1/qid=1152028252/ref=sr_1_1/104-3965937-3644718?ie=UTF8). While one would expect a rather anti-American slant based upon its inflammatory title, the author does point most of the blame towards the Greek politicians who willingly submit to the will of the United States.

And I happen to agree with Kofas. I simply do not understand the stupidity of the Greek governments (including the current one). The continued deficit spending, loans from the US for purchasing arms from the American military industry (the same ones being purchased by the gravest threat to Greek sovereignty) is simply insane. Greece needs to focus primarily on how to defend herself against Turkey. Obviously Turkey has a much larger military, and Greece needs to arm itself and develop strategies for nullifying that advantage. Of course, I am not an expert in military affairs, but I would like to think I have some common sense. But this is yet another topic.

With regards to the article on anti-Americanism:

In the banal narrative of Greek anti-Americanism, this animosity emerges from U.S. support for the junta that reigned over the country from 1967 to 1974. This deeper fury enables the aggrieved to glide over the role the United States played in the defense and rehabilitation of Greece after World War II.

I simply do not know where to begin. This statement (and most of the article) is a gross oversimplification of very complex events. I could go on and on about American involvements in the political affairs of foreign nations, the hypocritical use of the Monroe Doctrine, etc.. I believe that the invasion of Cyprus was an epiphany for many Greeks of what the Americans had been doing in their affairs. Yes there were (and are) Greek collaborators, but that does not absolve them entirely.

Finally, I would like to address your use of the forgiveness of Germany and the continued villification of the United States. There is a huge difference between these two countries in terms of attitude. I find Germans extremely repentant over their past. As a nation, Americans continue to demonstrate hubris to the world, mostly due to their extreme ignorance and relatively short memories. Surely you do not disagree with that. Americans by in large have no clue how their country has toppled over governments for the sake of oil and cheap bananas.

For those in the US, enjoy the 4th and try not to blow off any appendages (an American tradition).

To those who have comments agreeing with the overall theme of this post, you simply are ignorant of modern Greek and American history.

Kosta

Stavros

@ Dana

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Greeks and Greek history are complex. This blog is an attempt to help others as well as myself better understand both. I hope I can keep you coming back to read more and please don't hesitate to comment, that's part of the process. I value and learn from all perspectives, even the stuff Hermes throws at me.

@Rob

You are very lucky to live on such a beautiful island. Funny, I have written quite a few posts but this one has drawn more than it share of comments. As a Greek American I have learned to take Greek anti-Americanism for granted. It is probably not much worse in Greece than it is in many other places these days. Actually I know quite a few anti-American Americans who live in the USA. It's a very complex subject as Kosta has indicated and its difficult to come to any kind of consensus about it. The central theme I made in this post seems to have been completely obscured and has gone over the heads of my fellow Greeks. Anti-Americanism does not hurt Americans, it hurts Greeks because it is a DISTRACTION from more important issues. Thanks for the pictures and keep on blogging.

Kosta, Thanks for an excellent and reasoned response. I don't disagree with anything you said. I will read the book. I love America, but I don't deny there are more than a few things in our history that are less than becoming. We can say the same for most countries, even the Swiss have some skeletons in their closet. Americans have also accomplished much good in the world. Lest we forget. Listen, if Greeks want to continue lambasting America that's OK. It could even become part of the school curriculum. I just wish Greeks (and I include myself) would spend a little less time looking for scapegoats and more time practicing the ideals of Hellenism.
American hubris is not unlike the hubris of the ancient Athenians. I see many similarities. Perhaps we will be brought to our knees as a result. Hubris however is not
just an American trait, others suffer from it as well.

Kosta

Stavros,

I certainly concur with what you just said. Fundamentally, Greece must solve its problems (economic, defense, etc.) by herself. Now whether the Greek people are willing to make the sacrifices to do so, that is another story. With what I perceive as a pervasive attitude of entitlement, I am not expecting that to occur anytime soon.

Kosta

Scruffy Pro-American

Someone above mentioned that many Brits are anti-American too. Well, I find that funny since I've heard that they used to say that the "Sun Never Sets on the British Empire". So what's that British anti-Americanism about? Jealousy? They cannot handle not being in charge anymore? Sort of like the old woman who's lost her luster. In fact, I believe they say in Greek "Exei Perasei th boyia ths". The new hot Lady on the block AMERICA gets all the guys and the old lady (Britain) sits home and watches soap operas. Anyway, I'm not trying to pick a fight with Brits because most of the ones I meet seem Pro-American (at least in the pubs).

Seriously, I don't believe all Greeks are anti-American but there certainly is enough of them out there when any buzz word topic is mentioned.

For example, just yesterday my Greek brother-in-law brought up how great it is in Cuba and how he'd rather go there than visit America as a way to protest against Bush, and slight America. So, I countered by telling him I'm thinking of a vacation in Northern Cyprus because I've heard from other American friends how nice the people are there to tourists compared to the rip-off artists masquerading as hoteliers on some Greek islands.

Even my brother-in-law with his lowbrow mentality understood this parallel and how offensive it sounds. (I wonder if other Greeks realize they are so offensive like this)

I don't enjoy complaining about Greece, but I certainly am not going to sit still and listen to Vlakies (bullcrap) about my country AMERICA either. So, I made a decision a long time ago. Either just sit back and take it like a Milquetoast or answer them back in the same method they employ.

My philosophy is: If you don't criticize America, I won't criticize Greece. But if you do, then let the flood gates open because I've been practicing for years.

I've discussed this practicing in detail on my blog in this article:

http://scruffyamericangreece.blogspot.com/2005/11/ground-hog-day-syndrome.html

demonax

Stavros
The ‘internecine Greek Cypriot squabbling’ you refer to provides in fact a clear example of the unforgivably malevolent interference of the US in an independent country’s sovereign affairs.
Thus: Makarios in 1968 won 96% of votes in presidential elections; a pretty unanimous endorsement of his policy of independence now and enosis in the future.
The truth, therefore, isn’t that Cyprus was divided into ‘pro and anti-Makarios’ factions and that it was this that brought about the downfall of the Cyprus Republic, but rather that so hostile to the democratically-elected Makarios were the Americans – you will be familiar with the ‘Castro in a cassock’ and ‘Cyprus as a Cuba in the Mediterranean’ nonsense – so determined were they to get rid of him – or, more correctly, overturn democracy in Cyprus – remove the obstacle to their plans to partition the island – again you will be familiar with the Acheson plan – that they were more than happy to assist the equally Makarios-hating Athens junta in backing the ‘handful of determined psychopaths’ (Christopher Hitchens, http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008120 ) on the island willing to attack the Cyprus government and create the conditions for the coup and invasion.
You would no doubt point out that the psychopathic elements manipulated by the Americans for their own purposes in Greece and Cyprus were Greek and that as Greeks we need to address this, but the question is why America chose to promote them, chose to promote psychopaths over democrats, for the psychopaths would surely have remained obscure and irrelevant if the Americans had not provided them with financial, logistical and moral support. Are you denying that America backed these people and that its backing was decisive?
Of course, the consequences of the coup and invasion of Cyprus continue – the refugees, the missing, the appropriation and exploitation of Greek land, the destruction of churches, cemeteries, archaeological sites and so on– so your suggestion that Greeks ‘need to move on and stop harping on about how evil America is’ is, as Hermes said, insulting.

I’ll make this point again, the invasion of Cyprus is not a matter of history nor was its impact felt solely on the island; its consequences for Greece – the humiliation of Greece, the loss of confidence in Hellenism as a national ideology, the moral bankruptcy of the Greek state – have, in my opinion, significantly contributed to the decline of Greek society which all who contribute here and on Phylax recognise and despise. You only have to look at the vastly different futures Turkey and Greece have to recognise how important Greece’s defeat and Turkey’s victory in Cyprus in 1974 were.

On a personal note, like you, I have a Greek immigrant background, having been born in London to Greek parents, and yet never in a million years would I consider myself to be British and I would under no circumstances risk one hair from my head to protect or advance this country’s interests – which have almost always been against the interests of Cyprus and Greece. Indeed, even though I have been born, brought up and all the rest of it in England, not only do I consider myself as nothing other than a Greek from Cyprus but this is how I am viewed by the locals who would regard me with suspicion or contempt if I tried to make out I was English, tried to make out I was something I was not.
My point is this: why is it that Greeks from America feel the need to demonstrate so strongly their loyalty to the US, to a foreign country? My perception is that the pressure to abandon your ethnic origins in America is extreme and the need to conform and be accepted is profound. I just don’t see how someone can be an American – or British/Australian/Canadian for that matter – and a Greek at the same time. You have to be one or the other.

Stavros


Demo,

Let me try again, the US has made plenty of mistakes. They had plenty of help from Greek fellow travelers. EOKA-B overthrew Makarios and installed Nicholas Sampson. EOKA-B was the creation of General Grivas. General Grivas attempted to overthrow Makarios to achieve enosis by violent means. The organisation's unpopularity increased after attacks on Greek Cypriot socialists and supporters of independence, while public outrage followed the murder of government minister Polycarpos Georgadis and a botched assassination attempt on Makarios.

Brigadier General Ioannidis who overthrew Papadopoulos was desperately seeking a way to increase the popularity of his regime. He chose to do so by staging a coup in order to bring about enosis and achieve a nationalist triumph. The Greek mobilization proved to be a shambles and his commanders refused to attack Turkey.

Again, I don't argue that US involvement in the matter doesn't stink to high heaven. Greek humiliations started well before the US appeared on the scene. The catastrophe in Asia Minor was blamed on the support given to Turkey by former European allies (even the Soviet Union backed Turkey). It was the King who removed Venizelos and replaced Venizelist officers with incompetent buffoons. I submit to you that Greeks need to figure out why they fail and not who to blame. If that is being disloyal and you would prefer I shut up or conform to some approved norm then I really fear for the future.

If America did not exist, the world would be a much worse place. Whether you concede this point or not, America defeated Communism and Fascism, and it saved Greece from a far worse humiliation, suffering the same fate as its northern neighbors. I make no apologies for my love of America. My soul is Greek and unlike most "real Greeks" my family and I have lived under Communist and Turkish occupation and we have never given up our Greekness or our Orthodox faith. American freedoms allow millions of immigrants like myself to live, worship, prosper and speak freely. Why should I live under her roof and protection and not risk a hair on my head for her???

What am I wondering is why I am being attacked for giving my perspective as a Greek about Greek problems and doing so in a constructive way with absolutely no malice. I haven't written anything that I haven't heard before on Phylax. I consider the commentary of Mr. Yiannaras and Mr.Theodorakis as fundamentally anti-Greek. You see being Greek isn't a gift of birth, it is a way of thinking and living.

For what it is worth, I will think about what you, Kosta, and Hermes have said. I hope you will do the same. What we have in common far outweighs that which separates us.

Kosta

Stavro,

You know the Greeks overextended their supply line back in 1922. It's amazing how much we Greeks pay homage to Alexander the Great, yet ignore his lessons. Example: Alexander would actually retreat to protect/maintain his supply line. I wish the Greeks had dug in at the coast, kept their supply line as short as possible, and taken Constantinope instead of pushing into Anatolia. But we can argue "what if" until we are blue in the face.

Kosta

demonax

Stavros
Naturally, I endorse the sentiments expressed in your last paragraph. I’d like to think I’ve been constructive and not hostile nor have I attacked you personally. My point about the need I perceive Greek Americans have to conform to a homogenising American culture was not specifically aimed at you but at Greek Americans in general.
A couple more points:

1. You are correct in asserting that EOKA-B tried to overthrow Makarios; but as Christopher Hitchens demonstrates again and again in his book, Cyprus, Hostage to History, US policy in Cyprus also had as its primary aim the removal of Makarios and in pursuit of this they explicitly backed Grivas and EOKA-B, explicitly backed this ‘handful of psychopaths’ who had little or no popular support in Cyprus.
Commenting on US undersecretary of state George Ball’s admissions in his biography that America was providing support for Grivas/EOKA-B in their efforts to kill Makarios, Hitchens writes: ‘This is an extraordinary series of admissions for an American statesman to make. He boasts of contacts with armed irregulars operating against a sovereign state, and does not conceal that his intention was the “ouster” of a popularly chosen president.’
To suggest, therefore, that America simply made ‘mistakes’ in Cyprus is, to say the least, avoiding the truth. The truth is that the US conspired to overthrow the government of Cyprus – a government that was Greek – Cyprus’s first Greek government, as Makarios was fond of saying, in 800 years, since Isaac Comnenus – and was serving the interests of Hellenism more broadly, in opposing the junta and maintaining a vision of Cyprus, in its entirety, uniting with Greece, thus fully liberating Cyprus and bolstering Hellas in the process.
Moreover, the Americans wanted to overthrow this Greek government serving the interests of Hellenism in order to facilitate the forcible partitioning of this Greek island, ‘the most Greek of all the Greek islands’, according to Lawrence Durrell, a feat they achieved, bringing untold misery to hundreds of thousands of Greeks, contributing to the destruction of a Greek culture and way of life developed over 3,500 years.
I see crimes here – crimes against Hellenism – not ‘mistakes’; crimes which must be hard for you as a patriotic American with a Greek soul to accept, but there you have it. You can’t avoid the facts or make them tell a story that would be less troubling to you.


2. I tend to think that the humiliation of 1922 was somewhat purged by the Albanian epos and certainly I think that if Cyprus (and Northern Epirus) had been included in Greek borders after 1945 – as natural justice demanded – then a more potent and confident Greece – with borders stretching from Kerkyra to Kyrenia – would have emerged. Fifty years on from the EOKA campaign, and given how unfashionable Cyprus is now in Greece, it is difficult for us to imagine how the Cypriot enosis campaign captured the Greek imagination and stirred Greek national feelings, and that this popular national movement ended so disastrously and humiliatingly in 1974, I still maintain, is vital in understanding the decline of the Greek state and society over the last thirty years.

Stavros

Demo,

Thanks as always for your comments and insights.

Kyriacos Markides has written an excellent piece which talks about the rift between Grivas and Archbishop Makarios over enosis.
http://www.cyprus-conflict.net/disloyalty%20-%20Markides.htm

One cannot come away from reading it without understanding that Greeks are not mere puppets being pulled this way or that by the puppetmaster whether it is Britain or the US.

As for the sins of the US, US foreign policy objectives in the area were predicated on two goals: preventing war between Greece and Turkey in order to preserve the southern flank of NATO and counteracting any attempt by the Soviet Union to establish a foothold in the eastern Mediterranean. Did the US do some stupid things in order to achieve those goals. Of course. Should they get all the blame for the tragedy that befell the Cypriot people. No way. One must recall that the creation of EOKA and EOKA B, the many plots against Makarios, and the Greek junta itself were not creations of the CIA (even if many wish to believe it were so) but creations of Greeks and Greek Cypriots themselves. They were the plotters and implementers of these heinous crimes. That America stood by is shameful, but not the root cause.

I am not attempting to absolve anyone here. Returning to my original point, Greeks, and I'm speaking about all of us, need to try to understand why we are failing. What can we do differently to overcome the failures of the past. Blaming others exclusively, even when justified to some extent, is counterproductive and self-defeating.

You have given me much to think about.

Margaret

Stavros,

Though I haven’t commented on your site before, I have often felt like doing so. It would always have been only to say “Hear, hear” to your posts - which, in the context of intense political debates beyond my expertise (I am not Greek) seemed fatuous. Perhaps you would, nonetheless, have liked to have heard the "Hear, hear".

Yesterday, however, I read your exchanges with Demonax and thought about them for quite a long time afterwards. I suppose I was particularly challenged by demonax saying this: “Indeed, even though I have been born, brought up and all the rest of it in England, not only do I consider myself as nothing other than a Greek from Cyprus but this is how I am viewed by the locals who would regard me with suspicion or contempt if I tried to make out I was English, tried to make out I was something I was not.”

When I thought about it, I thought that, yes, he probably had a point about being regarded as English. This admission did not come easily to someone who is English herself and a dyed in the wool optimist about human nature. But when I re-phrased the comment to read “British”, rather than “English”, I thought it no longer made sense. Of course Demonax is British, but he probably is not English, nor ever will be for a lot of people. This is because English is a label that many would use to describe an ethnicity which is given to you at birth and which you cannot acquire afterwards. It has never had any legal meaning except for the purposes of defining those who may compete in sports teams. It probably is not a very inclusive word and I’ve rather gone off it since thinking about it, except as a description of my own ethnicity.

Being British, however, is something very different – it describes a nationality. You can be British whatever your ethnicity and I am sad if Demonax cannot feel that he belongs to the country in which he was brought up. It also made me wish that we had a British football team, rather than teams from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Then I thought about America and thought that the American label was like the British label. It includes rather than excludes and this is a thoroughly good thing. It allows you to be Greek American just as I am English British or Demonax is Greek Cypriot British. I imagine the emphasis between the two parts of those descriptions would change, depending on what was being debated and with whom …

Then I thought about Greece. The problem is that there is no duality of terms available so that ethnicity and nationality are commonly subsumed into a single description: Greek. This excludes minorities who might be Greek qua citizens but not Greek qua member of a tribe. The question "Are you Greek?" could be asking whether your patriotic sympathies lie with your nation, but often mean "Are you a member of our tribe?". I suppose the same is true of France, Germany, but less true of Spain and of Switzerland.

And, more controversially, what a shame that where such a duality does exist – Cyprus, for example – the defining adjective is nearly always the ethnic one rather than the national one.

Anyway, to recap ... Hear, hear, especially the bit about teenagers and ponies several posts ago. That was very helpful!

Hank

The original posting, ironically decries Greek "victim" mentality yet it is a blatant example of US victim mentality.

To the limited degree it exists, anti Americanism, ss a product of US attitudes and actions.

The problem lies in the definition of Anti-Americanism. In the US time and time again Greece's relationship with the US is discussed absent noting US support fort the Junta, the US role in the Cyprus debacle, and blind, unqualified (and short sided) US support for the militaristic, aggressive and anti-democratic forces in Turkey.

Once these have been placed into context, Greece and Greeks aren’t any more anti-American than the average American. If one goes with these shallow definitions and examples sited in the original post, the converse is also true; Americans are often blindly ant-Greek and blindly anti-European.

Look at the institutions noted. First, the Greek media. The American media is of course knee-jerk anti-Greek, look no further than the coverage of the run up to the Olympics.

Does scapegoating of American exist? Yes. Is it broader, deeper or nastier than American scapegoating of others? Not at all. Glaringly, the blog entry in question is
just such an example!

Earl

Hank is wrong. America=Good!

Everyone who disagrees with us=Bad!

You are either with us or against us!
- President Bush -

Stavros

Margaret,

It's always a big motivator for me when posts generate discussion and more importantly make people think about issues. American and Britain are multi-ethnic societies by choice and I think it that by and large it has resulted in a great deal of dynamism for our respective societies. The American concept of the melting pot has given way to that of a "simmering stew" where immigrants add to the flavor but can maintain their cultural heritage. This tolerance allows our societies to partake of the inherent talents and to some extent the cultures of immigrants.

History is a major factor. Greece absorbed one and a half million refugees in 1922. It took a long time to assimilate those refugees even though they were ethnically Greek and had a common language and religion. Greece is a Balkan country and as such is caught up in that area's constant conflict over territories by competing ethnic groups. This is partly a legacy of the Ottoman Empire.
Countries have to decide for themselves the path to survival in the modern world. Some nations cannot hope to survive as multi-ethnic states and still preserve their ethnic identity. My own sense of ethnic identity is strong and it is inclusive. I want others to partake of what Hellenic civilization has to offer including the country I live in, America.

Hank,

My purpose in writing the post was not to bemoan the fact that Americans are disliked or even despised. Personally I couldn't care less if the world likes us as long as we do the right thing. Unfortunately, sometimes we don't. Anyone who has studied modern Greek history realizes that Greeks often feel that everything bad that happens to them is someone else's fault. There is no denying that the "Great Powers" have influenced the course of Greek history. I believe that Greeks need to take responsibility for their own history and that they need to fashion their own future. I want them to focus on fixing problems not whining about villains.

As for the mainstream media, Greek and American, they have let us down. Maybe we can do a better job of understanding world events by doing what we are doing now, talking to each other and educating ourselves. This by the way is very Greek, in the best sense of the word.

demonax

Margaret
You are right, of course, to draw the distinction between being British and being English – a distinction that is in fact becoming increasingly acute as the English – after the Scots and Welsh – seek to create a new identity for themselves outside of any British context, diluting ‘Britishness’, and therefore making your desire to stress ‘Britishness’ as an expression of a common identity and common bond between all people who live on these islands more and more problematic.
To the extent that I have a British passport – which I always show with a certain degree of reluctance and embarrassment, as if I was in possession of a fraudulent document and a made up identity – and have the right to vote in elections – a right I haven’t exercised in a long time – then I am British; but for me this Britishness has no meaning and I would certainly refute any attempt to label me as Anglo-Cypriot or British-Cypriot (two terms which occasionally do the rounds) – although I would balk less – but I would still balk –at London-Cypriot. Ultimately, therefore, I see myself as 100% Greek, 100% Cypriot, no hyphens before or after.
My point being that I don’t agree with you that ‘British’ as a label is as inclusive as the ‘American’ label appears to be.
This apparent inclusiveness of America, in opposition I suppose to my perception of Britain as an exclusive society, is why Greek-Americans have always intrigued me – and why my friend Captain Stavros of the US Marines, who is willing to kill and be killed for this country in which he was not born – intrigues me in particular. Does this Greek American devotion to the USA emerge from the possibility that this country allows you to be both Greek and American – something I doubt, given the inherent conflicts of interest and identity, certainly as I have experienced them in the UK – or is it, as I suspect, and contrary to the ‘melting pot’ or ‘simmering stew’ ideology, a devotion that is demanded from a homogenising culture that has less time for differences than it cares to admit and which, ultimately, insists on conformity?

For me, Greek Americans – as embodied by US Marine Captain Stavros – induce in me admiration, envy but, also, disquiet.

Also, Stavros, you will see from my comment to Hermes’ post over at Phylax, that you have not convinced me one iota that American involvement in Cyprus (and in issues relevant to Hellenism more generally) has been anything other than dirty and disastrous. I did think about what you said and the more I thought about it the more indignant I became. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one and fight it out on future posts both here and over at Phylax.


Earl

It feels really good being on the winning team of America. Making rules, and kicking ass since 1776. Don't like it? Well, get yourself a more powerful economy, bigger Army and then take control!! Russia and China tried it but failed.

But, we also note that they enjoy the wealth and camraderie that being a friend of the Mafia (America) brings to the table.

Bring on the 2 for 1 salad bar!! I'm hungry.

America I love it!!!

Stavros

Demo, it's OK to disagree as long as we listen to what others have to say. This is the route to learning. Greeks of the diaspora and in Greece itself do not speak with one voice. Maybe that is part of the problem. I think that we need to listen to each other first and foremost. This will ultimately facilitate unity and consensus in the long run on how to deal effectively with the key threats to Hellenism.

Jason

Kosta,

your comment:

inally, I would like to address your use of the forgiveness of Germany and the continued villification of the United States. There is a huge difference between these two countries in terms of attitude. I find Germans extremely repentant over their past.

How you can even compare post-WWII US foreign policy and it's effects on Greece, with the Nazi occupation is beyond me.

I am of Greek descent. You, Kosta, need to have your head checked for that response.

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