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07 December 2007

Comments

Mexifornia

Stavro, I think it boils down to one factor.

Taxpayers!! Whether American, Mexican, Greek, Albanian etc, when one pays taxes to the state, becomes a citizen, they have a right to vote.

As the number of immigrants increase, so does their voting power.

And in the reality of "majority rules" laws will be changed to reflect the views of the majority.

Stavros

Mexifornia,

Personally I am not against legal immigration. That would be hypocritical since I am an immigrant. My parents stood in line and went through the legal process of becoming citizens. The US is a multi-ethnic nation by choice and I have always believed that was a source of its strength. The United States does require immigrants to learn English, follow our laws and expects loyalty.
In exchange they receive the ample benefits of living in the US with all its freedoms.I agree with you that as they become citizens they vote and that can alter the political landscape. They are not a homogeneous voting block however, i.e. their views will differ.

Greece is a different case. It was a very homogeneous country at one time, ethnically and religiously. No one asked the Greek people if they wanted a huge influx of immigrants. It happened over night after the collapse of the Communist regime in Albania. Albanians provide a valuable labor source, pay taxes and many who are Arvanites or ethnic Greeks from Northern Epirus can be assimilated easily. Other immigrants, many illegal, cannot. Muslim Albanians have a history of moving into an area and claiming it as their own, as in Kosovo. I will be writing soon about the concept of a Greater Albania.

I reject totally demonizing immigrants, legal or illegal, or racist acts against them. I believe similar occurrences happen in every country including the US. Lets talk about it but let's not single out all Greeks as being racists.

Anyone who knows my views realizes I am pro-Israel and I abhor anti-Semitism. The sentiment in Greece is basically anti-Israel. There are many factors for this, one being the Israeli alliance with Turkey. Being anti-Israel does not make one anti-Semitic, whether you happen to be an American or Greek. Anti-Semitism rears its ugly head in Greece, just as it does in America and Europe not to mention Turkey and other Muslim countries. Again let's talk about it and bring it out in the open but calling Greeks anti-semitic ignores the historical record.

We Americans better be careful about this issue and some of the precedents we are setting in places like Kosovo, they may be biting us in the ass someday as your name aptly suggests.

BTW, you might want to read a post I wrote some time ago:

http://greekodyssey.typepad.com/my_greek_odyssey/2006/05/mexicans_and_gr.html

Kostas

Stavro,

Some excellent points you made here. I look forward to the post on Greater Albania as all news outlets I found to be unsatisfactory when addressing the ethnic violence of the 1990's.

Margaret

Stavros, I've been wondering. What do you mean when you say you are pro-Israel? Pro the existence of the state of Israel, or pro everything it does, or something in between?

I think you're right about the connection between dislike of the state of Israel and anti-semitism in Greece (though I have absolutely no qualifications to make that judgement). It's still lazy thinking - conflating the state of Israel with Judaism and Jews elsewhere. But I don't think it explains anti-semitism very effectively in the UK since I imagine that is it not motivated here by a sort of transferred sympathy for the Palestinians, or hatred of Turkey, but by something much nastier. I do not want you all to think that the situation here is as Martin thingmybob says. Racism is a horrible problem, but most of us live happily together most of the time, especially outside large cities where resources are not so scarce... I'm not sure Martin's origins are Anglo Saxon, btw., so any jibes about the UK or its colonial history may be lost on him, but hit home elsewhere ...

I've just bought a book called "In Praise of Prejudice" by a polemic British doctor and commentator, Theodore Dalrymple.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Praise-Prejudice-Theodore-Dalrymple/dp/1594032025/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1197386869&sr=8-1

I was going to give it away as a provocative Christmas present, but will have to read it first (and write about it afterwards).

demonax

Here's the thing: this Martin dickhead bloke is clearly a thoroughly ignorant, stupid conceited and hysterical man – a typical Brit, in other words – but what is such a moron doing teaching at a prestigious Greek university, taking the unsuspecting Greek taxpayers' money? What does this say about the state of Greek universities, especially when you consider all the bright young Greek academics scattered all over the world unable or unwilling to take up posts at home?

I remember Greece before the foreigners came and I see Greece now, after the flood, and I know which Greece I prefer and which state of affairs is better on every level for Greek society.


And there is a discussion to be had on Greek nationalism and Greek national myths – just like there's a discussion to be had on everything – but compare the British crap you had to put up with over at DD to the intelligent and informed debate on Greek nationalism Hermo and I had on Castoriadis blog with Greek anti-nationalists.

http://castoriadis.blogspot.com/2007/08/fires-in-greece.html#links

Stavros

Margaret,

Every country has things it should be ashamed of including my own. Israel is no exception. When I say that I am pro-Israel I mean that I support its right to exist. I also believe Palestinians deserve a home although they certainly don't inspire a great deal of confidence in their ability to govern themselves.

The thread on Diva's blog was edifying to say the least and you and Legin's comments were not only on the mark, they stood in stark contrast to Martin's hysteria. What struck me about some of the views expressed was that they sounded like they were just as intolerant as the people they were criticizing for intolerance.

I look forward to your book review.

Demo,

Don't hold back, adelfe, tell us how you really feel. I followed that thread with interest. I'm glad you provided the link. It was evident from the comments that even if there was no agreement on the issue at hand, at least the commenters knew something about Greek culture and history.

Universities in Greece, as elsewhere, have become Marxist playpens focused on political indoctrination rather than learning and critical thinking.

BTW, good to hear from you.

Hermes

Obviously, there is another agenda going on at DD's blog. Although shocking I am sure there are as many foreign academics in the UK and US who express similar sentiments about their host countries.

Why are there large menorah's in our major city public squares when they comprise less than 1% of the population? I do not see any statues of Vishnu or banners of Muhamad on their religious holidays.

Stavros

Hermes,

If you notice I said "as elsewhere" in my statement. The problem is acute in the US as well.

The three main religions in the US since the forties have been Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Judaism. Only recently has Islam been recognized as a growing entity requiring recognition in the public square. In fact the trend is to remove religious symbols, mostly the Cross, from view. What is your point?

Thanos

Speaking of Greek anti-Semitism and “racism,” few people outside Greece realize how intense is the pressure on both the Greek state and Greek people at large to conform to mainly US-induced political correctness on so many things, including expressing open sympathy for Israel. This fact alone makes many otherwise peaceable Greeks intensely “anti-American” and “anti-Israel.”

I don’t think that many of the readers of this blog would know, for example, that the Greek government has provided funds for the Central Jewish Council to publish a hefty, glossy volume, in both Greek and English, detailing the Jewish communities that existed in Greece before the Nazis destroyed Greek Jewry.

The tome, weighing some 2 kilos, is freely distributed and you can now find it in schools and other public places in Greece. I got a glimpse of it on the desk of a friend who is connected to local NGOs, most of which are notoriously and virulently anti-Greek. To my knowledge, no government funds have ever been spent on, for example, publishing a similar volume on the destruction of Asia Minor Hellenism by the Turks.

Similarly, the Greek Education ministry has issued specific instructions for “increasing awareness” of the Holocaust in schools throughout the country. No such guidelines exist for increasing awareness about the Pontic Greek genocide, for example, or the fate of the once thriving Greek communities of Constantinople and the large Egyptian cities.

As we speak, Jewish organizations in the US are bombarding the US government with demands for intervention in the case of the Thessaloniki Jewish cemetery that was destroyed by the Nazis and, later, built upon by the university in that city. The trigger here was the discovery of some bones during public works digging which they were assumed to belong to long-gone Jews. The Central Jewish Council is now moving to get involved in this “grave site” recovery project, too; my guess is there will be demands for compensation since the actual cemetery is long gone and the plot cannot be reclaimed from under university buildings.

The Greek government has been less than vigorous is resisting these pressures to conform and declare ourselves culprits and derelicts in our duty to recognize the many ills of the world, breast beating all along. And I personally don’t buy the we-cannot-do-anything line tossed out by our government types. If you are a patriot and love your country, there’s always room for holding your own. Mr. Karamanlis et.al. are sitting on their thumbs as the Kosovan Albanian Mafia is about to declare Kosovo unilaterally independent thus sparking who knows what kind of trouble in our own back yard; Mr. Karamanlis does not have the basic decency to displease his American friends with a public statement opposing a Kosovan UDI, just like the Cypriots have done to the umbrage of many of our spineless EU “partners.”

It’s easy to launch accusations against Greece, but it takes real empathy and understanding of history to realize the horrendous impact of the deluge of illegal immigrants upon this country – or to understand the roots of its “anti-Israel” attitude. I do not expect NGOs to be helpful in this department, especially since they all have their own little agendas more often than not fueled by … fancy that … concealed foreign government money!

Margaret,

I read a long review of the Dalrymple book and I am on the keyboard oredering it from Amazon. Tell us what you think.

Hermes

Stavros, read Thanos's post - which is common knowledge amongst Greeks. Also, read some of the literature on Thessaloniki in the last 10 years. One gets the feeling there is some unfinished business there and its not just reminiscing about a bygone age. Lastly, my post was not referring to the United States. Although, the majority religion in the United States is Christianity by a very very wide margin.

Hermes

Margaret, thanks for the book recommendation. Dalyrymple is not bad. I am glad people are re-examining language and its meaning. Prejudice is part of human nature. We have been given faculties to differentiate between what we believe, or come to conclude through reason, what is good or bad. The driven for political correctness has overcompensated and pushed towards extinguishing these faculties.

Stavros

Hermes,

I am well aware of Mazower's book among others. Nor am I completely oblivious to what Thano expresses so well. I think I said as much in my comments at DD's blog.

There is definitely a lot of historical revisionism being spearheaded by the likes of academics like Martin, who as Demo points out is teaching in a Greek university. What the underlying agenda is I am not quite sure. Some of it must stem from the effort to reign in nationalist tendencies in a European Union that seeks to create a strictly European orientation. Greece is an easy target for "correction."

The Jewish community in Greece is extremely small. Surely they do not have the political power to make the Greek government kowtow to unreasonable demands.

Why do Greek governments of every stripe find it so difficult to defend Greek interests?

Dumb Question

If worldwide immigration is so bad as many think, why does the world seem so bent on letting it happen.

Can anyone play the devil's advocate and state the benefit of worldwide immigration and why the richest countries in the world seem so fond of it?

It's easy to play chicken little and say the sky is falling, but what really is the sky falling from?

Hermes

Stavros, the spearheading that you talk about also comes from the US State Department, CFR, ECFR and other US government departments, US government sponsored NGOs and lobby groups. Obviously, they are aided by Greeks that are eager to please like Andrew Athens, liberals and Greek capitalists. You seem unable to also lay the blame on these groups. Greek governments are like most government everywhere else. However, compare to Russia. They have a booming economy, nuclear weapons, large population, reserves of oil/gas and influence. They can afford to call the shots to some extent and they can show the groups identified above and the NGO's the door. What Greece and other countries do? If Greece decided to shut down all NGOs operating in Greece, a solution in Cyprus might be found in the next 1000 years. Maybe.

The issue with the EU and nationalist tendencies is a problem that will not go away. It will simmer until something ugly happens.

Although, it is not directly comparable, the Jewish community was very small in Palestine too about 80 years ago. I am sure the Arabs at that time also thought how can such a small community be a challenge to them. Also, you forget the powerful Jewish groups outside of Greece. This is not some conspiracy - there has been an unnerving trend in the last few years. Obviously, the canard of anti-Semitism will be used to crush anyone that raises concerns. However, we should not only single out Jewish interests. The recipients of political correctness are also other minorities or perceived minorities.

There is a difference between having empathy for a group of people who have suffered and making concessions to their long term aims.

Stavros

Hermes,

I am going out the door so I have to keep this short. I have to think about your comment and reply later.

Margaret

Demonax,

I know that your hatred of the British, especially the English, is life-long and knows no bounds. It frightens me, to be honest, since I am both British and English. It makes me hesitate before I comment here, it makes me anxious because I never know what torrent of abuse is going to be unleashed. It makes me walk on eggshells.

I am sorry that the government of my country does not act as you wish it would, has not acted as you believe it should. I'm sorry, too, that Martin appears to be British (though probably isn't) and is so patronising (to me too) and unable to make positive contributions to a debate.

I wondered why you feel you can speak as you do on this blog, and yet censor yourself elsewhere. Is it because nobody will object, nobody will think any the worse of you here?

I doubt you care at all what I think of you, and it may delight you that you frighten me. If I were you, however, I would be ashamed.

Scruffy

Margaret, as a long term resident of Greece, I see first hand how Greek men live with their mothers until the age of 50 years old (if they don't marry), and all this pressure of following their mother's apron strings, and the corresponding negative reinforcement causes those who do suddenly leave Greece and head to the UK or America to realize what MAMA's BOYs they are when comparing themselves to men of those countries.

Inferiority complexes breed contempt.

As an old friend of mine, the retired USAF Colonel tells me "The worst enemy of the Greek man is his mother".

Diogenes

"The worst enemy of the Greek man is his mother"

My own mother would kill me if she found out I wrote this, but I agree!

Stavros

Margaret,

Since this is my blog and I am responsible for what appears on it I apologize about the intimidating language. I think all of us value your comments and respect you for being brave enough to keep coming back in spite of some of the views expressed or the invective.

Demonizing everyone belonging to a particular ethnic group simply based on membership in that group is wrong. Even when we hold that group or groups responsible for some past wrong that affected us personally. Anger is an acceptable human response as long as we channel it appropriately. As an American I am a symbol of everything my country has done, even if I disagree with some of those things, I accept that, but I also hope people will judge me as an individual. Evaluating folks based solely on labels is counter-productive.

demonax

Margaret
It's usually my policy on blogs not to respond to stupid comments or get involved in personal invective and I don't offer justification of myself to anyone; but seeing as I frighten you and you're a friend of Stavros' – whose blog this is and who is someone I respect and who I wouldn't want to think badly of me, that I was abusing his space – I'll just say that I don't 'hate' the English or the British government – that would be absurd. Since I don't 'hate' the English or the British government, the rest of your comment – and the image you have conjured up of me in your febrile imagination – is irrelevant – and says more about you than me.

Margaret

Demonax, you are vile, but you are clever with words.

I was about to post this reply to Stavros, which I am still posting so he can see what I would have written, but I've had enough. I am quite sure you no every trick in the book to undermine me or what I write and I exercise a prejudice of my own which is to stay well out of your way.

"Stavros,

It makes things difficult for you, my presence here. I don’t know what to do about that. I think that you understand Demonax’s anger in relation to his personal history and that allowed you to be more accepting of his prejudices. Besides, since they were not directed at you, they did not hurt you as they hurt me. If your house had many rooms, you could keep Demonax and me apart and keep both of us happy. As it is, it feels as if I have made you choose between allowing Demonax to express his anger as he wishes to and saying that his expressions of prejudice are unacceptable because I object. I thought about this overnight before posting my comment, and also considered whether I should just do nothing and let it go. I am afraid that doing nothing was not one of the options I thought had any merit.

I sympathise with Demonax more than perhaps he realises but I refuse to accept the blame for things that happened when I could do nothing about them, any more than I blame my German friends for Hitler. I believe that I have a responsibility to try to influence the actions of the government of my country as far as I am able now. Not that that counts for much, I suppose.

I know that you value Demonax’s comments as you value mine, so I hope that Demonax will continue to contribute to your blog and that, if he needs to, he can let off steam in private to you, or on his own blog (on which I promise to never again to comment or post vile Anglo Saxon poems). That way we are both kept happy. Which it what you would, I am sure, like to achieve."

Hermes

My mother and I cannot for the life of us see how demonax's comments were personal invective.

Thanos

Margaret,

Every blog hosting even a modicum of comments eventually attracts its own trolls. My experience as a manager of blogs for third parties is that it is mathematically certain that whatever debate develops under a certain post has more than a 50/50 chance of being derailed by personal attacks, smart ass "logic," spurious arguments, clever manipulation of the word, and the usual mix of personal grudges, prejudice, and the urge to insult and demean others while barricaded behind the anonymity of the Internet. After a while you need to develop a thick skin and just simply ignore the various prowlers out to inflict pain and suffering. Otherwise, reading and commenting on blogs begins to taste bitter, to say the least.

PS: Greek men do carry an enormous mama burden. Part of DNA.

Scruffy

At least we see Hermes has a sense of humor. Or does he really live with his Mom?

demonax

Margaret
Stop exaggerating and stop being so melodramatic.
I have never attacked you personally, so where does your 'hurt' come from? You have called me a 'vile' individual who should be 'ashamed' of himself; yet I am not crying to Stavros or threatening blog hara kiri.

Once, in relation to some comments you made about Cyprus, which were equivalent in style and substance to the comments made by that Martin bloke about Greece, I called you an 'idiot', but this was entirely justified.

But what has any of this got to do with a blog about Hellenism? You are aware, Margaret, that this blog – and others you frequent – is (mostly) about Hellenism and that the majority of commenters are Greeks. Why are you hanging out on our corner? I don't mind that you are; but what do you want and what are you expecting? Who do you think we are? Who do you think you are? Perhaps you're so upset because some of your most cherished and cosiest preconceptions have been challenged.

But why are we talking about you?

Margaret

Thanos,

I'm sure you're right - about the thick skin and the rest of it. I've never really been sure what people mean, though, when they say that one should cultivate a thick skin. I could ignore Demonax's comments until the end of my life and it wouldn't stop him. After it while it feels as if I am condoning his words by not saying anything, becoming complicit in them, tainted by association. I don't want to do that, or be that. Finally, I had to say something. In the past I have not said things when he has let rip against black people, and I now regret that. Perhaps I should explain. In the UK I chair a committee of a relatively large local authority. I am the Independent member, not elected as the other committee members are, but chosen for my supposed integrity, to oversee the ethical governance of the administration, including its equality and diversity policy. I also work for a NGO which requires all those who work for it to sign up to a promise to challenge racism and intolerance whenever we meet it. It becomes a habit. How could I do nothing?

Yesterday I mentioned a book written by a British psychiatrist, In Praise of Prejudice. I've read most of it now. The doctor's argument is that we cannot be virtuous without being prejudiced since it is prejudice which enables us to choose between good and evil. He says it is unrealistic to expect everyone to start from first principles and build their own scheme of principles/prejudices, that in practice we have to adopt some prejudices ready made. I think he under-estimates some of us, and that some of us are saddled with unpleasant prejudices from childhood.

Scruffy, Hermes always has had a sense of humour, at least I have found him to have one :). On this occasion, however, he is wrong. Hermes may make an exception for me in his dislike of all things Anglo-Saxon, and he almost never causes offence, but Demonax has never given any indication that he makes a similar exception. Demonax means to wound, of that I have no doubt. Take "febrile", for example.

Hermes

You Americans find it difficult to detect satire, farce or sarcasm – which I often use on these blogs. In this case I will acknowledge the English are superior - they have a better sense of humour.

I am not sure what this Mom is that you are referring too? If you mean mum, mother or mutera; no, I do not live with her. Although I regularly visit because my mother and father are one of my best friends and a very good authority; particularly on moral issues, if I am in a dilemma. Also, the mandarins, apricots, plums, cherries, grapes, bananas, figs always seems to taste better at their little abode compared to my apartment.

Let's not be too harsh on Greek mothers and allow more Anglo-American atomization, separate of family, homosexuality to creep into our lives. Obviously, this is another sign of how the Anglo-Americans are trying to destroy the roots of Hellenism. I do have irrefutable evidence that there is a small clique of operatives in the US State Department who are responsible for discrediting the Greek mother!

Traditionally, Greek mothers have been the pillar on which great things have happened. For example, Constantine had a powerful mother Helen that brought his soul to the True Faith, Anna Dalassena helped Alexios Komnenos I to come to power and he relied on her for the rest of his successful reign despite the protestations of his wife Irene and Karaiskakis had a powerful and influential mother who was also a nun later in life. Lastly, the greatest dedication to mothers has to be by the incredibly eloquent Michael Psellus:

https://webspace.utexas.edu/jw2893/www/Psellos-encomium-translation.html

Margaret

Demonax,

Quite, why talk about me. I told you I'd had enough. I'll explain, though, how I came to be here since many may wonder.

I knew a lawyer who worked for an NGO in Greece (no longer does), from the time when we studied together about eight years ago. DD wrote a piece about him and his work, and I read it, naturally. I found the conversation on her blog more interesting than vacuuming so I continued to read it. I had never ever read a blog before. It was all very new. At the same time over several years we, as a family, were taking most of our holidays in Greece, my husband having fallen in love with the place when he studied ancient history at Oxford and afterwards when he worked as a tour guide for a year. I came to love the place where we stayed, in the Mani, and the many historical sites we visited. My husband was delighted that I enjoyed Greece as much as him - he had almost been frightened to take me there in case it had all changed since the year he spent there. In the Peloponnese, at least, it hadn't. We often visited the parents of our NGO friend in Kalamata and they showed us Greek filoxenia. In the UK I had a ethnic Greek Albanian friend, and she began to teach me Greek, though I had to sing everything, and most of it involved reading from the Children's Bible. I had studied human rights law and was working with the Refugee Council, so you can imagine that there was much to interest me on DD's blog. However, I disagreed with some of the things she wrote, and she disagreed with me and so I started reading the blogs that others of you (who were also commentating on her blog at the time) were writing, like Phylax, for example. And so it continued. I like the discussion on Stavros's blog, though I don't have a drop of Greek blood and am a woman. Both of those things make me somewhat of an oddity.

This is a sad impasse, I think. I don't imagine that you ever apologise, let alone to an Anglo-Saxon, nor do I expect Stavros to make grand gestures in favour of me. So I shall bow out gracefully and leave you to your prejudice, unless you think you might be able to save your insults for British people in general for your own blog.

I've already apologised to you personally by email for my comments in relation to Cyprus and as far as I was concerned that was all finished with. Do you need another apology?

Enough of me. This was about you.

demonax

Thano, mothers are not a burden and Greeks – and Italians and Spaniards – should never apologise or feel guilty about being close to their families.

Only the Anglo-Saxons think of their mothers as a burden and regard their families as oppressive. Seeing your mother once a year and regarding her as an embarrassment is not something we should seek to emulate. The way Greeks 'do' family – or used to 'do' family – is healthy, both for the individual and society. The utilitarian, cold-hearted Anglo-Saxon attitude to family appalls me.


And, Margaret, when have I ever 'let rip' against blacks? You're really scraping the bottom of the barrel – and trying to paint yourself so virtuously at the same time. So, I've been vile all along – Jack the Ripper in a white hood brandishing a burning cross – and yet you've always been so keen to engage me in debate and praise my posts as 'beautiful'. Some people might think that you are a hypocrite: a self-pitying, sanctimonious hypocrite. And who gets 'hurt' by having their imagination referred to as 'febrile'?

Stavros

All,

I have expressed how I feel about the language used. Although I reserve the right to do so, I have hardly ever deleted a comment, even if I considered it crude, rude, stupid or inaccurate.

Margaret, you will always be welcome here. I don't care where you come from or who your parents were. You have been an important part of this blog and have influenced me in many ways. I realize you feel deep down that I have not been sufficiently supportive. I applaud you for trying to mend fences and now for fighting back. Frankly I don't think you need any help from me or anyone else in defending yourself.

Demo, you don't always have to go for the jugular, say "I'm sorry" occasionally. We won't think less of you.

I really wish that everyone would just take a deep breath and go to their respective corners and cool down. Let it go and let's move on.

This thread is closed.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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