A wave of anti-Greek opinion is raging globally in the media following the events in Brussels. To be fair, it started sooner— in the days leading up to and immediately after the referendum that Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras called.
Tsipras was attacked— justifiably in my opinion, for pulling the carpet out from under the negotiators and calling for a flash-election by the Greek population on a complex financial matter. The media went crazy— especially after the results were in.
But it’s one thing to have a position on politics— even attack an individual for his choices, or a government for its actions— and another to start demonizing an entire people with disparaging stereotypes , some of which borders on hate speech.
One television newscaster in Australia said “stubborn Greeks” were to blame for billions of dollars of losses on the Australian stock market after they “thumbed their noses” at the world. Jeffrey Gundlach, co-founder of DoubleLine Capital talking about the possible spread of the financial upheaval from Greece responded to an interview that contagion was very possible because “there’s never one cockroach.”
STUBBORN GREEKS THUMBED THEIR NOSES TO THE WORLD:
In Canada, a writer and editor at large of The National Post called for a military dictatorship to restore “morality and discipline” in Greece, while referring to Greeks as crybabies and deadbeats. I can deal with (and counter) the insults— but any advocacy of a military dictatorship on a population— especially knowing the history of the one in Greece— is outright wrong.
#grexit will lead to a military dictatorship in Greece again, maybe the only way to discipline and morality #euro
— Diane Francis (@dianefrancis1) June 29, 2015
The stereotypes of lazy Greeks who don’t pay taxes and party and break plates all the time has also emerged.
I have to ask myself two things…
First, what would happen if African Americans, Jews, Aboriginal Australians, Italians, Canadians and other groups were stereotyped in the media and constantly referred to as bums, alcoholics, lazy, greedy, stupid, mafiosos and other well-known and often-used epithets of these groups?
They wouldn’t stand for it and society wouldn’t. The perpetrators would be called out and shut down and forced to retract their comments.
Like Donald Trump and his comments about Mexicans.
Secondly— It’s important not to forget history and what can come from media and government propaganda. Below is a cartoon from 1938 Nazi Germany when the established media and the government worked successfully to convince average Germans that Jews were bad for society. We all know what followed in Germany and not to mention Holland and other European countries, where native civilian populations became part of the annihilation of 6 million Jews, based on the conceptions the media had helped paint.
Not surprisingly, here’s a Dutch cartoon from June of 2015, trying to convince its readers that Greeks are, well… You get the picture.
And who remembers the ugly chapter of American history when Japanese Americans— 62% of whom were American citizens— were rounded up and placed in internment camps ON UNITED STATES SOIL (!!) during World War II out of fear that they could be enemy spies. This unconstitutional and illegal incident was fueled, in large part, by the media’s portrayal of Japanese people.
Before Theodor Seuss Geisel AKA Dr. Seuss introduced generations of children to green eggs and ham, he was the chief editorial cartoonist for the New York newspaper PM from 1940 to 1948. He was vocally anti-Japanese during the war and had no trouble with convincing his readers that it was OK to round up an entire population of U.S. citizens and put them in camps.
We can’t let this happen any more. No matter what the situation in Greece and no matter what you believe is happening or who is to blame, the blanket negative stereotyping of a people or a nation can lead to some pretty ugly scenarios. Allowing this kind of negative stereotyping leads public opinion to think that an entire group or ethnicity is bad.
And while I don’t foresee internment camps in European countries and the rounding up of Greeks— stranger things have happened in this place called Europe… Imagine let’s say, if a far-right party gains power in France, or Austria and begins calling for expulsion of the “lazy Greek” who is a pariah on society.
Imagine if public opinion in Finland, Holland or other nations whose leaders have already expressed their feelings about Greece leaving the eurozone begins to groundswell and people— based on wrong perceptions of an entire nation— begin to impact their government’s opinion. It’s already happening in Germany.
The Jews have their Anti Defamation League, gays and Lesbians have the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and Hispanics have the National Hispanic Media Coalition and numerous other ethnic media watchdog organizations abound in America. These groups have defended their respective demographic and ethnic constituents with swift and decisive action when the media, or individuals like Donald Trump— a great recent example— have violated society’s norms on defamatory speech.
As many of you know, I founded and run my own charity— the Greek America Foundation, which seeks to preserve Greek history, culture and ideals in North America, as well as help charitable organizations in Greece navigate through the crisis. And while the Greek America Foundation wasn’t founded to be any sort of advocacy or media watchdog group, I would personally back such an initiative, should media leaders, politicians and other activists of our community emerge.
This is racism and we need to act.
The Hellenic Congresses need to consult:
1. Communications Agency specializing in Image and Branding
2. Legal team
3. Other groups that have encountered this type of racism and get advise on best way to confront
Jewish Groups , African American come to mind..
The legal team needs to act as part of a strategy which is coordinated by the Congress , Communications Team and Legal Team with advise and guidance from Congress
Thank you for your article.
I have felt strongly, for awhile, that the Greek community needs a media watchdog group, and I would support such an endeavor.
First of all I will like to thank you for your website your Greek foundation and your will to devote your free time towards the promotion of our Greek heritage as a Greek-Canadian immigrant myself I feel very sorry of our national tragedy ( we ) going through but to reply on your column these kinds of immoral inhabitants always will be there the question is how we the Rest in this world can isolate them with any available means in order for our world can operate as a fair society.Thanks again for all your work towards our Beautiful country Greece
Bravo Greg. Finally someone has spoken up. The media love a “bad boy” and unfortunately, this time, it is the Greeks. Let’s not forget who practiced democracy, philosophy, medicine etc. over 3,000 years ago when others were drawing in caves with charcoal.
Are we really gonna use the old “they lived in caves, while we wrote poetry” tactic every time something goes wrong in Greece? It’s kinda old and has little relevance in today’s world.
Andreas, you apparently read an entirely different article than everyone else.
NO, I didn’t. Read again, sloooowly and out loud.
On point! Well written Greg. I think you captured the opinion and thoughts of many who feel that bigotry, racism and ignorance spread further and wider than mainstream media would have us believe.
We are in a propaganda war. On one side are the banks and EU that are studying how far they can go. This is an experiment. An amazing experiment to take over a country with economics. Banks instead of tanks as Varoufakis said. We we need to fight this war even at their level. Greece demands its war reparations. Europe is looking at Nazism on the rise, again. We accept your offer to exit the EU. Don’t be surprised if your idiocy becomes a Cuba at the Southern tip of Europe which scares the hell out of the USA – which pressured Germany to cut the crap. The EU made a bad investment investing in Greece. Do a better job assessing your investments is your bottom line. We will absolve you of your war crimes. EU and Germany have the same problem with Portugal and Spain. So all they should leave the EU. Why not? Re-establish your currency and get back to work. The EU experiment as Varoufakis said was misguided. If you were a business you would be Kodak, Enron or Radio Shack. You failed as a business and you will suffer the consequences. That is the bottom line and if exit from the EU is the solution, I am all for it. Then watch the Diaspora go to work in a Greece that unleashes capitalism. That is the “Full catastrophe” for the EU. Showing neighboring countries a way to prosperity without the EU. Greeks voted OXI. So OXI it is.
I refer to it as anti-Hellenic sentiment and it needs to stop. The Greeks have not caused mass destruction in the world, like other countries. The Greeks have not cause the economic meltdown tha the banks are responsible for and received bail out after bail out.
I think that it is time for Greece to go back to the Drachma and deal with matters properly. And that means with no outside interference. Hopefully then the Greek people, and all the political parties can work together for the common good instead of selfish needs.
Here goes an opinion on the other side. The Greeks of today DESERVE all the crap they are getting. For years now they have thumbed their nose and mocked the work ethic of Greeks abroad, preferring to boast of their lazy days and comedic work skills. Their highest goal was a government job that promised short days of paper shuffling and early pensions. The rest of us were “hazoi”. Soon they became mired in mediocrity and a sense of entitlement that suffocated both their culture and their economy. And now they have to pay it back. Boo Hoo.
Let those with more work ethic emigrate out and re-build the country like our parents did in the 20s and 50s. In the mean time, take all the abuse you rightfully deserve. TEBELIDES!!!!!!!!
Andreas, thank you for that very well-written and obviously thought-through argument! Your family must be very proud of your debating abilities! I had never considering generalizing and name-calling an entire nation before reading your comment – bravo for your initiative! Also, you just proved the entire point of the article.
Andreas, you must not be very bright.
Andrea, do you honestly believe that the giagia and papoo who are combing through the rubbish heaps in urban areas deserve to be suffering because they were tembelithes? Do you really say “kala na pathete” to the thousands–millions– of innocent hard working Greeks whose lives are being destroyed like this? Or are you just venting your frustrations with some of your own family or friends who got ahead in Greece without immigrating like us? We all know people who endorse “to tembelio” and think the rest of us “hazoi” for having a work ethic; that doesn’t mean it applies to everyone in Greece or that the people there should all be forced into penury or be publically humiliated. Worse, even than that, these prejudices affect each and every one of us living outside of Greece as well-that is how these insidious beliefs end up taking out everyone!
This opinion piece is well written and on point. I agree with all your concerns except stating that only a far-right party gaining control of a country like France would cause a possible expulsion of Greece from the euro zone. I believe a far-left party can also cause a problem for the Greeks too. Just like the party that is controlling Greece has now. Any extremist party can cause problems. So please do not only single out the far right.
Arlene–the party in power at the moment is not as far left as you think it, and it is not “controlling” Greece right now. That party is a coalition of varied groups including a number of environmentalists and feminists and the equivalent of liberals in the United States; they aren’t all Marxists-Leninists or what have you. And they were democratically elected by people desperate for a leadership to stand up to bullies in the north keen to exploit Greek markets because they believe Greeks to be an inferior class of person, along with Italians and others on the so-called “periphery” of Europe, as well as the same banksters and usual suspects on Wall Street who should have been jailed during the financial crisis of 2008.
Thanks Greg !!!!
My strategy against all the unfair attacks against Greece is as follows.
I do not buy goods of any kind originated / produced/ manufactured in unfriendly societies and countries.
I spend a great deal of time in identifying these products.
I don’t get mad, I just exercise the tactic and the rest is well known.
As a result I help the Greek economy by eating the best olive oil.
I do not have time for TV, the #1 propaganda channel.
So let’s go to work and improve Greece by becoming better than everyone else !!!!!
HATE IS NOT A GREEK VIRTUE.
I don’t know about that, Greg. Modern Greeks spent lots of time blaming Jews for lot of their financial woes and Albanians for everything else. Hate has become a very real tactic in Greece today to deal with their ineptitude.
Andreas you are obviously just a troll.
Not really a “troll”….just someone who has lived on both sides of this argument for 50 years. Anyone who had a work ethic left Greece..left behind were tebelides who scorned the immigrant work ethic and now are reaping the benefits of “Don’t worry, be happy” as a national attitude.
Anyone who doesn’t agree with your small views isn’t necessarily a “troll”, file. Didn’t all that Ancient Greek teaching of yours tell you about a person’s right to voice what he thinks? Tipote then emathes, kakomiri!
Andreas, You must have had a very bad experience…Your comments upset me even more than the other propaganda against the Greeks. The people I know are not Tembelithes , as you say. We have gone to Greece many times..and we have been well taken care of . People in business spend many hours working. I have friends and family in Greece . They work and want what’s best for their lives and their country. The Greek leaders up to now have let their people down. They need to pay for that. Tsipras and Varoufakis, with all their mistakes, have had , and have fought for the Greek people. Not for the banks and the strangle hold the EU has put on them. We have to start working to help not to tear down. We’re Greek, we need to start acting like it.
Just get your lobbies to shift the blame onto Turkey somehow… You mob are good at wiping your hands clean of any wrongdoing…
We Finns read about how Mr. Tsipras bragged in the Greek parliament Tuesday about the new bailout, how the Finns and the Germans are forced to give that 80+ billion euros! You guys have no shame! No wonder the feedback is vicious. You deserve it.
Greece is the most corrupted country in EU but still you guys talk about dignity and honor…you got neither left. Either you eat your pride and do the reforms or join Africa. Your choice. Egypt is a similar country with great ancient culture…maybe even greater than yours but it really does not help them today, does it?
Nice comment. No wonder the fascist neo-nazi True Finns get 20% of the vote in Finland.http://truefinns.tumblr.com/
Im a Greek Canadian living in Greece for the last fifteen years and it saddens me to think that the whole European project is starting to unravel with the first real challenge that it faced. I am appalled at all the bigotry and the stereotypes that are coming out, fueled by a media that is somehow bent on destroying what was built in an effort to unite Europe and all Europeans so that past atrocities are never repeated. What is wrong with us? Is it such a long step before we face the unthinkable and people start thinking that genocide is the only answer? Hate media have no place in this world. They should be pressured to make retractons and repair the damage that they are causing.
And to Andreas. Some of us work 15 hour days to make ends meet because you cannot survive on one salary in this country. Please do not generalise. You are only feeding the hate media. You seem too well educated for that. As for the Finnish gentleman. Keep reading from variety of sources. It will help you get a more well-rounded perspective on the issue. You only hate what you do not understand.
Seems the media everywhere is the same. I’m reading about holidays being cancelled and those who do intend to visit being advised to take loads of cash as they won’t be able to use their cards to pay for stuff. That’s always been the case here – Greece is predominantly a cash economy and most smaller shops, restaurants, etc don’t take card payments anyway, so nothing has changed. I’ve been able to draw €200 from my UK bank account at the ATM recently without a problem.The media is also reporting that Greece is running out of food with images of empty shelves in supermarkets and shops – that’s just a lie. We’ve just been to the local supermarket and the shelves were fully stocked. The smaller, local shops are fully stocked as always, shelves full and plenty of food available – bakeries still baking bread and spinach pies every day as always. The only problems we’ve encountered have been limits on the amount of petrol you can buy.
Scaremongering by the international media, especially news websites and newspapers – of course these websites and newspapers are owned by powerful people who have their own agenda and the more they scare us, the more power they have over us. Don’t believe the media – there are plenty of Greek (and Cretan) Facebook groups and pages and those of us who live here are telling the truth about what’s going on. There’s food, restaurants and shops are open, the beaches are still here – no need for anybody to be scared to come to Greece – it rocks 🙂 .
Eloquently said Gregory. Unfortunately much of the media has been very unfair to the Greeks and to Greece when they should in fact be more empathetic.
When the media should in fact be actively working to PREVENT a similar fate from befalling the other European nations who are in financial trouble – Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Italy.
Basically Greece was set up to fail. From one of Canada’s BEST news sites, the article the link is for succinctly explains what happened. You won’t read much of this in the mainstream media but the news has got to get out. Share it with friends and family
I have already been spending countless hours, informing the world of Greece’s modern contributions and sufferings, during WWII and the German occupation. Also, giving people the idea that the cause of the crisis is not due to Greeks being lazy or corrupt. there’s corruption every where, with America taking the cake. It might be legal, but, its still corruption. The reason for the crisis is the way the Euro is set up. Most economists have come to that conclusion