Jim Robertson, American Renaissance, May 2, 2020
This is part of our continuing series of accounts by readers of how they shed the illusions of liberalism and became race realists.
My parents were ethnic Greeks born and raised in Cairo, Egypt — a place that was very cosmopolitan in its day, I am told. Both my siblings were born there as well, but I came a few years after 1956, when my whole family emigrated to Australia.
My childhood was both very Greek and very Australian. I was raised in the Greek Orthodox Church, and every Sunday, the scent of dried orange peel and other incense burning in an ornate church chalice filled the house as my mother wandered through the house with it in a ceremonial cleansing of sin, and to fend off evil spirits. Greek food was a staple of my home life as well: baked potatoes in lemon and oregano, stuffed tomatoes, lentil soup, egg and lemon soup, and layered eggplant topped with bechamel sauce. My whole family listened and danced to Greek music from the wars years, such as Sophia Vembo’s “My Village, My Little Village.” I was fully immersed in Greek music, cuisine, and culture.
Meanwhile, at school, I was the only Greek boy in a sea of Australian and English children. We sang, “God save the Queen,” in the morning as well as the school anthem where we pledged, occasionally in tune, to “dooooo our best for our Un-der-cliffe Pub-lic schoooooool.” We learned the history of British royalty, the details of various English wars, and the conversion of imperial units to metric. We learned dances such as the Pride of Erin and for lunch we bought meat pies, apple pies and vanilla slices and, on Fridays, fish and chips. More importantly, we learned about Australia. My Australia. The country in which I was born. We memorized and recited Dorothy McKellar’s, “I Love a Sun-burnt Country.” At Christmas we sang, “The Carol of the Birds.” We were expected to identify Australian rivers on maps and there were always exercises in grammar and mathematics involving kangaroos, wallabies, and platypuses.
In 1970, I attended a selective boy’s high school in an inner suburb of Sydney that had a large migrant Greek population. For the first time in my life, I no longer felt like an outsider at school. Suddenly, I was surrounded by Greek boys! We talked in Greek, we cussed in Greek, and we complained about our Greek parents and their crazy Greek ways — but we all agreed that Greek food was the best. Of course there were Australian boys at the school as well, and though I certainly don’t recall having any ill will towards them, I cannot honestly say I had any particular interest in them or that any were my friends. I had Greek friends now. Not only did they act, think, look and talk Greek — they even smelled Greek — just like me!
High school was the last time I would ever be around so many of my “own kind.” With each passing year, I realize more and more how much that time in my life meant to me. They were the years in which I most fully lived what was in my heart, and, I have come to conclude, what was in my genes.
Though I have never lived in Greece, I love the bouzouki, with it’s shrill, obsessive, piercing pecking sound. I love vintage Greek songs with their mournful, longing inflections and lyrics expressing sadness and desperation, even a certain “pathological neediness.” Zorba’s dance makes me want to lock my arm around someone’s shoulder and teach them the steps. Greek food makes my mouth water. If I meet someone who is Greek I often say to them, “pos pas?” (How are things going?) to see if they know their own language. And if I hear Sophia Vembo singing war songs, I am almost always brought to tears.
How did I become an identitarian? I didn’t. I had always been one but without knowing that there was a word to describe what I have felt and experienced my entire life.
I have often thought of emigrating to Greece. I would love to wake every morning and inhale the scent of Europe, to hear and speak Greek, a most rich, deep and poetic language, to be surrounded by Greek food and to hear bouzouki every day. Chances are I will. My plan is to head to my ancestral homeland inside of a year. Unfortunately, I may not find what I’m looking for. I have lived in two cultures my entire life. I “feel” Greek, but am in many ways undeniably Australian. It is a predicament that can be very hard to manage.
If I could offer advice to anyone from a foreign race or culture planning to come to Australia, it would be this: There is nothing, I mean absolutely nothing here for either yourselves or your children. You think Australia is a rich country, and by global standards it is, but you are mistaken if you think a fancy car, home, clothes, or the latest superhero movie and tech gadgets can compensate your child for having his heart and soul permanently divided. To not be around his “own kind,” but be around people who not only do not share, but — by and large — do not care about his history, his art, his language, his dress, his music, or his traditions. In short, do not care about him.
My parents, brother, and sister were Greeks living in Egypt in the first half of the twentieth century. They emigrated to Australia in 1956, and I so very often wish they never had.