Hard Times Lift Greece’s Anti-Immigrant Fringe

Rachel Donadio, New York Times, April 12, 2012

On a recent morning in the upper-middle-class neighborhood of Papagou here, members of the Greek ultranationalist group Golden Dawn stood at an outdoor vegetable market campaigning for the coming national elections.

“This is our party’s program, for a clean Greece, only for Greeks, a safe Greece,” Ilias Panagiotaros, the group’s spokesman and a candidate for office, said as he handed out leaflets.

He approached an older woman, who recounted how a relative had been robbed of about $800. “They threw her on the ground, they took the 600 euros she had withdrawn from the bank to pay for her husband’s nursing home,” the woman said. “She was even a Communist, and she told me, ‘I’m going to Golden Dawn to report this.’ ”

The exchange was a telling sign of how the hard-core group—better known for its violent tangles with immigrants in downtown Athens and for the Nazi salutes that some members perform at rallies—has been trying to broaden its appeal, capitalizing on fears that illegal immigration has grown out of control at a time when the economy is bleeding jobs.

Many polls indicate that in the national elections scheduled for May 6, Golden Dawn may surpass the 3 percent threshold needed to enter Parliament. The group has been campaigning on the streets, something that mainstream politicians have avoided for fear of angry reactions by voters who blame them for Greece’s economic collapse.

But even if Golden Dawn fails to enter Parliament, it has already had an impact on the broader political debate. In response to the fears over immigration and rising crime, Greece’s two leading parties—the Socialist Party and the center-right New Democracy Party—have also tapped into nationalist sentiment and are tacking hard right in a campaign in which immigration has become as central as the economy.

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“Greek society at this point is a laboratory of extreme-right-wing evolution,” said Nicos Demertzis, a political scientist at the University of Athens. “We are going through an unprecedented financial crisis; we are a fragmented society without strong civil associations” and with “generalized corruption in all the administration levels.”

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The Socialists, who were in power when Greece asked for a foreign bailout, have seen their popularity plummet, and they are desperate for a way to reconnect with voters. This month, Greece’s public order minister, Michalis Chrisochoidis, a Socialist in the interim government of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, said Greece would set up detention centers for illegal immigrants. And the Socialist health minister caused a stir when he said that Greece would require illegal immigrants to undergo checks for infectious diseases.

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Golden Dawn is unabashedly nostalgic for both [Nazism and fascism]. Founded in the early 1980s by sympathizers of the military dictatorship that governed Greece from 1967 to 1974, Golden Dawn has always espoused a neo-Nazi ideology. Its symbol clearly resembles the swastika, and copies of “Mein Kampf” and books on the racial superiority of the Greeks are on prominent display in its Athens headquarters.

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In a high-profile episode last May, a Greek man was stabbed to death in Athens as he walked to his car to take his pregnant wife to the hospital. In response, Golden Dawn and other extreme-right-wing groups went on an anti-immigrant rampage that lasted for several days.

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  • Oil Can Harry

    For the past 50 years most people in the West have repeatedly told pollsters they’re opposed to Open Borders.

    So how does the New York Slimes newspaper refer to this solid majority? As the “Anti-Immigrant Fringe”. 

    • Anonymous

      Because the liberals like to think every (white) person shares their delusional, unnatural and destructive views.

  • In a high-profile episode last May, a Greek man was stabbed to death in
    Athens as he walked to his car to take his pregnant wife to the
    hospital. In response, Golden Dawn and other extreme-right-wing groups
    went on an anti-immigrant rampage that lasted for several days.

    “Anti-immigrant rampage.”  What the NYT probably means by that is that they nailed fliers to utility poles.

    About a week or so ago, the Kansas City Star did a profile of Kris Kobach’s first year and change as Kansas Secretary of State.  They called Mark Potok for his side, and he said something along the lines of “everywhere Kobach goes, death and destruction and heartache and sorrows follow.”

    That must be why Kansas looks like bombed-out Hiroshima.  Actually, just the opposite:  Businesses based in Jackson County, Missouri can’t flee to Johnson County, Kansas fast enough, I think mainly because they’re worried that the KCPS will be dissolved, its black and Hispanic no-account students divvied up among Independence, Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit, and whites will flee across the state line for new residences. 

  • KenelmDigby

    A typical load of brainless, hysterical, badly-reported BS from the NYT.

    The point is that Greece is kaput.Bust. Bankrupt.Ruined.Finished.Destroyed (due to the evil that is the EU, but that’s another story).
    Greece cannot even maintain *its own people*, the ethnic Greeks who’ve lived there for millenia. Why on Earth are they being forced to look after other people’s beggars (for that’s what they are, shameless beggars who force themselves on the charity of a foreigner’s country), when their own country is descending into penury? The immigrants are simply not needed and not wanted, te Greeks don’t have the luxury of being able to afford to support other people’s refuse whilst they themselves are being crushed.
    What’s so hard to understand about that?
    Why can’t Saudi Arabia take in Pakistanis?

    • Anonymous

      This seems to be the flaw with all white nations nowadays.  Our resources aren’t going to our own people in our own nations and it’s going to other countries to feed them or start wars with them or fight their wars.

  • No

    Greeks have long memories.

    This is great news, but I’m not sure Roman salute and neo-Nazism are going to play well in Greece as a populist movement.  The Germans have always considered the Greeks just a step above an untermensch and they were brutal during the Occupation.  For that matter, so were the Romans.

    Maybe they can keep the salute and lose the swazi and “Mein Kampf.”

    We should keep an eye on how they figure it out.  We can probably copy a lot of what they do over here.

    And . . . I might be totally wrong.  It’s been 67 years since the Greeks fought the Germans.  If their educational system is anything like ours, most adults probably don’t have a clue who the Nazis were.

    In fact, if Hollywood didn’t come out with a new holocaust movie every few years and if new concentration camp “survivors” didn’t keep popping up every few months . . . neo-nazis might be pretty popular both here and in Europe.

    • Anonymous

      Europeans were under invasions and Muslim occupations and Communist regimes.  Don’t you think they would by now wake up and fight them off? 

    •  The Roman salute can be considered traditional. It is true that the Roman takeover of Greece was in some aspects harsh, it was not on the level of the Roman conquests of Gaul, Hispania, or Carthage. Many of the Greek cities welcomed the Romans and supported them in the overthrow of Macedonian supremacy. The Greek language remained in widespread use in the East and remained the second language of Roman aristocrats: Latin was hardly used outside of official and military purposes. Moreover, after the Crisis of the Third Century, the Greek cities of Nicaea and then Byzantium (both on the Bosphorus) became the primary capitals of the Empire.  Greek culture converged with Roman culture, and with the fall of the Western Empire became one and the same. From Late Antiquity up to the 19th Century, the most common name for the Greeks was “Rhomioi”: Romans. It is still in some use today. For almost 1000 years, the “Roman Empire” was not an Italic but Grecian empire (remembering that it was never called the “Byzantine” Empire until long after the Ottoman conquest). That is quite a lot of history.

      Moreover, even in the late Republican period, the Greeks were not considered “untermenschen”. They were considered more decadent, bookish, and less militaristic than the Romans, but they were considered to be quite above other peoples like the native Egyptians, Nubians, Celts, Germanics, and Phoenicians (including Carthaginians.). In many cases, like Egypt, this middle-caste status had legal relevance.

  • Anonymous

    Because when whites are well off and didn’t earn their wealth through blood, sweat and tears–like whites during the revolution, southern whites in 1861, the WWII generations–they become complacent and easily guilt tripped.  It seems like awakened whites with a will to fight only come during hard times, which is about every other generation at least.

  • curri

    The “neo-nazi” thing is a red herring. What they’re really afraid of is any kind of white militancy. 
    It’s not like there’s any chance that Greece will build a giant army and invade Poland or whatever else it is they’re pretending to fearful about. 

  • jeffaral

    If I lived in Greece I would fully and unabashedly support New Dawn.  Keep Greece european and white !

  • I am somewhat dismissive of anything written by the NYT that refers to “Nazism or extreme right-wing politics.” This is because the NYT seems to believe anyone who opposes illegal invaders (otherwise referred to as ‘immigrants’) radical leftist politics, “Greece for Greeks”, etc., is a card carrying Nazi.

    The Nazi card and extremist tag has lost its sting….

  • njguy83

    Its nice to see greeks fighting back but I think any type of connection or nostalgia for the third reich is a big mistake. Might all be a lie seeing that this is the new york times though.

    One of the real positive aspects of a party like Golden Dawn is they make the other “far right” party look that much more mainstream. Populat Orthodox rally according to wikipedia is the name of the other nationalist party which is already represented in parliament.

     The downside to this is both parties are competing for the same type of voter.

  • Carney3

    Golden Dawn is a farce, a dead-end.  Nazi salutes, Mein Kampf sales, etc. are a non-starter in a nation that remembers a harsh Nazi occupation that caused a famine costing hundreds of thousands of Greek lives.

    The Popular Orthodox Rally is a much bigger party that actually already has representation, not only in the European Parliament (like the BNP), but even in Greece’s national Parliament.  Unlike the Golden Dawn which attempts to graft an alien hostile ideology onto Greece, the POR taps deep wellsprings of Greek national and religious identity and is thus much more legitimate.  

    Among the POR’s main stances according to its own policy document are:

    – No accession of Turkey to the European Union
    – Ban immigration from outside the European Union and deport all illegal immigrants.
    – Opposition to the European Constitution and the Lisbon Treaty

    So, no-hope neo-Nazi clowns, or a real party with a hardline stance on immigration and a chance of actually getting into government (and in fact it already was for about a year before pulling out over disagreeing with the austerity policy).

  •  Well the primary concern for the Allies was to open up a southern supply route to the Russians and so to help keep them in the war. The Greeks did see reclaiming Constantinople and the rest of the Aegean coastline as a national goal, but there was a struggle between Greek republicans and the monarchy (which was of German origin). That struggle actually continued beyond 1919 until 1923, following the collapse of the Greek army and the unwillingness of the Allies to deepen their involvement.

    I still support the whole of their mission, even though reclaiming the Anatolian regions of historic Hellas is far into the future. The Turkish occupation of Eastern Thrace and Constantinople is an outrage though that I pray and hope will be reversed in my lifetime.

  •  There has actually been anti-migrant rioting in Greece, normally overshadowed by the many other riots.

  • For the most part? Well, the exceptions were pretty damn huge. Alexander the Great sure didn’t stay in his own area… He invaded everything to the Indus! The Greeks also colonized Southern Italy, the Crimea, part of Lybia, Southern Spain, and some cities in Southern France. Besides Alexander, those were mostly settlements rather than land taken by conquest, but Greece today is far smaller than what the Hellenistic world once was.