A guest post by “Inglourious Basterd”
I was fortunate to grow up in Athens, Greece to a middle class family before moving to the US a few years ago. Sadly, Greece has been getting a lot of attention in the news for the last two years. It was the first domino to fall in the still unresolved European debt crisis that saw the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the IMF – collectively called the “Troika” – negotiate two rounds of emergency loans in exchange for tax hikes and spending cuts (mostly cutting salaries and laying off workers) at a time of already deepening recession that started in 2008. These austerity measures are so harsh that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was reported to have said about them before they took effect: “We want to make sure nobody else will want this”. The results are predictable: decreases in GDP, rising unemployment above 20% including half of all young people, rises in suicides, homelessnes, and violent crime.
The communists and far left political parties have achieved record polling numbers with populist rhetoric as working people abandon the two centrist political parties that supported the latest round of austerity measures and seek to take a harder line against the Troika while still largely supporting EU and Euro membership.
At the same time, the number of immigrants from other poverty and war stricken countries like Albania, Pakistan, and Afghanistan has been rising due in no small part to a broken EU refugee policy referred to as the Dublin regulation that dictates that asylum claims are to be processed in the EU state of arrival. According to Human Rights Watch “With more than three-quarters of migrants who enter the EU irregularly by land coming across the Greek border from Turkey, the Dublin regulation means that an EU country ill-equipped to assess asylum claims or to treat migrants humanely has to manage a disproportionate number of arrivals.” This means that hundreds of thousands of poor immigrants with are left to fend for themselves either in horrible detention conditions or in legal limbo.
A mass media landscape dominated by entrenched business interests that have profited immensely from the status quo is not keen on people questioning EU calls for further privatization and weakening of collective bargaining rules. Instead, viewers are inundated with sensational allegations of rampant crime by immigrants and constant scare-mongering about food and medicine shortages unless the Troika demands are not immediately met.
How this translates politically and socially has also been predictable. Violent organized racist attacks against immigrants – once unheard of – have now become a terrible reality in many working class neighborhoods. What was once a marginal fringe party called “Golden Dawn” went from .3% in the 2009 elections to almost 7% in 2012, more than enough to get representation in parliament for the first time.
In addition to holocaust denial, requiring journalists to stand in deference at their press conference, breaking up book presentations, a logo resembling a swastika, and a Nazi-like salute, Golden Dawn also made thinly veiled anonymous threat of violence against journalist Xenia Kounalaki last April on their WordPress blog. WordPress was notified and promptly took it down, however they still maintain many local blogs on Google’s Blogger platform despite Google’s terms of service having explicit prohibitions against hate speech and threats of violence.
Google has a staff in Greece. I find it hard to believe that they are unaware of the presence of this dangerous group on their service. Nonetheless, they must be banished from Blogger. Google cannot continue to provide a platform to this dangerous group in perpetuity. Despite repeated terms of service violations, the blogs are still there. The time has come for public pressure. With new elections in Greece on June 17, every day that goes by means more votes and more legitimization for Golden Dawn.