Hypocrisy shines once more

By Pantelis Boukalas

Revelations normally pan out the same way: The questions that receive some kind of answer are fewer and less important than those they raise. The publication by Costas Vaxevanis?s Hot Doc magazine of the list of Greeks with large deposits in the Geneva branch of HSBC, which could well be the notorious ?Lagarde list,? failed to quench our ever-increasing collective thirst for revelations, scandal smashing and possibly even a good public lynching, if only symbolically. This thirst, even if it weren?t endemic, is kept constant by delusive governmental assurances that every scandal will be brought to light, no one will go unpunished, the rot will be cut out, all the way through the bone.

Meanwhile, this never happens. Successive promises for clarity and transparency have been broken. The investigations and investigators so often turn out to be even more rotten that the scandal they are meant to be probing. Those who know the dirty secrets and where the bodies are hidden almost invariably find a small loophole in the law or in due process to climb out of, either by improvisation and good fortune or with the help and blessing of someone high up the political ladder. We have come to the point of believing that it is almost reasonable for a finance minister not to know the fate of a list that was put right in his hands, and for another finance chief (who went on to become the head of a party that has dominated Greek politics for a quarter of a century) not to be able to remember whether the CD he cast aside was the original CD or a copy. All this is happening right before our eyes, and we can only guess what kind of madness is going on behind the scenes. And so, for all the above reasons, no revelation can possibly have the same impact as it would under normal circumstances or in a political system that worked normally.

Moreover, the reaction from the political system has not been one of shock or of an immediate investigation into what has occurred within its own ranks. Instead, the reaction was to punish the messenger ? a condemnable act even in wartime. And so the revelation is not just demeaned, but is dragged through the mud as well so that light cannot be shed on it. Ostensibly the reason why the messenger was targeted was for the protection of personal data, and it rings so well as an excuse. The authorities cited the same data protection law they used a few weeks ago when they published the photographs of 20-year-old suspected criminals (they were carrying surgical masks bought from a pharmacy after all) and of prostitutes who were found to be HIV positive. It is the same law under which they protected well-known artists whose tax declarations were brought to light.

If there is one thing that shone in the official reaction to the publication of the list by Vaxevanis, it was not the truth, which is probably lost anyway in the shadows of time and all the different copies of the list that are possibly in circulation. It was hypocrisy that shone again.