Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

An impressive reaction

COMMENT

TAGS: Migration, Politics, Society

Excessive political correctness simply gives extreme forces and the preachers of populist fearmongering more voters and fans. This was illustrated quite clearly in the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency. Middle and working-class Americans were scared for their jobs and over whether they would be able to afford their children’s tuition fees at the country’s overpriced colleges. The elite was not just deaf to their agony, but completely out of touch with the “other” America. Bound to powerful minorities, it dealt with political issues that were of interest to the few. It is ludicrous to even try to explain why schools should have gender-neutral toilets to a person earning a minimum wage and convinced that nothing better will come around because of globalization.

There are certain politicians here in Greece making the same mistakes – and we will pay for it. Protestations over the high concentration of migrants and refugees on the islands is a case in point. The problem is indeed very real and has been highlighted by people who are moderate and responsible – not racists or fascists. When someone likens residents who have become desperate with the situation to far-right extremists, they are obviously blind. The more they criticize or disparage these people, the more they are pushing them to the other side.

We have been lucky so far to see the greater part of society reacting in a very mature way to the crisis. Lucky because there hasn’t been a real or contrived incident to become the object of exploitation by extremist forces or the gutter press. We have been mature because we have shown ourselves capable of dealing with crises such as that which started in 2015 with the refugees with consensus and flexibility. Perhaps images of our own grandparents and ancestors living through similar scenes and events had a subconscious effect. We saw the political effects of the phenomenon in other European countries or even how it hurt German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Indeed, if you consider that the huge influx of migrants and refugees coincided with an unprecedented economic crisis, then the reaction of the majority of Greeks is truly impressive.

We are now possibly on the brink of a fresh influx similar to that of 2015. The situation is different though, because the borders to the north are tightly closed, among other factors. Therefore, it will take a lot of caution to avert political and social developments that will be impossible to contain.

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