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Violence and selective sensitivities

By Elias Maglinis

It looks like we as a nation can’t even find common ground on the most basic of issues. None of us supposedly likes violence and, to resort to an overused cliche, we all condemn violence no matter who is behind it. But when we really get down to business, things become more complicated. People suddenly start talking about the need to define what violence really is.

I am writing this in the wake of a parliamentary discussion earlier this week during which it was heard that up until his arrest, convicted November 17 urban guerrilla Savvas Xeros had engaged in “armed struggle.” The claim came from leftist SYRIZA MP Vangelis Diamantopoulos, who went on to add that Xeros is “considered to be a terrorist by the Constitution and the law.” Diamantopoulos begs to differ, it seems.

The SYRIZA MP’s remarks sparked a fair amount of controversy. There is no point in serving here yet another condemnation of Diamantopoulos’s outrageous claim. A first, albeit perhaps naive, question would be whether this extreme view solely reflects the opinion of that particular deputy or whether it is shared by the opposition party – a party that is understood to operate within the contours of Greece’s democratic principles and which may well be called upon to rule the country in the near future.

The above is, of course, a rhetorical question given the fact that SYRIZA has been well disposed toward convicted terrorists.

Allow me to play naive, or I will have to question things that are self-evident. I am against a state which executes people in the same way that I am against self-appointed avengers who kill people to serve justice. The rest is just theorizing wedded with prejudice, bias and ulterior objectives – and when it creeps into politics the first casualty is democracy, that is all of us.

We can forever disagree about the memorandum, the euro currency or about Greece’s membership of the European Union. We can forever disagree about our government, the welfare state, the education system and a wide range of very important issues. But it hardly makes sense to still be debating the issue of violence. Do we really have the luxury to disagree on the meaning of violence? And how can people who get angry (and for very good reason) when a teenager drops dead from the bullet of a police officer really tolerate or even condone the activities of terrorist groups like November 17?

Some people out there will choose to call it democratic sensibility. To me it looks more like a case of selective sensitivity. And a very dangerous one indeed.

ekathimerini.com , Thursday Jul 10, 2014 (22:30)  
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