‘Personally I’m not not racist, but…’

The majority of Greeks seem to suffer from a superiority complex when it comes to foreigners, according to the findings of a recent survey. At the same time, two in three Greeks (or 69 percent) believe that their country is far superior to all others in all respects, a notion that serves as fertile breeding ground for racism. The question of whether Greeks are racist was the subject of a survey conducted by TNS-ICAP on behalf of Kathimerini last June of a sample of 500 men and women (aged 18 and over) from around the country. According to the survey’s results, a large portion of the population has a racist outlook as they consider that Greeks are superior. They have a negative opinion of certain ethnic and social groups, which they define as «undesirable.» The main conclusion of the survey is that Greek society is not as tolerant as it believes itself to be, nor is it as tolerant as it ought to be. Indeed, population groups that belong to the lower social strata of society or who have a low level of education are more likely to express negative views of minority groups in contrast to people who belong to a higher social class or enjoy a higher level of education. Nearly all (95 percent) of the people surveyed believe that Greeks are quite welcoming and tolerant, saying that they find their own stance toward people who are «different» as positive. Just 5 percent admitted they do not consider themselves welcoming and tolerant. To the question regarding whether Greece is a superior nation to others, 82 percent of people who have a basic or no education say it is, a percentage that decreases with high school graduates with 68 percent and even more so with university graduates, to 59 percent. Also, 59 percent of the sample surveyed argue that it would be better if economic migrants were not allowed into Greece, while four in 10 agree that migrants should be placed in specific geographical locations, or ghettos, saying it is preferable for all social, religious, racial and ethnic group to live among their own peers. The educational level of those surveyed does play a role in their views, as only 20 percent of those considered educated are in favor of ghettos. «Greeks may believe in theory that they are not at all racist, but their answers reveal that, in practice, Greek society has a long way to go before it can consider itself tolerant and hospitable, two traits which it thinks it already possesses,» says Lina Sari, a representative of TNS-ICAP. What is most important, however, is that Greeks should never forget that not long ago they themselves were «foreigners» in a number of countries where they too sought a better future. More than a few Greeks made their fortunes abroad – something that is happening here today for people from other countries.