OPINION

The nationalism of stereotypes

The nationalism of stereotypes

While the Greek political world expends itself with political positioning and point-scoring, with SYRIZA leading the pack, and wastes valuable time debating petty and pointless topics, Greek society is on edge. We are not talking about the problems caused by the pandemic or even the extreme weather front. We are referring to a different societal backslide, a silent one and with far less exposure unless there are violent outbreaks.

An incident in the Thessaloniki suburb of Evosmos was made public on Friday after several weeks’ delay. “A 15-year-old refugee student at the Intercultural High School of Evosmos was savagely assaulted by members of the nationalist fringe when he was returning home to the Diavata Open Facility for Migrants and Refugees.”

Similar events often involve nationalist organizations, in their majority comprising hooligans, the marginalized, teenagers, and many others. The migrants and refugees react to this violence and on it goes.

Violence among teenagers has proliferated across the country and is turning into an endemic societal occurrence. Experts are pointing out that it is not a general problem, nor is it equally distributed, but it is widespread (let us not forget the vandalism witnessed during school sit-ins). In many cases parents and teachers have joined forces, creating a united front, but that is not enough.

The Institute of Educational Policy is carrying out a widespread series of training seminars focused on dealing with school violence in all its forms. This could be a start. Mainly because once the “issue” at stake is officially recognized, it becomes visible and acquires the necessary time and space. But even this is not enough. What is needed is widespread political and social support.

This goal is also supported by initiatives that are not visibly connected with our school communities. A recent example is the advertising campaign of a shampoo brand with the slogan “hair has no gender.” It included five members of the Greek LGBTQ community addressing the camera and sending a message of inclusivity, and not just for their own community.

The nationalism of stereotypes and prejudices can be found on many fronts, with battles raging even in our schools. The enemy could be anyone, any idea, that is different. “Ammunition” can be found anywhere: at home, online, in youth gangs. “The effort to build a resilient and efficient state mechanism” cannot be consistent, like Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis promised, unless it is primarily educational.