Many observers have finally taken issue with the recent upsurge in incidents of violence in this country, reacting with concern or surprise. They should know better. After all, they have been pouring oil on the flames for years.
Talk of “germanotsoliades” (a term used to describe the Greek collaborationist military groups formed during the German occupation in World War II) or of a “Tsolakoglou-type government,” in reference to the regime appointed by the Axis powers in 1941, and other allegations of this sort have not come just from the extremes of the country’s political spectrum.
In fact, such epithets were repeatedly uttered by Greece’s mainstream commentators and media that made them part of the public debate.
Some of the critics did so because they were serving their own private or partisan interests, while others did because they thought that this rough, unprocessed mixture of indignation and base instincts, the product of every truly big crisis, would be a strong sell.
In any case, we have no excuse to act surprised or question where all the hatred that has swept our society came from. Similarly, it’s hard to pretend we did not hear the voices inciting anyone out there that wanted to heckle, hit or shoot someone, just because they happened to disagree with them.
After all, it’s very hard to defend the government today – a government which appears to be doing its best and seems to be acting in the national interest – when up until yesterday you were keen to compare the troika and Angela Merkel to Adolf Hitler and the Wehrmacht.
Such over-the-top statements and comparisons made Greece stand out from the other crisis-hit nations in the euro area that had signed up to the troika’s rescue program, or that were in negotiations with the creditors to do so. Because, unfortunately, some people here allowed the fringes to hijack the mainstream and made way for political extremism and violence. They fostered the illusion that they could forever feed the beast of rampant populism and never get bitten; as if the forces of hatred and irrational violence bother to distinguish one enemy from another – or keep record of who said what about whom and when.
Those who poured oil onto the flames and poison into our minds bear great responsibility for the dangers facing the country today.
All that in spite of the incredible patience, maturity and endurance demonstrated by a people that has proved itself to be far superior to the elites that have governed and educated it over the years.