The clash between the mayor of Athens and the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party on Thursday is a positive development. At last someone stood up to the black-shirted brigades and showed the rest of us where the battle lines are. The reactions of our political parties underlined where each stands on the issue. So, after yesterday’s events at Syntagma Square (and later at City Hall’s grocery charity), we all have a clearer picture of our political scene.
In taking an unequivocal stand against Golden Dawn’s effort to hand out Easter foodstuffs “only for Greeks,” by imposing the law, by acting as mayor of all Athenians, Giorgos Kaminis provoked Golden Dawn cadres into revealing the full extent of their hypocrisy: The zealots of law and order showed once again that their words are just words, that their gods are lawlessness and violence.
This time, though, they were up against a determined and powerful institution – the mayor’s office and the police – and not some poor loner in an alley. And so, the fury, the threats, the violent outbursts did not lead to terror’s triumph but to widespread condemnation, a police inquiry and the very public exhibition of a shameless criminal mentality.
It may turn out that Kaminis made a mistake in drawing a red line by prohibiting Golden Dawn’s exhibition of racist largesse, that this will embellish the image of a heroic, nationalistic party that fights the “system” and “the mayor of illegal immigrants and globalization” (as it calls Kaminis in what it believes is the ultimate insult). In fact, Golden Dawn was trying to exploit the institution of Easter for a display of propaganda in the capital’s center (despite the fact that its core members despise Christianity).
But this also allowed us to remember that – far from the media’s attention – City Hall has stood by the needy all through the crisis, handing out 9,000 meals a day and taking care of the homeless. The Church, charitable foundations, state and private bodies, and many volunteers have also helped form a bulwark of civilization and humanity against the chaos and misery caused by the crisis. Golden Dawn’s occasional forays into racist “philanthropy” are nothing but wolves handing out hay to sheep.
It is sad that while the mayor was taking a stand in support of the law, human rights and democracy, with the governing parties at his side, the leftist main opposition party, SYRIZA, rushed to show once again that in its knee-jerk protestations it does not hesitate to undermine even those whom it should support. Calling Kaminis’s actions “sporadic publicity-seeking that cannot change things,” SYRIZA flirted dangerously with giving joy to the neo-Nazis.
The left’s cadres should know that society’s future is at stake. They should take a responsible stand now that the battle is joined, instead of indulging only in theories and petty politics.