On restless summer nights, Syntagma Square becomes inundated with television crews and foreign correspondents doing stand-up reports beside the noisy skaters, offering interesting footage to go along with their interesting reports. (As cartoonist Dimitris Hantzopoulos recently commented in Kathimerini, Alfred Hitchcock himself couldn't match the thriller qualities of the Greek crisis.) Most of these correspondents are well-meaning but there is something very vexing about many of their reports: the voyeuristic glee they seem to take in imminent disaster, the disinterested nature of their grief, the ersatz emotion with which they imbue their oral and written testimonies.
These modern-day wannabe Lord Byrons come to the country for a few days, thoughtlessly invade our everyday lives and try to describe it in broad brushstrokes and stereotypes drawn from their often-scant knowledge of our mythology and history. And it is a reality that is so complex, even we have become dumbstruck, sleep-deprived observers. The result of their attitude is irritating statements such as a recent tweet by British journalist Paul Mason in which he likened those who oppose government policy to the Greeks who collaborated with the Nazis in World War II, but also in the calls from Nobel Prize-winning (and other) columnists urging the Greeks to proudly vote “no” in Sunday's referendum. Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz and Wolfgang Munchau felt compelled to inform us that they supported the government line in the vote – all from the comfort of their offices in New York, Brussels and London.
Their personal revolution is one carried out by proxy – we are the protagonists and they mere spectators. Their Western way of life, not just in its material aspects but also in terms of its values, is guaranteed. Our position in Europe is at stake and these helpless romantics are calling on us to commit suicide in the name of resistance.
“Which side [did] your grandfather fight on in WW2?” Mason asked a fellow tweeter, who he accused of being a Nazi collaborator (known colloquially in Greek as “Germanotsolias”). His comment was a vulgar reference to the historical wounds of a country from a visiting reporter at a time when the unity of the people is particularly fragile. I have complete respect for a long-term unemployed person railing against the creditors. But I have little tolerance for a foreign journalist who has written the prologue in a book by former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis – which, it is worth noting, has been republished since his resignation – who gets all his leaks first from the former minister and then goes on to chide, using divisive language, those who voted “yes.”