OPINION

Lifting the blinkers

The results of a study made public recently by the Immigration Policy Institute (IPI) are most enlightening for those who do not insist on living with their blinkers down. And it merely serves to confirm all the predictions of those who had resisted the scaremongering and xenophobia which took hold of a large section of society when we first started cohabiting with immigrants in the early 1990s. Up until then – from the safety of a relatively «pure» Greek society – we proudly declared that «We Greeks are not xenophobes or racists!» only to furiously backtrack as the proportion of foreigners among us started to grow; and this was irrespective of the fact that these foreigners were mostly driven here due to crises that made it impossible for them to remain in their native countries. We displayed zero tolerance for the difficulties experienced by immigrants attempting to integrate into our society, and often our extreme reactions would only make things worse. We would rush to blame specific minorities for the increase in crime and we cultivated the myth that foreigners were depriving Greeks of their jobs, conveniently ignoring the fact that most of us would not stoop to work in «cheap labor» jobs without any rights. The IPI’s report paints a far more positive picture, showing immigrants to be mostly industrious and an invaluable asset for the state economy…