OPINION

Vandalism of Truman statue in Athens is a misguided protest

Once again Greek protesters have knocked down the Truman statue. Now, as a Greek, I will always be in support of peaceful protests, as it is only natural in a democracy. However, we must make distinctions between peaceful protests and violence and vandalism, and we all know that many protests in Greece have samples of vandalism by certain groups mixed in a good deal of the time. As a Greek American, however, I must admit my disappointment at the latest damage to the Truman statue. I cannot help feeling that toppling the Truman statue is in effect also an affront to Greek-Americans. After all, it was the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) that erected the statue and we must not forget that the Truman statue is not the only thing that the AHEPA has provided to the ancestral homeland over the years, especially in philanthropic areas. Toppling the statue, while seen as an act of defiance of American politics, must ultimately hurt the feelings of many Greek Americans, which of course, the vandals that toppled the statue disregard and don’t care about. But let us stroll into the political arena of the toppling, and to Truman himself. The statue was obviously erected to recognize Truman’s efforts in favor of Greece, but also to recognize the good efforts of the American government. Now, I recognize that many aspects of American policies have not helped Greece – such as its support of the Junta, the ongoing Cyprus dispute and the dealings with Turkey. However, having studied Truman in depth, I know that he sincerely did want to help Greece to remain part of the Western world in the postwar era, and, let’s face it, without his help Greece would have fallen behind the Iron Curtain. And if anyone thinks that falling behind the Iron Curtain would have been a good thing, just look at Greece’s neighbors in the Balkans to determine what our outcome would have been had we become another Soviet satellite. (Though I do know that Truman was not too thrilled about getting a statue of himself erected.) Beyond the military help Truman’s administration provided, we must take into account the humanitarian help he provided to Greece. The Marshall Plan fed millions of our people and rebuilt our economy at a crucial stage in our history. It got the name «Marshall» after General Marshall, but it was Truman’s backing that created the plan, and it not only fed millions of Greeks, but helped rebuild all of Western Europe. To conclude, I recognize how the statue has come to represent the ills of American policies, both within Greece and around the world, but I cannot but feel a bit upset and disappointed every time that statue is torn down. STAVROS SKENDERIS, New York.