OPINION

Descent into violence

I fear that since last December we are sliding out of control as a country into a chasm of violence and terrorism, without anything being able to stop the descent. What happened in December? The kids learned that it is completely acceptable in our society to throw stones and petrol bombs at police stations. The self-styled anarchists decided that gas canister bombs were now for kids and went on to use submachine guns. The terrorists, in turn, left the AK-47s and began to experiment with large quantities of explosives. Now they’re all trying to outdo each other as armed wise guys, without any real opponent or any real risk. Who stands between us and the growing threat of violence? I think that in this country today it is the easiest thing to be a hooded demonstrator, a robber or a terrorist. The hooded youths lurk on university premises, go out on the street with sledgehammers and axes, smash whatever they like in broad daylight and return to the asylum provided by the university. Professors are right to worry about calling in the police, arguing «who will protect us tomorrow?» Government ministers are afraid of their own shadows and use the professors’ fear as an excuse to do nothing. Prosecutors too do not dare do their jobs. And so, a rampage of destruction down Skoufa and Solonos streets (such as Friday’s) is as easy as a stroll in the village square. No-risk entertainment. Robbery, too, is a good profession. Our society has come to the point where it takes issue with police officers who chase robbers. «Let them take what they will, why should police get involved?» people ask. That’s all well and good, but the problem is that if police think of these reactions they might extend their «work to rule» protest which they were justified to carry out in December when the state, journalists and public opinion threw them to the wolves of populism just because one foolish policeman shot teenager Alexis Grigoropoulos in Exarchia. And the terrorists, what are they up against? An anti-terrorism squad that has been torn apart by personal, bureaucratic and party squabbles. And the police force’s leadership has spent five years congratulating itself for its luck that no one was killed, despite the obvious resurgence of terrorism. All this time, there has been no cooperation with foreign security services and no strategy. We have seen incredible things since that tragic Monday after Grigoropoulos’s shooting, when the center of Athens was essentially occupied and the state that was established after the collapse of the dictatorship in 1974 was taken over. Violence was legitimized; many understood that it was acceptable and that they could use it with impunity. We know who is to blame for the terrible collapse, but for now it is imperative that we prevent even worse developments. If we do not do something immediately, our streets will become a jungle where everyone settles their problems with a gun. Democracy does not deserve to live in fear or at gunpoint. This descent is unbearable and it is certain to lead to further loss of life. Equally unbearable is the indifference of those who do not do their jobs and care only about whether they will receive bad publicity for all that we have suffered since December.