By now, most of us have heard of Golden Dawn, the Greek Neo-Nazi party who claim they're not Neo-Nazis, shocked, not only the Greeks, but the rest of the world, by winning close to 7% in Greece's parliamentary elections -- meaning they will be sending around 21 deputies to parliament in the coming months.
Running on a campaign based around anti-immigration, anti-austerity, and all-around fear, Golden Dawn's leader, Nikolaos Mihaloliakos (try saying that five times fast) took advantage of his country's economic and social hopelessness to instill his message of hate to the masses. And, he was sadly rewarded. Fascist salutes, and all.
After the decimation of the German economy in the 1930s, another man ran on almost the exact same platform; blaming immigrants and "outsiders" for his country's problems, capitalizing on the current government's ineptitude and inability to produce any kind of meaningful change, and re-infusing a belief in national pride. Not to mention, promising to simply "cleanse" the country of the outsiders once he was in power.
If news traveled then as fast as it does now, would it have mattered? Maybe, maybe not. But, it certainly will be interesting to see how this situation develops. One would hope the majority of Greeks recognize the slippery slope their country is standing on at this moment in time. It's very easy to say "Ah, that'll never happen again." But, who knows? A few thousand immigrants killed or deported here, a little more power there, the United Nations taking years to decide how to act... and, presto!, by 2016, Greece is now Libya with nicer beaches.
In dire circumstance, most people will agree to almost anything if it means their lives will get a little better, even if it means ultimately turning a blind eye to crimes against humanity. Of course, it doesn't happen overnight. It takes time to nurture a Big Brother.
Look at any dictator from Hitler to Stalin to Mussolini, and they all come from the same place: The promise of radical change to a vanquished people devoid of hope. Mihaloliakos' motto seems to be, "Ask not, what you can do for your country. Ask what your country can do for you!" He realizes his people are tired of living the other way with zero sign of reciprocity. So, "Why not be selfish and hate? You've tried everything else."
For most of us, when we are broke and hungry and angry and weak, we are tremendously vulnerable to the voice that might provide a quick remedy to the situation, e.g., sending a security detail to walk your elderly mother home through crime-infested streets at night. That one, simple act, -- compared to feeling like your voice is lost -- could prove all that's necessary for a vote of confidence in the next election - don't worry about what the consequences might be down the line, e.g., perhaps they make you begin paying for that protection, beating up your friends and neighbors who refuse, etc., -- but, hey, for the time being, they understand your frustrations. When there's no money to feed your children, no job to give you the money you need, and no one seems to give a damn, you can't help but feel it's all about "Me, me, me." It comes down to a question of survival.
But, if, at this critical juncture, the Greeks who think this fascist meatball is the answer to their prayers, would pause for just a moment, history could teach them a great lesson and save them years of additional pain and heartache. All they need to do is open a text book to see, the one thing about a people uniting around hate is, it never produces anything but more hate. It can't. Whether you're an individual or a society, you can never get good from bad. Especially when you blame others for your problems.
As most of us know by now, racism isn't born. It's taught. Case in point, Denis Leary's poignant quote "I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list."
No doubt, Mihaloliakos, and every single one of his menacing, shaved-headed followers hate and blame because, somewhere along the line, they were taught to hate and blame.
Now, seeing their opening, they stand on Mt. Olympus beckoning others toward their cause with the same hatred and blame. Unfortunately, not everyone can be strong enough to resist the easy way out during times of crisis. That's called character. Some people possess it, some people are one.
At the moment, Mihaloliakos is just a "Little Brother." But, if the Greek people, in their quest for their own, personal salvation, choose to ignore the "downside" of electing a party based on hate, they will, once again, only have themselves to blame. And, of course, then it will be time for another type of "bailout."