Violent scenes whose victims are mostly—but not exclusively—immigrants, neo-Nazi paramilitary ‘battalions’ on the streets, police rounding up immigrants as part of an operation ironically code-named ‘Zeus the Hospitable’, international condemnation, chiefly for the abuse of the rights of vulnerable social groups, and the picketing of ‘inappropriate’ theatrical productions and other events by right-wing groups are all now part and parcel of everyday life in Greece.
In just a few months, racism and prejudice have left the social fringes and moved centre stage, dominating the discussion in Greek traditional and social media, and in the country’s cafeterias and kapheneia. And while the discussions are very often critical of such developments, they also frequently employ racist rhetoric and applaud racist acts. In addition, recent opinion polls show that tolerance of, even support for, parties of the far right who advocate and spread actively racist view and politics is on the rise.
So where does Greek society actually stand? Is it tolerant of difference or tolerant of racism? Is this a reaction to the economic crisis and the poverty it has brought with it? Are we somehow opting for racism because it fills the authority and security gaps bequeathed us by our political elites and the state? Or is it a deeper rooted, longer-term problem? Could it have come into being years before the crisis in our schools and educational system, in the Greek family and Greek society? Are prejudice and racism natural consequences of economic crisis? Or are they an integral part of our society which was simply brought to prominence by these difficult times?
A debate on the causes of racism and our tolerance of racism, and what we need to change about ourselves and our society if we are to beat it.
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