The presence of Hrisi Avgi in public schools
ANDREAS BOUSIOSSince the double elections of May and June, where it polled 7 percent of the votes, Hrisi Avgi (the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn) has been constantly increasing its percentages, recently reaching 12 percent according to polls, thus confirming its ranking as the third political party.
After the police, which – as admitted to the Guardian by a senior officer – greatly favors Hrisi Avgi, the church (at least an important and dynamic part of it) was second to embrace the party. The metropolitan of Patras, Amvrosios, known for his anachronistic views, announced that he did not hesitate to advise Hrisi Avgi on how to improve its image, so that it could strengthen its position within Greek society. “If you change your style, namely become more mature, you may become the sweet hope for every desperate citizen and a velvet force in what has become a rotten political system,” he noted. (!)
Just a few months ago, members of Hrisi Avgi were content with just helping old ladies cross the road or desperate citizens “clean” their summer homes of immigrant squatters. Now, with the church’s blessing and on the church’s behalf, they will do almost anything, even perform litanies. (!) But the worst is yet to come, as Greek society must now face its most difficult and most dangerous outbreak: the presence of Hrisi Avgi in public schools.
Recently, a teacher in Exarhia, a district in the center of Athens, told immigrant students who were disobeying him that he was going to call Hrisi Avgi.
Two days ago, the members of the elected student council at a high school in Thessaly threatened the headmaster that they would call Hrisi Avgi if he insisted on his decision to keep a student of Albanian decent as the school’s flag bearer. In Agrinio, during parade preparations, primary school students were shouting slogans in favor of Hrisi Avgi.
On the other hand, students from different schools protested by wearing anti-Nazi armbands, while students from Athens wrote an amazing piece, calling on students not to silence their voices on acts of violence and racism promoted by members of Hrisi Avgi in schools.
Undoubtedly, the financial crisis and the economy’s mismanagement during all these years, in combination with the lack of self-catharsis of the political system, gave leeway to extremist opinions.
The two major parties in power (PASOK and New Democracy) lost their credibility, as it was their time in power, which was marked throughout by wrongdoings, scandals and clientelism, that has led to the breaking point experienced by the country in recent years.
Two parties, however, are constantly gaining ground: the left coalition SYRIZA and the fascist Hrisi Avgi. SYRIZA managed to absorb up to a point the anger against the unpopular and exhausting economic measures, but regarding the issue of immigrants, a large part of society believes that it has exhibited excessive protectionism toward immigrants, disproportionate to the increase in crime that plagues the country.
In contrast, Hrisi Avgi, without any clear political-economic program, with its sole “weapon” nationalist populism, decided to please those that are desperate, appeal to their wild instincts and thus “discover” an easy target: the “enemy” immigrant with dark skin who is to blame for everything.
The problem now is that Greek state officials are so immersed in their financial problems and do not pay attention – some are shockingly indifferent indeed – to the rise of extremism in its most sensitive cell: schools.
The state keeps paying attention to the numbers and ignores its citizens. It calculates its debts and forgets its obligations toward the Greek people. The protection of the state against all extremist opinions is its primary duty. It doesn’t have to do much. Simply provide quality education to its citizens. Education is civilization. And a civilized human being is a protected citizen.
Hrisi Avgi is now constantly gaining ground in society mainly because their opponents are constantly losing ground. And if the others continue losing ground, then Hrisi Avgi might win the war. And then…
Andreas Bousios is the editor-in-chief at Greece’s SKAI TV.